Friday, September 7, 2012

G1X: Battery Options


Canon’s G1X uses an NB-10L rechargeable lithium-ion battery rated at 7.4 volts DC and having a capacity of 920 mAh. The NB-10L is also used in Canon’s SX40 HS camera and probably many others. Canon rates its battery for approximately 250 still shots with the display screen turned on or 700 with the display screen off; this rating assumes “normal” operation which includes zooming. The battery is reported to be rated for 300 charging cycles. Of course, Canon’s instruction book for the G1X says “Use only the recommended battery.”.

In contrast to the NB-10L as used in the G1X, the NB-7L as used in the G12 is rated for 370 shots with the display turned on or 1000 shots with the display off. The NB-7L is also a 7.4 volt battery but with a capacity of 1050 mAh. The NB-7L is slightly larger than the NB-10L.

G1X CameraMany G1X users interpret “recommended battery” to mean the NB-10L type of battery and not necessarily the Canon brand. Canon’s NB-10L is much more expensive than non-Canon batteries. Typically Canon’s NB-10L is around $40 and as high as $60 whereas generic NB-10L range from $10 to $20 and really cheap ones are less than $10.

So – what’s a photographer to do?

Coming from a time when batteries were not as reliable and had a lower capacity, my personal and recommended practice is: one in the camera, one in the pocket and one in the charger. Being even more conservative, I’m likely to have an additional battery or two around. At the same time, all my extra batteries are the generic variety.

My personal G1X is usually powered by the official Canon battery. Along with my G1X, I purchased a “Power2000” NB-10L which, as I recall, was about $20 at the time. The Power2000 NB-10L is rated for 1200 mAh. Later I went even cheaper with two “Photive” NB-10L batteries costing $20 – including a charger useable with either AC or adaptable to an automobile DC socket (cigarette lighter). Come to think of it, I’ve not tested the DC socket charger.  Hmm, better test it someday (Update:  Seems to work!). Like the Power2000, the Photive NB-10L are labeled as having 1200 mAh capacity.

I believe/suspect that there are few rules for determining battery capacity or, more likely, that the temptation to use an exaggerated capacity is very strong. In my very limited testing and experience, it seems that the OEM and non-OEM batteries have about the same capacity. That is, don’t be misled by the mAh capacity label. My practice is to use a “Sharpie” pen to mark batteries as received. Of course, the received date is not the same as the manufactured date but is somewhat indicative of the age of the battery. It seems to me that generic batteries have a slightly shorter lifetime than do OEM batteries.

Following are some sources for NB-10L batteries. (This blog is not linked to any commercial sites or agreements.)

  • B&H has a Pearstone NB-10L for $20. It is highly rated in the B&H system of ratings.
  • Adorama has their private labeled NB-10L for $10.
  • Sterlingtek has a good reputation and is a source used by many photographers. Sterlingtek has been my first choice for non-OEM batteries for many years. Strangely, Sterlingtek does not carry the NB-10L on their website but even more strangely, Amazon carries an NB-10L ($15) supplied by Sterlingtek that is highly rated. I don’t understand this at all.
  • Amazon has some very cheap NB-10L batteries. Some are as low as $4 and others are packaged with chargers and other accessories. Wow, the Power2000 is about $4 and has a good rating – makes me feel like getting another one!

Various Internet discussion forums have positive comments about NB-10L batteries supplied by GT Max NB-10L, Sterlingtek (through Amazon), B&H, Ex-Pro and Opteka. It is easy to get the idea that the marketer (not the same thing as manufacturer) does not matter. The difference is probably the specifications and tolerance requirements of the marketer. One begins to suspect that there are very few manufacturers and that many of these batteries are actually made by the same manufacturer.

I’ve followed this philosophy and practice for some time. Here’s a post about a clone battery failing in my G9 and two posts about batteries used in my 7D.

My recommendation?  Buy a cheap generic battery for backup; in fact, buy several.

No comments: