On November 14, we posted the news of firmware updates available for the Nikon D5100, D5200, D3100, D3200 and P7700 cameras. The firmware modification notes read:
"Modifications enabled with this firmware upgrade
Remaining battery charge is now accurately detected for Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL14a. By upgrading firmware to [current version], EN-EL14a performance is maximized so that more images can be captured (battery performance) than when an EN-EL14 is used. With firmware [previous firmware version] and earlier, the number of images that can be captured (battery performance) when an EN-EL14a is used is less than when an EN-EL14 is used."
Some owners who updated their Nikon cameras' firmwares are reporting that the update killed compatability with 3rd party batteries. Did Nikon attempt to kill 3rd party compatability with the firmware updates?
If so, I suspect they may have been taking a play out of Canon's playbook. Back in early Ocotber, Canon released a product advisory regarding the LC-E6 Battery Charger, the charger that ships with cameras using the LP-E6 battery (5D Mark III, 5D Mark II, 6D, 7D, 70D, 60D, 60Da). In the product advisory, Canon stated:
"In rare cases, the orange lamp on the Canon Battery Charger LC-E6 will blink rapidly at regular intervals when the Canon Battery Pack LP-E6 is inserted. In such cases, charging the Canon Battery Pack LP-E6 in the Canon Battery Charger LC-E6 is not possible."
This symptom may occur when a Canon Battery Pack LP-E6 has been discharged due to being unused for a prolonged period of time, such as when it is first purchased."
Canon provided a fairly easy procedure to reset the charger. However, Canon also stated:
"The situation may also occur when attempts are made to charge non-genuine Canon Battery Packs in the Canon Battery Charger LC-E6. However, the procedure provided above does not apply to the use of non-genuine Canon products."
I found the note regarding 3rd party batteries quite interesting. And surely enough, when I tried to charge one of my 3rd party batteries in the LC-E6 that came with a 5D Mark III, the battery wouldn't charge. However, if I placed the same battery in an older LC-E6 (one that was packaged with our 7D review camera purchased in late 2009 and another packaged with a 5D Mark II), the 3rd party battery charged perfectly fine.
That got me wondering – Did Canon reengineer their battery chargers to make them less compatible with 3rd party batteries? And did their reengineering attempt inadvertently cause issues with their own OEM batteries? If so, is Nikon following Canon's lead in actively discouraging 3rd party battery use?
I don't have an answer to these questions. However, I do find it quite ironic that newer LC-E6 Battery Chargers seem less compatible with 3rd party batteries than the older chargers and that Nikon's firmware updates seem to break compatability with 3rd party batteries. [Sean]