Battery life and Olympus SP-350

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by Jim Giblin, Feb 16, 2006.

  1. Jim Giblin

    Jim Giblin Guest

    I got an Olympus SP-350 last night and am in the process of learning its
    features. I noticed several comments in this NG re battery life and would
    like some feedback from others with experience with this camera.

    I loaded the SP-350 with freshly charged NiMH batteries and took a bunch of
    test photos. After about 20 photos (all with AF on and almost all that
    fired the flash) the red, low battery icon started to flash. I continued
    to take about 30~40 more photos (all w/ AF and most with flash) and used the
    display for extended time to review the photos. I downloaded the photos to
    my computer a couple of time (which draws down the battery). The battery
    finally died. I realize that extended use of AF, flash and display are a
    heavy, and perhaps non-typical, drain on the battery but is this does this
    battery life (~ 60 photos) seem reasonable?

    Reading this NG, I see reference to a different (not NiMH) battery
    technology. What exactly is the technology? Is this a newer technology?
    Jim Giblin, Feb 16, 2006
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  2. Jim Giblin

    Jim Giblin Guest


    Thanks for your quick reply. Is the issue that the SP-350 drains NiMH
    batteries too quickly or that Oly's power management causes the red flashing
    icon to appear long before the battery is actually at a drained state?
    Jim Giblin, Feb 16, 2006
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  3. Jim Giblin

    ASAAR Guest

    I don't have experience with this camera but given how it was
    used, the number of shots you got might be very reasonable. The
    SP-350's manual probably lists the expected battery performance, but
    it's usually given based on an assumed typical usage. Many camera
    manufacturers are now using the "CIPA" test method which specifies a
    number of things, including use of the flash at full power for 50%
    of the shots, full traversal of the zoom for each shot, power
    off/power on after every 10 shots, etc. Decent numbers for recent
    cameras would be about 400 shots for cameras that use 4 NiMH AA
    batteries or 200 if only 2 AAs are used. If alkaline batteries are
    used instead, expect the number of shots to be cut in half.

    You should be aware that the flash uses a LOT of battery power.
    To give you an idea of how much, I tested my Fuji S5100 almost a
    year ago using the 4 AA alkaline batteries it was supplied with.
    The camera's manual stated that they should last for about 200 shots
    if the pictures are taken according to the CIPA procedure. I did
    that, and found that the battery warning indicator came on about one
    or two dozen shots before the batteries died. That is, the battery
    voltage was so low that the camera powered off, and I couldn't even
    get it to turn on and stay powered on if the flash was extended. At
    that point the picture count was slightly above 200. From that
    point on, I continued taking pictures over the next couple of days
    using the same batteries, but without using the flash. The camera
    was able to take slightly more than another 400 pictures. Lesson:
    The flash uses a tremendous amount of battery power, and if I had
    used the flash for most or all of the pictures, the batteries
    probably would have been good for far fewer than the 200+ pictures
    it took during the test. Possibly something like 120 pictures.

    Given how you used your camera, using the flash for most or all of
    the 40 to 60 pictures you took and using the battery hungry LCD
    display for extended viewing, this might not be an unusually low
    number of shots. My camera would have gotten about 400 shots using
    NiMH batteries, but if I used the flash for most of the shots, I'd
    expect it would have been good for only a little more than 200
    shots. If I also used the LCD display extensively, that might
    reduce the number to (wild guess) 140 shots. But this is with 4 AA
    cells. For cameras using only two, I'd expect slightly less than
    half that number, or a bit less than 70 shots. That's in the ball
    park for the number of shots you got, so the questions are, does the
    Sp-350 use two or four AA cells, and what kind of battery life is
    expected, according to your camera's manual? Another camera setting
    that can greatly reduce battery life is to have the camera set to
    continuously auto-focus. I assume that you weren't using your
    camera this way.

    It might be that the voltage calibration is slightly off, or that
    the warning is more appropriate for alkaline batteries. Most
    cameras have the opposite problem, where the "Battery Low"
    indication appears only briefly, hardly giving one enough advance
    warning. It might also be that the batteries were, like the camera,
    "new". While I haven't noticed this effect, many people say that
    their batteries show less than rated battery life until they've been
    used for a couple of charge/discharge cycles. If this is the case,
    then the camera would still display a warning about 30 to 40 shots
    before giving out, but the total number of shots might climb to 100
    if you use the camera the same way, or 200 or more if the flash and
    LCD aren't used so extensively.
    ASAAR, Feb 16, 2006
  4. Jim Giblin

    SteveB Guest

    SteveB, Feb 16, 2006
  5. Jim Giblin

    SteveB Guest

    SteveB, Feb 16, 2006
  6. Jim Giblin

    Jim Giblin Guest

    For what its worth, the Olympus site now shows a 1.3 firmware update for the
    SP-350 to address the NiMH battery issue. I think this is new today.
    Jim Giblin, Feb 16, 2006
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