Nikon D850 battery drain

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kevin_beretta, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. I raised a question in the "Nikon D850, Early Impressions" thread about battery drain usage (fewer photos per charge). I am not the only one experiencing this. It seems to be related to Bluetooth LE; batteries drain when the camera is not in use, even when wifi and Bluetooth or "Off".

    Can we continue the discussion here? I want to lift this issue out of the old thread (link below) so it gets some proper exposure.

    Nikon D850, Early Impressions
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Kevin, I think a dedicated thread on this topic is actually better. Given that there are so many D850 out there, I am sure you are not the only one who experiences it, but whether it is a wide-spread issue is another question. The D850 has been out for close to a year now, although somehow supply is still tight. If more than a few people have this issue, there should be some discussion on it. I think it also depends on which features you use, e.g. GPS and video definitely drain batteries. On some of my bodies such as the D500, I have a GPS permanently attached to it.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  3. Thanks Shun. All variables aside (I read on another forum that turning off the touch screen seems to reduce drain significantly) my main goal is to chase down the reason why the battery would drain at all when the camera is off, wifi is set to off etc. Stopping the battery from draining whilst in the camera bag and unused, with Bluetooth and Wifi off is what I want to see solved. All the rest (GPS, movies, chimping,...) are user choices. Off = off :)
  4. A dedicated thread seems good to me.

    Just to recap what I think I know:
    • My D850 seems to "drain on the shelf" substantially faster than my D810. I've seen a bar of battery disappear in a week (although I also got more shots after that than I'd have expected, so it's possible than the D850's battery meter is more linear and the D810's is more set to telling you when you need to worry), and checking the battery info, a battery go from 100% to 93% in a few days. Not terrible life, but I believe I've had my D810 sitting on a shelf (and taken out to shoot perhaps once a week) for more than a month without ever losing a bar of battery, and I've certainly had time to mislay the charger. I don't expect infinite life like this (the finder and control panel draw small amounts of power), but the D850's drain rate seems to be new, and means that charging a camera to use it the following weekend may no longer be viable..
    • I've been using original EN-EL15s (not the EN-EL15a that came with the camera, yet). The two I've used in the D850 so far are the Li-Ion01 versions, not the newer Li-Ion20 versions. In a D500, this would have been an issue - but Nikon UK assure me that cameras since the D500 were designed to be backward-compatible. I've yet to try a Li-Ion20 EN-EL15 or the EN-EL15a, but don't expect them to have an effect.
    • The first few batteries put in a new D850 discharge quickly, apparently because they're charging up the internal clock battery. Thom Hogan has reported that it takes several battery swaps for this effect to disappear, and guesses that the clock battery is shipping discharged (unlike the D810's), possibly for safety.
    • There apparently have been some cases of D850s and D500s with "power management issues" - whether these are related or more extreme is another matter.
    • Obviously the D850 has Snapbridge. Thom indicated that having it not set up could cause drain, as well as failing to turn it off. I believe I did sync mine with a camera, and have manually turned off bluetooth (setup menu) in addition to being in "airplane mode" (separately in the setup menu). Apparently one doesn't imply the other, and bluetooth tends to turn itself back on. There is a theory that the bluetooth hardware is draining power even when "off".
    • I am (obviously) leaving the camera switched to "Off", not leaving the meter running indefinitely.
    • I don't think I have any settings such as "send to smart device (auto)" or "send while off" enabled.
    • One other thing I've yet to try: I wonder whether the Eye-Fi support (which is not new to the D850) might be powering the SD socket while the camera is off.
    • Nikon UK have told me that they are not aware of this as a general issue with D850s, but were interested that I was not the only D850 owner on the forum reporting it. They have requested a look at my camera, which I will be able to provide them in six weeks or or so (after a trip).
    • If, once all options have been exhausted, the D850 does prove to drain itself spontaneously, it's not the end of the world - it's a slow effect, it's irrelevant if the camera is charged shortly before use, and (assuming the clock battery drains slowly) you can always take the battery out. Despite some drain, the D850 is able to take a lot of shots - I took around 1300 starting with a camera that had lost a bar of battery before the camera died, and that included some chimping. However, it is slightly annoying, and something to be aware of.
    I'd be interested to know whether other D850 users on the forum have or have not seen this behaviour. I'm clearly not alone, but I don't at this point know whether this affects all D850s or just some of them.
  5. I went through the setup again and turned everything off. Bluetooth can indeed be turned off separately once the airplane mode is turned off. Turn airplane mode off, then disable Bluetooth, turn airplane mode back on. I also stopped the camera from flagging new pictures for upload. Turned off time update from external GPS (although I don't have one) and a few other things. I had a 100% charged battery on the shelf, popped that one in, checked it was 100%. Turned camera off. We'll see in a few days. The battery that came out of it had 5 shots and was 95% full. Both batteries are Feb 2018 vintage, so basically new.
  6. For what it's worth, I believe the battery when I checked it last night was at 93%. I've just loved again, and... 93%. So maybe it's been the clock battery thing taking longer than expected to wind down. Fingers crossed; I'll keep an eye on it.
  7. Can't speak to the 850 but my D200's, the D800 and the D4 all draw some power pretty much constantly. The D100 doesn't and the Nimh batteries in the D1X hold up well as long as they haven't been cycled over and over. I'm not sure what Bluetooth and other features the D800 and D4 have that they might be communicating.

