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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II The second Micro Four Thirds camera that offers phase detect focusing so you can use Four Thirds DSLR lenses normally as well a Micro Four Thirds lenses.

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Old 21st April 2018
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BLH-1 Clone Tests

Having just become the happy owner of an E-M1 MkII I thought it was about time to update the data-logging equipment and repeat the tests I have done in the past on BLM-1, BLL-1 and BLN-1 clones. Just as with modern multi-EMU/ECU cars our cameras are completely dependent on the battery to drive the electronics and the electro-mechanical components of our modern digital cameras. As a past radio-controlled 10th scale car racer I learned first hand the importance of being able to measure and monitor the state of the cells in the packs and this has carried over into batteries of all types. I hope the information here will be of some use to other owners.

There are seven key characteristics which define a re-chargeable battery such as the BLH-1.

  1. Capacity
  2. Fused for safety
  3. Cut-off to avoid irrecoverable deep discharge
  4. Shelf life if used occasionally
  5. Charge cycles if used frequently
  6. Internal self-discharge
  7. Mechanical construction

In this, the first round of tests I can only really address 1, 3 and 7 from my small personal stock of BLH-1's (there should be two Olympus samples but the second pack has been delayed). A little later I hope to be able to report on 6. I would like to present here my findings on the Olympus BLH-1 as shipped with the camera (1720mAh stated), the EXPro BLH-1 (2450mAh stated) and the DSTE BLH-1 (1750mAh stated).

The results presented in the attached graphs are the averages of three runs each into a 40-ohm load (to approximate the manufacturers stated capacity - note 1) and into a 10-ohm load to approximate a heavy continuous shooting session with much focussing and chimping. The Olympus pack is charged in the BCH-1 and the other two packs are charged in the EXpro LCD-B.

First to be tested, the Olympus pack. This performs exactly as you would expect giving a nice flat discharge curve before starting to drop at 480 minutes and cutting itself off at 5.06 volts. The test load capacity at 1665mAh is a good result and adjusted to 1817mAh to equate to the manufacturers figures is well over specification.

Second in the queue is the EXpro BLH-1. Again, producing a nice discharge curve holding a slightly better voltage than the Olympus pack before rolling nicely off at about 580 minutes and cutting off safely at 5.4 volts to produce a tested 1956mAh, adjusted to 2135mAh to match manufacturer ratings albeit significantly less than that stated on the pack. This will definitely become a usable backup to the Olympus packs.

Lastly the DSTE BLH-1. Producing a test capacity of 1575mAh (adjusted to 1718mAh) this is the worst performance of those tested and slightly below the stated capacity. This in itself is not a major issue but the discharge curve is a cause for concern as there is a distinct peak at 7.74 volts followed by a steeper drop in the remainder of the curve before cutting off safely at 5.3 volts. This behaviour was consistent throughout the test cycles and is also quite apparent in the high-discharge test. I will not use this pack.

Physically, all packs seemed quite well constructed. The contact patches of all three were consistent in size with the Olympus having a better looking finish to the gold plate. The EXpro at 83g is the heaviest followed by the DSTE at 77g and the Olympus at 72g. Without cutting the packs open the mechanical test has to be subjective but simply by squeezing the sides and top/bottom the most solid feel goes to the EXpro followed by the DSTE with the Olympus pack surprisingly in last place. This is perhaps due to the air-space around the cells as this is the same order as the weight. None of the packs gave any problems sliding into or ejecting from the battery bay.

In summary, the EXpro and the Olympus pack are to be recommended but the DSTE with its discharge curve issues (which goes to cells and/or controller issues) should be approached with caution, especially as the EXpro is not a lot more expensive and has a far greater capacity.

The star of these tests has to be the EXpro. I have tested EXpro packs before, both grey and white BLN-1 types and have never been impressed with them, failing as they frequently do to come anywhere near the stated capacity and often showing high self-discharge and signs of premature failure. While this pack also fails to produce the stated capacity by almost 13% it nevertheless produces an admirable 17% extra over the Olympus pack for about a quarter of the price. If the self-discharge and longevity are equally as good then this will indeed be a good addition to the camera bag.

