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01-01-2011, 06:18 AM   #1
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K-x Battery Level Indicator - Faulty?

I've recently purchased a K-x and I'm pleased with the results it can produce. However, I have tried several sets of N-Mh batteries that I've used with no problems in the past, yet even when newly charged, they do not turn the battery level indicator green. Might this be indicative of a fault on the camera? I would have thought that any recently charged set of batteries would show as "green" at first even if they were on the way out and started to discharge quickly after a few shots. Any advice? Thanks.

01-01-2011, 06:30 AM   #2
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Two tips: firmware update (1.01 has a relevant fix) and Eneloop nimhs. It seems the Eneloops maintain their voltage under load better than most other nimhs. Holding the Menu button as you power on should show you the firmware version. If you need to update consider using a fresh set of lithium batteries for that to avoid running out of power during the update; this could turn the camera to a brick :-I
01-01-2011, 08:44 AM   #3
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I did the firmware update to my Kx.
I use energizer 2400-2500 mh and get about 200-250 pictures without flash but including playing around with settings and using live view to focus about 5% of the pictures.
It seems if the rechargables are older and have lost some of their oomph they just don't take the battery display to green.
01-01-2011, 09:04 AM   #4
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Thank you. Very helpful. I've just checked and it has Firmware 1.0. I've also tried the Lithium batteries that came in the box and they have turned the indicator green. I then re-tried four (matching) sets of N-Mh batteries and only achieved the orange indicator, and one set which had showed orange a few minutes before went straight to red! Not impressed! Finally, I tried a brand new set of normal Alkaline batteries and it would not even turn on. As I've bought the camera to use as my backup to my Nikon D90 (yes, I know I should have bought another Nikon so that I could share the lenses between bodies, but I've always liked Pentax cameras and thought it might be a good excuse to get another one), I've got to be able to trust it. Standing in a field ready to photgraph some guy's car only to find the six sets of betteries don't work could be very embarrassing!

I'll try the Firmware update, as it seems that my experiences are not unknown and report back. I've also ordered from Amazon a set of Extreme N-Mh batteries and I'll investigate the Eneloops as well.

01-01-2011, 09:05 AM   #5
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You need a good "conditioning" charger. Try the Maha website. Note that the Kx will shoot 300 plus pictures after the bar turns red.
01-01-2011, 09:36 AM   #6
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Now I didn't realise that. Thank you. I'll also look into the charger you mentioned.
01-01-2011, 11:20 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rik Rabbit Quote
I've recently purchased a K-x
I have tried several sets of N-Mh batteries that I've used with no problems in the past, yet even when newly charged, they do not turn the battery level indicator green.
First welcome to Pentax Forums.

It may seen logical if a set of rechargeable batteries work in some other device or even digital camera - they ought to work in the Pentax dSLR
- not so.

Pentax dSLRs that use AA's are notoriously battery fussy.
It is an unfortunate fact that is (quite) well known here -
there have been numerous thread about this,
including a sticky in the Pentax Camera and Field Accessories section that now runs to 14 pages

Sticky: Battery for K-x (and other cameras that take AA's) ( 1 2 3 ... Last Page)

K-x Battery Issue
kx battery meter...

So you are not alone.

Fortunately there is a very simple solution.

Short version:
use either -
(non-rechargeable) lithium AA's, like the ones that came with the camera.
or
for rechargeable - use eneloops (or confirmed re-badges) - these are LSD (low self-discharge) NiMH batteries and as the name suggests have slow self-discharge when compared to regular NiMH rechargeables. BUT the main advantage of eneloops is that they maintain higher operating voltage under load (not just voltage open-circuit/unloaded) - caveat: a good charger should be used from one of the best (read expensive) like the already suggested Maha C9000 (~$51 this is actually a very good/low price!) to a very modestly priced one like the Soshine SC-C3 (~$14 shipped from Hong Kong)

Longer Version:

Pentax dSLRs use voltage as their level indicator, as well as the threshold for shutdown - operating voltage under load is the critical bit.

Although this was for the K200D - I believe it is applicable for other Pentax dSLRs using AA's.

Please see: Post #23 in K200D Battery Meter Problem -
where dmessing measured actual voltage and current draw of his K200D in operation.

For rechargeable - eneloops are known to maintain their operating voltage under load better than any other LSD, please see Post #57 in eneloop vs. Kodak Pre-Charged Voltage Maintenance.

A simple way to test a battery under load (ie: operating voltage) if you have a volt- or multi-meter:
If you can get hold of a 1 ohm resistor rated at at least 2.5 watts
(Radio Shack sells this) - (gives approx 1.2-1.5Amp current draw/load)
set volt- or multi-meter on volts, clip to the ends of the resistor and put the resistor across the battery -
watch if any cell drops below 1.15V -
if it does, then that battery is sub-par,
or hopefully just under charged.

