Discussion - Camera Firmware Update Causes Third Party Batteries to Fail

Discussion – Camera Firmware Update Causes Third Party Batteries to Fail

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Recently we ran an article on – Updating your Camera’s Firmware – What is it and Why it’s Important. Funny thing is, I had never updated mine on any camera up to that point. As I edited and read the article I figured, yeah I guess I should do that. So I went ahead and updated the firmware on my Canon 5D Mark III.

Battery Failure

What happened is that my Canon batteries continued to work just fine. I went away to Oregon for 3.5 weeks and took three batteries with me – should be plenty right? Wrong! One ran down so I went to switch and got an error message on the screen that looks like this (excuse the iPhone photo, it’s hard to take a photo OF your camera).

battery-error

Okay so now what? I was afraid to just choose “OK” not knowing if doing so would then somehow damage my camera. I wasn’t prepared to take that risk. So I chose “Cancel” which basically caused the battery to be ignored and therefore the camera to have no power.

LP-E6 battery alternative

So I was left with one other third party battery, and one Canon battery for my trip. I hadn’t tested them before I left home (I use them all the time but lesson learned, don’t do what I did – test all gear before you go away anywhere) and apparently the Canon battery is completely dead. Not even the charger recognizes it. Nothing – nada – el zippo!

I had one battery left for the duration of my trip, one off-market one that didn’t produce the error. Luckily I have a handy charger that is portable (can charge batteries without being plugged in long as you charge it up first) and we weren’t out and about for long enough for me to fully drain it on any given day.

Cause and points for discussion

I did some digging on the internet and found that this is a common issue and that Canon has built that into the firmware update – aha! I knew the cause now – but what is the logic here? Apparently Canon wants you to only use their batteries and limit or eliminate the off-market ones.

It raises these questions for discussion

So tell me – what do you think about this?  Have you been affected by this firmware update too? I’m personally not crazy about being forced to use a given product, or the fact it killed my existing battery. Or did it really? What if I choose “OK” and it’s just fine but Canon just wants to freak me out, to which end they succeeded!

Why would one off-market brand get singled out and not work, when the other did just fine? Did the firmware update somehow affect my Canon battery too? It was fine last time I used it. Makes me wonder.

Do you use third party batteries? If you don’t, do you even care one way or the other?

But also let’s think about this, where does it end? What about filters, lenses, flashes? Will that mean that soon we may not be able to buy a Sigma or Tamron lens to fit? Or use a Hoya filter or a Metz flash?

How do you feel about this new policy? Tell me in the comments below. Let’s talk about this!

 


Disclaimer: this site does not advocate the use of third party of off-market batteries or products, do so at your own risk. 

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Darlene Hildebrandt is an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through articles on her site Digital Photo Mentor, online photography classes, and travel tours to exotic places like Morocco and India. To help you at whatever level you're at she has two email mini-courses. Sign up for her free beginner OR portrait photography email mini-course here. Or get both, no charge!

  • Thanks Dan but that’s not the same error. I didn’t get an error message on the top display just the back of the camera.

  • Wise words! Thanks Alan – yeah pricing for batteries is about the same here too.

  • You’re welcome. I recently learned you can reinstall the older firmware update – so I might give that a try if I can find a copy of the original.

  • I’ve been using 3rd party batteries for 15 years – I’ve never heard of one bursting into flames. Worst thing I’ve heard is they just don’t last very long.

  • Most printers have some little internal clock built into them that after so many pages printed they stop working. I’ve heard that if you can reset that thing it magically starts again. Another example of manufacturers building in obsolescence and forcing us to buy a new item. Not only does that annoy me from a consumer point of view but from one of a world view and the amount of senseless waste! It’s a throw away society and it’s really not right or sustainable. At some point it will catch up to us (the world).

  • I’ve deleted it, thanks.

  • The dead 3rd party battery in question is a ProMaster brand which is a pretty big brand name, purchased from a camera store as their house brand.

    As for the dead one I’ve never had that happen before and I’ve run them down to dead lots of times

  • Well actually that’s not exactly the case.

    #1 – the 3rd party battery in question was this one http://www.promaster.com/products.asp?product=6010 – a fairly well known accepted 3rd party manufacturer. The camera store in my city it is their house brand. They make all sorts of things. So it wasn’t some $10 battery with no name from China.

    #2 – I’ve never, ever heard of a battery blowing up inside a camera. I’ve been doing this 26 years.

    #3 – it’s not about saving $10 try 300 or 400? I don’t shoot weddings any more but when I did I had 2 camera bodies and 3 batteries for each. At $125 a pop that’s $750 for Canon branded ones. The 3rd party ones were half that and I’ve never, in 11 years shooting digital, ever had a problem, nor have I ever heard of one from a battery.

