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View Full Version : I went to Italy, and now my battery life is way down



bastetbabe27
09-15-2006, 11:00 AM
I own a Panasonic FZ5, and two attendant batteries, one Panasonic CGA-S002A, and one equivalent from Digital Concepts, model BP-002CL. I've had the camera since May of 2005, and I've really liked it, and the batteries haven't given me any problems, until now.
I spent January to May 2006 studying abroad in Italy, and I noticed around March that my battery life seemed much reduced; the batteries wouldn't stay charged nearly as long as they used to, and they've continued to get worse.
My question is, are they simply getting worn out? I've taken around 4000 pics with the camera since I got it. Or was there some issue with the electricity in Italy that initiated the decline in performance? My charger is supposed to work in Europe without a converter, except for a small attachment to change the plug shape, and it was fine when I spent two months in Greece in 2005.
I'm going to get new batteries; any suggestions as to good brands and care and feeding of Li-ion batteries?

-bastetbabe27

Rhys
09-15-2006, 11:40 AM
What kind of charger do you have? My batteries started doing that so I slung the old charger and bought a nice new one that reconditions batteries. It seems my old charger wasn't properly charging and was reducing the capacity of the batteries. Of course - my new charger was $50 from a specialist photo shop while my old one was $20 from WalMart!

bastetbabe27
09-15-2006, 11:42 AM
I use the charger that came with the camera.

propwash
09-16-2006, 09:50 PM
What kind of charger do you have? My batteries started doing that so I slung the old charger and bought a nice new one that reconditions batteries. It seems my old charger wasn't properly charging and was reducing the capacity of the batteries. Of course - my new charger was $50 from a specialist photo shop while my old one was $20 from WalMart!

Rhys,

He's talking about the FZ5, which has a proprietary Lithium-Ion battery. The charger is the one supplied with the camera. I didn't know that there were any Li-Ion chargers that could recondition the battery.

Rhys
09-16-2006, 10:02 PM
Ah. My error. It could be that the supplied charger has gone bad.

bastetbabe27
09-17-2006, 10:37 AM
Btw, it's she, not he. Bastetbabe27? :) Anyway, you think that it's a problem with the charger? Are there any ways to refurbish Li-ion batteries? And, in the future, what should I do to keep my Li-ion batteries in peak condition?

-bastetbabe27

Rhys
09-17-2006, 11:34 AM
I had a 7 year old laptop that still had its original battery and that still worked well enough. The charger blew and I had to buy a new one after which I found the battery lasted longer.

John_Reed
09-19-2006, 07:53 AM
Btw, it's she, not he. Bastetbabe27? :) Anyway, you think that it's a problem with the charger? Are there any ways to refurbish Li-ion batteries? And, in the future, what should I do to keep my Li-ion batteries in peak condition?

-bastetbabe27
I'm thinking in particular of "Continuous Auto Focus." If you use or don't use this feature, it can change battery life. Did you use the OIS system in the same mode throughout your time? Another factor might be the time selected for "Power Down" of the camera? Did you happen to change any of these features in March?

If both of your batteries show an apparent loss of capacity, and you didn't change anything else in your usage pattern, then the charger would be the prime suspect, I'd say.

bastetbabe27
09-19-2006, 06:33 PM
No, I didn't change anything about my use of the camera over the time that I've had it, which is why I wasn't sure what had happened. It might be the charger. I've done a little reading and it seems that you're not supposed to fully discharge Li-ion batteries very often, or store them fully charged, which I've done alot. So it might be that, too. Well, I don't have any major picture excursions coming up in the near future, so I can limp along with these batteries for awhile until I can get a new charger and batteries. Any other suggestions for making Li-ion batteries last?

-bastetbabe27

Rhys
09-19-2006, 07:04 PM
I use NiMh and Lion batteries. I treat them both the same - fully charge then use until the device stops and recharge.

My laptop battery hasn't suffered and my mobile phone battery lasted longer than most other phone batteries for the same phone.

