Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wasabi Power Replacement Battery Review.

Wasabi Power Batteries for GX1
While preparation for my trekking trip to the Himalayas, the first thing I realized was that my new camera would require addtional batteries that should last me for 7-8 days of continuous shooting. The original battery costs $50 on Amazon, so buying a bunch of them was going to burn a big hole in my wallet.

I decided to look for alternatives, and saw this Wasabi Power batteries selling for a fraction of the cost ($13.99 to be precise). Reviews suggested that even though the battery is not decoded (i.e. it does not have the proprietory chip to communicate battery level information to the camera), it work just fine on the GX1. In fact, they have a special bundle that nets you 2 batteries plus a charger for just $28.99. Also, the charger has an additional trick up its sleeve. It comes with a car adapter, which would certainly come in handy when you want to charge the battery while on the go.

So for the price of 1 original battery, I got 3 batteries plus a charger and car kit. Not a bad deal.

Below is the summary of the differences between the Original Panasonic battery and the Wasabi Replacement Battery.

Feature Panasonic Wasabi
1. Power Rating 1010 mAh 1500 mAh (50% more)
2. Accurate Battery Level Yes No
3. Car Charging Option No Yes
4. Number of Shots 200 300 (approximate)
5. Price $49.99 $13.99

So now I have 4 batteries (1 original and 3 replacement). The big question for me is: "Will this be enough to last for 7-8 days of shooting without any access to a charging source?"

I have done some rough calculations, and it looks like this may not be enough.

Last year, when I did a 7-day trek in the Himalayas, I had carried with me the Nikon D300 and 3 batteries. At the end of the trek, I had shot around 2000 pictures (about 40 GB), and all the 3 batteries were completely drained.

But the D300 is a different beast altogether. It's battery is rated at 1000 shots, and I had disabled all battery draining featuers (for example, the LCD display was switched off and I would switch it on, only to check exposure once in a while).

Unfortunately, that cannot be done with the GX1. It's a mirrorless camera without an optical viewfinder. This means all framing has to be done with the LCD display (or an electronic viewfinder). This ensures that batteries get over very fast. Even if I take the optimistic numbers, I will get maximum of 1100 shots (900 with the 3 replacement batteries, and 200 with the original Panasonic battery).

Obviously this is not good enough. The question now is: "Should I get more batteries or look for other alternatives?".

I have to decide soon, as the trip is just one month away.


lensman said...

I didn't know the GX1 didnt have a viewfinder.. I was playing with the Fuji X100 the other day and really liking it.. It really feels like my old film camera from the 80's..

Cajie said...

Yeah. The GX1 does not have a built-in EVF. I bought it separately for $200. Having a separate EVF means less bulk to carry around (the only exception to this rule is Sony, who somehow manage to fix the best OLED EVF in the market, on their Nex-7, without adding any bulk to the camera).
As for the X100, I think its getting a little long in the tooth - and a fixed lens would be too limiting for me.
The X-Pro1 is better, but has lots of auto-focusing issues.
The GX1, E-P3, and Nex-7 are all proven technologies that correct all the mistakes of the earlier models.