More batteries tested soon!

I haven’t posted anything for a while, but there’s a huge update of the NP-W126 battery test coming. Not only the content will be restructured, but there will be 5 new brands tested! These brands are Watson, Wasabi, Green Extreme, Baxxter and Jupio. Stay tuned!

On safety of third party NP-W126S batteries

I have already done quite a bit of measurements of several NP-W126S batteries, either originals or 3rd party clones in my big test. However, I haven’t gone beyond the + and – connectors, while the batteries have 4 in total. It’s about time to correct this omission today!

A bit of theory

All Li-ion batteries obviously have at least two connectors: + and -. Some of them feature more than these two though, as is the case of NP-W126S, where also Ⓣ and Ⓢ are present. What are they for? Generally speaking, other connectors give more information about the battery, its temperature, charging state, capacity and possibly even other more detailed information. They can be provided as an analog value (usually measured as a resistance between the connector and the ground (-) connector) or as a digital value in case the battery employs a circuit called Battery Fuel Gauge, which is actually a small computer itself.

The provided values can be used by device to better handle the battery. Particularly during charging, it’s good to know battery temperature and in case there’s anything wrong and the temperature increases too much, charging can be terminated in order to prevent problems. And we are talking about some pretty serious problems in case of Li-ion batteries, including explosion or fire.

I haven’t found any documentation about NP-W126S connectors and so I tried to find out myself what are they used for.

The Ⓣ connector

This one isn’t hard to decode, as the T usually stands for Thermistor, a special type of a resistor, which resistance changes with temperature. In case of NP-W126S it means that the resistance is about 10kΩ when the battery has roughly room temperature (20°C) and the resistance decreases as the temperature rises. It’s enough the hold the battery in hand for a while and the resistance drops to 9 or even 8kΩ.

Both the older original NP-W126 and the newer NP-W126S have this connector with the same functionality. A bit disturbing fact is that none of the 3rd party batteries that I own has the thermistor properly implemented. They only have a fixed 10kΩ resistor, which means that the connected device doesn’t have any information about the internal battery temperature!

I’d like to know, whether there’s any 3rd party battery with a proper thermistor. If you own a battery that isn’t present in my test and have a multimeter to measure the resistance, please let me know your results in the comments below. Thanks!

The Ⓢ connector

The S usually means Size, Status or System indicator, but what it does in case of Fujifilm batteries? I’m not sure. The resistance is 98kΩ for the older NP-W126 and all the 3rd party batteries, while the newer NP-W126S has 680kΩ. So, there’s definitely a way how to distinguish the ‘S’ battery version, but I’m not sure whether the connector doesn’t also feature some digital interface provided by an internal Batter Fuel Gauge. To be investigated in the future.

Connectors usage in Chargers

The original Fujifilm BC-W126 charger supports all 4 connectors. As I tested, the Thermistor connector is used — when it’s disconnected, the charger stops charging. On the contrary, all the other 3rd party chargers I know only provide + and – and so the battery temperature isn’t measured at all. So, if you want to play it safe, use the original charger.

X-T2 connectors usage

While older Fujifilm X system cameras, like X-T1, only have the + and – connectors, the newer X-T2 features all 4 connectors provided by the NP-W126S. So, obviously it could use them to measure battery temperature and shut off as soon as the battery starts overheating. Or, they possibly could provide more accurate battery state of charge. Or, after a firmware update, X-T2 could even reject non-original batteries (just a speculation, of course).

Are these contact actually used? I don’t know. The camera normally works even when I covered the two additional contacts by a tape. So, possibly they aren’t used yet, but are ready there for some future use.

What does it all mean?

So are actually the original batteries safer than the alternatives? Apparently they are safer when charged in the original charger. The fact that none 3rd party battery has a working temperature monitoring is quite surprising and makes one wonder, whether they are safe particularly for some heavy duty usage, like 4K video or a lot of continuous shooting. On the other hand, it isn’t clear, whether any Fujifilm camera actually does measure battery temperature in order to prevent the infamous battery swelling.

I’ll post updates in case I find anything new, so please subscribe (Facebook or RSS) in order to receive news. Until then, I can recommend the original NP-W126S in case you want to be really sure or some of the recommended brands from my battery test in order to save some money.

Ultralight Lens Protection for Travel and Backpacking

Lens need to be packed somehow when travelling in order to prevent their damage. One of the often used options is to carry them in a photo backpack, which usually includes some internal compartments with padding. This definitely is a convenient way of lens, camera and other gear storage, but for my personal needs it isn’t flexible enough. Sometimes I need just a day pack for photo gear,  rain gear and some food, another time a much larger backpack for multi-day adventures. Not to mention that photo backpacks are usually rather heavy and not particularly outdoor friendly. A notable exception are Mindshift backpacks, they look like very nice outdoor photo backpacks, but I’d still miss the flexibility of individual lens packing in a backpack of my choice.

The best what I have found for a reasonable lens protection and that can also carry an ultralight tag are Neoprene pouches. They are very light, a 3mm thick neoprene offers a limited, but in most cases adequate protection and there’s an easy access through a drawstring closed top. Each of the 4 available sizes also offers a belt loop and a hook. Since I don’t need these features, I got rid of them, which made the pouches somewhat cleaner and lighter (about 10g each).

For the small lens of mirrorless systems, like Fujifilm X, just the two smallest pouch sizes cover almost all of the available lenses. The small one (originally 33g) is great for primes, like Samyang/Rokinon 12mm or Fujinon XF 23mm and medium (originally 41g) can handle the rest, like Fujinon XF 10-24mm or even telephoto lenses like Fujinon XF 55-200mm.

In case there’s anybody afraid to have all the expensive lens stored only in a thin neoprene, there are also thicker 5mm versions available, like this Kanoni with an interior lining. I haven’t had any issue with the thinner version and not even the lining colors changed my mind to purchase the thicker one. 😉

Sunrise with Narcissus

When I saw narcissus bloom on a mountain meadow the last spring, I marked the date in my calendar for this year to return and make some photographs. Due to a colder spring, it took a bit longer than the last year, but the meadow is beautiful again.

There’s a small stream meandering the meadow and so the morning fog is rather common — which is a welcomed element for landscape photography! I have a cottage nearby, so it was rather just a short hike, but with a pretty early wake up. The sunrise was worth the short night sleep though, I was very pleased with the trip and photos and will definitely return soon again.

 


Camera used: Fujifilm X-T2 with Rokinon 12mm f/2. Normally I’d use my usual wideangle — Fujinon XF 10-24mm, but it’s being serviced at this moment. I was very pleased by the Rokinon’s performance though.

L-brackets for X-T2

There’s a new article published about the L-brackets for Fujifilm X-T2. Apart from description of more than 5 available options, it also helps with the choice of a remote shutter release that fits well between tripod and X-T2 connectors compartment.