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10-17-2011, 02:12 AM   #1
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Battery/Power Problem, What To Do

I've had my K5 since mid-December 2010, it was manufactured on 11/30/2010. I've kept the firmware updated, taken almost 21K pictures, and until recently I've had none of the major problems others have experienced, stains, AF issues, runaway mirrors, buttons falling out, etc, etc. However in the last two weeks I've had some weird battery/power issues. I have two batteries, the Pentax that came with the camera, and a Pearstone compatible bought at the same time as I bought the camera from B&H. Usually I get about 700 shots from the Pearstone and about 500 from the Pentax with a moderate amount of in-camera picture peeping. I've never used video, only tried out live-view, but I have used the High FPS feature several times. Also almost all my shooting is in daylight, very little flash use.

The one minor irritation with my K5 has been the battery level indicator has never been especially reliable. But up until now when the camera stopped shooting, I simply replaced the battery with a fully charged one and pressed on. Recently tho my batteries have given me quite reduced shutter counts per charge. Without warning, the K5 simply refuses to fire, I get a "Battery Depleted" message on the lcd, however the lens will still focus, I can still display shots taken, but the shutter won't fire. The battery indicator still shows a full charge. Removing and relacing the same battery does nothing, and even after switching to a fully charged battery I still get the battery depleted message. The first time I removed all batteries and let the camera sit overnite. The next morning I inserted the fully charged battery from the day before and the camera came up normally. To my surprize all my settings were still intact. This scenario has repeated itself several times now. It happens with either battery. The last time I was able to get the K5 to power back up after an hour and a half, and using the same battery that had been in the camera when it stopped working. Also during this time I experienced my first mirror lockup - which cleared when I R&R'd the battery and I was able to press on. Now while I take a lot of pictures during the day I only use High-rate FPS on occasion. I do rely on AF-C quite a bit tho which has worked pretty well for me.

I don't want to get all paranoid about problems but I wonder if this portends anything. I suppose it could be the batteries but my Canon friends have batteries they've used for years before having problems. I have AA Enerloops over two years old still working strong in my K200. I'm a bit concerned this might be indicative of a main circuit board going south. I've thought about sending the camera in for a tune-up but in the absense of a complete failure I'm not sure they'd address what at the moment seems like only a "potential" problem. I've never dealt with CRIS so I have no first hand experience. Should I send it in or keep using the K5 for a while and see if I get a more complete failure of some kind? Or should I just get some new batteries and see what happens?

10-17-2011, 03:07 AM   #2
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Lithium ion batteries have a limited number of recharge cycles and then they die. My guess is that you have used all of your battery cycles up. My suggestion is that you buy one new battery and if that solves the problem buy a second one in a few months. If you buy two at the same time they will likely both die at about the same time again. I've had that happen with a Canon.

Last edited by foxhead; 10-17-2011 at 03:16 AM.
10-17-2011, 05:01 AM   #3
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Anything is possible but your problem description makes it sound more like a camera problem.

You get a "Battery Depleted" message on your LCD but your battery indicator shows "full charge" . This is not right---your battery indicator should have shown "orange/red and empty some time before you got the "Battery depleted" message. Your camera is reporting two opposite conditions at the same time. I would tell you to reload your firmware in case it was corrupted but then you said the following:

The problem has happened with two different batteries. When it happens taking the battery out and putting it back in does not help even if you put in a different, fully charged, battery. If you wait (let the camera cool down) then you are OK. This sounds like you have a bad component that is failing as the camera heats up but then when it cools down all is well. Worse the component isn't bad enough that you have the problem more frequently.

If you do end up sending it in to CRIS make sure you include these symptoms in your problem description.

Last edited by jcp5; 10-17-2011 at 09:43 AM.
10-17-2011, 08:53 AM   #4
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I'm using 3rd party batteries that are more than two years old. They Have diminished in capacity some but there is no where near 21,000 shots combined with all of the use though.

