Batteries are dangerous – they're almost a bomb – so you have to be careful when you buy them. Sure, they will not likely take down an airline, but a bad battery can definitely damage your camera. It may not work as expected. Here's what you need to know about buying batteries for DSLR or mirror-free cameras.
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Third Party and Third-party Batteries
The battery that came with the camera is called a "first-party" battery because it was made by the camera manufacturer (or at least one licensee that they monitor). It's the battery that the camera is designed to work. You can buy additional first-rate batteries, but they are usually quite expensive.
Third Party Batteries are manufactured by a company other than your camera manufacturer. They range from high quality batteries made by reputable camera manufacturers – like this third-party Blackmagic battery – to cheap Chinese knock-offs, churned out of factories where safety standards and tests are strange concepts. It is quite a wide range.
Problems with Potential Third Party Batteries
First-party batteries always know what you get (as long as you really get a first-party battery and not a fake, more about it later). It's exactly the same as what came with the camera when you bought it. However, with third-party batteries it is not that safe.
Third party batteries are almost always cheaper than original batteries. Canon's LP-E6N battery costs $ 64 while Blackmagic's probably high-quality replica costs $ 35. It's a pretty steep difference. I have seen batteries from less reputable manufacturers cost as little as $ 10 and no, I will not link to them.
The problem here is that money has to be saved somewhere. It definitely does not cost Canon $ 60 to make a battery, but it costs them a little fraction of it. Good third-party manufacturers are deliberately making less profit to underestimate Canon. Bad manufacturers, however, will only reduce the costs of materials, testing, design and other sites that reduce overall battery quality.
At best, you end up with a battery that may not hold as much charge, will not be as long, or maybe feel a little plastic but works otherwise as expected. There is also a chance that you can end up with a total dud that does not work at all or will not load with the official charger. At worst, as we have seen with USB cables, you can get a battery that actively damages the camera.
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Now I'm not saying that all third party batteries are bad. The odds are that they will work well and the odds are even better if you go with a reputable manufacturer – but you have to be careful, especially where you buy them from.
Do not Buy From Amazon
Amazon has many fraud issues right now – even our own Chris Hoffman was captured by one. Most of the issues are with "Fulfilled by Amazon" sellers; Amazon does little to police its inventories and make sure they do not sell shoddy products or counterfeits. For most things, it's good to buy from Amazon, but for batteries to your priced camera, you need to be a bit careful.
RELATED: How To Avoid Fake And Scammy Amazon Sellers  We've considered it and we recommend that we do not buy any Amazon camera batteries, including first-rate batteries. A chance that you get a third-party bad battery or a fake first-party battery is just too high.
Instead, you should buy batteries from your local camera store or a high quality, dedicated online store like B & H. Even if you decide to go with a third party battery, you know at least that it has been ordered by someone who knows about cameras. A good camera store is much less likely to sell you a problem product than Amazon's open, someone can sell, marketplace.
Personally, I prefer to stick to first-party batteries but it's a luxury I have to take pictures is a big part of my job. If you need an extra battery but do not want to pay top dollar, buy a third party battery – do not go with the cheapest you'll find on Amazon.