One of the big surprises from the Nikon D4 announcement was its lower battery life compared to the older Nikon D3 and D3s cameras. According to the Nikon D4 specifications, the new EN-EL18 battery that is shipped with the Nikon D4 is rated at 2,600 shots, while the older EN-EL4a battery used on D3/D3s/D3x cameras is rated at 4,200 shots – almost half in difference.
Rob Galbraith spoke to Nikon’s senior official about the battery issue. It turns out that while the new EN-EL18 is rated lower, it in fact delivers greater shooting time than the old EN-EL4a battery. Here is the quote from the article:
The particular Lithium battery chemistry they ultimately selected for the EN-EL18 delivers greater actual shooting time than the EN-EL4a, says Akagi, despite its lower milliamp-hour rating, when the camera is autofocusing and firing constantly. For example, when a photographer is covering a soccer match with a 400mm f/2.8, or any other situation where the camera is spending more time fully active than idle. When the battery is being continuously pushed to provide current to drive the lens motor, shutter, mirror, image sensor, processing circuitry, memory card and more, Akagi indicates the EN-EL18 will power the D4 through more frames than the EN-EL4a could have, and more frames than the D3S and EN-EL4a too.
Akagi accompanied his explanation with hand-drawn approximations of the discharge curves of the EN-EL18 vs the EN-EL4a at low, medium and high current draws, which showed the EN-EL18 outstripping the EN-EL4a when current demands were highest. The high-current discharge characteristics of the two batteries, he says, are different enough that it enables the 10.8V/2000mAh EN-EL18 to outlast the 11.1V/2500mAh EN-EL4a when the D4 is doing lots of autofocusing and capturing lots of pictures. In this scenario, says Akagi, the EN-EL18 will provide roughly 10% more runtime than the EN-EL4a, at normal temperatures. In cold environments, the EN-EL18’s runtime advantage is described as being even greater.
Put simply, if you’re using the D4 to take a steady stream of photos, Nikon’s contention is the EN-EL18 will give you more frames per charge than would have been possible with the EN-EL4a. Conversely, if the camera is kept awake but is spending far more time idle than it is taking pictures, the EN-EL4a would last longer on a single charge than the EN-EL18.
Read the full article about the new battery on Rob’s blog.
That’s great news for future D4 owners. As I have already stated before, Nikon typically does not disappoint with new product announcements, especially if it is a high end product like the Nikon D4.
Big thanks for my friend Tom for sending me the link.