    For me it’s about being forced to buy theirs, it just doesn’t sit well with me. Yes the car manufacturers recommend a certain type of oil but they do not force you to buy theirs from the car dealer or your engine stops.

  • JvW

    Calm down, Jonathan, nobody is a liar here. I’m pretty sure that dbvirago is talking about lens hoods. It’s always surprised me that you can spend hundreds on a Canon lens and have to pay extra, and not just a little change, for a hood if it’s a non-L Canon -don’t know about Nikon, do know that Sigma includes a hood too.
    Without calling anyone a liar, Canon’s prices have gone up the last couple of years. Just two years ago I paid, before the rebate I got, what people paid this year after their rebate, for an L lens. It may be the market, the EU is definitely not the USA. Maybe it isn’t even the EU, but each country individually, who knows.
    Remember, dPs is pretty international, your truth isn’t necessarily universal.

  • wayout

    Have had the same issue. My 6d and 7d both use the same type battery. Only a couple of the 7d batteries will work in the 6d correctly. They weren’t bought at the same time, so it appears the manuf. Fixed the issue that was raised with the firmware update. I currently use 3rd party batteries in all my canon cameras and have for years without any issues.

  • wayout

    Have used 3rd party batteries for over 5 years without a single issue. The brand I use even lasts longer than the OEM’s, at half the price. No whinning going on here.

  • barry mchenry

    I think it’s all about the money. Canon wants to sell you a battery for 70 bucks or so and stop you from buying a comparable battery for maybe 20. Big profit for Canon at our expense. Just a thought: where are the Canon batteries manufactured? Probably China or some place overseas and maybe at the same places where the off brands are made? Kind of similar to brand name and generic drugs. In most case both work fine but cost considerably different. Many times produced in the same manufacturing plants.

  • Dan

    I guess this one didn’t come through?

    http://www.advancecamera.com/2012/09/01/canon-7d-cannot-communicate-with-battery-error/

    There are several cameras listed with this one!

  • RichardW3

    I tried to update my 5D Mark III, it crashed and Canon said tuff, my fault, but at a cost (mine) the would replace the main board. Money hundreds of dollars later I have a new version with that same error message as mentioned and now the previously ok 3 party batteries error, but still work ok. I just ignore the error. I would recommend thinking about doing the update your self. (Canon software is very ordinary on a Mac) BTW Canon said they would have done it for free. (And yes I know what I was doing as I was an IT specialist at the time)

  • ListenEar

    I have used OEM batteries in my 7D and 5DM3.
    With the 7D I started getting errors that the camera could not communicate with the battery. If I open and close the battery compartment, it works fine.
    With my 5M3, I have been using 2 Duracell batteries in a handgrip for ages, no problems. I have the latest Firmware as at 08/08/2014.
    I love my Canon 5DM3 and 28-300L Lens, I get amazing pix and memories of my kids. I don’t mind paying extra for better quality…. But not almost triple the price for a battery.

  • Pio Danilo Cuadra

    I am using an arsenal of twelve(12) LP-E6 batteries, three(3) of whom are original ones for my 2 EOS 7Ds and EOS 5D MARK 2. The other nine(9) copycats (which I bought in Shenzen & Hongkong) are all working well with my DSLRs.

  • Bob Bevan Smith

    That is definitely the case with Brother colour laser printers. I was informed by the printer software that a colour cartridge had run out, but when I took it to Cartridge World, they weighed it and said it was still 3/4 full. They reset the gears, and all was well. Since then, I have had three other colour cartridges do the same thing – each time, the guy at Cartridge World reset the gears for free and I was happy again. Apparently, all the cartridge gears rotate together, no matter how much or little of each colour you are using on each page.

  • Colin Boyland

    Like the reply – why should we be FORCED to buy a company’s ‘parts’ for their product all the time? These big Multi-National companies charge HIGH prices for their parts, but even then, they can fail! How many times have car manufacturers have had to recall new cars, due to dangerous, or potentially dangerous defects in brakes, or other parts?

    Fair enough to want to protect for us, the original, main product we bought from them, but there are good quality, after-market products that work fine. If we choose to use cheap, inexpensive parts, then we should know and accept the risks.

  • deanimator

    Not updating firmware can also avoid many such problems. My 5D MkII works just fine…why should I “fix” it?

