Lithium batteries and electromagnetic shutters

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by ParkerSmithPhoto, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    I have now had the same problem with both my Bronica SQ and my Mamiya RZ: a roll of film will have several good exposures and a bunch of wildly underexposed frames.

    There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it until I studied the 8 rolls I processed last night and found that the first frame of every roll was good, followed by however many of the same subject that were underexposed. Whenever I found a new subject (which might take ten minutes or an hour), the same pattern repeated itself: one good frame, the rest bad. Obviously, the pause refreshes, to coin a phrase...

    The battery checked out okay, and viewing the shutter speeds on the RZ through the lens also checked out okay. Then I remembered that, even though even though the old battery read fine on the status light, the problem on the SQ only cleared up when I installed a new battery. Viewing through the lens on the SQ, it was very apparent that the shutter was wildly inconsistent.

    So, thinking battery problems, I dug around and found this, which was pulled from the now extinct Bronica website via the Wayback Machine:
    Note that Bronica does not recommend the use of Lithium batteries.

    So, I dug out my SQA, which I wore out last year without a single problem, and naturally I had replaced the previous battery with an alkaline cell. And in my RZ, which spent about a year idle, was a lithium. :sad:

    I'll be replacing all the lithium batteries in my SQ and RZ, and I'll be sure to report back if I have any further problems. I hope this thread will pre-empt anyone else blowing a bunch of good film on bad exposures!
     
  2. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I always use the batteries recommended by the equipment manufacturers never re-chargeable, Metz also don't recommend Lithium cells in their flash guns.
     
  3. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    Definitely good advice. On a much simpler piece of equipment, Maglite recommend that you don't use rechargable cells in their torches. I tried it, but the bulbs fail very quickly! Never had one fail with standard or alkaline batteries, so there must be differences in the current delivered by the various type of batteries.
     
  4. pstake

    pstake Member

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    Thanks for posting this.

    I had no idea the type of battery mattered, and I usually choose Lithium in case I forget to take it out of the camera. Lithium doesn't corrode.

    I think Silver Oxide is also pretty corrosion resistant...
     
  5. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Alkalines could deliver higher current than NiCd rechargable batteries. There had been special Alkalines introduced wich could be re-charged a few times, still delivering high current and thus forming an intemediate between the two others.
    But all of this is not related to the original issue I guess.
     
  6. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Is it? I don't know, but I didn't know about the lithium thing either.

    Maybe that's why I'm having battery issues...

    Hmmm I don't see any silver oxide batteries at my local photo store.. Uh oh...


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  7. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    Future best practices for me will be 1) to take the battery out if the camera will be parked for a while; 2) every few months give the shutter some exercise if it hasn't been used lately; 3) avoid lithium.

    From this experience, I now gather that super fresh lithiums are probably okay, but they can fall off precipitously if not used for a while, and the battery indicator will give the OK signal even though you're in the danger zone.
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    The same thing will happen to silver batteries at the end of their useful life. One good exposure and then underexposure or even not enough current to trip the shutter.
    Voltmeters only read the surface voltage of a battery. for accurate measurement there need to be a load present. A battery tester has a variety of load resistors built into the meter.
     
  9. AgX

    AgX Member

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    We should not forget that a lot of more recent cameras only take lithium-batteries.
     
  10. konakoa

    konakoa Member

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    Just a bit off topic: my cameras use batteries from alkaline button cells to specialized lithiums. There's also a bunch of stuff in the house that uses AA batteries. A really, really nice battery tester is one of these made by ZTS: http://www.ztsinc.com/mbt1.html

    It tests just about every kind and formulation of battery available. It also tests under load for accuracy, not just the voltage so you'll know exactly what's left in the battery. It's really, really useful for the above mentioned specialty batteries so there's no second guessing when the battery in my RZ needs replacing, the AA in my hand held light meter is weak or even if I need to change the button cells in the red light for my telescope.
     
  11. pstake

    pstake Member

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    I've had some uneven results when running shutter speed tests on freshly overhauled cameras. This could be the reason for fluctuations and for negatives coming out not as I thought they should, as I thought that had when using a different camera but all other variables the same (exposure / iso ... development). The battery could be the variable causing the inconsistencies I've seen.
     
  12. AgX

    AgX Member

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    75$ !!!!

    Nice technology, but the price has to be related to its usefulness.
     
  13. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    Looks cool, but how do you know when the batteries in IT need replacing....? Hmmm..... :confused:
     
  14. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    Well, try as I might, I cannot replicate the shutter problem on the RZ with the back off and looking through the lens. It seems perfectly steady. Could the electrical contacts on the back have anything to do with this? I have no idea what those do other than maybe sync up with a metered prism, which I don't have.
     
  15. konakoa

    konakoa Member

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    I know, I know. B&H has them for a tiny bit less. I will say that I've had mine for years and it's been dang useful. There is no second guessing if a battery is good or not with it. It has saved me from having to buy those expensive lithium batteries annually for my RZ because it does let me know what's left in them. Saving $10 a battery does add up.

    Really off topic: lots of uses around the house for it too. Stuff like the batteries in remote controls. I was also using mine recently to see if the rechargeable batteries for the outdoor solar powered garden lights were still any good. (A lot of them weren't.)

    And Parker--the easy answer is to get four new ones, stick them in the tester, test the old batteries, and if they're still good pop 'em right back in. :wink: On the RZ--any chance something metallic (non metered prism?) is making contact on the camera body where the AE viewfinder terminals are? Mine has a little plastic insert to cover those terminals up. Black electrical tape could work too. The contacts on the film backs are only for setting the film speed for the metered prisms. They shouldn't be doing anything to the shutter.
     
  16. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I doesn't tell you the voltage the battery is giving out , I prefer to use a digital multi- meter http://www.screwfix.com/p/philex-83...tracking url&gclid=CIKgvNSv3rUCFcrHtAodAX4AQg
     
  17. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    My waist level finder has no plastic cover for those contacts. I will try a piece of tape.

    Strangely, the camera seems to work perfectly in the studio, even with 8 second exposures. It may have been the cold weather affecting the battery.
     
  18. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Lithium batteries are a bit more robust in cold conditions than either alkaline or zinc. In New Zealand I was shooting in temperatures of 3°C often, cold enough to impair my dexterity and fog optics.

    It's a very different camera, but of notable mention: my EOS1N's power drive booster E1 holds 8 lithium AA batteries (for reducing weight and readiness in cold and hot conditions). This set will have been in service for 7 years this June (!)

    I have no idea how many rolls/exposures over that time. Lithium batteries have a steep 'sudden death' curve, manifesting as hesitation, then an unpredictable 'stop': in some cameras this can mean a film jam/inability to rewind/mirror lock/shutter lock or a combination of them. They really need to be tested every couple of months to observe any 'creep' leading to failure.