Digital Photography Review's Richard Butler names the Sony A9 BATTERY as his pick for "Gear of the Year"....

... and makes the argument that this battery finally helps mirrorless achieve parity with DSLRs; in the power management department.

Apparently no one at DP Review actually tested the Panasonic GH5, GH4 or GH3 cameras and their batteries. Panasonic has been doing batteries correctly for years and years. And years. Even a cursory test would have shown that, when not using the built in flash, many users are able to get well over 1,000 still photo exposures while videographers tell of the GH4 cameras getting up to four hours of HD record time on a single battery!

But wait!!!! Here's what Richard Butler himself wrote about the GH3 battery back in April of 2013:

"One of the great advantages of the GH3's increased size is that it can take an unusually large battery for a mirrorless camera. The 7.2V, 1860mAh battery give 13. 4Wh of power, 50% more than the OM-D's battery, for example. This give the camera an impressive battery life of around 540 images per charge or 270 minutes of recording time."

(The typo, "battery give" is still in the review but should be "battery gives").

If we consider that Butler was quoting CIPA numbers for the battery at that time then the cameras with built-in flashes were always at a disadvantage as the ratings were done with 50% of the shots being done with the on board flash engaged. Something that the "pro" DSLRs did not have to contend with...

I guess we should be magnanimous and welcome the editorial crew of DP Review into the mirrorless world of 2013 (the year the Panasonic GH3 appeared in shops).

Glorious week for them. First Barney Britton's "non-hands on (un)real worldly recommendation of the Nikon D850 as his pick for "Gear of 2017" followed by blanket editorial amnesia of all mirrorless batteries pre-Sony A9.

We wait for the next Italian boot to drop... will it be "Sony camera strap, accessory of the Year!!!"?

In case you are interested here are the CIPA test methodologies from a trusted source = CIPA. http://www.cipa.jp/std/documents/e/DC-002_e.pdf

I spent a year shooting the A7Rii. I never lived in fear or anxiety about its use of batteries.


ODL Designs said...

I had seen that and wondered a similar thing.

Consider the HR mode, and I know I go on about it a bit. But they did a cursory walk through, concluded it really wasn't that useful and moved on. Since then Sony has released their own version to high acclaim as suddenly now being useful for landscapes, despite being a slower shot to shot implementation (making any movement artifacts worse) and needing special software. While the Olympus version produces a RAW file, has very fast shot to shot time and has been on no less than 4 bodies (Panasonic addition making a 5th).

However nothing has bothered me more than reading the tired comments of it not having much additional resolution than the 20mp mode, and it not being very useful.

I am thinking of making my own walk-through video showing best practice to try and dispel the myths, and, I guess, to give back a little to the community :)

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

I learned a lot about camera testing when I read the CIPA test info. Their method is to have every usable thing on the camera engaged when they measure battery consumption. This instantly makes any camera with a flash 50% less "virtuous" than a camera with no built-in flash. Same with bluetooth and wi-fi. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't waste the time and energy calling them out on stuff like this but the misinformation can often lead people to make bad choices or defend inaccurate choices. I guess when one is inexperienced one is unaware of what was done in the (recent) past.

I also laughed when Richard defended the utility of the new battery by mentioning the paucity of standalone chargers. There's not a professional out there that would not have multiple chargers for his batteries. I can't imagine sequentially charging one battery after another in this day and age of cheap and accessible chargers...

Anonymous said...

Having spent decades having to change film (or bodies) every 36 frames on 35mm, backs every 12-24 frames on medium format, and holders every frame on sheet film, I find the notion that a limit of many hundreds of frames before a battery change is terribly burdensome (which is far faster than rewinding/unloading/loading roll film) to be just cause for a good chuckle or two.


Anonymous said...

This is the same team of "experts" who routinely downrate cameras because they don't come with built in raw to Jpeg converters. I somehow get that they would love in camera raw conversion but I don't agree with overlooking facts and presenting un-researched conjecture as a truthful narrative. The new Sony battery is exactly 2.4 percent ( NOT times! Percent) more capacity than the existing Panasonic battery. The more efficient power use of the GH5 actually means longer battery life.

Scott said...

This paragraph is in the article:

"In fairness Panasonic got here first, having put a big battery in its GH models as far back as the GH3, but I didn't notice it to the same extent because I was primarily shooting video with those models."

Perhaps it was added after you opined?

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Scott, in the subsequent comments Butler does state that he went back and edited in more details about Panasonic's batteries after initial publication.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Scott, as regards Butler's edit, in response to a commenter pointing out the capacity of both the Panasonic battery and the battery for the Olympus EM-1.2, here is what Butler wrote back ::: "Absolutely. Amended in response to readers highlighting something I'd overlooked"

Stephen said...

These days, every article on DPReview ought to come with the label, "Paid Content". This isn't entirely their fault, as digital photography has pretty much hit maturity. In the film age, a site like theirs would be reporting, at this point, "Kodak announces that Kodachrome 25 is....well...film!". Which, come to think of it, is pretty much what photography magazines in those days did. "The latest Nikon! Now with rounded corners!".

Mike said...

Sad - DPR was a great source of useful information when it started, under Phil Askey, but for me these recent posts at DPR mean it now has an even lower rating for credibility than of late. It used to be top of my list of photographic web favourites, but Cameralabs (for reviews) and your VSL have overtaken it, and I'm seriously considering deleting DPR from my 'favourites' completely. Like I plan to abandon Adobe at the end of this year (I've been duplicating, as far as possible, my work on Capture One and Affinity Photo for several months) ...!

Thanks for a great blog (I have a G1, GH1, GH2, GH3 and GH4 so I might be considered biased - but I still have a lot of OTHER old cameras too, as I consider the old cameras and lenses are worth more to me than I would get for them if I sold them).

Thanks for a great blog.


Richard Parkin said...

Dpreviewsk reviews aren’t really aimed at photographers like you Kirk. It’s a similar situation to consumer reports on all kinds of things, they are never very useful as a buying guide for people who really know about the particular thing (cars, cameras and so on) they are reviewing. Personally I have found dpreview useful but only by reading between the lines. Often too there are features that mark a camera down which may be desirable to you, a simplistic example would be “no pop up flash) is always scored down but if you prefer no flash it is an advantage. Overall I treat reviews as an adjunct to manufacturers blurb.

ODL Designs said...

Of course it is very difficult to be truly impartial which is why I prefer reading from photographers and videographers who use a particular system over those who simply review them.

David said...

@Richard parkin, the issue is they used to be. Look at an older review, like for the Olympus E3. Cards used to be tested, time from start up, shutter noise, buffers, dynamic range, all used to be tested for cameras and description of how it was like to use one used to be useful. But now the key phrase is used to. Dpreview is the same as petapixel, except it has a so called Scientist on staff and pushes more to the pixel.
Kirk, I agree and think that amending the article, after your write up without indicating so is completely dishonest. But dpreview has also become a place for only 135 format. So if it doesn't exist, then its ignored.
All the best,

Anonymous said...

LOL. It is DPReview. Expecting accuracy from DPReview -> it's a bit like reading the National Enquirer or watching Fox News and expecting ... facts. They is what they is!