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06-17-2009, 03:53 PM   #1
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"Battery Safety Firmware" - will others follow?

Panasonic has introduced "Battery Safety Firmware" for many of its cameras - basically disallowing use of any 3rd party batteries (in the name of safety).

Important Notice for imitation battery packs | Digital AV | Consumer Products | Support | Panasonic Global

I am sure Pentax and others would be watching closely.
Would this be the new trend? Would Pentax and others follow suit?

Admittedly, some 3rd party batteries, especially some of those $5 no name ones are very poorly made (and I have written posts in other forums to warn users about this). OTOH, there are some which are just as good as OEM. And without 3rd party options to keep the OEM price in check, they may incline to charge even more.

06-17-2009, 04:01 PM   #2
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You're right about the need for competition but you're also right about the incidence (and incidents) of poor replacements.

After the stories we've read about exploding knockoff batteries, and the bad press and threatened (at least) lawsuits that arose from those experiences, I can understand why a manufacturer using lithium-ion batteries must be careful.


I wish I didn't so often see both sides. I feel like Joni Mitchell sometimes.
06-17-2009, 05:17 PM   #3
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I'd just like to say that even first-party manufacturers (Panasonic included) have issued product recalls regarding their own faulty batteries in the past, so they themselves don't have a spotless record to be taking the moral high ground over third-party manufacturers.

The only difference between them, I suppose, is that when first-party manufacturers find flaws, they send out recalls, which I haven't seen third-party manufacturers do so far, or I'm not that informed about third-party recalls. That, and a much higher retail price for original batteries.

It's great that Panasonic cares for their customers, but the cynical side of me thinks that they think they could squeeze a bit more from customers by forcing them to buy their own batteries. That, or they want third-party makers to have those makers' batteries licensed by them.

I haven't had any problems with third-party batteries in the past, so I'm leaning more towards passing on Panasonic products that use proprietary batteries until they renege on this.
06-17-2009, 05:23 PM   #4
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This wouldn't be a popular move methinks.

My 3rd party one, costing about 1/3 of the Pentax one, seems so far to be as good as the Pentax one.

06-17-2009, 06:01 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Arpe Quote
This wouldn't be a popular move methinks.

My 3rd party one, costing about 1/3 of the Pentax one, seems so far to be as good as the Pentax one.
What brand? I have a generic (Impact) i bought from bhphoto and it's definitely crappier than the original pentax.
06-18-2009, 12:29 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by xhanatos Quote
What brand? I have a generic (Impact) i bought from bhphoto and it's definitely crappier than the original pentax.
I'm home now and had a look - it has no brand name! That's how proud they are of their product!
06-18-2009, 06:56 AM   #7
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I've been using the Minolta ones from B&H with great success on my K20D.
06-18-2009, 08:10 AM   #8
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I've been using 3rd party batts for years. No problems what so ever. I'm using Impact bought at B&H.

06-18-2009, 09:50 AM   #9
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I have to believe that the profit margin on OEM batteries is very high.
06-18-2009, 09:54 AM   #10
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I can't imagine Pentax following suit. They are not in the business of making/selling batteries. Panasonic is.
06-18-2009, 12:19 PM   #11
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If a battery suffers a catastrophic failure during the camera's warranty period and the camera's electronics are damaged, the camera manufacturer is going to be in a warranty liability situation with the customer. If it is a third party battery that caused the problem, the manufacturer will be taking it on the chin for something that is not their fault.
So, they have few options.
One is to force consumers into purchasing warranty approved first party batteries. This way, if a battery failure occurs, it is an in house problem, and they are taking responsibility for their own manufacturing defect.
Another is to stay with the status quo and continue fixing consumer created problems (buying cheap, high defect rate batteries) under warranty. This is bad for the company, and is bad for customers, as the cost of warranty service is built into the price of the product, so we all pay for the bad purchasing decisions of the people buying high defect rate batteries.
A third would be to inspect failed cameras prior to repair, and if the failure is battery related, to not give warranty service until the defective battery has been shipped to the repair depot for inspection. If it happens to be a third party battery failure at fault, then they could refuse warranty service.
This would, however, cost them more customers than just forcing first party battery sales in the first place, and would probably keep the legal department busier than they want as well.
06-18-2009, 02:29 PM   #12
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Or, they build the cameras so that they donít fail no matter what the battery is up to.
06-18-2009, 03:16 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gimbal Quote
Or, they build the cameras so that they donít fail no matter what the battery is up to.
Heh. Considering the various failure modes of poorly made Li-ion battery packs, it'd take casing nearly as big as the camera itself, and power transfer efficiency would drop a bit...
06-18-2009, 03:20 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Gimbal Quote
Or, they build the cameras so that they donít fail no matter what the battery is up to.
That would work. Do you want to pay 3K for a Pentax K-7 so you can cheap out on the batteries for it?
06-18-2009, 03:30 PM   #15
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Hard to tell how the camera manufacturer is going to know whose battery was in use at time of failure. Easy enough to put the Pentax/Panasonic battery back in post-disaster and mail the combo back to the camera company.

My K10D just locked up hard this weekend from what appears to be a battery failure. A newly-charged CTA battery, showing fully-charged on the camera's indicator, failed in mid-exposure. Removing and replacing it did not help.

I put my spare Pentax battery in, the mirror flopped back where it belonged, and all was well. Scared the ---- out of me.

This CTA had been losing its charge somewhat early lately and I was considering taking it out of service anyway. It's been in a two/three battery rotation for nearly two years and about 11K exposures. My original Pentax battery is doing fine. Here on in, it's a all-Pentax rotation.
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