Digital SLR Batteries

You've got a camera - now you need some digital SLR batteries to power the thing.

I have to admit it - there really aren't a ton of options here: the camera that you have will determine the batteries that you use.

Some cameras only use a proprietary rechargeable battery while others give you the flexibility of using standard AAs.

Regardless of which digital SLR batteries you need, I highly recommend that you get a spare (since all digital SLR cameras only ship with one battery) - there's nothing worse than running out of power right in the middle of a great photo session.

Not sure what battery your camera uses? Jump straight to the battery tables.

How Digital SLRs Use Batteries

Your digital SLR camera does a lot of work every time you take a picture:

  1. The camera opens and closes the shutter to expose the sensor to light
  2. The sensor captures light and runs that through the internal processor
  3. The digital image is saved onto the memory card
  4. The image is displayed for a brief period of time on the camera's LCD

All of this computer processing and information display takes a lot of power.

The good news: modern batteries last a lot longer than the ones in early digital SLR camera models.

Unless you are a very aggressive photographer, you probably won't need to recharge the battery for at least a week (and even longer if you only pull out your camera for special occasions).

Types of Digital SLR Batteries

The camera that you choose determines the batteries that you can use.

For example, the Canon digital SLR cameras all use rechargeable Canon batteries like the LP-E5 and the BP-511A, while Nikons use the EN-EL9 and the EN-EL3a.

Several Pentax digital SLRs run on 4 standard AA batteries.

Regardless of the battery that your camera requires, there are three common battery types:

  • Lithium Ion (Li-on) — Lithium Ion batteries are rechargeable and can store charges for a long time. These proprietary batteries are expensive to replace but last a long time
  • Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) — Ni-MH batteries are the most common replacement for standard AA, since they can be recharged time after time
  • CR-V3 — A CR-V3 battery is equivalent to 2AAs, and come in both rechargeable and non-rechargeable versions

If you can use rechargeable batteries, here's how to tell which ones will last the longest: look for the mAh (milli-Ampere-hours) number.

This tells you how long the battery will last when fully charged. A larger number means that you'll be able to take more photos before the battery runs out.

Battery Grips

If you really want your digital SLR to take photo after photo, you might want to invest in a battery grip. These optional battery compartments attach to the bottom of the camera, and can store multiple Li-on or AA batteries.

Besides providing your camera with more power, battery grips also have a shutter release button, and often include some of the same control dials that you'll find on the camera body.

These additional controls on the grip makes it much easier to take portrait photographs when you're holding the camera vertically.

Battery grips are expensive and add a lot of weight and bulk to a digital SLR, but are useful for photographers who take a lot of portraits and want to avoid wrist strain.

Is an Extra Battery Worth It?

If your camera uses a rechargeable Li-on battery, then my answer is yes. Here's why.

A rechargeable Li-on battery can take from 2 to 3 hours to reach a full charge.

Imagine that you're taking photos of a special event and your battery runs out. Without a backup, it's going to be awhile (and you're going to miss a lot of photo opportunities) if you have to charge your digital SLR batteries.

Sure, you think, that will never happen.

But here's the problem: digital SLR cameras aren't very good about showing you exactly how much charge the battery has left.

The symbol for "the battery is about to run out" and "the battery has a 50% charge" are similar to each other. If you've been taking pictures for awhile, this makes it hard to tell just how much juice is left.

I'm very careful about charging my batteries before big events, but there still have been times when my battery has run out unexpectedly.

Having a backup lets me keep taking photos so that I don't miss any special moments.

Digital SLR Battery Tables

The tables below shows the batteries and battery grips available for every digital SLR camera from each manufacturer.

Canon Digital SLRs
ModelBatteryBattery Grip
Rebel XTNB-2LH BG-E3
Rebel xTi 400DNB-2LH not available
Rebel XSi 450DLP-E5 BG-E5
Rebel T1i 500DLP-E5 not available
Rebel T2i 550DLP-E8 not available
Rebel T3i 600DLP-E8 BG-E8
Rebel XS 1000DLP-E5 not available
Rebel T3 1100DLP-E10 not available
20DBP-511A BG-E2N
30DBP-511A BG-E2N
40DBP-511A BG-E2N
50DBP-511A BG-E2N
60DLP-E6 BG-E9
Nikon Digital SLRs
ModelBatteryBattery Grip
D40EN-EL9not available
D40xEN-EL9not available
D50EN-EL3anot available
D60EN-EL9not available
D70EN-EL3anot available
D70sEN-EL3anot available
D3000EN-EL9anot available
D3100EN-EL14 not available
D5000EN-EL9anot available
D5100EN-EL14 not available
D7000EN-EL15 MB-D11
D800EN-EL15 MB-D12
Olympus Digital SLRs
ModelBatteryBattery Grip
E-330BLM-1not available
E-410PS-BLS1not available
E-420PS-BLS1not available
E-500BLM-1not available
E-510BLM-1not available
E-520BLM-1not available
E-5BLM-5 HLD-4
Pentax Digital SLRs
ModelBatteryBattery Grip
K100DAAnot available
K110DAAnot available
K200DAAnot available
K-rD-LI90 not available
K-xAAnot available
K-5D-LI90 D-BG4
K-7D-LI90 D-BG4
K10DD-LI50 BG2
K20DD-LI50 BG2
Sony Digital SLRs
ModelBatteryBattery Grip
A100NP-FM55Hnot available
A230NP-FH50not available
A290NP-FH50not available
A390NP-FH50not available
A450NP-FM500Hnot available
SLT-A33NP-FW50not available
SLT-A55NP-FW50not available
SLT-A65NP-FM500Hnot available
A700NP-FM500Hnot available

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