Of course, the clone packs are only partly decoded (at time of writing) which means that the E-M1 will nag at you when you put them in, you can't charge them in the BCH-1 and the battery condition data will not be displayed by the camera but if you don't mind that then the good news is that there is at least one clone pack worthy of consideration. I will hope to add some more packs to the tests as time goes by.

Note 1: As the 40-ohm test load results in a slightly higher discharge rate than the standard 0.1C rate the capacities have been adjusted upwards by 9.14% to compensate so will differ slightly from those shown on the graph. This does not apply to the high-discharge test graph.

Note 2: These tests are on single samples and I do not therefore assert that they are representative of the entire brand but I am sure you can draw your own conclusions.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg blh-1_clones_test.jpg (118.8 KB, 21 views)
File Type: jpg BLH-1-Clones-40R_web.jpg (12.7 KB, 25 views)
File Type: jpg BLH-1-Clones-10R_web.jpg (13.2 KB, 19 views)
File Type: jpg Data-Logger-Utility_web.jpg (20.4 KB, 18 views)
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Old 21st April 2018
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

Great post. I need to find your post regarding the BLM-1, as asked a question regarding clones of these a few days ago......
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Old 22nd April 2018
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

Have to say my Expro battery is not so good as the Olympus batteries. Does not seem to hold its charge for long. Freshly charged it's ok. But if I keep it in the bag for a week or two before using it, it does not last very long....
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Old 22nd April 2018
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

Thanks for these results.Interesting stuff.

I confess that after my experience with the MKI I bit the bullet and bought Olympus batteries only with the MKII.

The less controlled test I used with the MKI was straight forward daily use and that consistently showed that the Expro batteries I had did not last as long in practical situations as the Olympus models. They were also subject to self discharge which I have not personally experienced with the Olympus variants.

Of course the cost of the BLH-1 is high to say the least but I made that considered decision to spend more to get the superior real life performance. I have not regretted that decision.

Yer pays yer money and yer makes yer choice.

Hec
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Old 22nd April 2018
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grumpy Hec View Post
Thanks for these results.Interesting stuff.

I confess that after my experience with the MKI I bit the bullet and bought Olympus batteries only with the MKII.

The less controlled test I used with the MKI was straight forward daily use and that consistently showed that the Expro batteries I had did not last as long in practical situations as the Olympus models. They were also subject to self discharge which I have not personally experienced with the Olympus variants.

Of course the cost of the BLH-1 is high to say the least but I made that considered decision to spend more to get the superior real life performance. I have not regretted that decision.

Yer pays yer money and yer makes yer choice.

Hec
I completely agree. My experiences with buying cheap batteries, seeing them not work well and then throwing them away, showed me it was better to buy the Olympus ones. And with the E-M1 II you get the proper reporting of the charge level.
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Old 22nd April 2018
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ224 View Post
Have to say my Expro battery is not so good as the Olympus batteries. Does not seem to hold its charge for long. Freshly charged it's ok. But if I keep it in the bag for a week or two before using it, it does not last very long....
For me, that is the biggest capacity-related issue. I don't mind if a pack has 80% of the capacity of the Olympus pack if it is a quarter of the price but I need to rely on it to still have most of the 80% there in a month or more. A pack is not so good if it has 17% more than the Olympus pack when charged but in a weeks time it has 20% less. I will hope to form a view on this but as you might imagine it will take some time.
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Old 22nd April 2018
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

Quote:
Originally Posted by DekHog View Post
Great post. I need to find your post regarding the BLM-1, as asked a question regarding clones of these a few days ago......
Try my original report, you can find it here http://www.attfield.co.uk/gallery/E1/clonetests.htm, hope it helps.
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Old 22nd April 2018
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

Are UniRoss not around any more?
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Old 22nd April 2018
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

Useful info.

I have to say that having spent a significant amount of money on my camera and lenses I certainly would not choose a compatible battery just to save a few pounds.

When you take into account the risk of damaging your equipment and voiding any warranty plus not been able to see the battery status why would you do it?
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Old 22nd April 2018
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

Thanks James for the hard work and detailed report. I will be interested to see your results on self-discharge and so on once enough time has passed for analysis.

