2008-07-09

Fair priced battery from Hong Kong

I bought a "Battery+Charger For Canon BP-809 BP809 HF10 HF100 Vixia" from the eBay merchant "lo100us" and I'm positively surprised. The product image at eBay was a generic one and I didn't expect much. The first shipment never arrived but a replacement sent on June 24 arrived today.

I payed around 30 USD including shipping. I call this a fair price. After all we talk about a small simple battery and a low tech charger and when Canon wants $120 for these items it's nothing else than a rip-off.

As you can see above the BP-809 clone has exactly the same shape and color as the original. The only thing missing is the "i" on the battery and in fact it's not "intelligent". The HF100 displays a battery symbol with a question mark instead of the remaining usage minutes. Since the battery info in the menu is also disabled there's no way to see the charge status of the battery. All you can do is waiting for the "Change the battery pack" warning.

The charger has a built in battery protection and fault detection circuitry. It automatically stops charging when the battery is full. The supplied charger also charges the original battery which is great.*

The charger comes with a plug adapter and can be operated with 100-250V 50/60Hz a.c. voltage.

Unfortunately the supplied adapter doesn't fit into German or Austrian power outlets which require a round plug.

Fortunately the two pins on the charger seem to conform to a standard because the problem was quickly solved after a visit to an electronics store. The charger even looks better with the new black plug adapter.

The battery seems to be of equal quality as the original one. I put an 8GB SDHC card in the HF100 aimed it at a clock and started recording. When I returned recording had stopped because the card was full which equals 1 hour of continuous recording.

The manual states that "intelligent" batteries may only be charged with chargers that are compatible to the "i" system. So far charging the original battery with this external charger works fine. The HF100 displays the usual 83 min usage time with the fully external-charged original battery inserted.*

Before someone comes and says the "intelligence" justifies the price difference lets put this straight: there's no computer built in. I'm pretty sure the circuit for the "intelligent" part of the original battery is veeery simple and cheap.

Some important things to know from the eBay merchant "91deals" which was mentioned in the comments (on his eBay product photos the charger and battery appear to be identical to the ones I've got):

  • Don't charge the clone battery in the camcorder always charge it externally with the charger that came with the battery.
  • Charge 2-3 hours more after the light on the charger turns green. (I don't understand this one. Any comments?)

*UPDATE: Charging the original battery worked fine the first time but after charging it several times over night problems appeared. The HF100 didn't recognize the fully charged original battery correctly. It displays a "Change Battery Pack" warning and displays a striked-through battery symbol. If I ignore the warning I can use the camcorder but the power button LED blinks green. Seems like the "intelligence" got offended by the cheap charger. The battery is full but it doesn't report that to the camcorder. I successfully restored the "intelligence" by emptying the battery in the camcorder and then charging it again with the supplied power adapter. I'll better charge the original battery in the camera from now on.

16 comments:

Wim said...

Hello Martin

for others who want to buy this: mine (battery and charger) arrived yesterday, from seller 91deals from ebay.

Is was 20 Usd (shipping incl), and included a european adapter (at least, is fits here in Holland)

Greetings, your blog is a great help for me (as fresh mac user/ hf100 owner)


Wim vd Born

Martin Koch said...

Good to hear Wim! Congratulations for choosing a Mac :-)

SammyK said...

I also just switched to a Mac this past Thursday after my whole life being on a PC. It's a MacBook Pro and I love it. I also have a Canon HF10 and love it but have had problems figuring out how to edit video from it in a practical manner. Your blog has been a great help. Thanks so much.

andiblockiersystem said...

Hi Martin,
i´ve bought a charger for the battery pack, too. Charging the original battery pack won´t work with it.
So I decided to buy another one on ebay - and voila - the BP-809 is charged with that one.
http://cgi.ebay.de/Ladegeraet-KFZ-fuer-CANON-BP-809-BP-819-HF10-HF100_W0QQitemZ250269580699QQihZ015QQcategoryZ151175QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

I noticed, that after loading the BP-809 the Camcorder won´t show the capacy anymore.
It seems to work if you select the playback mode before...
Regards Andi

K said...

Unlike NiMH or NiCd batteries which are "dump" battery cells, Lithium batteries are not just "simple batteries"; they have control circuit and protection circuit built-in for charging monitor, over discharge protection, and short circuit protection (to protect against possible venting and explosion). A good 3rd party battery can be built well and perform as good as OEM ones at a cheaper price. OTOH, a poorly built one can be a disaster waiting to happen. And the major problem is that - you can't tell one from the other!

This is one of the most detailed test of clone Lithium battery and it is an eye opener:
http://t5r.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/e1/clonetests.htm

Even though it is for an Olympus digital camera Lithium battery, but the same can apply to BP-809/819. Read the review on Sterling Tek, Wintop, e-film and Cb clone.

Now imagine this can happen to "name brand" clone by some decent size company complete with "warranty", what would you expect from an brandless clone costing maybe less than $10 for the seller? How much effort or money would they spend on designing a good control and protection circuit?

