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08-27-2014, 09:27 PM   #1
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Q/Q7 Battery Life-an investigation

Greetings,
After one of the periodic threads last month about Q battery life, I decided to do some investigating for two reasons:
  • Users seem to be getting either under 100 shots per charge, or several hundred. There seems to be large numbers in each group. And there are Qs/Q10s/Q7s and Pentax/Wasabi/etc batteries in both groups.
  • I have a lot of experience professionally with tablets, cell phones and other small electronics that use similar batteries, and have found small differences in settings make a HUGE difference
So on August 5 I grabbed the next battery in my bag -- a Pentax OEM that had been sitting in there for months -- noted the frame on my Q7, and started shooting.

After a quick shoot today I got annoyed that this experiment was STILL going on, and decided to just shoot until it died. Final tally: 460 frames of RAW+. More than 300 were shot before I started actively trying to kill the battery.

Here's what I propose: Let's all note what batteries we're using, how we charge them, and our settings. Let's see if we can identify which settings place undue strain on the battery.

Here's my setup: I have a Q7, a Q, plus I've given Qs to my wife and daughter. I've seen no difference in battery life between any of the bodies.

I have the Pentax OEM batteries that came with the bodies, plus I bought the Wasabi batteries and charger kit. I've seen no difference in battery life between the Pentax and Wasabi models. I charge the batteries in the charger that came with the Wasabi kit.

Here are my settings: RAW+; AF; Distortion Correction On; D-Range Auto/Auto; Hi-ISO Auto; Shake Reduction on; Live View Off; Instant Review 1 sec. LCD settings are Default.

(EDIT: As vonBaloney points out below, I'm using Live View. Sorry; copied the settings in quickly from the camera. Drilling down one menu shows that the Live View OFF setting seems to refer to GRID being off; I've left everything in this setting at the default.)

Here's my routine: When I kill a battery, I shove it in the Wasabi charger and leave it until the green light comes on; this generally takes a LONG time. I'd say 4-5 hours, minimum. Once they hit green, I throw them in the bag, which goes everywhere with me. They'll sit in there for months until needed.

Shooting: I turn the camera on when I see a shot, shoot, then turn it off manually.

I have several suspicions about what could be causing such a wide disparity in battery life from my experience with LiON batteries in phones and tablets:
1. Batteries aren't being fully charged. LiONs rapidly charge up to a usable range, then charge progressively slower. My Samsung Galaxy Note 3 died this afternoon; it charged to almost 40 percent in about 30 minutes...then took 2.5 hours to charge the other 60 percent. On a heavier charger. How long are each of you charging your batteries?
2. One or two settings are REALLY soaking up the juice. I get one to two days of battery on the Note 3; I can also kill a third of the battery in less than an hour using Nav, which cranks GPS, Location Services and Maps on top of the normal phone stuff. Even with the screen off. Maybe there's similar culprits with the Qs. Live View? Instant Review?
3. Flash REALLY pounds the battery. Trailing Curtain seems even worse. I dislike flash and rarely use it; about 10 frames on this charge were flash.

What are your thoughts? Are there any settings I've missed?

I feel like we can get to the bottom of this if we put our heads together.

cjf


Last edited by cjfeola; 08-28-2014 at 07:07 AM.
08-27-2014, 09:36 PM   #2
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Well obviously almost everyone is using live view heavily cause that's all it has got. What I notice about the Q is that the battery indicator quickly reveals low/half charge (yellow) but it doesn't mean much -- it goes on quite a while after that, and I think will often show full charge again (green) after a break. Haven't actually counted shots, I'll try it...
08-27-2014, 09:49 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by vonBaloney Quote
Well obviously almost everyone is using live view heavily cause that's all it has got. What I notice about the Q is that the battery indicator quickly reveals low/half charge (yellow) but it doesn't mean much -- it goes on quite a while after that, and I think will often show full charge again (green) after a break. Haven't actually counted shots, I'll try it...
Hey vonBaloney,

My bad. I should have noted that when the Live View shows Off in the Menu, drilling in reveals that means the GRID is off. I've left everything on default here. I'm using Live View itself, as you suggested.

cjf
08-28-2014, 10:34 AM   #4
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I have also been doing some testing of the Q batteries in my Q cameras. However I take a reading of each battery to determine voltage at three times. First is voltage right after charge. Second is voltage when put into use and third is voltage, at end of use, when the camera shuts off. I have included it in PDF format because I pulled the info out of my spread sheet and I did not think it would format properly. There are two of the Wasabi batteries and they are differentiated by Red and White.

My use is probably how most folks use their cameras. An outing will result in about 20-30 shots then probably nothing for a day or so then another 20-30 etc. The rear screen monitor is on and the auto shut off is set to 1 minute but the camera is shut off manually if I do not see another shot within a reasonable amount of time. Of course the rear screen is also used to verify and change camera settings and a quick review of the captured image. None of these shots were done using the flash. As you can see on the far right the number of shots I have been getting.