I don't know if this is a camera problem or not. For the time and money invested in getting the camera to and from CRIS, you could buy another battery first and try it out. That's the route I would take at first.



10-17-2011, 11:38 AM   #5
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From what I've read, Lithium Ion batteries should be good for between 500-1000 recharges. My typical outing is 500-1000 shots over a weekend, I do very little during the week. At most then these batteries would have less than 100 recharges each. I know that may not mean anything but is does look odd since the problem started suddenly rather than gradually. But you're right it really wouldn't hurt to try a new battery or two.
10-17-2011, 02:28 PM   #6
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Well I use my battery's differently. I deplete them and change them so keeping them in goor chape. I have two K-5's and with them two orignal and two X-brand from dealextreme.

Last saturday i shot with a newly charged original battery 1800 RAW's taken on average of iso3200-iso5000. So big files and lots of work. The battery wasn't dead at the end.

I did once at another time on an original battery 3.000 JPG shots. Battery wasn't depleted.

So no idea, if this is K-5 or battery.
10-17-2011, 04:16 PM   #7
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Yes I usually run my batteries low during an outing but rarely shoot raw. It's a puzzle. I hope it's only the batteries but I suspect it's something else. A shame if it is as I really like using the K5. Glad I still have my K200 as a backup, not in the same class as the K5 but a very decent performer in it's own right.
10-18-2011, 10:00 AM   #8
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Is there any chance you can borrow a different known good battery from a friend or in a shop?
FWIW, I seem to recall reading someone else posting about freshly charged batteries reading as empty as soon as they put them into their camera. You might want to try being creative with the search here, or with google - go to google, type in site:The Largest Pentax Camera Forum and Review Site - PentaxForums.com Home < some search terms > and google's search may turn up some results not as easily found by the forum's search.

You could of course check the voltage on the batteries coming off of the charger (you may actually have a bad charger, as well), but I'd expect the batteries to fail under load more than just a simple voltage dropoff..
With the relative low usage on the batteries, and the fact that both are 'failing' at the same time, I'd be suspecting a camera problem as the more likely cause, but I'd do whatever I could to see if you could borrow a second charger and additional battery before sending it in.. good luck!

10-23-2011, 04:41 PM   #9
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Well spent another long day with the camera and found what may be a new quirk or an answer. I was using a light, non-hsm lens with a fully charged battery which was operating fine but then suddenly froze after about 200 shots. I tried cycling power but nothing happened and then I remembered a long ago comment from somewhere that hitting the corner of the camera with the heel of the hand got things back to normal.., Well what the hell I gave it a shot and lo and behold the camera started working and stayed working for about 300 shots, froze again but another not too heavy smack and it was back online. Been fine ever since

Obviously this is probably not a normal or long term option but it suggests to me the camera may just need a good cleaning or tune up so I'm going to check into the specifics of getting that done. I have an extended warranty but it is still less than a year old son not expecting any big deal other than being without it for a while. Even tho the camera is weather sealed and I'm able to go inside to change lenses things can still get dirty. I don't use a weather sealed lens and shoot in a dusty environment so the electrical contacts in the mount and lens often need cleaning.
10-23-2011, 04:48 PM   #10
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That is a known problem. I have had it also. I sent mine in for repairs. Mine started the same way then got worse. It has been discussed here. Just send it in for repair.
10-23-2011, 06:33 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by garyk Quote
That is a known problem. I have had it also. I sent mine in for repairs. Mine started the same way then got worse. It has been discussed here. Just send it in for repair.
What did they write as far as the repairs performed?
10-24-2011, 12:00 PM   #12
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Li-ion batteries do not have limited charge/discharge cycles. Neither do they suffer from 'memory effect' like Ni-Cds do, which requires you to completely discharge before recharging. But they do have limited life expectancy. Typically they last for 3 years from the date of manufacture. Does not matter how much you use them and how many times your charge them, they work well within those 3 years. After 3 years consider replacing them as their capacity will quickly diminish. Note: 3 years from date of manufacture (not from initial use). If a battery has not been used for 3 yrs since it was made it still becomes unusable. Usually the manufacturing date is stamped on the battery or included as a part of the serial # etc.
10-24-2011, 12:26 PM   #13
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@debmalya. Wrong. Li-ion batteries do, in fact, have limited charge/discharge cycles. Though it's not a hard cutoff number, capacity does slowly decrease over time AND with usage. if you overdischarge/overcharge your batteries this effect will be exaggerated and your batteries will wear out sooner. Yes, time from manufacture also factors into it, but so do thermal stresses, which are introduced during charge and discharge.
I do not know where you're getting your battery information from, but I happen to be involved with battery testing for a large power tool company and have access to life cycle data showing lithium batteries wearing out in weeks or months (or years) depending how hard you treat them. (or you can wear them out in seconds: being in a test chamber when they run a nail through a battery pack can be very...entertaining)