Quite honestly the don't discharge fully thing only ever applied to NiCad batteries - which nobody save for some cheap and nasty tool manufacturers use now.

TNB
09-19-2006, 09:35 PM
I use NiMh and Lion batteries. I treat them both the same - fully charge then use until the device stops and recharge.

My laptop battery hasn't suffered and my mobile phone battery lasted longer than most other phone batteries for the same phone.

Quite honestly the don't discharge fully thing only ever applied to NiCad batteries - which nobody save for some cheap and nasty tool manufacturers use now.

Actually, you are NOT supposed to fully discharge LiPo (lithium-polymer cells not to be confused with lithium-ion) batteries which are NOT cheap. Some LiPo batteries also have an automatic cutoff (they are not supposed to be discharged beyond a certain point or charged beyond a certain point). In addition, LiPos should be charged at least once a year to prevent over discharge and should be stored at 30-50% capacity. Myself, I also use a thermal cutoff when charging LiPo cells--usually 11.1v 3-cell packs (LiPos have a higher cell voltage rating than the typical rechargeable battery).

NiCD (nickel-cadmium) cells are basically "memory" type batteries and should be discharged and/or recycled in order to obtain a full charge. If not, they will only charge from the developed memory, which means the typical charger may think the battery is fully charged yet it is not.

NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) cells on the other hand don't really have a memory, so those batteries don't necessarily need to be deep cycled. However, if the batteries haven't been charged for some time, it may be necessary to recycle them or "condition" them for them to achieve a full charge. These batteries should also be charged soon before use and not be "hot" when charging.

Myself, I own several chargers including a Triton computerized peak battery charger, discharger and cycler that charges: LiIons, LiPos, NiCd, NiMH, and Pb batteries. It also requires a separate power supply. However, I have yet to try and charge LiIons with it though the basic charge set up is the same as it is for LiPos.

The "length" of the charge also depends on the mAH rating--Thinking like an automobile fuel tank, the larger the number the more storage space. I don't know about anyone else, but the AAs I purchased at the camera store (for my Speedlight) where 2400mAH when I had already been using GP 2500mAHs for quite sometime. Of course, the hotter the charge, the less life of the battery.

Rhys
09-20-2006, 10:16 AM
For my AAs I bought a 10 minute charger which has a built-in cooling fan. It reconditions my AAs as well as charging/discharging. It even indicates when one is bad!

TNB
09-20-2006, 12:01 PM
For my AAs I bought a 10 minute charger which has a built-in cooling fan. It reconditions my AAs as well as charging/discharging. It even indicates when one is bad!
Here Wal-Mart and few other stores sell 15 minute chargers; however, that doesn't mean the chargers are very good or are the batteries. Cooling batteries when they are charging is also not that good of idea since it can lead to false peaks--meaning a battery doesn't obtain a full charge. Ideal conditions would be charging each cell individually and "matching" the batteries to get the longest overall charge since the overall charge will only last as long as the weakest cell. Quite frankly, I can fry batteries with my charger if I turn up the amps and it will take a lot less than 10 minutes though that also means the batteries won't have a long life or hold a long charge--my Triton also has a built in cooling fan to help keep the charger itself cool. The separate power supply is to help achieve and maintain "clean" power since "dirty" power may also lead to false peaks. Basically, different types of cells should be charged at different volts and different amps depending on the conditions. For example, I may charge anywhere from 1.2 amps to 4.5 amps depending on the number of cells in the pack and the size of the cells, i.e. sub-c's get a higher amp treatment.

propwash
09-24-2006, 08:05 PM
One other thing that might work is to try to find someone else who has a Panasonic and ask if you could borrow their charger. As far as I know, the FZ1/2/3/5/7/10/15 all use the same battery. The FZ20 might also. I think the FZ30 is the first model to use the bigger battery. Anyway, if you can try to charge your batteries in someone else's charger, that should give you an idea as to whether it is your charger or the batteries (or the camera) that is the problem. Good luck.