[Update: This article has been superseded by a more comprehensive review of batteries and other power options for the R5 and R6 cameras that can be seen here.]

There’s nothing wrong with Canon’s most recent battery model’s capacity. There’s not much better about it either. Camnostic tested 18 of the brand new LP-E6NH, and an equal number of older batteries (LP-E6 and LP-E6N) over five months and about 150 full draw-downs and recharges. The upshot: you’re getting about the same juice after the “honeymoon” early period in a new LP-E6NH battery’s life as you do with one of the LP-E6 batteries you bought back a decade ago.

On paper, the batteries have gained capacity, from 1800 milliamp hours (mAh) for the batteries first introduced in 2008 with the Canon 5D Mark II, on to 2130 mAh for the new LP-E6NH batteries introduced in July with the R5 and R6 cameras. That’s a theoretical boost of about 15 percent.

As a practical matter, though, this difference goes away as roughly a dozen recharge cycles will bring this new battery’s chemistry to a capacity closer to 1930 mAh, or only about 5 percent better than the original battery. Interestingly, the oldest batteries appear to hold up much better, causing their comparative capacities to remain roughly equal after the equivalent of a few years’ use.

Here is a graph of performance decay over the first dozen or so recharge cycles for a number of LP-E6NH batteries, compared to some older batteries measured after 5-10 years’ use. The blue columns toward the end are the average of four LP-E6 batteries, and the orange columns are the average of eight LP-E6N batteries. The height of the columns indicate the milliamp hours (mAh) capacity as measured by using a specialized Dolgin battery tester designed for Canon LP-E6 batteries.

In the chart below, you see the variation of individual LP-E6NH batteries decaying over up to 14 recharge cycles. As can be seen with the gray columns above, the average appears to decay significantly for the first seven or eight recharges, and then plateau at around 1.93 mAh. It may well be that after a decade of use, the batteries would be performing very much like the old LP-E6 batteries shown above in the blue columns.

Battery chemistry determines many factors, such as recharge speed, capacity and capacity decay over time. With many innovations developed in the last decade, Canon’s batteries have not significantly changed, it appears, in any of these measures. The major changes apparent in battery design appear to be the addition of chips in the LP-E6N and LP-E6NH batteries that allow for recording of battery performance, validation of them being manufactured by Canon, and a rough calculation of recharge performance.