Whether you’re a professional photographer or a young hobbyist, you’ll eventually find yourself shopping for camera batteries. And you’ll be stuck with one of two options—buy an “official” battery, or grab a cheaper third-party option. Which path should you choose?
Third-Party Camera Batteries Are a Mixed Bag
Shopping for a third-party battery can feel like a gamble. Even with good reviews, there’s no guarantee that an off-brand battery will match the capacity or lifespan of your camera’s “official” battery. It might have trouble holding a charge, or it may die after a year.
That said, some off-brand camera batteries work just fine. Reputable third-party manufacturers like Wasabi and SterlingTek are widely appreciated by photographers—their batteries usually work as advertised, and these companies are known to work with customers when something goes wrong.
If you’re not feeling reassured, consider this; off-brand batteries are a serious bargain. Even if you end up with something that’s a little lackluster, at least you didn’t spend $60 to $70 on a freakin’ battery. (Plus, if you’re a hardcore photographer, you probably want to own several batteries. Going third-party is probably the “financially responsible” decision.)
Obviously, if you don’t want to take any chances, you should buy an “official” battery from your camera’s manufacturer. And if you choose to buy a third-party battery, you should look up reviews or testimonials to make sure that it’s from a well-known brand.
You should also avoid buying any camera battery from Amazon, as you could easily end up with a counterfeit. Stick with B&H, or visit an in-person retailer like Best Buy.
Will an Off-Brand Battery Hurt Your Camera?
Can off-brand batteries damage your DSLR or mirrorless camera? Well, anything’s possible, but this isn’t something you need to worry about. The chances of a battery damaging your camera are pretty low, regardless of where the battery comes from.
In fact, there are only two ways that a lithium-ion battery could damage a camera—swelling or exploding. Swelling will occur long after a battery stops working properly, and spontaneous battery explosions are extremely rare. (This is also true for older Nickel Metal Hydride batteries.)
It seems that the “off-brand batteries will hurt your camera” thing is mostly a rumor. That said, manufacturer warranties don’t cover damage from third-party batteries or accessories. If a battery somehow manages to explode inside your camera, you’d better hope that it’s an “official” battery.
Here’s my suggestion; don’t buy camera batteries from unknown brands or untrustworthy retailers. If some freaky counterfeit battery manages to hurt your camera, you’re probably screwed. Either buy an “official” battery that’s covered under your warranty, or shop from an established third-party brand that can be held accountable if something goes wrong. (And don’t buy camera batteries from Amazon.)
Should You Buy Official Camera Batteries?
When you buy a battery from Canon, Nikon, Sony, or another camera brand, you can trust that it’ll work as advertised. Unless you’re really unlucky (or buy a counterfeit from Amazon), your “official” camera battery will hold a nice charge and last for several years.
Buying a first-party camera battery saves you a lot of trouble—you don’t need to do any research or read any reviews. Plus, if something goes wrong, you shouldn’t have any trouble contacting the manufacturer.
Is this convenience worth the extra money? It really depends on the circumstance. If you’re a photographer who needs a couple of extra batteries, going third-party might be worth the effort. You’ll save a ton of money.
But maybe you’re shopping for a first-time DSLR owner, or you’re replacing the battery that came with your camera. In these situations, an “official” battery can reduce the chance of running into a frustrating problem. Just buy your battery from a good retailer—yeah, I keep harping on this, and I’m going to explain why in one moment.
Buy Camera Batteries from Trusted Retailers
Online shoppers should always be wary of counterfeit items. And this is especially true when shopping for batteries—this stuff is cheap when purchased in bulk, and any scammer with half a brain can stamp the words “Canon” or “Nikon” on a cheap piece-of-crap battery.
That’s why you should only purchase camera batteries from trusted retailers. I suggest going with B&H or Adorama, as both companies are well known and offer great prices. Best Buy is also a decent option, and you can always shop at a local camera store if there’s one in your area. (Your camera’s manufacturer may also sell batteries on its website or through its cell center.)
Don’t shop for camera batteries on Amazon. It relies too heavily on third-party sellers, so it’s very vulnerable to scammers. (To be clear, most of the camera batteries from Amazon are authentic. But the chances of ending up with a counterfeit are too high, and because batteries are just little gray bricks, it isn’t always easy to spot a counterfeit.)
For this reason, you should also avoid eBay and AliExpress. Sure, these platforms can save you a lot of money, but they’re not worth the headache of ending up with a counterfeit.