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SX280 - battery life shooting video




I apologize to the forum for mixing two different problems.  They are unrelated.


Problem #1:  User error.  I thought I was using a class 6 SD card but I was wrong. The yellow "!" indicates a pathologically slow card.  Upgrading to a class 10 resolved this problem.


Problem #2: UNRESOLVED.  Red battery indicator comes on prematurely.  On a fresh charge, it'll turn red after recording for a couple of minutes.  On a partially drained battery, it turns red immediately upon entering movie mode or pressing the record button.  Turn the camera off and then right back on in "still" mode and it shows full charge and works fine ... until trying to shoot video.  I have not precisely measured recording times but it'll record for at least 20 (maybe 30?) minutes while flashing red.




1,334 REPLIES 1,334

@scupking wrote:



I agree the photos came out great but no excuse for the battery issue. I wanted a camera to take on my honeymoon this fall and take good pictures and videos. I'm happy I decided on trying cameras a few months before to see how they perform. Yes the canon will take about 20 minutes of video on a fresh battery but if you take any pictures before you start taking videos then good luck. I don't want to play a guessing game if the battery is going to die or not. It happened when I tried to take video of my fiancée at her college graduation. I was so upset I wasn't able to get a video of her getting her diploma.

Why are some of you critics [who have moved on to other cameras] still spending so much time on this forum? Legit criticism is perfect and appropriate, especially when part of an ongoing comparison to other [SX280] users, but simply venting to feel better is not, imho. I know I would have been equally angry about losing a moment that will not come again, having had faith in the camera and having been completely let down. I get that, but I'm just saying, I'd rather read more about SX280 users current experiences (successes and fails). I mean, I don't think we'd want the Canon engineer who overlooked this flaw to commit seppuku, would we???





The Canon engineer should suck it up, take it like a man and admit to the flaw and fix it... If I did something wrong at my job I would admit it and fix the issue.

...coulda been a woman...


BTW, I just read Gordon Laing's update to his lengthy review of the SX280. He's put the issue to bed.


I think I will too.


Cheerio, Pawl

@pawl wrote:

BTW, I just read Gordon Laing's update to his lengthy review of the SX280. He's put the issue to bed.


I think there's lots of misinformation floating around. 
Laing's intial test of his "repaired" 280 primarily focused on switching back and forth twice between shooting a 5 minute video and still pictures and finding that "the battery indicator dropped from three segments to two and then to one flashing segment, but following the update it was always the same in Movie mode as in Program Auto."  So, yes, that may be an improvement over his original results.
In the second part of his testing he measured "the maximum movie recording time on a single charge".  He doesn't describe the clip lengths, any zooming, battery light flashing, etc. but reports he "managed 57 minutes".   In one of my earlier posts using a camera without the upgrade, I too reported total video time (1080/30p) of just under an hour without zooming or turning the camera on or off, only stopping and starting the video to stay under the 4GB clip length while the battery warning light flashed continously.  Canon's own firmware update description indicates that it " Increases the duration of movie shooting by 20% in cases where the optical zoom is used  through a reduction in the power consumption of the optical zoom".

It still leads me to believe that zooming during video mode is a heavy power draw and without an accurate monitor of remaining power supply, it's a crap shoot if you'll be able to capture the video moment before the battery dies.  And that leaves me on this forum trying to identify a better alternate.
Maybe in your mode of being neither a Canon hater or lover, you should also report that Laing rates the ZS30 as a better camera.

Yes, I read Gordon Laing's updated review of the SX280 and I agree that his update implies that he is now satisfied with the SX280 operation. He is, however, aware that even with the updated firmware, a sufficient battery indication prior to beginning a video capture can change to a flashing red low battery indication with one lens zoom. For him, it occured after two five-minute videos and some stills and while atttempting to record a third five minute video. He continued to record video with the camera totaling 27+ minutes of video. He observed this in a second test after he had completed his first test and updated his review. Any of you who are members of Google+ can view his comments. You may haved to add him to your circle of friends to see the comments. He was asked in the comments section if he thought going from a sufficent battery indication to critical with a lens zoom is normal behavior for this category of cameras and he did not respond. He did no further updating on his review after his second test of the SX280 and to me makes the updated review a little disingenuous.


He had version prior to updating firmware, a version that I never had on my SX280 that was returned so the update certainly may produce significant improvement from that firmware. I did update to firmware from and tested the camera. Contrary to what some have indicated, checking the battery level in nonvideo mode before swtiching to video is not a reliable indication of what you can capture with video. In video mode, I also tried zooming the lens a couple of times before initiating video capture to test whether zooming during video capture may bring the red low battery warning or possible shut down. After two 5-minute videos with zooming an average number of times, I turned the camera on in video mode, battery level indicated sufficient battery (3 "bars') and zooming twice did not affect the battery level indicator. I initiated video capture and on the first zoom low battery level indicator began flashing; on the second zoom the camera shut down with "recharge the battery" indication. There seemed to be no way to predict using the battery level indicator just how much video can be shot. It is very odd to me that there is no gradual battery level indication from 3 bars to low battery in video mode as video is shot. It happens on a single zoom and the camera may shut down with a second zoom. I am not implying that, with a sufficient battery indication at the beginning of video capture, I should be able to capture an additional 40 minutes of video while zooming in and out 60 times, but I would expect to shoot 4-5 minutes of video with reasonable zooming with perhaps two bars indicated at the halfway point prior to the low battery warning and then shutdown.


