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Which battery does the Olympus E-PL3 take?

The Olympus PEN E-PL3 is a digital 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.

Battery Pack

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 January 2011 and sells at good camera retailers, such as amazon, for about $60. Generic alternatives (see below) that are compatible with the Olympus PEN E-PL3 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-PL3. 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.

BLS-5

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-PL3 can take 300 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 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.

Olympus BLS-5 Specifications

Battery type: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack
Compatibility: Olympus E-PL3 & other selected Olympus cameras
Voltage: 7.2V DC
Capacity: 1150mAh or 300 shots (CIPA) with the Olympus E-PL3
Dimensions (W x H x D): 56 x 13 x 36mm
Weight: 48g

Indeed, one can easily find a variety of competitively-priced BLS-5 replacements from different vendors at major online platforms (see, for example, here on eBay). All these generic alternatives should work fine with your Olympus E-PL3. 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 and can be effectively charged with the standard 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.

amazon ebay

Which other cameras use the Olympus BLS-5 or the BLS-50?

The Olympus E-PL3 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.

Cameras using the BLS-5 or the BLS-50
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)
Camera
Model
Olympus E-M10 BLS-5 320 Four Thirds 15.9 396 Jan 2014 699- i Olympus E-M10
Olympus E-M10 II BLS-50 320 Four Thirds 15.9 390 Aug 2015 799- i Olympus E-M10 II
Olympus E-M10 III BLS-50 330 Four Thirds 15.9 410 Aug 2017 649 i i Olympus E-M10 III
Olympus E-P3 BLS-5 330 Four Thirds 12.2 369 Jun 2011 799- i Olympus E-P3
Olympus E-PL2 BLS-5 280 Four Thirds 12.2 362 Jan 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-PL3 BLS-5 300 Four Thirds 12.2 313 Jun 2011 599- i Olympus E-PL3
Olympus E-PL5 BLS-5 360 Four Thirds 15.9 325 Sep 2012 599- i Olympus E-PL5
Olympus E-PL6 BLS-5 360 Four Thirds 15.9 325 May 2013 599- i Olympus E-PL6
Olympus E-PL7 BLS-50 350 Four Thirds 15.9 357 Aug 2014 599- i Olympus E-PL7
Olympus E-PL8 BLS-50 350 Four Thirds 15.9 357 Sep 2016 549- i Olympus E-PL8
Olympus E-PL9 BLS-50 350 Four Thirds 15.9 380 Feb 2018 549 i i Olympus E-PL9
Olympus E-PM1 BLS-5 330 Four Thirds 12.2 265 Jun 2011 499- i Olympus E-PM1
Olympus E-PM2 BLS-5 360 Four Thirds 15.9 269 Sep 2012 499- i Olympus E-PM2

Olympus BLS-5 FAQ

The BLS-5 is the standard power source for the Olympus E-PL3. 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-PL3 and other selected cameras from Olympus.

How should the BLS-5 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.

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