    Rick H.
  8. Huh. The D800 (definitely) and D4 (as far as I know) don't have any integrated wireless support - unless you add an accessory. I'm fairly sure my D800 could live in the cupboard without detectably going flat, at least for the duration I tended to leave it alone.

    I'm trying to remember when I last used my D810. Sometime early in May, for bluebells, when I was shooting both my main bodies. I may have fired it up since to check something, but I certainly haven't charged it, though I probably left it with a fresh battery. I just checked, and its battery says 84%. (The coarse meter in the control panel shows full, however, whereas I'm standing by a belief that the D850 indicates a battery drop sooner.)

    Generally I'd expect lithium batteries to survive better on a shelf than older technologies, although obviously the gripped bodies have bigger batteries. How fast are you seeing the D800 and D4 drain?
  9. I find that in the D3X which has one battery with half of its life left and the other is at end of life, if I don't shoot for a few weeks, it loses a couple of bars on its own in the battery charge indicator. If I shoot actively it is fine but it's not like even the newer battery was behaving as new. I think one can expect that batteries do not hold charge for many months but should be recharged from time to time (once in 2-3 months) even if not in use.

    My Tallinn trip average turned out amazingly well at 1750 shots per EN-EL15 charge on the first two days. This included mostly photographing of musicians, dancers, sword fighting, people on the streets and architecture. My previous estimates involved use of the camera mostly in landscape / macro work with live view, occasional portrait shoots and some wildlife, with pauses of several days or even a week in between. With live view photography I seem to get about 1/3 or 1/4 of the shots that I get when photographing people and events with the viewfinder, autofocus, and a fairly brisk pace (but not continuous). This includes adjusting tilt and shift. 500-2000 shots seems to be the range I get depending on conditions. I suspect that during the winter colds, the battery only lasts about 1-2 hours in live view photography. The EN-EL18a, on the other hand, can handle a day of winter landscape photography easily without breaking a sweat. However, the grip and battery do weigh something and traveling I may make the decision to go without.

    I can monitor my D850 when it is not in use, and see if the bars go down. I suspect it is likely normal behavior for the camera.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
    kevin_beretta likes this.
  10. That seems like a lot of shots indeed ... thanks for reporting back. On the 6th I went through the camera as reported earlier and turned everything off that could even be marginally suspected of keeping the GPS port or the Bluetooth LE on. So far, the camera still sits at 98% after dropping by 2% due to legitimate photography.
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  11. Not having the manual to hand, what does Nikon suggest about taking the battery out when not in use. Most manufacturers give a 'take it out' to prevent ..... Etc.
  12. The manual does state over twice as many images in continuous release compared with single shot. Also:

    I assume I have "LCD illumination" set to "off". Not that it should affect behaviour on a shelf. I'd better check.

