Orquid "Phoenix"

Orquid "Phoenix"

by ceinmart

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My old Canon PowerShot is doing good enough pictures by good weather and good conditions, but otherwise the picture quality is disappointing, especially when I compare it to the pictures done by newer compacts.

I've read some tests and I've found something that would be good for me: Canon PowerShot SX280, but there's one problem: battery life.

According to the Chip test (warning: link in German) there should be possible to made from 130 to 470 photos with that camera and a single battery. But in the opinion in Amazon shop (German once again, I hope you'll forgive me) the battery was discharged after doing 60 shots and 3 minutes of movie :(

Such battery life is not acceptable for me, because I'd want to take a lot of pictures on the trip, when the access to electricity would be rare. I'd like to be able to do 500-1000 photos, I'm considering buying 1 spare battery and mobile charger (if applicable). When I limit resolution, switch off flash, display and GPS, would it be viable with that camera? Or I should look for something that is using much less energy?

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One thing to remember about Lithium Ion batteries is that they need several charge/discharge cycles before they can hold full capacity. Sometimes leaving them on the charger a while after the light indicates a full charge also helps with the first few cycles. If the reviewer charged a new battery only once and did the test, it might explain the poor performance. I've almost always gotten better battery performance from Canon products than the CIPA rating, but I tend to keep the screen off and have never used the SX280. –  Michael Clark Oct 2 '13 at 7:54
    
@MichaelClark I've found that replacement batteries (from alternative providers) aren't expensive, so it would be an option, as long one can charge them separately from camera. Do you know if that's an option with Canon batteries? I can ask separate question, if it would be more adequate. –  Łukasz 웃 L ツ Oct 2 '13 at 7:57
    
The SX280 comes supplied with an NB-6L battery and a CB-2LY charger. I doubt the battery can be charged in the camera, but only in the external charger. –  Michael Clark Oct 2 '13 at 10:43
    
IF you use third party batteries I recommend either 'Sterlingtek' or 'MaximaPower'. I've had good experiences with both. The 'SterlingTek' 2200 mAh BP-511A batteries powered my 50D much longer than the 1390 mAh OEM Canon batteries. –  Michael Clark Oct 2 '13 at 10:52
    
@MichaelClark but that Canon needs NB-6L batteries, and the only I've found from Stelingtek have similar parameters as that from Canon (1200 mAh) and is only slightly cheaper. So the spare batteries would be probably a high cost for that camera... –  Łukasz 웃 L ツ Oct 2 '13 at 15:56
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2 Answers

It is entirely possible that both may be accurate. Video takes much more power than photos as it has to leave the screen on and be processing all the time. The image processing for recording is generally the biggest power drain, followed by the LCD screen and then the GPS. Turning off or dimming the display, turning off GPS and only taking photos rather than video will all greatly improve battery life. Having a couple of extra batteries also probably isn't a bad idea either.

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So actually, I should ask for experiences with competing models as well? –  Łukasz 웃 L ツ Oct 1 '13 at 19:18
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Canon specifies the battery-life of the SX280 HS as being 210 shots-per-charge, according to the CIPA standard. This is with 50% flash use, so if you turn it off, you should get at least 260, maybe 300 but not much more. This is probably with the GPS off since CIPA does not mandate it to be on.

In reality even this will vary a lot depending on ambient temperature, how much use review images, you many times you zoom, etc. Thinking about it though, would you try to take a trip to warmer climates to get longer battery-life? Would you stop using the zoom? Probably not. Real solutions to poor battery-life are extra batteries or another camera. In the form factor you are looking at 210 is on the low side but most modern models do not fall that far off.

Models include the Nikon L620 which offers 660 shots-per-charge and also the Sony WX300 at 500. Again, the actual number varies but the great thing about the L620 is that is uses AA batteries which means they are cheap and you can charge with a solar-charger when away from electricity. The model I use is discontinued but cost me $40 USD and charges 4 AAs in 6 - 10 hours even when cloudy.

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Rechargeable AAs are cheap and you can buy non-rechargeable ones when on backpacking trip (I usually pass by cities to buy supplies). Does that Nikon L620 offer comparable image quality (colors) as SX280? It's quite new model, so I assume that yes... –  Łukasz 웃 L ツ Oct 2 '13 at 4:59
    
@ŁukaszLech the L620 has the same size sensor (6.17 x 4.55 mm) and a very slightly faster lens (f/3.3-5.9 vs f/3.5-6.8) so it will give comparable images. Colours are just a matter of what settings you choose in camera. –  Philip Kendall Oct 2 '13 at 8:10
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Not quite. They are both recent with same sensor-size but Nikon uses much higher resolution, expect quality to be lower somewhat and less low-light sensitivity, not only is the ISO range lower, so is the slowest shutter-speed. It also has no manual controls which the SX280 has. Just chose these models for battery life and size, I have no idea what you need from a camera. –  Itai Oct 2 '13 at 12:31
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