Caffeine Priority: The drain game - EVFs and short battery life with the Sony RX1R II?
posted Wednesday, November 25, 2015 at 8:11 AM EST
I was recently asked to photograph a big evening fundraising event for a local non-profit organization and thought it would be a great opportunity to take the new Sony RX1R II out for a spin to test its high ISO chops. (I also shot some simple daytime photos while I was out and about the next day.) Though a fixed 35mm lens is not my ideal focal length, personally, that's really beside the point -- the RX1R II is packed with cool new features and sports a serious sensor that can capture some genuinely impressive images. Needless to say, I was excited to shoot with this camera and see what I could get.
Yes, the RX1R II did a great job at capturing crisp, detailed images -- check out a handful of those out here -- and I'll go more in-depth with image quality soon in my Field Test. However, my first experience or impression of the RX1R II turned out to be one of disappointment, a surprising disappointment, with the camera's battery life.
Now, I was already warned about the camera's less-than-stellar battery performance thanks to our lab technician Luke, and I came prepared with a spare battery. But I wasn't expecting to swap the battery just an hour or so into shooting this event. The battery was at 100% when I arrived, and I hadn't shot with the camera at all prior to that evening's event.
Now, I can't pinpoint a single cause for battery issues. For one, the Sony RX1R II itself uses a rather small battery in the first place -- the same rechargeable Li-ion pack as the pocketable RX100-series -- and the RX1R II houses a huge full-frame sensor and lot of horsepower. Furthermore, the RX1R II now has a built-in, pop-up EVF, and according to CIPA ratings, the EVF reduces the shots per charge from 220 with the LCD to just 200. Lastly, it was a chilly November night, and cold weather makes battery life worse.
I believe it was a combination of these elements, but I'm thinking the EVF was a primary factor. I prefer to use a viewfinder to the LCD, so, naturally, I had the EVF opened and the camera at-the-ready across my shoulder as I documented the event. After a while, I realized that having the camera up against my body, it was triggering the proximity sensor and enabling the EVF constantly and perhaps draining the battery more quickly. I had assumed that turning the camera on and off repeatedly would use more battery than just leaving the camera on stand-by, though maybe I'm wrong.
I own an Olympus E-M1 and haven’t experienced such a quick battery drain, and I make use of its EVF eye-sensor setup all the time. I've gone through an entire day with that camera and not drained the battery completely. Though I do switch it off if I'm not shooting after a while, I don't feel overly anxious to always power-off the E-M1 after a shot to preserve the battery. The E-M1 sensor is much smaller than the RX1R II's, however, and therefore much less power-hungry I assume. The Olympus has a higher CIPA rating for battery life at 350 shots (no spec is given for battery life with the EVF, however).
In the end, the RX1R II survived the night after swapping batteries and making it a point to either turn off the camera often, or pop-in the EVF at least, between shooting opportunities. On the plus side, the RX1R II batteries are very small, so you can pack a bunch into your camera bag, and they're relatively inexpensive at around $36 apiece. Now, I just need to remember to get larger SD cards…42-megapixels RAW+JPEG files fill your cards up quickly!
• Sony RX1R II Overview • Gallery • Lab Samples •
Caffeine Priority is a new series of short photo-tidbits to ease you into your day, and give us a chance to share a bit more of what life’s like here at IR. We're more like a group of friends testing and talking about cameras and lenses than the buttoned-down, big-corporation world that some of our photo-friends at other companies work in; hopefully these little snippets will share some of that. So... grab another coffee and join in the conversation with us down below!