Denny

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File Type: pdf Battery Use Record.pdf (30.3 KB, 193 views)
08-28-2014, 07:13 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by CWRailman Quote
I have also been doing some testing of the Q batteries in my Q cameras. However I take a reading of each battery to determine voltage at three times. First is voltage right after charge. Second is voltage when put into use and third is voltage, at end of use, when the camera shuts off. I have included it in PDF format because I pulled the info out of my spread sheet and I did not think it would format properly. There are two of the Wasabi batteries and they are differentiated by Red and White.

My use is probably how most folks use their cameras. An outing will result in about 20-30 shots then probably nothing for a day or so then another 20-30 etc. The rear screen monitor is on and the auto shut off is set to 1 minute but the camera is shut off manually if I do not see another shot within a reasonable amount of time. Of course the rear screen is also used to verify and change camera settings and a quick review of the captured image. None of these shots were done using the flash. As you can see on the far right the number of shots I have been getting.

Denny
Nice work, CWRailman. And I think your spreadsheet illustrates my point: your experience ranges from 54 frames on a charge to 169. That's triple. Frankly, I was shocked that I got 460, but I easily get 200+ per charge.

What are you doing differently when you're getting 50s and 60s, compared to when you're getting 130s and 160s? Flash?

There are too many people with too much equipment in each group for this to be happenstance. There has to be a common factor.

What are your thoughts?

cjf
08-28-2014, 08:35 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by cjfeola Quote
Nice work, CWRailman. And I think your spreadsheet illustrates my point: your experience ranges from 54 frames on a charge to 169. That's triple. Frankly, I was shocked that I got 460, but I easily get 200+ per charge.

What are you doing differently when you're getting 50s and 60s, compared to when you're getting 130s and 160s? Flash?

There are too many people with too much equipment in each group for this to be happenstance. There has to be a common factor.

What are your thoughts?

cjf
The low number of shots, 61 for the Q10 and 54 for the Q7 correspond with the first use of each camera. During those times I am adjusting the settings and spending more time reviewing the menu selections and configuring the camera to suite my tastes. This usually occurs when I get a new camera and spend time getting familiar with the menus and configuration settings.

The one 169 count was a series of pages that I was copying from an old historic book that I was not allowed to check out of the library. Basically turn the page and snap the shutter one after another. Even so the Q7 with a freshly charged battery and a relatively fast shooting rate was only able to capture 169 images, not the 200 plus that some folks say they are getting.

The Q was only here for 9 days and only ran through one charge. The Q10 was here for about 15 days and ran through four complete charges. Then the first Q7 arrived. The second Q7b (b stands for black) has yet to run through one charge of itís battery because of time constraints I have not been able to do much with it besides the basic settings and configurations.

Under normal use I get between 75 and 95 shots. NONE of these shots is with the flash.

Denny
08-29-2014, 09:02 AM   #7
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Hi Denny,

Well, now I think we're on to something. As I said at the beginning, I was shocked to get more than 400 shots out of a charge. When I've checked before it's been more like 200-300; a lot less with heavy flash. But the first project I started shooting on this charge was to quickly copy a bunch of old photos for a bridal shower slide show. Basically stacks of photos on a table; drop one onto the background, shoot it, then on to the next. I shot over 200 photos in about two days without moving the battery off the full charge mark. That sounds similar to your copying the old historic book, no? And I think that would point to the LCD killing the battery. Basically, I would turn the camera on, shoot a stack of photos one-after-another, then turn the camera off until someone showed up with the next stack. Very little time composing or reviewing onscreen, or with the screen on waiting on the next shot.

Could it be that simple?

cjf
08-31-2014, 08:13 AM   #8
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The most number of shots (999+) one one batt that I can produce with Q/Q7 is using interval mode with manual focus.
Since this mode immediately puts the camera into sleep mode after each shot, this would lead me to believe that AF and leaving the display on are the biggest drain.
Moving lens elements has got to put a relatively huge drain on that little battery.

I would be curious to compare a week of use with a toy lens vs a AF lens and see how it goes.

08-31-2014, 11:03 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
The most number of shots (999+) one one batt that I can produce with Q/Q7 is using interval mode with manual focus.
Since this mode immediately puts the camera into sleep mode after each shot, this would lead me to believe that AF and leaving the display on are the biggest drain.
Moving lens elements has got to put a relatively huge drain on that little battery.

I would be curious to compare a week of use with a toy lens vs a AF lens and see how it goes.
Hey crewl1,

999+! That's extraordinary!

I'm REALLY starting to think the screen is a big culprit. I pretty much shot all 460 frames with the 02. I wasn't using a copy stand, so there was at least a LITTLE focusing going on. But with the screen at 1 second review, and me working quickly -- very little composing, natch -- I was getting a LOT of shots for a given amount of time with the LCD on.

