Wed - January 4, 2006

Pentax Optio WP in Cold Weather - Non-Paddling Experiment

a cup of hot tea
There is a discussion going on the on a battery life of the Pentax Optio WP in cold weather. Somebody reported a disappointing case of the poor performance of this camera. I haven't had occasion to test my camera in cold weather paddling, so I decided to perform a little experiment in my porch.

I charged a battery in my Pentax Optio WP and left the camera outside between midnight and 6 am with an air temperature dropping from ~30F to ~22F. I was using the original lithium D-L18 battery with the 710 mAh capacity.

At 6 am I went outside for a photo session which I expected to be short. Dax was called to be a witness of my experiment, but she didn't think that it was cold enough. It was still dark and a thick ice was formed on my dog water bowl. I started to shoot whatever I could see on my porch. After about 50 frames the battery indicator went down to about 50%. I realized that I hadn't used zoom. A soon as I started to play with zoom I got the battery depletion message and the camera shut down.

I silicone sking was able to turn the camera on and to keep shooting with zoom despite of the battery indicator showing no juice. Finally, I got really cold, so I shoot a few more pictures with a flash. It worked OK, though the flash recharging time seemed to be longer than usual.

I went inside and made a hot tea, then turned the camera on again and spent a few more minutes shooting outside. When I returned home and turned the camera on after a few minutes the indicator was showing the fully charged battery, so I completed my experiment with a little photo session around a cup of my still hot tea.

I shot 150 pictures including several pictures with flash! Maybe I am just lucky with my camera and battery but I don't see any reasons to complain.
Pentax D-L18 battery
It may be wise to limit power hungry operations like flash, excessive zooming and autofocussing to extend the battery life in cold conditions. I am sure that it is a good idea to carry an extra battery. It's possible to buy a NP 40 battery with a higher capacity as replacement for the Pentax D-L18 battery as discussed on the forum (900 mAh vs 710 mAh).

It seems that if your turn the camera on the battery indicator is typically showing the battery fully charged but, in cold weather, the battery may go drastically down after a first few shots. I didn't need to push my Optio WP to the end of the battery yet. However, I was able to squeeze some extra shots from a dying battery in my Canon PowerShot by turning the camera off and on.

Do you have any tips on shooting with Pentax Optio WP(i) cameras in low temperatures? What is your general experience with the battery life in this camera?

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