I am attempting to purchase a Lumix ZS30 but so far have not been successful. No one has one. At one point B&H had the camera for $349.00 but the discount expired before any were in stock. I also check here occasionally to see what progress if any has meen made. For those interested, CNET has a review of the SX280 here:


Excellent camera, but buy extra batteries


@pawl wrote:

BTW, I just read Gordon Laing's update to his lengthy review of the SX280. He's put the issue to bed.


I think I will too.


Cheerio, Pawl

I too have put theSX280 battery issue to bed.  I took my ZS30 along on a video shoot yesterday and after comparing the video with footage from my DSLR have concluded I can live with it.  The battery seems to last forever and that was with lots of zooming just for the sake of testing.  The 1080 60p footage is very smooth and the still shots were of adequate resolution.  It did seem to have problems staying in focus while zooming but that may have been due largely to having the multi-area exposure & focus setting selected.  I haven't had a chance to go back and test it with spot focus but think that may eliminate the problem.  I hope I'll never have to use the ZS30 on a paid shoot but it's nice to know the "emergency camera" is not going to shut down with no warning because it doesn't have a fully charged battery.  As a vacation/travel camera I think the ZS30 is going to work out just fine.  I still prefer the "look" of Canon video over the Panny but I can fix most of that in post.  What I can't fix in post is footage I didn't get because the battery died unexpectedly. 

Despite all the comments posted to date I decided to buy a 280 (with 30 day return policy).  I updated the firmware to  My first (and so far only) session with it was shooting a bunch of really short videos (5-15 s) mixed with stills.  One thing I noticed is pretty soon after starting to shoot video (720, not highest definition) I would get the battery warning flashing.  If I switched back to stills mode it would still flash.  If I powered down the camera and then powered up again immediately it would show full charge and stay that way even after shooting a few stills.  However, shoot another video and low battery. Cycle power and battery good, even after shooting a few stills.  After about a total of 3 minutes video (yes, with some zooming) I was down to one bar.  I will admit this wasn't with a totally fresh battery (about 15 minutes exploring new camera settings so nothing heavy-duty), but it's the total unreliability that gets me.


I let the camera sit for a few hours.  I turned it on and got a full battery indicator, but 10 seconds later it changed to low battery.


You just can't trust the battery meter.  Unfortunately 75% of my photography is done on hikes and camping trips where I really have to be able to pace and monitor battery life.  I do have multiple batteries but this uncertainty as to how much power I still have is a major downcheck.  I would say right now there's a good chance I'll use the camera for a 2 week camping trip I have coming up so I have a chance to field test it with my own use habits, but at this point it's looking like I may well return it.  I could even tolerate power cycling but it really seems to be totally unreliable.  The firmware update cured the imediate powerdown I witnessed when testing the camera in the shop (with original firmware), but you still don't have a reliable battery indicator.


I do like the camera (apart from the flash popping up and really stupid placement of the movie button which even with my small hands I accidentally trigger every 4th time I turn the dial).  This is my top end camera and I can't afford a DSLR.  I really wanted something with 20x zoom and better video than my Powershot 1300is with motion jpeg.  The Lumix Z30 was $100 more than this and having to charge the battery in the camera is a real deal breaker for me with the Lumix.  I have 2 batteries and leave one at home charging while out for the day with the other which won't fly with the Lumix.  The Cybershot WS300 is somewhat tempting though it isn't the same camera as the 280.  Still, it has panoramic mode which I could see using. Canon's Photostitch is okay but I took a bunch of panoramic shots while camping last summer and didn't find out until I got home to my computer that I really hadn't set up the photos correctly.  The 280 has manual setting which I miss from my SLR days, but to be honest even with the 1300is I take 80% of my photos on automatic. I learned to live with just programmed mode with the 1300is so in that regard the Sony isn't much different. 



Powershots: A80, SD1300is, SX280 (returned)

I think it all boils down to this:

Unreliable battery indicator: yes

Placement of the flash: not optimal

Quality of pictures and videos: excellent.

One thing Canon has achieved successfully: if you want to use this camera also for video clips you have to use the original Canon battery (or one of the very few available quality replacements like Wasabi). All other cheap replacements batteries won't make you happy (they may be fine for stills only, though).

And obviously you should have a fully charged battery when planning to take video clips, and "fully charged" means out of the charger with the green light on, NOT just 3 bars in the camera...


I was using a brand new Canon battery.  The whole lot was brand new out of the box (I had, of course, charged the battery).  Realistically speaking you can't always plan your video shoots with a fully charged battery (which maybe means this isn't the camera for me, despite its quality otherwise).  For my use scenario (hiking, camping with no plug-in except once every couple of days) I may end up using the camera for 25+ stills before encountering a 30s video situation.  Perhaps if one is heading out of a house to a kid's soccer game you can.  I wasn't trying to shoot 50 minutes of full HD video.  I had no more than 3 minutes.  Yes, the battery had some low-demand use on it, but this all seems ot be indicating I can't trust the battery to get me through a day of fairly modest usage, and certainly not trust the meter to give me any indication of where I stand.  I do have a total of 3 batteries but I don't have a chance to charge all of them each day, nor tell the deer on the path ahead of me to hold still while I put in a fresh battery.


What is getting to me isn't so much the battery life as the total unreliability of it.  Shoot video and the camera flashes low battery.  Power cycle and it says the battery is fully charged.  Again, this is with the new firmware (unless it didn't take, which I can't easily check).

Powershots: A80, SD1300is, SX280 (returned)
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