How to save batteries while shooting LOTS (hundreds) of exposures at night?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by LowriderS10, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Hi I do a lot of night photography, and one of my favourites is star trails. I used to shoot a single shot, but lately I've switched to shooting multiple (250-300) exposures and processing them together.

    Here's my question...I'll obviously be shooting from a tripod in continuous drive with a locked down remote...what settings do I need to use to get the BEST battery life?

    Thanks. have some visual appeal to this thread...this is the kind of stuff I do:

    EDITIlbungsaApr30startrailsnc1 by Tamas V, on Flickr


    BusanLighthouseEDIT1 by Tamas V, on Flickr

  2. phidauex

    phidauex Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 17, 2013
    Boulder, CO
    This is from memory, so I may be missing a few items, but here is what I've done to get 700+ photos from a single aftermarket battery (haven't actually run it all the way out, so I don't know what the real max is):

    - Turn off: Face recognition, IS, AF
    - Change to Single Shot rather than continuous drive (better compatibility with my intervalometer)
    - Turn off image review
    - Disable auto-EVF switch
    - Manually switch to EVF only
    - Shoot RAW (not sure if this affects battery life, but easier to work on the resulting images, especially for astro or timelapse)

    From what I can tell, the biggest benefit came from the disable of IS and AF, with switching to EVF being a slight additional benefit.

    I just got the bits to make my own cheap AC adapter "battery eliminator" for long shots as well - I hope to be posting a how-to soon.

    P.S. This is all regarding the Olympus OM-D E-M5, which I think you own from your EXIF data, but that you never actually specify...
  3. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Whoa! Some soldering and stuff?
    Don't forget to post it!
  4. phidauex

    phidauex Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 17, 2013
    Boulder, CO
    Just a little soldering! I think I've got a method that will keep it as simple as possible for people who can solder, but don't have a lot of experience with electronics.
  5. Crdome

    Crdome Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sep 11, 2011
    West Central Indiana
    Real Name:
    External batteries

    I've considered the longer power thing for awhile. Don't know if I need it, but here is my research for quick and dirty implementation. I discovered these as I searched for a portable source for my daughters iPhone.

    These adapters are for cameras using the GH2 model battery. I didn't realize it, but there is even a tiny plastic flap for the battery compartment designed to accommodate it.
    I assume DC adapters are available for many DSLR cameras now that video is such a big part of their capability.



    Power Bank:They are produced in a vast variety of power capacity, physical size, and for those stylish concerned folks, lots of pretty colors. Many recharge via USB cable.

    power bank 20000 in Multipurpose Batteries & Power | eBay These group is for 20,000mAh batteries perhaps as much as 15x greater capacity than the cameras OEM
  6. phidauex

    phidauex Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 17, 2013
    Boulder, CO
    For the OM-D there is no standard battery eliminator adapter available - they want you to buy the HLD-6 grip, and then the AC adapter. That isn't a bad solution, but if the only thing you need is external power and not the other grip features then it is too expensive.

    My approach is to take a cheap aftermarket battery, and gut it. Then I've got a Sony NEX battery eliminator kit (which came the closest in voltage and amperage supply to the Olympus adapter), which I will disassemble and reassemble using the husk of the cheap Olympus battery. This particular kit already has a quick-disconnect built into the line, so once the battery-cord adapter is built, it can be plugged into the supplied 7.6V/2A AC adapter, or could be connected to any custom cable wired up for ~7.6V li-on battery packs to make an external battery bank of any size.

    I'd be cautious about some of the batteries you linked to - you want to pay close attention to the battery voltage, make sure you are looking at 7.4-7.8V packs only, not ones meant to supply a USB device (5V). 7.6V batteries are common for larger camcorders - buy an aftermarket battery/charger combo for a big camcorder, build an adapter cable to your already-built battery eliminator, and you'd be up and running.
  7. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    Awesome, thanks for the info...This is why I wish the OM-D had real custom modes, so I could program these onto a single spot on the dial. And yes, sorry, I have an OM-D, should have mentioned that.

    Umm...two things for anyone else wondering about that: The camera has to be set on continuous drive with the remote (not intervalometer) locked. I'm using a simple single-button remote release. For these types of shots, I do a 30 second exposure and lock the remote on continuous, so it just rattles off one shot after anoter.

    As for RAW...the above pictures both all composed of about 280 frames each. Even with the JPEGs, it took my laptop (which has a high-end i5 processor and 8GB of RAM specifically for this sort of thing) 45 minutes to put those 280 frames into a single picture. I doubt it would be able to handle 280 RAW frames...or it would take days haha. Plus...I *THINK* the program I'm using for this is JPEG that I think about it. For a *SINGLE* shot, I'd probably use RAW, but I'm getting away from doing single-frame long exposure shots.

    Also...does image review kick in on continuous mode? On a Canon it doesn't.

    Thanks for all the tips, I'm going to make a cheat sheet with these on it to make sure I don't forget them haha.
  8. ohia

    ohia New to Mu-43

    Mar 27, 2013
    Kailua, Oahu Hawaii
    There are no currently listed adapters\dc couplers for the PL5 as well. I have a PL5 and am thinking about gutting a BLS-5 battery, and wiring up for a dc connection for an external battery pack. The PL5 Battery is listed at 7.2v.
    Did you have any luck with the mod you had proposed here for the OM-D? As far as I know Olympus does not check for chipped batteries so I'm hoping it is a straight forward process of just feeding the correct voltage to the + and - connections on the modded battery case. How did your mod work out?