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mgmidget72 Jan 10, 2005 2:52 PM

Hi all,

I am looking at various cameras as my first digital camera purchase. Most of them have proprietary batteries rather than accepting AA batteries. What is the typical lifespan (not charge time, but years until they will no longer work) of these proprietary batteries? I plan to keep this camera for a long time, not upgrading with each newer model.

Are the batteries specific to a brand, camera model, or more generic? I am concerned that if I buy a camera (currently, my 1st choice is the Canon G6) w/proprietary batteries, it might be difficult to get replacements once it stops working.

Is this a valid concern? Are there any alternatives to proprietary batteries in cameras that require them?


slipe Jan 10, 2005 3:37 PM

The G6 is a mainstream camera and the batteries will be available for a long time. I haven't had a proprietary battery go bad, but based on my cellphone batteries with the same technology they will eventually weaken. The cellphone batteries probably get more stress from daily use. Mine start showing lower life after just a couple of years of use in the phone. Power users change their cellphone batteries yearly.

There are some good aftermarket batteries available at a reasonable price. I have aftermarket proprietary batteries for two of my cameras and so far they are as good as the originals. I have both types and personally prefer the lithium proprietary batteries. Everyone doesn't share that feeling, but I wouldn't modify my choice of a camera I liked to avoid proprietaries.

The proprietary batteries are brand specific and even vary with specific cameras within a brand, although manufacturers don't usually have a different battery for every model.

mgmidget72 Jan 10, 2005 4:05 PM

Hi Slipe,
Thanks for your advice. It makes sense.

I still have two concerns though:
1. Being the frugal person that I am, I will want to hold on to the camera for many years. So when Canon is making 50mp cameras, will the battery companies still be making a battery for the G6?

2. With regular batteries, if I'm in a pinch, I can always run into a drug store and buy some AA's. I haven't seen CVS stocking any BP-511A's recently.

I know both of these are a long shot. Is there any reasonable & reliable alternative to using proprietary batteries? Not necessarily something to use all the time, but in the event of concern 1 or 2 occurring.


slipe Jan 10, 2005 4:27 PM

There is nothing that will power a G6 except a specialized battery. I would plan on getting a second battery for it so you don't have to look for drugstores. Lithium batteries lose only about 2% of their charge in a month, so you can keep them handy until you need them.

You might go on the Canon board and ask where people are getting their batteries and how much they are paying for them.

Canon has been using that basic battery since the G1. I think maybe they have upped the capacity, but the voltage is the same and it appears the new battery fits the old cameras. They also use it in other models like the Pro 1. There is enough demand that the batteries will be available for many years. My guess would be maybe 7 years or more after it is no longer a current battery – and Canon seems happy with the design. If it were a battery used in only a couple of camera models that weren't particularly popular demand might not be sufficient to continue production beyond a certain point. But that particular battery will likely be available for a long time. Cameras like the G series and Pro 1 are cameras people might hold onto for a while.

Kenny_Leong Jan 10, 2005 6:40 PM

I don't think 50 MP cameras will be necessary right? It'd be like overkill, unless you're going to print like poster size images.

blr Jan 10, 2005 6:41 PM

I preffer AA cameras. there are several advantages with AA cells

1. Spare batteries can be had much cheaper

2. AA NiMH cells will last longer in terms of total lifespan. With or without use a Li-ion pack will last 2-3 years max due to internal oxidation. Even if you buy a new camera model like G6 chances are that the battery is an alder stock, several months to a year old. Thus, you expensive battery may start loosing capacity after only a year of use. NiMH cells can be stored for up to 10 years unused.

3. NiMH cells can be charged in most cases faster than Li-ion packs

4. As you pointed out, in case of emergency the camera can be powered by alkaline or lithium AA cells

5. AA cells can be used in other appliances including external flashes. It is good to have a universal energy source.

6. Finally, again as you pointed out there, is no guarantee that the propriatory pack will be manufactured in the future, although in the case of G6, it is likely that the battery will be available in stores for quite some years to come. Spare chargers (in case the one provided with the camera fails) are also more expensive

Unfortunately, most prosumer digicams nowadays are powered by Li-ion packs. I still use my 2 years old Olympus C5050 and I'm happy that it is powered by standard AA cells. I frequently need two batteries (two sets of cells). Were it powered by Li-ion packs it would have costed me considerably more providing that by now it would have been a time to replace the ageing packs.

I have to agree, however,thatthe choice of a camera especialy at the prosumer level should not be dictated by powering options, especially given the fact that almost no cams use AAs nowadays.

Kenny_Leong Jan 10, 2005 6:43 PM

I don't think the G6 battery (BP-511) isn't going to disappear for very long time. The camera is probably going to be nonfunctional (aging etc) before they stop producing batteries like the BP-511. That is..the life of the camera is most likely going to be less than the production time span of the BP-511. So I wouldn't worry about it.

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