If you have ever tried to buy a replacement battery for your Nikon D60 you have surely gotten a bit of a shock when you found out how much they cost. The Nikon EN-EL9a can heft a pretty price at around $50 per battery. What I am going to test here is an aftermarket battery and that costs a fraction of the price. I will also test out the aftermarket charger that adds a feature you don’t get with the factory Nikon charger. Both of these come in a package that costs less than half ($20) as much as a single Nikon battery. So lets see how they do.
I review a lot of items for your camera that are aftermarket / knockoffs. For the most part they seem to do pretty well. Batteries however are a
scary subject to attempt when your dealing with high dollar equipment like a DSLR. I am an avid Sony shooter, but recently I picked up a nice little Nikon D60 body in a local pawn shop for under $50. The downside, no lens and no charger. But it did have a Nikon battery. I ordered a lens from amazon and I went with the factory kit lens for the Nikon to keep it original for my wife. But the charger from Nikon was $40 and I wanted to have two batteries for obvious reasons.
What I ordered.
I found the Clearmax kit on Amazon after reading dozens of bad reviews of other brands. This one had the least negative feedback. Plus it came with a battery and the ability to be used on the go utilizing a 12v Lighter/accessory port cord in your vehicle. That is a nice feature to have.
What I got
The kit arrives and is two individual packages that have been boxed together. So your packaging may vary slightly from mine. In one package is the battery that says Clearmax on the label. For all intensive purposes it looks well built and solid. But we know what counts with batteries is on the inside. More on that later. The Charger box has the charger itself with its flip out 110v charge connection that allows you to plug in directly into the wall. A European adapter, and Cord for 12V use in any auto accessory port or cigarette lighter socket. Again the charger seems well built, though very lightweight. Which is sometimes a sign of being under-built. We shall see. Thumb grip texture on the side helps with insertion and removal of the battery from the charger. It is very compact when the wall plug prongs are folded in, so it will fit in about any pocket in your bag or vest.
First thing is obvious, lets charge the new battery. I tested the battery in the camera when it first arrived, it did have a small residual charge in it. But not enough to do much, so I decided it should get a full charge first thing. It took about 45 minutes for the charger to complete this first partial charge. Not to bad so far. Next I put the Nikon factory battery on the same charger and charged it completely. This took a bit longer at 55 minutes, but the battery was almost completely dead. During both charges I monitored the heat produced by the charger as well as used the smell test to see if anything was getting too warm. No issues at all on the first two charges. Neither battery got too warm during the charge either.
One feature this charger has that the factory chargers do not is the ability to be used in your car. On the order page it shows a coiled style cord. But mine arrived with a straight cord. Not a big deal, and it will probably last longer than the stretchy coiled type anyway. Just plug it into any Cigarette or Accessory port in you car and charge away. The pic at the left shows how to plug it into the socket on the top. You can also see the Euro adapter int his image. I tested the charge rate of the charger using car power and found that it took quite a bit longer to reach full charge. Closer to 90 minutes for a full charge this time. But when you in the middle of nowhere without 110v AC power this feature can be really handy and it appears to work just fine. Again no problems with heat or smell.
We have already tested the chargers performance, but what about the battery? This is what makes or breaks an affordable purchase. Even if it was free with the charger, if it does not perform well it is not a good deal. The factory Nikon battery claims up to 500 shot per charge. After using both batteries for a while I can say the Nikon claim is just about right on. I average 490 shots per charge over 3 charge cycles. Less when I use a lot of flash and more when I didn’t. The shocking part of the test was that I got almost 700 shots out of the Clearmax brand battery on the first charge. I was a bit perplexed. The next charge I only got 665, but I was still impressed. I decided to test this out a little more extensively since the results are not what I expected. Over the next 10 charge cycles it averaged out to around 600 to 620 images per charge with no signs of fading. Long term results are yet to be seen. But initial tests show performance equal to or exceeding factory spec equipment.
From what I have found so far The Nikon EN-EL9 that this Clearmax is a substitute for will work in the following models of Nikon DSLR cameras. The Nikon D40, D40X, D60, D3000, D5000. If you know of any other devices that use this battery line, let me know and I will make sure we add it to the list.
It is much too early to testify to the longevity of the battery and charger. I also was not able to test it in cold weather conditions as it is June. I will try to do that later. But for a quarter the price of a Nikon branded version and better performance, at least initially. We would be negligent to not get at least one of them to throw the charger in the glove box of the car and the battery in the camera bag. I feel this is a good purchase that every Nikon user should add to their arsenal. Never miss a shot again for a dead battery. Below are some links to the variations of this kit. I especially like the 5 batteries for $30 That is a killer deal.
So until next time Keep Shooting Str8!
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