PW

Which battery does the Canon 50D take?

Battery Pack

The Canon EOS 50D is a enthusiast DSLR that features a 15.1MP sensor. It is powered by the Canon BP-511A, which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery pack. Lithium-Ion batteries offer a high energy density and low self-discharge, and are nowadays found in many portable electronic devices. The BP-511A operates at a voltage of 7.4V and has a capacity of 1390mAh. It can be charged from a standard electrical outlet via the Canon CB-5L charger (that can be purchased separately, for example, at amazon). The battery pack measures 39mm in width, 21mm in height, and 55mm in depth. It weighs 80g. The BP-511A has been on the market since August 2004 and sells at good camera retailers, such as amazon, for about $90. Generic alternatives (see below) that are compatible with the Canon EOS 50D can be obtained at substantially lower cost.

What is the difference between the BP-511A and the BP-511?

The Canon BP-511A was preceded as a battery pack for digital cameras by the BP-511. Both types operate at a similar voltage and are fully interchangeable, so that the BP-511 can also be used with the Canon 50D. The main difference between the two packs is their capacity. The BP-511A has a 20.9 percent higher mAh value (1390 vs 1100 mAh) and, hence, somewhat better performance (20.9 percent more shots per battery charge) than the BP-511.

How many shots can I take with a fully charged BP-511A?

BP-511A

The number of shots that one can get out of a battery pack depends heavily on the style and imaging practice of the photographer. For example, the extended use of the LCD screen for framing or reviewing will result in reduced battery performance. The Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA) has established guidelines (click here to download the pdf-document) that manufacturers are supposed to respect when reporting the battery life of their cameras. According to this CIPA-rating, the Canon 50D can take 800 images on a single charge. Given the relatively demanding energy usage of the CIPA procedures, this rated number should be achievable or be surpassed in most practical situations. However, if the environment is cold, the LCD screen is used heavily, or the camera is turned on and off frequently, battery mileage might drop below the rating. Also, as the battery pack ages, its performance will tend to deteriorate.

 

What about generic battery packs?

Canon BP-511A Specifications

Battery type: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack
Compatibility: Canon 50D & other selected Canon cameras
Voltage: 7.4V DC
Capacity: 1390mAh or 800 shots (CIPA) with the Canon 50D
Dimensions (W x H x D): 39 x 21 x 55mm
Weight: 80g

Canon sells the original BP-511A pack at quite a steep price. This premium pricing strategy has left room in the market for third party suppliers to offer fully compatible battery packs at much lower prices. Savings from buying generic replacement batteries can amount up to 70 percent of the price of the genuine battery pack. Indeed, one can easily find a variety of competitively-priced BP-511A replacements from different vendors at major online platforms (see, for example, here at eBay). All these generic alternatives should work fine with your Canon 50D and the standard battery charger. So why would anybody then buy the more expensive original battery? Well, below are some arguments in favor of the genuine BP-511A, which can perhaps be summarized as "peace of mind".

  • Assurance that the warranty of the camera will not be rendered void if a battery-related failure occurs;
  • Assurance that the battery pack will indeed have the stated capacity;
  • Assurance that the battery will have low self-discharge rates and, thus, will hold its charge even when not in use;
  • Assurance that the power unit will not trigger any warning messages on the camera or charger;
  • Assurance that the manufacturing process has respected the safety guidelines for Lithium-Ion batteries;

If you can live without these assurances, then you are in for some nice savings from buying generic replacements for the BP-511A. Unfortunately, the market for generic battery packs is rather fluid, with new trade names popping up regularly while others disappear. Hence it is difficult to keep track of all the suppliers and the quality of their products. That said, in North America, battery packs from Wasabi have gained a good reputation, while in Europe, replacement power packs from Patona have received many favorable reviews. In any case, the existing comparisons tend to find that the cheapest of the generic replacement packs score worse in terms of achieving their rated capacity, holding their charge over time, or allowing for a large number of charge-discharge cycles than somewhat pricier battery packs (or the genuine Canon offer). Thus, the old adage, "If the price sounds too low to be true, it probably is" has some merit with respect to camera batteries also. You can check the current offers and prices for the original BP-511A and its clones by using the buttons below.

ebay ebay

Which other cameras use the Canon BP-511A or the BP-511?

The Canon 50D is not alone in using the BP-511A or the BP-511. Several other cameras from Canon are powered by the same type of lithium-ion pack. The adjacent table lists some of them along with a selection of their headline specifications. Click on the camera name for further details on the particular model.

Cameras using the BP-511A or the BP-511
  Camera
Model
Battery
(name)
Battery life
(CIPA)
Sensor Size
(type)
Resolution
(MP)
Weight
(g)
Camera Launch
(announcement)
Launch Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Canon 5D BP-511A 400 Full Frame 12.7 895 Aug 2005 3,299- i
Canon 10D BP-511 500 APS-C 6.3 850 Feb 2003 1,999- i
Canon 20D BP-511A 700 APS-C 8.2 770 Aug 2004 1,499- i
Canon 30D BP-511A 750 APS-C 8.2 785 Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon 40D BP-511A 750 APS-C 10.1 822 Aug 2007 1,299- i
Canon 50D BP-511A 800 APS-C 15.1 822 Aug 2008 1,299- i
Canon 300D BP-511 400 APS-C 6.3 649 Aug 2003 899- i
Canon D30 BP-511 540 APS-C 3.1 750 May 2000 2,999- i
Canon D60 BP-511 620 APS-C 6.3 855 Feb 2002 2,999- i
Canon Rebel BP-511 400 APS-C 6.3 649 Aug 2003 899- i

Canon BP-511A FAQ

The BP-511A is the standard power source for the Canon 50D. As such it is an indispensable camera accessory. Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular aspects of the battery pack and Lithium-Ion power units more generally.

Is there a car charger available for the BP-511A?

Canon does not offer a travel charger, but third party suppliers do (see here on eBay).

Is the BP-511A available in colors other than black?

No, Canon supplies this battery pack only in black. However, some generic alternatives from third party providers might be available in other colors.

Can I use the BP-511A in any of my other electronic devices?

No, the battery is specifically designed for use in the Canon 50D and other selected cameras from Canon.

How should the BP-511A be stored?

Lithium-ion batteries can hold a charge for a long time. However, these battery packs have a safety mechanism build-in that disables any re-charge if the voltage drops below a certain minimum level. To avoid this safety-trigger to be activated, the battery pack should be charged at least once every few months.

How should I discard my old battery pack?

The contents of Lithium-Ion batteries is under pressure and the packs can explode if exposed to extreme heat. Lithium-Ion battery units should therefore never be incinerated and should not be thrown into the household trash, but put into the recycling stream. Most places that sell camera batteries will also accept them back for recycling.