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09-22-2012, 12:40 PM   #1
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Intolerable problem with batteries in K200

In my K200 DSLR battery life is erratic and sometimes is pretty short – a few hundred shots. I’m using Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA cells. The listed ‘nominal’ voltage of a lithium AA cell is 1.5 volts. Its actual voltage output on a new cell is from 1.79 to 1.89 volts DC, even after one year of storage at room temperature.

These are all primary cells – not rechargeable. I have tried rechargeable and they did not work at all for me.

I measured some “failed’ batteries from my camera. First with no load and then with a ~3.5 ma resistor load:

The four batteries measured 1.608, 1.586, 1.606, 1.605 Volts.
With the resistor load they were 1.607,1.578, 1.604, 1.604 Volts.

Then I took out the batteries I had been using for just a few weeks and very few shots they measured (with the same resistor load):
1.776, 1,776, 1.776, 1.778 Volts

Since the nominal battery voltage is 1.5 the “failed” batteries should not have failed and Pentax has a design flaw in that the under voltage detect circuit is set too high or the circuit design is such that it requires a higher than nominal battery voltage. This is why NiCad batteries hardly work at all in this camera.

This means that we are not taking any where near all the available energy out of these batteries and why some folks use the batteries in their radio or flash light after the camera says they are bad. For my camera I'm probably using only 10 - 20 % of the battery energy before they "fail".

Energizer makes it hard to find good specifications, but I did find some discharge curves of a sort. Unfortunately I could not paste the cures in here but you can find it at http://data.energizer.com/PDFs/l91.pdf.

The curve for Ultimate Lithium indicates 1.6 v is the starting voltage with a 50 ma load. Since my “failed” battery set averaged 1.598 volts, this type of battery should not work at all in this camera – at least not with a 50 ma load.

The Advanced Lithium type battery is a bit worse for this application. http://data.energizer.com/PDFs/ea91.PDF

This is a design flaw in the K200 camera (or at least in my K200) and Pentax should fix it for free. There is a slight chance of this being a software fix, if the trip point is settable in software.

The cameras manual says it will run on plain alkaline batteries for 200 (non-flash) images and on lithium for 1100 images - and this is certainly not true for my camera.

09-22-2012, 12:53 PM   #2
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Measuring V is nothing to do with battery quality, it's the A/H under the load. I am using my 3 years old Eneloop 1900 mA batteries happily with 350-450 shot in average, (a bit older ones are died). But I give them a good brake-in cycle (charge/disharge) every 3-4 months or so, this cycle tops them up, a simple charge don't load the batteries fully, with my MAHA C9000 charger/analyzer.
09-22-2012, 01:04 PM   #3
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Sanyo Eneloops will solve the "problem", the current of those Energizer Lithiums drops off way too quick, even though the voltage will appear to be good.
09-22-2012, 02:10 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by jharris9 Quote
In my K200 DSLR battery life is erratic and sometimes is pretty short – a few hundred shots. I’m using Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA cells.
Contrary to the posts so far -
if money were no object then primary lithiums are actually better performers than even the oft recommended eneloops - and I am a devoted eneloop user.

eneloops are the best of all rechargeable batteries -
but primary lithiums are better performers -
both from reports and the specs in all the Pentax dSLR manuals that use AA batteries.

Having got that statement out of the way.

If the K200(D?) fails to work well with even primary lithiums
then there is very likely something wrong with the camera.

Has the camera always been this way (K200D has been around for 4 years now)?
or has this battery problem recently manifested itself?

There are two possibly slight possibilities:

1) the internal battery capacitor is or has failed -
please see Post #34 (link, and other posts in that thread) for an explanation.

2) lithium batteries sometimes suffer from a kind of "dormant" state and may need "waking up" -
please see Post #44 (link, of the same thread).

Hope that helps a little.

09-22-2012, 02:21 PM   #5
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And I had just begun to think my K200D was having issues, whereas I first thought my batteries (2650 mAh Duracell rechargeable) were simply getting too old. I had never heard about those issues with the *istDL but it sure sounds like it might be the same.

I wonder if using a battery grip could solve the problem?
09-22-2012, 02:36 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by nono Quote
I wonder if using a battery grip could solve the problem?
Opposite of my experience - if I can keep you from buying one if you don't need one, may this post be it. I bought a grip for my K200D and stopped using it after the batteries registered as unusable after only a 100 or so shots, whereas I get 500+ with my eneloops in the body.

