Caffeine Priority: First-party batteries are expensive, but (probably) worth it


posted Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at 5:59 AM EDT

This thermal image of a lithium-ion battery pack shows what happens when the battery is incapable of releasing the heat it generates. The chain reaction happens very quickly, and is very dangerous.

Wake up with IR! Here's today's cup of Caffeine Priority...

Batteries are, perhaps, not the most exciting topic. When shopping for a new camera or accessory, looking for a new battery isn’t something that gets a photographer’s juices flowing. However, it can be a very important decision, because a poorly-made battery can be very dangerous to your camera and even to you.

In addition to being an important decision, it can also be a simple one. Just don’t buy third-party batteries. Now some of you are probably thinking, “But I’ve used a third-party battery in my cameras for years and it’s been great!” And I know that this can sometimes be the case. Not only are third-party batteries fully capable of being good, they’re very cheap. As DIY Photography points out, you can sometimes save over US$100 by buying off brand.

In addition to getting good performance, you can also get bad batteries. You’re playing a game of lithium-ion Russian roulette with your camera. You can see why lithium-ion is particularly problematic in the video below.

The margin for error with lithium-ion is very small. What seems like a perfectly good battery may be almost literally a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Exploding lithium-ion batteries are no joke and the fires they cause – like any fire – can be deadly. In light of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery issue, BBC published an article about the technology and some warning signs that your battery may be about to fail.

Even knowing the risk, many people still want to go with third-party batteries, and understandably so. The cost difference, especially for people who want to have multiple extra batteries for their cameras, is huge. Personally, I’m not willing to take the risk of going off brand, but the big manufacturers aren’t making it easy on my wallet.

Readers, what do you think about first-party versus third-party batteries? Do you use any knockoff batteries? If so, have you had any issues with performance or even a leaking or exploding battery? Let us know in the comments below.

(Seen via DIY Photography

Caffeine Priority is a series of short photo-tidbits to ease you into your day, and give us a chance to share a bit more of what life’s like here at IR. We're more like a group of friends testing and talking about cameras and lenses than the buttoned-down, big-corporation world that some of our photo-friends at other companies work in; hopefully these little snippets will share some of that. So... grab another coffee and join in the conversation with us down below!