I'm going to start a new thread asking this question to people who are getting less than 100 shots per charge.

I am interested in your question on focusing. I have an 03; I'll see what I can drive through it when I get some time.

cjf
08-31-2014, 12:04 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
Since this mode immediately puts the camera into sleep mode after each shot, this would lead me to believe that AF and leaving the display on are the biggest drain.
I typically get 275 - 350 shots then an unexpected and unrecoverable shutdown. I typically get the fewest with the 06 and 02 and the most when I only use the 01. If AF is a culprit that is consistent because with the zooms I focus and recompose more often - more than once per shot, by memory - because I am also 'cropping' by zooming.

I can't say scientifically, but my impression is I leave my camera setting as they are so I only use the LCD for shooting - but if I chimp often (checking for sharpness) I get a LOT less battery life than other times. I chimp because of the tendency of the AF to pick the wrong object to focus when shooting a complex scene. I can't tell you how many colorful bird blobs I have against sharp WAY distant trashcans.

I vote for #1 LCD #1a chimping and #2 AF.
08-31-2014, 03:42 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
I vote for #1 LCD #1a chimping and #2 AF.
I'm with you, monochrome. Lots of us are getting 200+ shots per charge without doing anything extraordinary, yet a substantial group is getting under 100. Given that there doesn't seem to be an obvious setting difference, then shooting habits are the likely culprit. I do think chimping is our culprit. I got 460 frames while doing copy work; that's zero chimping. When I shoot stuff like tennis I have the same problem you do; the focus wants to lock on pretty much everything BUT what I'm trying to shoot...

cjf
08-31-2014, 06:50 PM   #12
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While all the conversation about battery usage and settings etc. is interesting the fact remains that using the standard CIPA test I SERIOUSLY doubt that the camera can achieve the publicized 250 shots. Note that some of the test shots specified in this test require using the flash.

As someone said during a previous discussion of this subject I treat it like changing rolls of film. I always plan on changing batteries every 75 shots ( changed out mid shoot this morning) and I consider my usage to be similar to the manner in which most photographers use their camera. Making adjustments, assessing photographs, occasionally zooming in when viewing the image on the LCD screen to check focus etc. Watch any video of a professional shoot and you will see photographers making adjustments and verifying they are getting the expected results by zooming in to check focus and composition. Now if someone is using their Q like a PHD camera, just taking pictures without checking the results or making adjustments then I suspect they might get more shots but that would be kin to shooting on film and not knowing what you have captured until the images are transferred to the puter.

Here is a link to the CIPA test in PDF format. In this test they are not shutting off any features, are using the back screen if so equipped and are using flash in some of the photo's and requiring a full automatic focus each time plus occassional on and off of the camera. Under those conditions I do not see 250 shots.

What I do not see is if they are shooting at the maximum image size. If such is not stated they may be shooting at a small format size which may use less power but I still doubt 250 under the CIPA requirements.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB4QFjAA...74115972,d.aWw

Denny
08-31-2014, 09:53 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by CWRailman Quote
While all the conversation about battery usage and settings etc. is interesting the fact remains that using the standard CIPA test I SERIOUSLY doubt that the camera can achieve the publicized 250 shots. Note that some of the test shots specified in this test require using the flash.

As someone said during a previous discussion of this subject I treat it like changing rolls of film. I always plan on changing batteries every 75 shots ( changed out mid shoot this morning) and I consider my usage to be similar to the manner in which most photographers use their camera. Making adjustments, assessing photographs, occasionally zooming in when viewing the image on the LCD screen to check focus etc. Watch any video of a professional shoot and you will see photographers making adjustments and verifying they are getting the expected results by zooming in to check focus and composition. Now if someone is using their Q like a PHD camera, just taking pictures without checking the results or making adjustments then I suspect they might get more shots but that would be kin to shooting on film and not knowing what you have captured until the images are transferred to the puter.

Here is a link to the CIPA test in PDF format. In this test they are not shutting off any features, are using the back screen if so equipped and are using flash in some of the photo's and requiring a full automatic focus each time plus occassional on and off of the camera. Under those conditions I do not see 250 shots.

What I do not see is if they are shooting at the maximum image size. If such is not stated they may be shooting at a small format size which may use less power but I still doubt 250 under the CIPA requirements.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB4QFjAA...74115972,d.aWw

Denny
Hi Denny,

Interesting! But, to be honest, I'd forgotten about the Pentax spec on this. My thought is simple: I came across a thread where people were wondering whether three to five batteries were enough for ONE DAY. I'm simply looking for a rule of thumb we can share, something like "Set REVIEW to 1 second and avoid chimping, and you'll get 200+ shots if you don't use flash." Truth be told, I'm averaging 200+ shots on a charge. I carry a Q7 with a battery in it, and two spares. I don't even take a charger with me if I'm traveling for less than a week. Just seemed to me to be the kind of question that's perfect for crowd sourcing like this.

cjf
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