I didn't like the bulk the grip added to the camera anyway, so it was a no-brainer to stop using it when batteries registered dead in it after only 100 or so shots, which would get another 2-300 when put directly in the camera. Not sure if it was added resistance in the grip or what, but the camera did not like the eneloops in the grip. I searched a long time, and never really found any sort of explanation, other than a few other similar experiences.
09-22-2012, 02:42 PM   #7
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Looks like you made me save some money, thanks!
09-22-2012, 02:49 PM - 1 Like   #8
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@ jharris9

All this is kind of standard knowledge.
QuoteQuote:
This is a design flaw in the K200 camera (or at least in my K200) and Pentax should fix it for free. There is a slight chance of this being a software fix, if the trip point is settable in software.

The cameras manual says it will run on plain alkaline batteries for 200 (non-flash) images and on lithium for 1100 images - and this is certainly not true for my camera.
It is not a design "flaw", as these facts apply to P&S and DSLRs of all brands, and obviously cannot be "fixed".
With software, we used to say "it's not a bug, it's a feature".

Manufacturers are not very honest when describing battery usage.

You measured with 3.5 and 50 mA load? In some thread of this forum a member measured a maximum current of 1200 mA with a K20D. Of course he used an external power supply, but it gives an impression just how low the inner resistance may get. During such a short moment most batteries will undercut the minimum voltage specified by the camera. It then will shut down to prevent getting damaged.

I use a K200D since about 3 years, and had no problems anymore since I switched to Eneloop accus. Even with the best of the other brands, problems started after 3-6 months of usage. A sophistcated charger should be used.

But non-rechargable Energizer lithium cells should work, as these were delivered by Pentax together with my K200D (not the "ultimate" type).
As UnknownVT assumes, there could be a problem with your camera.

09-22-2012, 03:33 PM   #9
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I've found Energiser Lithiums to be excellent and they last for a very, very long time in my K200D. However, I usually use Eneloop-style low-discharge rechargeable batteries. Buy a proper battery charger, not the crappy ones you get in most places. A proper one has settings to maximise the charge the batteries hold by discharging and recharging completely until they reach the optimum. The last time I did this with a set it took five whole days, but it's worth it for reliable batteries.
09-22-2012, 09:04 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by elliott Quote
Sanyo Eneloops will solve the "problem", the current of those Energizer Lithiums drops off way too quick, even though the voltage will appear to be good.
Sorry, but no.
Eneloops only have the ability to keep high voltage for a long time (compared to other NiMHs). With Lithiums, without Flash I was getting up to 1100 Photos with K200d. So there indeed might be some problem with OP.

Additionally, lower voltage seems to affect slightly AF.
09-22-2012, 09:18 PM   #11
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Did you use flash regularly?

If you have tried different sets of batteries but still have problem, maybe there is a problem with you camera.
I am using Eneloops and still give me very good battery life (I don't use flash at all).
09-23-2012, 04:19 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Belcik Quote
Sorry, but no.
Eneloops only have the ability to keep high voltage for a long time (compared to other NiMHs). With Lithiums, without Flash I was getting up to 1100 Photos with K200d. So there indeed might be some problem with OP.
I guess I've just had terrible luck with Energizer Lithiums, especially in my flashes, they've never outlasted Eneloops for me except in low current draw things like LED flashlights.
09-23-2012, 04:54 AM   #13
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Eneloops have much quicker recovery than lithiums which make them better for flashes. Lithiums outlast eneloops in Pentax DSLR bodies though, at least twice as long in my experience (1,100 vs 500ish).
09-23-2012, 10:02 AM   #14
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I concur with the view that the Energizer Lithiums should give you a very good life in a K200d. IMHO, these are the best batteries if price is no concern.

The normal cutoff voltage of the K200d is well below 1.3V because all NiMH rechargeable cells are only capable of developing about this voltage when fully charged. An I've used all types of NiMH in the K200d. Eneloops best so far, but not a patch on Lithiums.

Something to think about is that the Lithium cell, which has a higher initial voltage (1.75V) than normal alkaline voltage, will also have a high empty voltage. I think they are functionally dead at about 1.5-1.4V no load for a camera.

But it sounds like your cells still have some way to go. So maybe time to checkout the camera.

Edit: just reading you post again, if you had absolutely no luck with NiMH rechargeables, then camera voltage threshhold could be the problem. Even rubbish NiMH would run my K200d for 50shots from full charge.

Last edited by KevinR; 09-23-2012 at 10:13 AM.
09-23-2012, 11:47 AM   #15
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Try lightly cleaning the battery contacts with a pencil eraser. While they may look OK they may have a layer of stuff on them causing a voltage drop. It's worth a try if you haven't done so yet.
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