Z6 battery life misleading...

Started Jul 25, 2019 | Discussions thread
zackiedawg
zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 33,291
CIPA can be used as a comparative tool in the same camera class
4

Clayton1985 wrote:

and you won't convince me that the CIPA ratings give me any reliable indication of how these cameras compare being used almost exactly the same way. The Z7 and the Sony A7rII are rated almost identically and the performance between the two is night and day and easily noticeable.

And you're glossing over the fact that other than someone in this thread with all of one post on dpr.... hardly anyone is saying they never/rarely get even 400 shots. The overwhelming majority are getting significantly more than that and the user reports have been very consistent in this regard from day 1 of the Z7 release. Contrast this with users of the Sony A7rII and you'll be lucky to find 2 out of 10 saying they're getting 400 shots and you certainly won't find a majority saying they're getting anything close to 600-700+ shots. So for cameras rated almost the same I'd say the real world results for the Z6/Z7 is conservatively twice that of the A7rII.

You're saying that it isn't confusing if you understand how the CIPA rating is determined but understanding how the rating is determined isn't the goal... the goal is (or should be) actually using the CIPA number to get some idea of what battery life will be whether that is based on a typical use case or as you've said based on how it compares to similar cameras being used in the same way. You can't convince me that you can use the NIkon Z6/7 CIPA ratings for anything useful whether based on a common use case or as compared to other similar mirrorless cameras.

The issue has existed since the first mirrorless cameras came out, and relates to the CIPA standard for testing camera battery life. The standard test always significantly biases for DSLRs over mirrorless because DSLRs when using optical viewfinders are essentially not using any power draw until the shutter is activated - even in LCD mode, DSLRs are not actively focusing, some aren't actively metering, and they often have very small LCDs so even in a live view mode they're going to test better...whereas mirrorless cameras are constantly using power to push an image to the LCD or EVF even when the shutter isn't being actuated...often they have larger LCDs, constant metering and often focusing active, etc.

CIPAs test procedure is:  using the camera to take a photo every 30 seconds, alternating with and without flash between each shot. The camera's screen is to be left on continuously between shots and used as the viewfinder device. The lens should be zoomed in or out all the way before every shot.  After every 10 shots, the camera is turned off for a while and the cycle is repeated. Most camera makers test their own products which each camera maker self-affirms are done according to the CIPA guide. The CIPA standard states that the procedure specified was selected because it represents the way a typical consumer would use a camera.

With mirrorless cameras, the true battery life is technically total power on time...almost completely independent of how many shots are taken.  In other words, if the battery can be powered on for 3 hours in total display time, then it will be a matter of how many shots a person takes during that 3 hours.  Walking around shooting landscapes or architecture, you might end up with 300-350 shots before the battery goes.  Street candids with a little more frequent shutter use might get you to 450-500.  Go shooting wildlife and birds and almost any mirrorless camera will exceed 1,000.

There are also many different things that can increase battery life - turning off pre-focusing or constant focusing, turning off wi-fi, setting aggressive sleep modes of 1 minute or less, not chimping or reviewing shots, and so on.  How those things are set in a camera will change how much power it's drawing and how long the displays are on between shots.

My mirrorless camera has a CIPA rating of 450.  It's fairly accurate, if I walk around Disney World, taking occasional and random shots of landscapes, rides, people, etc...where I might just take a few shots every 5 minutes or so.  When I go out on weekends to shoot wildlife and birds, with lots of bird-in-flight action using 8fps bursts, I have gotten 1,400-1,500 shots on a battery reliably and regularly.

I think CIPA ratings can still be useful, but like DPR camera reviews, you shouldn't compare across formats and types of cameras.  CIPA ratings of full-frame mirrorless cameras should be fairly accurate to use to compare to other full-frame mirrorless - DSLRs can be compared to DSLRs, APS-C mirrorless to APS-C mirrorless, etc...just to give some idea whether one may have a slightly higher battery life than another...but not necessarily to judge the actual number of shots.

Remember too that the way a camera is designed to be used will impact the types of people who buy it and how they use it - sports and wildlife photographers may buy a certain model much more than landscape or scenic photographers, so when it comes to user experience, the battery life on that model will average out significantly higher - since almost every user of that camera is rattling off in burst mode constantly.  A camera with a slower focus system, high-res sensor, that tends to attract landscape photographers or portrait photographers, with slow exposures, lots of framing and composition time, driving flashes, lots of image review, etc will always end up with average user battery life much lower.

I don't yet know the levels of buyers of Z6 to Z7, but I'd be willing to bet if all users were to be polled on average battery life, the Z6 users will report more shots per charge than all Z7 users...just because the Z6 is going to be more likely used for wildlife shooting which is more shot-intense.  The same dynamic will occur comparing average shots per charge of Sony A9 users to A7RIII users...both use the same FZ battery, but the average A9 shooter will likely see 3 to 4 times more shots on a charge shooting sports and wildlife.

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