View Full Version : What's the battery life like when using the interval timer?

05-05-2010, 8:25pm
I'm looking at doing a time lapse shoot of a coastal site and need to take images over at least 4 hours using the interval timer. The only thing I'm worried about is what the battery life of the D3s will be like when it is on for a long period.

I did this once with a D200 and found it really took a lot out of the battery. In this case a remote power source isn't an option. I know from experience the D3s' battery is fantastic under normal operation but no idea how it will perform in this mode of operation.

Can anyone provide me any information? D3/D3x would be similar I imagine.

I @ M
06-05-2010, 8:27am
Can't really help you with the D3 battery side of things but as you have found out the D200 battery took a hit and I don't find that unusual at all seeing as they seem to chew through battery power at about double the rate of most other Nikon models.
I would expect that if you actually managed to do it successfully with the D200 you shouldn't have too many problems with the D3.

06-05-2010, 10:51am
D300 is good for approximately 1000 shots on a single charge, and the D3 series is apparently good for about 3000 images on a single charge.

Are you using the onboard intervalometer/timer, or an MC-36 remote?
If you use an MC-36 remote, it's self powered so it won't drain the camera's battery any more than the camera capturing images of it's own accord, but I suspect that when you use the cameras built in timer, it'd drain the camera battery a little quicker than the standard 3000 shot capacity that the battery should be capable of.

Roughly speaking how many images do you think you'll capture in that 4 hour period?
Are there going to be fewer images of long exposure times, or many images of short exposure times.
The main issue is how long the metering system is active for, during the 4 hour(or more) time period.
That's basically what drains the battery. The metering system and the duration of the exposure time.

You can leave the camera on and in standby mode(ie. not metering and not exposing) for many days, and the battery barely drains.

06-05-2010, 11:11am
I just had a quick play with the interval timer(on the D300).

I set mine to 2 minute intervals and the metering system seems to come on for about 30 seconds prior to the interval set, but then turns itself off promptly afterwards, as with standard usage, if you haven't adjusted that camera setting.
I then set the interval to 1 minute and the metering system didn't shut itself down. That is, the camera is in ready to shoot mode for the entire duration of the timed sequence. Bad for battery drain!

I don't know where the cutoff is(for switching the metering system off) when setting the interval period but it must be somewhere between 1 minute and two minutes.

In CSM C2 there's should be the setting for switching the Auto Meter-Off Delay period, and by default it could be set to 8 seconds or so. (on the D300) there is no setting for instant, and the shortest delay period is about seconds. Set the camera to the shortest period for keeping the metering active(after the exposure). That'll ensure a longer battery life.

Also another power saving tip: be sure that image review is turned off in the camera. The review screen uses up a fair amount of power to display the image just captured, and for a time lapse sequence, I don't expect that to be important.

06-05-2010, 6:05pm
Thanks Arthur, that's really helpful:)

The D3s is good for upwards of 4000 shots I've found, kind of scary battery life at first after the D200.

I do have the MC-36, but wasn't considering using as I hadn't considered that aspect. It certainly sounds the best option.

I'm aiming for short interval images, it will be full daylight and I was going to only shoot JPEG for this. At this stage I'm looking at one image every 15s but this may go out to 30s.

Sounds like the D300 is improved over the D200's interval setting, I remember it didn't seem to want to shut off. The D3s will turn off metering as low as 4s interval and default (which I've left it at) is 6s.

I never use auto image review as I'd rather chimp when needed. In this case I'll be just sitting in the shade with a good book. Hmm that reminds me I need to organise shade for the camera too!

Think I'll have a play on Saturday with some short bursts like you have.

JM Tran
06-05-2010, 6:17pm
how about connect the camera to a portable power generator? running on AC power alone with no battery? might be a bit noisy but its peace of mind that way

06-05-2010, 6:43pm
I do have 2 batteries though and maybe if I use the MC-36 and power draw is still high I could still swap them over. I know I can't using the inbuilt Interval Timer.:rolleyes:

how about connect the camera to a portable power generator? running on AC power alone with no battery? might be a bit noisy but its peace of mind that way
Yes that would work and probably scare the wildlife.

Also I don't want to lug 25kg of genset (Honda with full tank and lead) several hundred metres. In addition I don't have an external power adaptor for the D3s.

06-05-2010, 8:49pm
I doubt that the metering system would chew much power over that time period. I'd assume most power is used by things that move - shutter/mirror, AF and VR, and you are unlikely to be using AF or VR.

Using the internal interval timer I shot 600 frames over a 48-hour period on my D300 and from memory had to change the battery once. However this was only mucking about so I doubt that the first battery was fully charged when I started.