Monday, June 6, 2011

Erratic Functioning Makes For A Split Decision On The Ultralast UL-BP511 Battery Pack!

The Good: One works wonderfully, Quick recharge time, Durable
The Bad: One has really crapped out on us!
The Basics: The power source for many Canon products, the UL-BP511 becomes more erratic as time goes on.

My original intent was to review my wife's camera (that shall be forthcoming) but it died on her recently, leaving me adrift and unable to review it. That said, I thought it might be useful to write about the battery pack used to power her Canon EOS10D given that we have had two such batteries now. We have been using the UL-BP511 battery pack for three months now and the durability of the battery comes from the fact that we received ours used; a professional photographer had been using both batteries for over two years prior to our acquisition of them.

The Ultralast UL-BP511 is a very specific battery pack. It is a two-cylinder battery that measures 2 1/8" long, 1 1/2" wide and 7/8" tall. It is specifically designed for cameras from Canon and similar camcorders. If your device requires the UL-BP511 it ought to have come with one or the manual will clearly dictate that it is required for the device. The UL-BP511 puts out 7.4 volts and 1600 mAh of electricity, so it is not useful for much other than small electronic devices specifically designed for it. This is a Lithium-ion battery which means two things: it is hazardous to dispose of except through proper channels and it is rechargeable.

This is a plastic-encased battery pack with metal leads only at the end that goes into the device. This makes it very easy to use as the flat bottom of the battery pack puts it on tracks within the Canon products and it may only be slid in one way: the proper way. The plastic case of the battery pack is thick and resists cracking. We've dropped our batteries several times on things like stone and concrete and this has not made a dent in the battery case or damaged the gold-plated leads on the UL-BP511.

As well as fitting into the devices only one way, the UL-BP511 is excellent in that it only fits into the charger one way. The flat bottom is specifically designed with gaps in the tracks so it may only slide in properly. This battery does require a charger and it must be purchased separately. When the battery is exhausted, it takes about four hours to get the UL-BP511 back to full charge.

Using the UL-BP511 is easy; it slides into the Canon EOS10D and when one closes the battery port, the camera may be activated. We have two UL-BP511 batteries, both of which have been in use for about two and a half years, used equally. One of these batteries holds a charge for only about fifteen minutes (if we are lucky). The other is strong and is able to keep a charge - shooting with many different lighting and zooming conditions - for about an hour and a half. There are no differences - cosmetic or functional - between these two batteries, but one works, one doesn't after two years of use.

That level of inconsistency with the battery makes it a tougher product to recommend enthusiastically. Because the longer one uses this the more likely it is to crap out, this can be an annoying drawback of buying it. As the warranty is only a single year, the rechargeable battery losing its ability to retain charge after two years is something the consumer can do nothing about.

But because the UL-BP511 is necessary for operating our Canon camera, it is a necessary evil. However, before purchasing Canon devices that require the UL-BP511, one might want to take to heart that this battery pack may become a financial liability in the future when it needs to be replaced . . .lest you get less use out of your beloved camera!

For other products related to cameras, please check out my reviews of:
Nikon AA batteries for the L16 camera
Nikon P5000 Digital Camera
Fuji Finepix A200 Digital Camera


For other electronics reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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