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Is Nikon’s D500 Sending Its Batteries To An Early Grave?

By Holly Roa on March 5th 2018

Nikon D500 shooters, how’s your battery life? If yours seem lackluster, you are not alone. D500 battery issues aren’t a new thing; in 2016 Nikon acknowledged the fact that in some situations, Nikon D500 cameras weren’t drawing all the power from batteries before proclaiming them dead. They claimed the cause was an early generation of EN-EL15 batteries and offered to replace these incompatible batteries with a newer, more harmonious version for free.

However, two years later, it looks like there may be more to the story. Photographer Martin Beran noticed that his D500 consistently reported significantly less charge than other Nikon cameras using the same battery, and decided to employ some analytical testing in search of answers.

Beran took an assortment of late-generation EN-EL15 batteries and a variety of Nikon cameras and recorded battery levels when the same battery was inserted into each camera. A freshly charged battery read as “100%” in all the bodies, but once the batteries were used, a pattern of disparity emerged.

[Rewind:] Nikon Releases Firmware Update For D500 & Adds AF-P Support For Nine DSLRs

The most striking difference was noted at the low end of the batteries’ charge. Batteries that would read about 22% in a D850, for example, would be interpreted as completely drained by a D500. So much so, that the D500 was totally inoperable. 

Logic would lead one to the conclusion that the D500 may have different battery needs than other Nikon cameras that take the same battery, resulting in the available battery percent discrepancy, but does the D500 require that much more juice, or has Nikon had an ‘oops’ in their camera programming?

We agree the D500 is one of the best cameras on the market still, but to any D500 users reading, we’d love to hear about your experiences with EN-EL15 batteries in the comments. You can check out Beran’s analysis in the video below.

Finally, Nikon, if you’re going to make a great camera with poor battery life, it may as well be mirrorless. Just a thought…

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Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Louis Vallance

    “Lackluster” perfectly describes the battery life on my D500. I rarely get more than 200 shots per charge on my EN-EL15a batteries. 

    During a two-week holiday I had to recharge my battery every day after shooting in AF-S, single shot, no live view, no Wi-Fi and airplane mode on. Completely subpar performance from an otherwise phenomenal camera.

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  2. Sergey Shanygin

    Hi everybody! Bought D500 about a year ago, very happy about the features, extremely unhappy about the battery life.

    I use it for documenting musical festivals, and battery life is simply abysmal.  For say 5 hours of shooting, I need to have at least two full batteries. Wifi disabled, everything is set very conservatively.

    This camera has already been at warranty repair, which helped a bit, but not more. I run the latest firmware, in the vain hope that Nikon would fix the issue. No luck so far.

    My previous Nikon camera would run for days on a single charge…

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  3. Roberta Frederick

    My D500 (a very new model) and the two batteries that came with it show significant loss of power after shooting for a very short while. I haven’t actually kept track of the number of shots but have a full frame NIkon and another Nikon DX and am astounded by the difference. I am  going to start writing down the number of shots I get per charge so I can better document.

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    • Csaba Friss

      I have the same issue. Bought the camera in May 2018. Another Nikon piece of crap. A pretty expensive one.

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  4. Rich Blenkinsopp

    I can shoot over 1000 frames in an evening (concerts) and end with only one bar gone.

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  5. Eddie Clark

    I have been shooting my D500 with three EN-EL15 batteries for 1 year and 11 months (90,438 shutter actuations) and have no problems with any batteries or short lifespan.  Also, the D850 uses/ships with the EN-EL15a battery, and they’re up/down compatible.  Although, the video shown uses a D810 and D7200- both of which have many differences from the D500.  

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