Last edited by UnknownVT; 01-01-2011 at 05:42 PM.
01-01-2011, 12:08 PM   #8
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I use only disposable lithiums in my K-x and am damn proud if it.

But never use regular batteries. The camera can read them as dead after 10 shots, even though they're not, and you're dead in the water.

Disposables work for me because all of my lenses are manual focus, hence less power drain anyway.

01-02-2011, 12:45 AM   #9
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The original question was, is the battery meter faulty? The answer is probably yes as other manufacturers do not get these complaints regarding the readings shown by the meter on their cameras.

One of the weak points of the K-X.

Incidentally, one of the readers said he gets over 200 shots after the meter turns red - lucky him, I get around 20 - 30.

Regarding rechargeable batteries, I think most cheapo chargers are junk, especially those sold with the batteries. I have found that on one charger I use, I have to recharge three times, after the charger switches into standby, before the batteries are fully charged. For anyone who is having short battery life, try this trick and see if there is a difference. I get much better performance now that I do this. But check the battery temperature with your hand - the batteries should be warm, not hot. If they get hot, scrap the charger as it is screwing your batteries - I have a theory that some of the cheap chargers are designed to kill batteries so that you have to replace them more frequently.
01-02-2011, 11:24 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jlaubza Quote
Regarding rechargeable batteries, I think most cheapo chargers are junk, especially those sold with the batteries. I have found that on one charger I use, I have to recharge three times, after the charger switches into standby, before the batteries are fully charged.
Sorry, this just sounds wrong.

I do not have problems with the K-x (or K100D) battery meter.

I now use exclusively eneloops
(and confirmed re-badges - Duracell Pre-Charged)
On average I get over 1,200 shots per charge before shutdown.

It is true that I use a very good charger the Maha C9000 - but I also have and use the $14 Soshine SC-C3 charger.

The important point I have to re-emphasize is that regular NiMH rechargeable batteries do not hold charge over a period of time as they have relatively high rate of self-discharge.
Also since most people tend to buy by capacity thinking higher the capacity the better -
this is only true while the batteries are new and undamaged -
the trouble is the higher the capacity the thinner the materials used in construction and are easily damaged -
which leads to abnormally high rates of self-discharge and the inability to maintain the operating voltage levels under load of the Pentax dSLRs - which is critical.

Hence the many complaints.

The overwhelming advice here is
for rechargeable use eneloops (or confirmed re-badges)
or to avoid most of the issues (but at a higher cost)
use lithium AAs as supplied with the camera.

My experience with the K-x battery indicator has shown for eneloops:

full Green lasts for about 1/3 (33%) usage (for me ~400 shots)-
half Orange shows for about 1/2 (50%) of the total capacity, or first shows steady when there is still about 2/3 (66%) capacity left (Orange shows for about ~600 shots, while there are still ~800 shots left) -
empty Red shows steady when there is about 1/6 (16.7%) capacity left (~200 shots).

(I am on firmware version 1.01.00.07; and shot count 21,000+ - so that is from 17 changes of batteries) I average over 1,200 shots per eneloop charge - and I added the approx number of shots on each level to my table above.

Everyone's shot count is likely to be different due to different shooting styles - I think the percentages probably are likely to hold?

Note: I shoot with very little flash, minimum review, and just about everything set to save batteries
- so YMMV in terms of total shots -
however in the first part of the table above the ratio or % should hold and one merely needs to calculate from one's typical total shot count/charge to arrive at the approx shots per level.

For me when the Red/empty battery level first shows at a steady state - I know I still have about 200 shots to go - so I have often gone to a gig/shoot with batteries that are showing Red/empty - of course carrying my spare charged set and back-up set of lithium AAs.
(note orange or red may show fairly early on - but once the batteries are "rested" the indicator may revert back to the higher state - so the lower level has not yet reached a "steady state" as I call it, is when the level shows even after being rested)
01-02-2011, 11:41 AM   #11
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Upgrading the firmware, getting Eneloops and a bc-700 charger was a marked improvement with the k-x, after that the functionality was pretty much what I would expect from a gadget dedicated battery (only difference being that I can get a new set much cheaper and these are useful for other applications too).
01-03-2011, 10:02 AM   #12
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one thing that comes to mind is that it seems as if im getting some problems with the dreaded "mirror slap" as soon as i reach the red bar (with eneloops...), but i havent really tested that one yet, it just happend a few times.
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