Author Topic: Battery performance in the cold - D5300/D5500, D7500, D500 - test challenge  (Read 995 times)

Øivind Tøien

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I have newer and older versions of the EH-5 power adapter (newest is labelled EH-5b) and all work perfectly with the several EP-5 variants I have around. I use them with D5300, D500, D8xx in studio settings. Just tried with my new Z7, all is well.

The EH-5 models deliver 9V, 4500mA according to the labels.

Thanks Birna for confirming the Voltage requirements.
What kind of connector is used between the power supply and the EP-5? If a proprietary connector, does it have more than two conductors?
Øivind Tøien

Birna Rørslett

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Four pins, if I recall correctly.

Øivind Tøien

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Four pins, if I recall correctly.

Ouch, that complicates things, although the 4 connectors might still just be used to supply parallel power. Does it look anything like a standard connector? The square shape does not exactly look standard...

A quick search indicates that there are 9V capable power packs with 10Ah rating available for $50-60.
Øivind Tøien

Birna Rørslett

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No idea what constitutes a "standard" here as this is way outside my own fields of insight. All I know is that Nikon has used more or less similar camera-side plugs for their power supplies for the last twenty years or so.

Hugh_3170

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NG stalwart Jan Anne posted on the old Nikon web site (IIRC - I can't find it just yet) a thread detailing his battery charging arrangements for Nikon DSLRs that he was using whilst on remote canoeing trips where there was no mains electricity. 

Once located, this thread has some interesting stuff in it that I think would be most useful to those building external battery packs for cold outdoors DSLR usage.

Does anyone have this link handy?
Hugh Gunn

Øivind Tøien

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Made an attempt, but could not find it. I vaguely recall the thread; I do not think he was set up to continuously power the cameras, just charge devices in the field, but I could be wrong. Besides it is a few years ago, so many new products could have appeared on the market with respect to battery packs.

 I found that there are cheaper  knockoffs of the Nikon adapter, they even includes the AC adapter at lower price (ca. $32 or less). comes in flavors for ENEL14 and EN-EL15:
https://www.amazon.com/Adapter-Coupler-Gonine-Replacement-Cameras/dp/B01D6B3830/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_421_bs_lp_tr_t_1?_encoding=UTF8&refRID=P53V2FAQBQ2Y2TWK2T40&th=1
https://www.amazon.com/Adapter-Coupler-Gonine-Replacement-Cameras/dp/B01D6BRKY8/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_421_bs_lp_tr_t_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=P53V2FAQBQ2Y2TWK2T40
Another one at $29 :
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019RNU4II/ref=psdc_13535461_t2_B01D6BRKY8
That one has a plug that resembles the Nikon version, but at that price one could afford to just cut the cable and solder on whatever connector is suitable.

A consideration is if there is a linear regulator to bring down power from 9 to 7.4/7.2 volts. If so that could possibly cause heating, which one want to avoid as dark current is temperature dependent. There are a couple of reviewers who bricked their cameras, one almost burned it, so I am not sure I would use it on an expensive unit like D500...

Also a rechargeable battery pack would be the major cost, for instance this one (the only one I found with 9V output on a standard power connector):
https://www.amazon.com/XTPower-MP-10000-External-Battery-10000mAh/dp/B00935L44E/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_img_6?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=ZN6TGZ7BTA0NDFJ0DT9F
It is only 36 Wh vs. 7.7 Wh for the an EN-EL14. 

Øivind Tøien

Peter Connan

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Thanks Peter for reminding me of that thread, found it here:
http://nikongear.net/revival/index.php/topic,7150.15.html

From that, unless there has been a firmware update improving the situation, it does not seem that D500 is a prime candidate for astrophotography use in the cold unless an external battery pack is used. With the limitation of doing 30 sec exposures, I hesitate to ask you to tax your shutter that much with meaningless exposures, however if you insist I would suggest the following (after all it sounds like one would not get that many shutter actuations).
The following assumes that you have a freezer with room for the D500 without any grip:

1. Set shutter speed to 30 seconds, ISO to 1600 (that is what I typically used for deep space imaging with a telephoto lens - going higher might blow out stars, depending on background illumination). If you have  an AF lens attached, set AF to manual.
Set Exposure Delay Mode to 3 seconds.

2. Program the D500 to start exposures 2 hours ahead (to allow it to cool down), interval 36 seconds (to allow for writing to the card), number of exposures to 999x1 .
Do not turn on live view.

3. Put the D500 with lens and lens cap on in a ziplock bag and place in the freezer right away in a normal horizontal position so that it rests on the base. (simulating attachment to a tripod).

3b (Ideally you would swap battery shortly before 2 hours are up with a warm fully charged one before it starts exposing, but as the interval timer will then have to be restarted and condensation can form during the swap, you could skip this step and just test worse case scenario with a cold battery.)

4. Let it sit until it is no longer able to make exposures, for instance you could check back after 3 hours, considering your previous experience.
If you have a suitable freezer thermometer, record the temperature when removing the camera.
Let the camera warm up at room temperature in the ziplock bag.

5. Study the frames and count the numbers and time of first and last exposure.

6. (You might have go into the exposure delay menu again with a fresh battery and stop/reset it, as it sometimes want to go on even if the previous battery run out.)

Comment: I did notice in your previous thread that problems appeared at ISO 3200-6400, but I think it makes sense to use ISO 1600 for the test. We need to keep in mind that for astrophotography and particularly deep space imaging, it is not the ISO but the amount of light gathered that determines noise level. ISO adjustments are just used to ensure that the background signal is digitized at a high enough level to allow stretching, typically histogram 1/3 from the left. 

By the way, how did you solve your problems on the occasion of the referred thread?

