# 3rd party Nikon battery stopped working

recently I came across really strange issue: A non-original replacement battery (EN-EL14a) for my DSLR (Nikon D3300) I bought about year ago, suddenly stopped working. In particular, when inserted into the body, I get message: This battery cannot be used. Use battery designated for this camera.

I'm pretty shocked, as it worked flawlessly untill now, BTW I'm shooting a wedding in a couple of weeks too :D Is there any reason for its' behaviour and possible fix please?

Thanks

Image: original battery on left, 3rd party on the right side

• Has your camera had a firmware update recently? – Blrfl Feb 28 '19 at 22:29
• What charger are you using to charge your batteries? I've noticed an OEM charger not fully charging non-OEM batteries (though different brand). – xiota Mar 1 '19 at 5:42
• I didn't have any firmware update, but I thought it could help, so I updated it manually - no change. I was using original Nikon charger all the time and it worked – TheOne Mar 1 '19 at 6:04
• Are you sure the battery on the left is the Nikon and the battery on the right is the fake? – Michael C Mar 1 '19 at 15:15
• I think maybe both of these are fake. – mattdm Mar 1 '19 at 15:32

Nikon has made an effort to stop third-party batteries by integrating a chip into the battery which reports some identifier. It's clearly not very strong cryptographically, as these clone batteries exist and report false information.

Now, I'm a very strong believer in your right to use a battery like this — it should be an option. But, lithium batteries can be dangerous. You know the announcement they now give on planes about how you're not supposed to try to adjust your seat if you've dropped your phone? The concern is that moving the seat might put pressure on the phone, causing catastrophic failure. This is no joke — the US just banned lithium batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft.

Check out this teardown of one Nikon-clone battery, which reveals very dodgy construction.

You might by comfortable buying third-party batteries with a reputable name of their own. Look for a real warranty and perhaps some good reviews from people who used that warranty. I'd particularly avoid batteries like the one in your photo which go out of their way to look very close to the original battery in markings, lettering, and logos. Yours clearly has differences, but it says NIKON CORP, JAPAN, which is... clearly a lie. This indicates a willingness to deceive on the outside — which doesn't bode well for the inside.

Overall, I find it much better for my peace of mind to just bite the bullet and pay the markup for the official-brand battery. Sure, there's probably some price gouging going on, but on the other hand, there really is a quality difference, at least vs. many budget clones from, as you describe, a "chinese e-shop".

See Should I buy an original manufacturer battery, or is a generic brand OK? for more on this

• Thanks, I didn't know about the Li-battery restriction. However, aren't original batteries lithium-ion too? Also, I have read the article that companies producing batteries (in our case for Nikon) are somehow allowed to produce "exactly" same battery, with minor changes to appearance and then sell it for lower price. I think I found article about this battery in particular. I know, I read it on the internet, so it must be true :D – TheOne Mar 1 '19 at 15:06
• Yes, the original batteries are also li-ion, but there is much greater assurance that they were made responsibly. The "exactly same battery with minor change" situation might be true in some third-party cases, but is definitely not the general rule. Check out the teardown article linked above. In that case, not only were cheap components used, but the two internal cells are mismatched. This is exactly the kind of stuff that you don't want the manufacturers of your miniature high-energy fire capsules messing with. – mattdm Mar 1 '19 at 15:17
• Yeah, I think that in future I will go with the originals – TheOne Mar 1 '19 at 15:22
• Still, what bothers me the most is the fact, how it could work untill now, then? – TheOne Mar 1 '19 at 15:29
• @M.Obrcian There are good third party batteries made by reputable sellers. But they sell such batteries under their own name. They do not try to pretend they are OEM batteries. Many of the third party batteries I have used works just as well as the OEM batteries that came with my cameras. Some of them even last longer per charge, or take more recharge cycles before they eventually wear out. – Michael C Mar 1 '19 at 15:35

Based on discussions threads over the Internet there are two possibilities:

2. The chip responsible for communicating with the camera is no longer working

Unfortunately there is no fix for the first issue. The second issue can be fixed if the battery is still under warranty period

• Thanks for the answer. 1. Impossible as I did not update the firmware, when battery was disabled. – TheOne Mar 1 '19 at 12:15
• 2. Is there any way to repair chip "DIY"? The battery was bought from chinese e-shop, so for that with warranty... – TheOne Mar 1 '19 at 12:16
• DIY anything on a lithium battery sounds like a terrible idea. – mattdm Mar 1 '19 at 13:18
• BOTH would be cases of "If possible, return battery as a warranty claim because it isn't working and is supposed to work"... – rackandboneman Mar 1 '19 at 13:36
• @M.Obrcian I don't think is possible to repair that chip without specific skills and materials. That could cost you more than another battery and can lead to additional problems down the line. A faulty battery can irrevocably damage your camera. I recommend getting a genuine battery. – nucandrei Mar 1 '19 at 17:09

As I understand it, batteries with counterfeit authentication chips usually fail because the counterfeit chips aren't designed to work correctly when the battery falls below a certain voltage threshold, that threshold is too high relative to the point where the camera stops drawing power, and the chips fail to reboot when the battery charges back up to a level where they can function properly. As a result, these third-party batteries often work fine until you run them all the way down to the point where the batteries shut off, and then they never work again.

As for fixing it, in theory, you might be able to crack the battery open, unsolder the wire from the battery to the controller board, charge the cells externally if necessary, and then resolder the wire, repeating until the camera recognizes it. But even then, there's no guarantee that it will ever come back from the dead, because the chip itself may just be fried. You're probably better off replacing it.

Ironically, this could all be trivially fixed by adding a microswitch to disconnect the authentication board from the cells. I'm tempted to try it, given how many of these "dead" batteries I have lying around (mostly batteries that came with third-party grips). But I digress.