For me, having a decent percentage charge indicator on the E-M1 Mk II is a really big plus. With all the earlier models I found the full-OK-FEEDMENOW indicator to be both unreliable and too coarse to be useful, and the Oly chargers don't give any indication of charge level either.

John
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Old 22nd April 2018
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

Quote:
Originally Posted by DekHog View Post
Are UniRoss not around any more?
They seem to be as a company but whether they still make the VB104295 or not, I don't know. This place still lists them as available:

http://www.smallbattery.company.org.uk/sbc_vb104295.htm
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

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Originally Posted by wornish View Post
Useful info.

I have to say that having spent a significant amount of money on my camera and lenses I certainly would not choose a compatible battery just to save a few pounds.

When you take into account the risk of damaging your equipment and voiding any warranty plus not been able to see the battery status why would you do it?
I can't disagree with you at all but my original remit to myself was to find out whether it was possible to find some middle ground between the cheap, nasty and dangerous packs and the manufacturers packs which would provide similar capacity without compromising quality or introducing risk to a significant investment in the camera itself.

What I found was that in many cases it was possible to source compatible packs which in some cases with regard to capacity and safety were equal to or exceeded the packs supplied by the manufacturer. The UNiROSS BLM-1 equivalent was a case in point, quality cells and effective control circuitry and every bit as good as the Olympus pack. OK, it was only a third the price rather than a fifth the price but even so, a bargain for the asking.

Just to be clear on this point, a statement of the obvious I know, quality packs require quality cells and quality cells are the most expensive of all. It is not reasonable to expect cells in a cheap pack to behave like cells in a quality manufacturers pack. My point is - there have been packs out there with good cells which are reasonable in price by comparison which are good enough to safely deploy. The trouble is - you can't tell from the manufacturers label. I hoped to shed a little light.

It is my belief that the battery pricing policy adopted by Olympus (and to be fair other manufacturers) only drives people towards third-party alternatives so if it is intended to be a profit point it would seem to be self-defeating. Who would buy an uncertain clone if the OEM was only 20% more expensive? OK, some would, I know. It is not dissimilar to the practice of selling printers at a loss and recouping profits on over-priced ink cartridges. I abhor the practice and wish it were otherwise, I would be quite happy if there were no need for me to carry out pack tests at all

The warranty issue is a little more sinister. I have not as yet seen any prose which suggests that a failure while using a non-Olympus clone would be a reason to void warranty. Having said that, should a clone self-destruct while in the camera and wreck it there would no doubt be implications. Just another reason to avoid the cheap and nasty clones but as already stated, this is not such an easy thing to do based on labels and advertising claims.
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Old 22nd April 2018
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

Thanks James I think you are confirming my point. This is a personal decision and one risk that I won't take to save 20- 30.

Others can make there own choice.

Your review is however very thorough.
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

I have an ExPro BLH-1 and it worked as well as the original during my recent Far East trip which meant temperatures of up to 40C (Thailand!) and rarely below 30C during the day (everywhere else) as well as high humidity. For me the main problem with the ExPro is the slow USB charger (you can't charge it with the original charger) and the less detailed status info on remaining charge from the camera. But for the price I can live with that very easily and I simply swap between the original and the ExPro.

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Old 22nd April 2018
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Re: BLH-1 Clone Tests

Quote:
Originally Posted by jima View Post
It is my belief that the battery pricing policy adopted by Olympus (and to be fair other manufacturers) only drives people towards third-party alternatives so if it is intended to be a profit point it would seem to be self-defeating.
Couldn't agree more.


Regarding personal experience, I have had both EXpro and DSTE batteries for a previous camera and found them both to vary in both charge and longevity. Some are still in use and some have failed ..... with both manufacturers batteries. Quality from both manufacturers does seem very variable

I did try to return an EXpro battery which was faulty on arrival but gave up in the end. Their after sales with regard to faulty units was deplorable.

I am using DSTE batteries as well as the original (all numbered and rotating) in my E-M1 ii and they are behaving well so far.
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