I had a Canon 60D and used to get around 800 to 1000 shots on full battery charge. I've now traded my 60D to a 5D Mark II and it looks like it requires a lot more power.
Is this normal for a full frame camera? The 5DMII and 60D use the same battery.


All else being equal, yes.

A bigger sensor requires more power. Advancement in power-saving technologies can sometimes improve that but with higher pixel counts being the norm, we do not see much of that. Each pixel requires circuitry so higher megapixels require more power than making the sensor bigger.

Luckily bigger cameras have room for bigger batteries which compensates nicely until you get to the huge DSLRs with integrated grips which are rated upwards of 4000 shots per charge! Otherwise, most DSLRs are given batteries to last them between 500 and 1000 shots per charge.

Keep in mind the shots you get are highly dependent on usable. Using the flash is the most power hungry thing to do, followed by using the LCD, including Live-View and Video capture.

The stats for the 60D vs 5D are misleading because the CIPA standard requires 50% flash use if there is one, which the 5D does not have.

  • 1
    Just for reference, it should be noted that the 5D III uses a slightly larger sensor than the 5D II, but gets more shots per battery using the exact same battery. There are quite a few ways to improve the efficiency of a sensor so that it produces better photos with greater IQ for less energy.
    – jrista
    May 8 '12 at 20:31
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    That is what I was referring to by advancements in technologies but these seem to be the exception rather than the norm lately.
    – Itai
    May 8 '12 at 20:37
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    Sorry. maybe I should have been clearer. I meant power-saving technology. Obviously technology as a whole is advancing very fast but I think and understand that power-saving is not a priority. This is more noticeable in compacts where typical averages are 200-350 shots while 5 years ago, the averages were in the 500+ shots.
    – Itai
    May 8 '12 at 22:39
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    For point-and-shoots, it's gotta be largely the larger and higher-resolution rear LCD screens, coupled I think with an average decline in size (putting pressure on room for batteries).
    – mattdm
    May 8 '12 at 22:58
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    Actually I've been tracking this closely and I have moving averages for battery-life over the last several years. I can tell you that the move to higher resolution has had a much worse effect on the leaders in battery-life than anything else. So while models who showed 300 or so shots per charge got replaced by ones with 250 or so, the ones with 750+ got replaced by 400 or so. It is disappointing a bit particularly with fewer cameras working with standard AAs lately. Now you have to carry a lot more Li-Ion to get by a day of shooting.
    – Itai
    May 9 '12 at 0:56

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