Which battery does the Olympus E-P3 use?
The Olympus PEN E-P3 is a enthusiast mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that features a 12.2MP sensor. It is powered by the Olympus BLS-5, 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 BLS-5 operates at a voltage of 7.2V and has a capacity of 1150mAh. It can be charged from a standard electrical outlet via the Olympus BCS-5 charger (that can be purchased separately, for example, at amazon). The battery pack measures 56mm in width, 13mm in height, and 36mm in depth. It weighs 48g. The BLS-5 has been on the market since June 2011 and sells at good camera retailers, such as amazon, for about $60. Generic alternatives (see below) can be obtained at substantially lower cost.
What is the difference between the BLS-5 and the BLS-50?
The Olympus BLS-5 was replaced as a battery pack for digital cameras by the BLS-50. Both types operate at a similar voltage and are fully interchangeable, so that the BLS-50 can also be used with the Olympus E-P3. The main difference between the two packs is their capacity. The BLS-5 has a 2.2 percent lower mAh value (1150 vs 1175 mAh) and, hence, somewhat weaker performance (2.2 percent fewer shots per battery charge) than the BLS-50.
How many shots can I take with a fully charged BLS-5?
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 Olympus E-P3 can take 330 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?
Olympus BLS-5 Specifications
|Battery type:||Rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack|
|Compatibility:||Olympus E-P3 & other selected Olympus cameras|
|Capacity:||1150mAh or 330 shots (CIPA) with the Olympus E-P3|
|Dimensions (W x H x D):||56 x 13 x 36mm|
Olympus sells the original BLS-5 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 BLS-5 replacements from different vendors at major online platforms (see, for example, here at ebay). All these generic alternatives should work fine with your Olympus E-P3 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 BLS-5, 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 BLS-5. 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 Olympus 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 BLS-5 and its clones by using the buttons below.
What other cameras use the Olympus BLS-5 or the BLS-50?
The Olympus E-P3 is not alone in using the BLS-5 or the BLS-50. Several other cameras from Olympus 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 BLS-5 or the BLS-50
|Olympus E-M10||BLS-5||320||Four Thirds||15.9||396||2014||699||discont.||check||Olympus E-M10 II||BLS-50||320||Four Thirds||15.9||390||2015||799||discont.||check||Olympus E-M10 III||BLS-50||330||Four Thirds||15.9||410||2017||649||latest||check||Olympus E-P3||BLS-5||330||Four Thirds||12.2||369||2011||799||discont.||check||Olympus E-PL8||BLS-50||350||Four Thirds||15.9||357||2016||549||discont.||check||Olympus E-PL9||BLS-50||350||Four Thirds||15.9||380||2018||549||latest||check|
Olympus BLS-5 FAQ
The BLS-5 is the standard power source for the Olympus E-P3. 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 BLS-5?
Olympus does not offer a travel charger, but third party suppliers do (see here on ebay).
Is the BLS-5 available in colors other than gray?
No, Olympus supplies this battery pack only in gray. However, some generic alternatives from third party providers might be available in other colors.
Can I use the BLS-5 in any of my other electronic devices?
No, the battery is specifically designed for use in the Olympus E-P3 and other selected cameras from Olympus.
How should the BLS-5 be stored?
Lithium-ion batteries can hold a charge for many months. 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.