One last thought is that if the battery is charged at very high temperature, the charger might cut off before it reaches its nominal charge as voltage will be higher, so find a cool place with normal room temperature to charge batteries if possible.

Ok, result for D500: 274 30-second exposures at ISO1600. This was with an un-chipped 55mm f2.8 AI-S lens attached, so no power use for the lens whatsoever. This was without changing the battery, and the temperature was -16 degrees C. I did open the fridge at the beginning of the test, so the camera was not quite that cold at the beginning, possibly -12?

I must say, this is more than I expected.

With regard to how I overcame the bettery life issue at high-ISO, I shoot most of my astro shots at ISO 400. I can see no negative impact on image quality between shooting at elevated ISO or shooting at 400 and lifting exposure to the same level, and usually I don't, instead I will lift exposure in selected areas, thus the overall image quality may even be slightly better.

The disadvantage is that it is impossible to judge the composition, so the session will always start with a few high-ISO shots.

Øivind Tøien

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Ok, result for D500: 274 30-second exposures at ISO1600. This was with an un-chipped 55mm f2.8 AI-S lens attached, so no power use for the lens whatsoever. This was without changing the battery, and the temperature was -16 degrees C. I did open the fridge at the beginning of the test, so the camera was not quite that cold at the beginning, possibly -12?

I must say, this is more than I expected.

With regard to how I overcame the bettery life issue at high-ISO, I shoot most of my astro shots at ISO 400. I can see no negative impact on image quality between shooting at elevated ISO or shooting at 400 and lifting exposure to the same level, and usually I don't, instead I will lift exposure in selected areas, thus the overall image quality may even be slightly better.

The disadvantage is that it is impossible to judge the composition, so the session will always start with a few high-ISO shots.

Thanks so much Peter for carrying out this test. This was somewhat encouraging and gave me something to think about. I might want to repeat this test now with my D7100 to see how it responds in comparison. I have done astro imaging with 30sec exposures (I am usually at one minute) , but I cannot recall how long it lasted on that occasion.

I actually handled both D500 and D7500 bodies without lens, but with my own battery inserted for correct weight in the local store here in Fairbanks yesterday. (They do not use to stock high end models so this was a bit of surprise). Both very nice bodies in their own way, the D500 not as bulky and heavy as I recall from a previous occasion, and has the edge when handling with thick mittens. Both could be handled well with a pair of fleece gloves. When I asked them about the battery in these cold environments, they indicated that battery in the D7500 lasted longer than D500 (not surprising). For astro use, the flip out screen of the D7500 has a little edge over D500 in that it can be pulled out a bit further from the body, as the hinge is attached closer to the bottom (but could also be more fragile). My right angle finder might obstruct the view of both of them though.

Using lower ISO and stretching certainly should be better to avoid blowing out stars and get better star colors, as long as there is no pattern noise lurking at the bottom messing up things like on my D7100 (which is OK at ISO 1600).

One thing that favors D500 is a better Hot Pixel Supression (HPS) algorithm. According to recent analysis,
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/61908926 , D500 uses a 24 nearest neighbors algorithm, and while the principle is similar for D7500 (which is somewhat better than D5300) it is based on nearest 8 or 12 same color neighbors, https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/635441-aa-filter-spatial-filter-and-star-colours/page-3.. Thus D500 will not suffer from the "star eater" syndrome, while D7500 might be slightly affected in that colors of the smallest stars  might be off if a high resolution lens is used, typically turning them green. That said, D5300, which is even worse, is the most popular Nikon model for astrophotography.

 
Øivind Tøien

Øivind Tøien

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I tested the battery with D7100 in freezer as I outlined above at ISO 1600. No battery change, thus both camera and battery was conditioned before test starts (as I was short of time and camera already had been outside, conditioning time was 1 1/2 hour.) The test is not as stringent as I hoped as a thermocouple recorded wide temperature fluctuations, mostly between -12°C and -21°C (likely due to cycling of the freezer. Retrospectively I should have taped the thermocouple to the camera instead of hanging free outside the plastic bag).

Result: 378 30-second frames, total time including exposure delay and time to write to card = 3.78 hours.  In other words the Li-20 battery of the D7100 lasted about 38% longer than the one in the D500 test.  After rewarming at room temperature the battery still showed empty when inserted back into the camera. It recharged back to full capacity and status shows 0 battery age.
Øivind Tøien

Hugh_3170

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Øivind, its taken me a while to find them on the old site, but these are Jan Anne's links that I was thinking of:

https://www.fotozones.com/live/index.php?/forums/topic/49463-d800e-running-on-a-60wh-batterypack/&tab=comments#comment-397368 

The external pack shown could be kept warm without heating the sensor in the camera.

(EDIT:  The links refer to Ebay listings, which are now outdated, but thankfully newer alternatives are shown by Ebay.)

and

https://www.fotozones.com/live/index.php?/forums/topic/49171-nikon-powered-iphone-5/ 


Made an attempt, but could not find it. I vaguely recall the thread; I do not think he was set up to continuously power the cameras, just charge devices in the field, but I could be wrong. Besides it is a few years ago, so many new products could have appeared on the market with respect to battery packs.

.............................................
Hugh Gunn

Birna Rørslett

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It seems you need an account on Fotozones in order to access this information.

CS

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Carl

CS

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It seems you need an account on Fotozones in order to access this information.

Maybe. The first link opened for me, no problem. Safari could not load the second link, but it did open in Cnrome. I had an account, back when it was the old site, but can no longer log in, for some reason. You might try different browsers, or maybe you've been blocked.





Carl

Birna Rørslett

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The latter option wouldn't surprise me ...

Tried both links, same result.

CS

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The latter option wouldn't surprise me ...

Tried both links, same result.

It wouldn't surprise me either. which is why I mentioned it. It's much nicer here anyway.
Carl