OM-4 Battery Drain

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by ben_hutcherson, Apr 12, 2020.

  1. I pulled out my OM-4 a little bit earlier today after not using it since last summer(ish) and found the batteries dead. I should say they weren't just dead, but were "swollen" a bit when taken out. These were good Duracell SR76s that I installed when I got the camera in May of last year or so. It had been stored with the switch set to "manual."

    It came right back to life with fresh batteries, but I'm wondering if this is symptomatic of the battery drain problem that some of these cameras are known for. I'm use to other cameras that use these batteries(Nikons specifically) going for years on end on a set of batteries provided that the meter is turned off.

    Can anyone comment?
     
  2. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.

    I no longer have any OM cameras, though I had an OM-4 back in the mid-80s and never had any problems with it. I know that the OM-2SP was known for issues with battery drain, though. I picked up a used OM-2SP a few years ago, and the batteries would barely last a roll of film. Too bad, because I otherwise liked its design and features.

    I have had a few cheaper button-cell batteries swell over time, even if they weren't installed in the camera. I wouldn't expect that from Duracells, but perhaps it's just a bad batch.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2020
  3. I think the battery drain problem has to do with the soli d state switching device used to turn power on/off. These can leak in the off state so they run down the battery when turned off. I don't think the camera uses any more battery power than normal when in use.So you just need to remove the battery when not in use. It's a pain though.
     
  4. The source of battery drain is OM4's default (and convenient) "always ready to shoot" standby mode: you can extend battery life if you disable standby mode by storing the camera with the shutter set to one of the manual mechanical backup speeds (B or 1/60th).

    Early-production OM4 bodies had a design flaw in their circuit board that amplified this drain more than Olympus anticipated: about as problematic as the OM2SP. Later production OM4s, and all of the OM4Ti, have a revised circuit board allowing more reasonable battery performance. These later examples typically get approx 6 months from silver oxides, less (sometimes much less) from a pair of alkalines. So you're in the ballpark of "normal" with your silver batteries dead and swelling a bit after 9 months in storage.

    The older unrevised bodies vary quite a bit, but figure about half that life with silver oxides (and they gobble alkalines faster than peanut M&Ms at a Marvel movie). Some of the older bodies were updated under warranty, or when sent in for other servicing, so you can't reliably tell by serial number. If in doubt, opt for the Ti.
     
  5. After a shoot,I always remove the batteries from the OM 4. It takes less than 30 secs no problem. Don't let battery drainage put you off the camera. It is one of the best.
     
  6. I had a similar problem with my Nikon Fe2 which I purchased used on eBay. The battery would just not last. I finally had the camera CLAd which cost me more than the purchase price. Never had a problem with the battery since.
     
  7. The Battery Drain problem I had with an OM2N killed the battery overnight. Like other have stated- it's just low power draw for the electronics.My Nikon FE2 does the same thing if a battery is left in it for a very long time.
     
  8. To amplify orsetto, the OM-4, 2s,4T, etc. were designed to be instantly functional, whether the camera was "on" or not. This was not a design flaw or failure, but a feature characteristic of all Maitani's work, in consideration of it's intended professional use -- in order for later generation cameras like these to function as they do, it is necessary for certain portions of the circuit to always be active. Or would you rather miss that once in a lifetime shot because your camera was turned "off"?

    Setting them on the mechanical/red settings will slightly reduce overall battery consumption, but will not eliminate it entirely, even on the latest "improved" circuitry of the 4T. Place an ammeter from the top of the exposed batteries (+) to the body (-), wait 90 seconds or so without interruption, and you'll see -- it never drops to 0a drain. That's why Olympus said to use silver oxide batteries only, not alkaline or lithium substitutes -- at least, after the first few months the original 4's were sold. (Battery makers greatly exaggerated the potency of these substitute cells back then.) Lithium batteries WILL die in a matter of weeks, alkalines in a couple of months at best -- they cannot tolerate this current drain, no matter how minute -- while silver oxide batteries will usually go dead in six to twelve months even sitting in an unused body. Of course it's best to remove batteries when the camera is stored anyway -- but we all know that, right?
     

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