Nikon D4 Battery Life

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.

Nikon EN-EL18

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.


  1. January 13, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I bet this higher video specifications required them to address this.

  2. 2) Tom
    January 13, 2012 at 8:03 am

    I look forward to seeing how the battery compares in real life.

  3. 3) BenCK
    January 13, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Thanks for sharing that information Nasim. I was definitely concerned about the battery issue as well, but it sounds like it shouldn’t be a problem.

  4. 4) Roland
    January 13, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I still think it could be problematic for wildlife photography, when you are waiting for the right moment and your battery drains away.

    The other issue with the D4 that I see is the reduced viewfinder coverage (97%) in the crop modes, which actually surprised me quite a bit. Nasim, do you have any idea why this is (as far as I know, the crop modes in the D3s have 100% viewfinder coverage)?

    Moreover, I am a bit disappointed that the AF system was simply tweaked instead of entirely redesigned. Nikon could have made a real change here e.g. by redistributing the AF points more evenly across the whole frame and/or significantly increase the number of cross-type sensors.

    • 4.1) BenCK
      January 13, 2012 at 11:30 am

      I wouldn’t argue with having more cross-type sensors, but I mean the D3s autofocus system is already quite good. I don’t think it really needed a complete redesign. If the face tracking really works at high speeds like I hope, then it will be an incredible focus system. Also, again if it really works as advertised, the ability to focus using f/8 lens configurations will be a huge deal for owners of the 500 f/4, 600 f/4, and the 200-400 f/4 lenses with the TC-20E III teleconverter. Those are great improvements to an already great autofocus system.

      • 4.1.1) Roland
        January 14, 2012 at 1:11 am

        Yes, these are definitely advantages of the D4 AF system, and I completely agree with you that the system of the D3s is one of the best ones that exist.
        But somehow I had expected bigger changes given the fact that the D3s and D3 AF systems are almost identical and it has been over four years since the D3 came out.
        It is not entirely clear to me why it is so difficult to distribute the AF points more evenly across the frame, and even Canon increased the number of cross-type sensors in their new 1DX.
        It seems to me that the jump from the D2x to the D3 was much bigger than from the D3 to the D4.

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