Canon SX280 HS low battery indicator problem

I’ve used a variety of Canon products over the years, and it’s a name I have come to trust. It was with a bit of a shock that I discovered the controversy about the low-battery indicator for the Canon PowerShot SX 280 HS after I bought one and had a problem. If you’re interested in the history of this, there are two items I would suggest:

imageMy new camera came with the latest firmware and it supposedly fixed the issue of the camera flashing low battery when taking a movie, even though the battery is nearly full. What the customer sees is that their battery indicator shows 2 or 3 out of 3 bars, but when they switch to movie mode, the low battery indicator flashes immediately or after taking a minute of video. The camera may decide to shut down. Turning the camera back on restores the battery indicator to show the battery near full.

There are, in my opinion, several factors working together to create this problem in the perceived operation of the camera. The first is that the camera is underpowered. The standard 1000 mAh battery is only rated for 200-400 photos or 25 minutes of video. The camera gets noticeably hot when taking long video shots, indicating the power drain. This camera can be a battery hog especially if you use the Wi-Fi and the GPS features. The second factor is common to rechargeable batteries: new ones require a few charging cycles to reach maximum capacity. The third issue is that this camera reportedly requires a huge amount of power to zoom while taking video. Finally, it appears that the battery indicator operates differently depending on camera mode—what’s a nearly full battery for taking snapshots is a nearly empty battery when taking movies. The indicator may well be working correctly for each mode, representing what the camera can do in that mode, but it is confusing when switching back and forth. It appears to me that in movie mode, the battery indicator is overly pessimistic. I take photos, plus an occasional video, so I rely on the photo setting to gauge my battery life, and then am surprised when I find the battery depleted in movie mode.

My experimentation revealed that I got better battery life on the second charge cycle than on the first. I found that on the second charge I could take 39 minutes of video (in two long segments) zooming twice briefly, 6 snapshots, and still have battery left. Now during a good portion of that video shoot the low battery indicator was flashing, but the camera worked OK. The video was shot at the maximum resolution of 1920 x 1280  at 30 fps.

I found NB-6L replacement batteries by EZO at Newegg,  two for $14.99. They have the same 1000 mAh rating as the original equipment battery. At that price it’s practical to carry extra batteries when shooting all day. Note: I haven’t used these batteries yet and so this is not a recommendation of the brand.

The camera is new and I haven’t used it nearly enough to form an overall impression. The battery issue is confusing, but it’s not that big a deal. I decided to keep the camera and not return it.

About Kevin

Just an old guy with opinions that I like to bounce off other people.
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5 Responses to Canon SX280 HS low battery indicator problem

  1. Paul Stevens says:

    I too am looking for a solution to this problem. Love the camera, hate the battery problem. I read another post that says using the NB-6LH battery solves the problem. It’a a higher capacity battery at 1700mAh.

    I’ve ordered some from Amazon. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  2. Desmond Darby says:

    I just bought an SX280HS, and at first I thought it didn’t have the problem, but now it seems it does. How did your NB-6LH batteries go? Did you find any other solution to the video mode having flashing battery warning and then shutting off, but the still image mode being good?

  3. Desmond Darby says:

    After some experimenting I conclude that the battery warning comes on so early in video mode in order to show that it probably doesn’t have enough charge left to make the maximim 4 MB video. This is in fact useful, in some sense, but it should be explained in the manual. After all, videos are of lengthy events and it’s good to know at the start, but an approximate time warning, based on battery charge, may be a lot easier to cope with.

  4. almira says:

    I had this problem, read every forum and tried every trick. Nothing worked. Then a German guy on Youtube recommended this and – tadaaa – it actually worked:

    Cover the middle contact of the battery with a little piece of tape. You won’t have a battery indicator on the screen as a result but the camera will keep on recording video until the battery actually dies without that annoying flashing red status sign or switching off. Note: If you are filming when the battery dies, that video is gone…

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