Most Li-Ion batteries nowadays have overcharge/overdischarge protection IC's on them to prevent excessive life loss or dangerous charging conditions. These, combined with a well-designed, safe charger wil actually usually only charge a Li-ion battery to 90-95% of its true capacity, but the battery will remain safe and its life will be extended. But a third-party may use a cheaper, lower-capacity cell and simply use a cutoff chip with expanded tolerances so it charges closer to 100% capacity (looking like a higher-capacity cell) but allow the cell to get into the life-reducing zones more often. And a lower-cost charger may use looser tolerances so it will not charger to the exact proper limits anyway, possibly undercharging your cells or, worse, overcharging them.

most of the safety measures go into the charger, so I'd recommend only using official chargers. Third-party batteries aren't as much of a concern, but they may be using lower-cost cells which wear out sooner, heat up more, have lower capacity, or don't respond as safely in accidents. that being said, official batteries are expensive and 2 out of my 3 batteries for my k-5 are third-party.
10-24-2011, 01:47 PM   #14
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jerm1386:
Every secondary battery (li-ion included) has limited charge/discharge cycles. The charging/discharging process causes deposits within the electrolyte that hinders with ion transfer. This causes the internal resistance to rise and diminishes capacity. But this is a problem more prominent in high current applications. Electronic devices are low to moderate current applications, unlike power tools. Thus this limitation is not so significant in these applications. Even though capacity is lost, the battery continues to function with reasonable capacity remaining.

Also, you normally cannot overcharge and overdischarge most li-ion batteries. The active parts of the battery are made up of cells + regulation circuitry. The regulator circuit senses cell voltage and temperature and prevents those self limiting conditions. You have to tamper with the battery to circumvent those protections. That is why a camera/laptop shuts off before the battery fully depletes - this design is common in most electronics. I do not know about batteries used in power tool applications - those may not be as sophisticated and/or technologically advanced to monitor/detect/prevent these conditions. Or they maybe, don't know.

The chargers are also designed for the battery chemistry. Typically li-ions are charged using the 3 step process:
1. apply charging current till cell voltage is reached (CC)
2. apply max per cell voltage till current falls below 3% of rated charge current (BAL)
3. top off charge at long regular intervals (CV)
Also, a fully (100%) charged li-ion battery loses 20% capacity per year at room temp. However, the capacity loss is only 2% per year at 40% charge. This loss is permanent. That is why batteries are shipped with 40-60% charge. But most consumers like to store them fully charged, thus inadvertently reducing life expectancy.

Sorry for this too technical post.

Last edited by debmalya; 10-24-2011 at 02:00 PM.
10-24-2011, 02:37 PM   #15
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Good technical explanations are always appreciated

However in this case they are not relevant to my situation. Neither of my batteries are 3 years old nor have they been recharged too many times. I spoke today with Pentax Customer Service, described my situation, and they said send it in. So tomorrow AM my K5 is in the mail and we'll see how it goes from there. I've enjoyed the camera immensely this past year so will look forward to getting it back and hopefully reporting on good service from Ricoh.
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