Should I buy an original manufacturer battery, or is a generic brand OK?
I need another LP-E5 type battery for my Canon 450D. Should I buy an original Canon battery or one of the many generic brands available? There are loads of cheapos on eBay, for example.
I should add that the new battery will be added to my existing Canon battery in a battery grip.
Does anyone have any experience (good or bad) of using generic batteries?
One of the easiest choices is to buy brand name batteries. From batch to batch the manufacturer takes quality and performance very seriously. You know and I know that in general there will be no lemons. Generic batteries can be made by any number of manufacturers and they all take on the challenge with different perspectives. And as a result if you were to buy from a e-retailer www.dealextreme.com (which has been selling generic batteries from many manufacturers for years) you'll note that customers leave reviews indicating that one generic marque is better than another. One marque will hold almost as much charge as a Canon/Nikon marque for example.
But because generic battery manufacturers often just copy-cat the design and don't really take special care in being faithful to copying everything, they'll miss something that is non obvious. For example there are several cold weather expeditions to Antartica, mountaineering, and ocean faring where photogs discover generic brands to give out all too quickly, rendering the whole trouble of carrying them moot. They all chimed in wishing they had packed genuine brands. So you can imagine a generic battery maker using thin plastic shields without weather sealing because they could shave off a couple of cents and improve profits--not knowing what they are about to do to some of your most important photographic adventures.
Batteries are also intimately connected to the electronics in your camera, you don't want to be in an uneviable situation where Canon or Nikon disclaim their responsibility to repair your camera because they've discovered that the electronics may be busted due to a generic vertical grip, charger, or battery. That could be quite costly.
But do what you must, and do it smartly. For example, you might have some bust up out of warranty camera you bought at a garage sale and you just need to find some el cheapo battery to go with it. So that you can take out the IR screen of the old busted camera's sensor and do some art projects. No harms done and your wallet won't feel all too much lighter.
Also, when it comes to things like smart batteries such as the Canon LP-E6, nothing beats a battery that will always charge because it's legitimately designed to work with the charger not "compatible".
As long as you don't go anywhere to extreme - you can get some good use out of a batch of good clones. But don't take a chance with a special trip. Use the cheap ones day to day and wear them out on normal stuff - save the good ones for special things.
I use high quality generic LP-E6 batteries as well as my genuine Canon ones. They function the same: They charge on the same charger, the camera reads the serial # in the battery, and displays the charge level, number of shots, recharge performance, and remembers the date and charge state the last time each battery was used in the camera. The brand I use are still about 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of Canon OEM.