I am not saying that all those ebay ones are bad. But without someone taking it apart - are you willing to take the risk? With the price difference, a fair number of people would be willing to go that route. But you may not know what you are getting into.

Martin Koch said...

Thank you for your comment and the link to the test page.

I don't think there's danger involved because the battery has the "CE" mark see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CE_mark which ensures customer safety.

I want to make clear that I don't mean you. I'm glad and thankful that you posted this hint but I also want to mention that propagating fear is an excellent way and an almost impossible to beat strategy to justify the costs of the original batteries.

Brin said...

A CE mark? So you really believe the mark is authentic? There are a lot of copying going on and it is just a print for a unscrupulous company.
Enjoyed your blog. Thanks.
Ravi

Live In Contrast said...

Hello. I just read your post while searching for a good 3rd party battery for my HF10.

Regarding the warning to continue charging for 2-3 hours after the "ready" light turns green, cheap battery chargers typically work on a timing circuit rather than intelligent circuitry. It will rely on the battery to cut itself off when it is full, but it will not read any signal from the battery to turn the light green. My guess is that the charger is always supplying a charge to the battery, even after the light turns green. In reality, the light probably doesn't mean anything at all and comes on after a set period of time regardless of the actual charge status.

You could confirm this by charging your batteries from various states (25% full, 50% full, etc.) and timing to see how long it takes for the light to turn green each time. If I'm correct, the time until the light turns green will always be the same.

Regarding the CE mark, it doesn't mean anything unless the manufacturer can back it up. It could be real or "counterfeit", but the only way to find out for sure is to contact the manufacturer directly. CE is a self-certification, meaning that no 3rd-party or regulatory agency checks to ensure that the manufacturer is in compliance. It's really only as good as the company name on the product, unless that's a counterfeit, too.

Khoo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Khoo said...

Dear Martin,

I just came back from Turkey and was using the Canon BP-809 battery pack with my Canon HF-11. I charged the original BP-809 (I brought four with me) with a compatible battery charger as I didn't want to use my camcorder to do it.

Three battery packs went crazy -- although it was fully charged, the camcorder couldn't recognize it. Like yours, it displayed a "Change Battery Pack" warning. If I continued using them to record videos, the camcorder will shut down by itself as the battery packs would be "out of charge". The fourth battery pack behaved a little better but the charge got less and less each time I recharged it. Thank god I could use this battery pack for my videos.

I do not know if exposure to temperatures less than 0 ºC had anything to do with it (it was about -10 ºC at time of exposure). After all, the manual states that the battery packs could only operate properly at temperatures of 0-40 ºC.

For some unknown reason, the compatible battery charger recognized the batteries as fully charged while the "intelligent" camcorder would not. When I got back home (in Singapore), I tried to charge the batteries using the camcorder. However, "intelligence" got in the way again.

I tried to fully discharge the battery packs by recording videos till it shut down by itself. Then I tried to charge the packs using the camcorder but it wouldn't work. My next trick worked - I took a fully loaded 16 GB Sans Disk SD card and played all the videos till it exhausted the battery pack and then re-charged it using the camcorder. This time, my battery pack showed more than 90 minutes worth of recording time in the XP+ mode. For some unknown reason, if I used the compatible battery charger, it would show about 80 minutes of recording time.

I have not tried to record any videos yet but was quite relieved that the battery packs were apparently behaving normally. Over here in Singapore, there is no way that the temperature would drop near to 0 ºC. So, I would never know if the temperature caused the battery packs to go crazy.

I have decided not to use the compatible battery charger again eithe

Canonfan001 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Canonfan001 said...

Hello Martin!

I also bought cheap replacement battery. It overcomes the problem of not knowing remaining power by LED-based indicator on the back: You press tiny button and can see the capacity. A good solution.
BUT: Remaining problem is the Camera OS which comes up with a notice "No communication with battery. Do you want to use this battery anyway?" which means to need to press Joystick and ok button at EVERY start up. You did not mention this issue in your blog. Do you have a solution for this? Regards from Vienna, Canonfan001

Martin Koch said...

As I write above the HF100 displays a battery symbol with a question mark instead of the remaining usage minutes when using the third party battery shown above.
I saw the message that you' describe when I charged the original battery in the third party charger. I suppose your battery is also somehow "intelligent" and the HF100 only works with non-intelligent third party batteries.

Canonfan001 said...

Thank you for your reply. My noname battery has led bar, nothing else. I dont expect much cleverness inside. But you have noname battery which just shows red battery mark in the lcd and NO message complaining about the battery communication? This is intersting hint, I will try to find more stupid battery and check it.

Best regards
Canonfan001

Canonfan001 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Grimm said...

I just purchased two batteries from Hong Kong for less than $15. Seller states that they are "decoded" and will display the time remaining on the camera. Here's his store.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/tianlin2010/m.html?item=271148377947&ViewItem=&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2562