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Which battery does the Sony A850 take?

The Sony Alpha A850 is a professional DSLR that features a 24.4MP sensor. It is powered by the Sony NP-FM500H, 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 NP-FM500H operates at a voltage of 7.4V and has a capacity of 1600mAh. It can be charged from a standard electrical outlet via the Sony BC-VM10 charger (that can be purchased separately, for example, at amazon). The battery pack measures 38mm in width, 21mm in height, and 56mm in depth. It weighs 79g. The NP-FM500H has been on the market since June 2006 and sells at good camera retailers, such as amazon, for about $70. Generic alternatives (see below) that are compatible with the Sony Alpha A850 can be obtained at substantially lower cost.

How many shots can I take with a fully charged NP-FM500H?

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.

NP-FM500H

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 Sony A850 can take 880 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?

Sony sells the original NP-FM500H 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.

Sony NP-FM500H Specifications

Battery type: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack
Compatibility: Sony A850 & other selected Sony cameras
Voltage: 7.4V DC
Capacity: 1600mAh or 880 shots (CIPA) with the Sony A850
Dimensions (W x H x D): 38 x 21 x 56mm
Weight: 79g

Indeed, one can easily find a variety of competitively-priced NP-FM500H replacements from different vendors at major online platforms (see, for example, here on eBay). All these generic alternatives should work fine with your Sony A850. So why would anybody then buy the more expensive original battery? Well, below are some arguments in favor of the genuine NP-FM500H, 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 NP-FM500H. 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 Sony 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 NP-FM500H and its clones by using the buttons below.

amazon ebay

Which other cameras use the Sony NP-FM500H?

The Sony A850 is not alone in using the NP-FM500H. Several other cameras from Sony 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 NP-FM500H
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
Sony A57 NP-FM500H 550 APS-C 16.0 618 May 2012 699- i Sony A57
Sony A58 NP-FM500H 690 APS-C 19.8 492 Feb 2013 599- i Sony A58
Sony A65 NP-FM500H 510 APS-C 24.0 622 Aug 2011 899- i Sony A65
Sony A68 NP-FM500H 540 APS-C 24.0 610 Nov 2015 599- i Sony A68
Sony A77 NP-FM500H 470 APS-C 24.0 732 Aug 2011 1,999- i Sony A77
Sony A77 II NP-FM500H 480 APS-C 24.0 647 May 2014 1,199 i i Sony A77 II
Sony A99 NP-FM500H 500 Full Frame 24.0 812 Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony A99
Sony A99 II NP-FM500H 490 Full Frame 42.2 849 Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
Sony A100 NP-FM500H 750 APS-C 10.0 545 Jun 2006 999- i Sony A100
Sony A200 NP-FM500H 750 APS-C 10.0 545 Jan 2008 899- i Sony A200
Sony A300 NP-FM500H 730 APS-C 10.0 582 Jan 2008 699- i Sony A300
Sony A350 NP-FM500H 730 APS-C 14.0 582 Jan 2008 799- i Sony A350
Sony A500 NP-FM500H 520 APS-C 12.2 599 Aug 2009 749- i Sony A500
Sony A550 NP-FM500H 480 APS-C 14.0 597 Aug 2009 949- i Sony A550
Sony A560 NP-FM500H 1050 APS-C 14.0 599 Aug 2010 649- i Sony A560
Sony A580 NP-FM500H 1050 APS-C 16.0 599 Aug 2010 799- i Sony A580
Sony A700 NP-FM500H 650 APS-C 12.2 690 Dec 2007 1,399- i Sony A700
Sony A850 NP-FM500H 880 Full Frame 24.4 895 Aug 2009 1,999- i Sony A850
Sony A900 NP-FM500H 880 Full Frame 24.4 895 Sep 2008 2,999- i Sony A900

Sony NP-FM500H FAQ

The NP-FM500H is the standard power source for the Sony A850. 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 NP-FM500H?

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

Is the NP-FM500H available in colors other than black?

No, Sony 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 NP-FM500H in any of my other electronic devices?

No, the battery is specifically designed for use in the Sony A850 and other selected cameras from Sony.

How should the NP-FM500H 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.