  • Bob Bevan Smith

    A ‘flat’ Li-ion battery is not the same as a ‘dead’ battery. Usually, a flat Li-ion battery still has a residual charge, even though the camera shows it as completely empty.
    A Google search on raising Lithium batteries from the dead found this site: http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/low_voltage_cut_off
    This suggests that if a flat battery (which isn’t actually dead) isn’t recharged within a reasonable time, it will go dead. So it seems reasonable to keep swapping your spare batteries in and out, and recharging them as soon as they go flat. And perhaps just occasionally recharge any spares, even if they haven’t been used.

  • JvW

    Unfortunately I can’t find the article, getting old 🙂 I vaguely remember something about freezing or cooling the battery, and definitely remember the booster charge that Bob speaks of. I just can’t find
    And flat, asleep or dead -yes, I admit to using the wrong term here, but if you can’t charge it, boost it, use it, it’s dead. Where do you get the booster charge if your charger doesn’t deliver it? And comments to the article suggest that sleeping should generally be considered dead, as there are explosive risks to boosting. Oh well.
    So swapping regularly and charging before they go to sleep is probably the best.

  • Bob Harris

    I read a lot of what seem like rumours. I didn’t find a statement from Canon that this is actually a policy of theirs. If it were so I would find it difficult to defend – against the idea of a free market etc.

    I find manufacturers’ own accessories overpriced (many years ago we used to joke that HP sold their (mini)computers (remember those?) at a loss but made all their profits on the plastic boxes they sold to hold cartridges en floppy discs).

    I have two Canon batteries and two third-party batteries for my 650D (Rebel T4?). They fit in a third-party battery pack. I also have both a Canon charger and a third-party charger. All work fine (including mixing and matching two makes of battery in the battery pack and mixing battery and charger). So far (more than a year) no problems at all. The only difference I notice is that the capacity of the third-party batteries is slightly lower than those from Canon, but given the price difference this is acceptable for me.

    If Canon were deliberately to block the use of third-party batteries it would be a reason to switch makes (assuming that other camera manufacturers don’t do the same) – except of course for the investment in Canon-mount lenses (also from both Canon and Sigma).

  • Michael Owens

    I have two Nikon batteries, and three third party ones – and after a recent update to my Nikon D3300, the exact same thing as above happened.

    It’s a ploy to stop us NOT buying cheaper alternatives to the overly priced first party batteries, and I for one think that should be made illegal.

    I mean, even entry level DSLR’s are expensive (£300+), surely that is enough?

  • John Harrison

    I had a Canon Eos 7D did the update and low and behold my Hahnel battery that i paid £50 for actually just stopped working, the camera gave me no choice. (Hahnel are one of the top brands for third party batteries and come with a 2 year guarantee) I’m assuming that Canon receive some licensing money from Hahnel so this is just not right. After this incident i sold it and bought a Nikon as Canon seem to be going down the wrong path.

  • JvW

    I found this about the LP-E6 battery and LC-E6 charger and sleeping batteries. It’s supposed to help you get them charged.

    http://www.canon.co.uk/Support/Consumer_Products/products/cameras/Digital_SLR/EOS_7D.aspx?type=important&faqdetailid=tcm:14-1093814

  • Claude B.

    I had the same comment at a camera store!

  • Vinod

    Darlene…. if you click okay the only problem is you would not be able to see battery percentage , which is a real pain in the neck… and the number of shots remaining… other than that there are no problems.. just click okay… its fine!

  • Too late, exchanged all batteries for new ones

  • Dan

    A large Australian camera shop doesn’t sell Canon batteries for the 6D anymore. They sell a 3rd party battery (Hahnel Extreme Canon LP-E6 Battery) & say it “Replaces Canon LP-E6, so I wonder how it goes with the firmware update??

  • Clark Linehan

    I just picked up a used Canon 80D. Apparently because I’ve never updated the firmware in my 70D’s I never ran into the 3rd party battery scare tactic. Now with the 80D I have. I just bought some Powerextra batteries batteries thinking they’d be properly chipped to register the power level on the LCD and battery power level menu item. Nope, camera comes back with cannot communicate. So 3 years after this last conversation this is still an issue? I’ve questioned several sellers on eBay to see if their 80D batteries are “fully” compatible. It’ll be interesting to see what I hear back. Like others, I’ve been using 3rd party batteries forever and never had a problem.

  • Clark Linehan

    None of the sellers on eBay have responded that their batteries are full compatible and will work with the battery power metering. I asked the question on Amazon and got a bunch of BS half truth responses that make me think they’re shills. I discovered that 2 batteries that came with my 70D bodies even fail the Canon test. Apparently this is some new Canon game and they’re playing hardball with battery companies and won’t allow anyone else to have full compatibility.

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