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Fake Lithium Batteries Cause Nikon D70 Cameras to Explode

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September 30, 2005 - *Don’t be tempted to save a few bucks by buying knockoff lithium batteries that aren’t actually made by your digital camera’s manufacturer, or your camera may explode. No, really. A handful of Nikon D70 users have observed explosions within the battery compartment of their DSLRs thanks to a faulty battery, and though nobody’s damaged an eye or finger, a number of people have damaged their $1000 cameras.

How exactly does this happen? Lithium or lithium-ion batteries are often used in high-end cameras because they can pack more power per cell and have a longer shelf life. They also operate at much higher voltages, which is useful in DSLRs because of sudden power requirements on the battery (e.g, utilizing a burst mode). However, this higher voltage and greater energy flow means that it’s easier for the battery to overheat. Lithium and lithium-ion rechargeables made by reputable manufacturers solve this problem by including built-in safety devices that help regulate voltage to keep the cell from getting out of control. But without anything to keep the voltage within acceptable limits, the battery is susceptible to overheating and subsequent explosion.

Nikon is helping to address the problem by putting holographic stickers on their batteries, to assist consumers in finding the genuine article. Nikon is taking a cue from cell phone manufacturer Nokia in this regard, which was plagued by reports of cell phones exploding for similar reasons at the end of December in 2004.