    I can't see anything about storage with the battery removed. It would be normal practice if I were leaving the camera on a shelf for months, and I do this with my film cameras (my Eos 620 will drain a battery quite fast when left alone, and I don't want eight AAs to corrode their contacts inside my F5) - but something should be keeping the clock and possibly (depending on how it's implemented) settings battery charged, so taking the battery out might lead to a fast drain on a battery when it's inserted, so I tend to leave my DSLRs with their batteries. They're usually used within a week or two, although the D810 will probably get less use now it's primarily a backup to the D850.
    kevin_beretta likes this.
  13. Just for the record I have noticed this issue. I tried to set up snap bridge. Couldn't get it to work. Batteries charges definitely dropped too fast. I went back through and turned everything off related to snap bridge. Blue tooth. Wifi. Still seemed not quite right. I found the "Send while off" command- shut it off.
    I think all is well. I am not counting shots, but a days shoot is fine on one battery. I still have a vague sense that the batteries discharge a little faster than my D800 but no real complaints.
  14. I think things were behaving a bit better when I last tried it, which makes me blame the clock battery. I've actually been out shooting a bit recently, though, so I've not really been able to measure. (I can vouch for the battery grip improving black-out time, and helping for tracking birds.) I'll report back the next time the camera sits on a shelf.
  15. I found that to truly turn Bluetooth off, you need to turn wifi on first, then select Bluetooth off, then turn wifi off. Otherwise Bluetooth is grayed out and trying to turn it off says it's not available for the current state of the camera. It shows off but is in sleep state, not disabled. Unless it's disabled, my Android still sees it, even after I recycled the Android as well. I also turned off / disabled the GPS options for the external plug in, turned off setting the time from gps/satellite etc. I turned off marking the pictures for upload as well. I "only" lost 1% charge in the last 3 days since I did all this. I also deleted all the Snapbridge crap from my tablet. If I need GPS locations with my pics I'll do it the old way, throw the Garmin 60 csx in my camera bag and merge the gpx file in LightRoom. I did not test the ports but industry standard enabled BLE (Bluetooth Light) is to activate WOL (Wake on LAN - when the LAN is activated, the machine wakes up). Unless specifically turned off, there will always be some drain. I hope my settings did this but Nikon could have documented it better.

    The UK sites actually states it drains the battery:

    By maintaining a constant, automatic connection between your camera and your smart device, SnapBridge gives you easy control over your photographic life. Now you can sync images to your smartphone or tablet while you shoot, and share Nikon quality images in an instant. You can also control key camera functions via your phone, keep your camera on time and up-to-date, and more. You don’t need to worry about battery life. Unless SnapBridge is actively syncing images, it utilises Bluetooth® low energy (BLE) for negligible drain.

    Nikon Snapbridge Software | Sync Camera Photos to PC

    Here's a good overview too:

    New Nikon cameras to use Bluetooth for ‘always on’ pairing, photo transfer

    The other thing to do to reduce drain apparently is to turn off the touch screen. That will be my next step.
  16. One more report: I think I always had everything radio turned off (I'd already found that you need to turn airplane mode off in order to turn off bluetooth), but the drain seems to have stabilised a bit - it's possible that I was still seeing the clock battery recharging even after several battery cycles. Mine's been sitting in my living room waiting for me to get up early enough to go birding for the last few days, and I notice that the internal battery has gone down only by about 2% in a couple of days. However, the grip has been attached all this time, so a separate thing to note: it looks like the drain while the camera is "off" is coming from the internal battery even when there's a battery in the grip (and this is set to prioritise). So switching the grip battery before going on a trip may not mean you have a full set of charge, unless I'm imagining it. The reported charge in the grip battery actually went up slightly over the same couple of days, so that may be measurement error (and the grip doesn't have a genuine Nikon battery in it); I strongly doubt the grip battery is charging off the camera battery. :)

    I'm much more worried about the camera going flat while I'm not using it than when I am - a camera I thought was ready to use when I put it away and isn't when I return to it is annoying, whereas if I just run the battery down during use, at least I'm aware of it. So in the short term I've not gone near the touch screen (which I presume isn't affecting the battery while it's off). I may reconsider, but it's quite useful for image review and menu hopping, so for now I'd rather not disable it.

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