D200 “Dead Battery Syndrome” )-:

Update: Nikon has issued a firmware update to address this situation. See the “D200” row on this page.

Today was “Sports Day” at Anthony's preschool, which is a fun event full of play, silliness, and dance. Like last year's Sports Day, it was very hot — 90s in the shade, but the entire event was in the sun — but this year I think the heat was worse for my camera than for me.

I was using my big 70-200/2.8 zoom and Nikon D200 on my monopod. After taking about 830 pictures, I was surprised to see the “battery empty” symbol. This surprised me both because I expected to get more shots from the battery (I can go weeks without having to change a D200 battery), and because there was no “battery getting low” warning in the viewfinder for the previous few-dozen pictures.

I swapped to a new battery, and after taking a shot, the camera again shut down with the “battery empty” symbol. This was highly distressing, because I knew the battery was full.

I was eventually able to figure out that if turned the camera off and on, I could get a few more shots before it happened again. The battery most certainly wasn't low, as I was able to get 400 more shots with it this way, and even after that, the “Battery Info” menu item still reports that it's 70% full.

When I got home, I posted about it on a Digital-Photography-Review Forum, and it was immediately suggested that I had Dead Battery Syndrome, something that I hadn't heard of.

I did a search for it and found a lot of people suffering from the exact same problem. Nikonians has a page that explains it well.

No one really knows what causes it, or what makes it go away, although there is a lot of speculation involving all kinds of things.

For my part, I slightly suspect that it's the lens overheating. (As I said, it was hot, and the sun was unrelenting.). Two hours after I got home, I pulled the lens from its carrying case, and was surprised to find that it was still decidedly warm. The carrying case is padded to the point of being an excellent insulator, I guess. Anyway, I put it on the camera and after one shot I got the “empty battery” symbol.

Yet, five minutes later — five minutes in my hyper-air-conditioned office — it was fine, and it's been fine since. I wonder whether I'll run into the problem again, and if so, when. It's an uneasy feeling.

[Update: a user with a similar-sounding issue with his D300 thinks it's related to dirty electrical contacts.]

Although I took 1,207 pictures today, sadly, I didn't get anything really great like last year. Hopefully when I give a second look through, I'll find a few keepers....

All 11 comments so far, oldest first...

I experienced something like this with my D80 and after I formatted my memory card again in camera it seemed to go away. I haven’t had a problem since. Mine didn’t say the battery was dead though, it just wouldn’t shoot and I noticed a message called “ERR” on the top LCD.

— comment by Jon on September 23rd, 2007 at 12:23am JST (16 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I have Dead Battery Syndrome on my D200 and was not in the sun at any time all in doors, I think it thermally related.
Nikon has had the camera for 8 weeks, its still on parts hold.
It also happens in the D80’s.

Lou Dallara

— comment by Louis Dallara on October 16th, 2007 at 10:03pm JST (16 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink


I think I might have something like that on my D300, but I don’t think it’s the lens over heating. I was using it today, and it’s spring in Chicago, and I was outside, there was nothing overheating in a 30 mile radius. Maybe the D200’s got a problem with the lens overheating, but that definitely isn’t suspect for me.

Just an FYI


— comment by Chris on March 20th, 2008 at 11:32am JST (16 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

My D200 has indicated a dead battery at least six times in the past few months. Every time I turned it off & back on & it worked fine. My lens is a Nikon F2.8 17-55. I have Firmware Version 2.0 on A & B.
From what I’ve read on the internet it sounds like nobody knows the reason this happens.

— comment by Bill on May 15th, 2008 at 9:53pm JST (16 years, 2 months ago) comment permalink


My memory card is empty (i made sure) but my D200 keeps telling me I have only 5 shots. Can you help?


Try formatting it. You’ve likely deleted tons of shots and filled up the trash. —Jeffrey

— comment by Anita on August 18th, 2008 at 2:54am JST (15 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

I was getting the same symptoms on my D200 and found that removing and reinserting the battery generally worked. But my DBS worsened, to the point of the D200 not working: it would flash “low battery” when reviewing, focusing, shooting. I then noticed one of the battery contacts was a little grimy. I dipped a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and did my best to clean them and also the little feet that make contact with the battery in the battery compartment. It then seemed to me that one of those feet in the battery compartment wasn’t perfectly lined up. I used the Q-tip to gently nudge the little feet inward, put the battery back — and have NOT had a problem since.

— comment by Mike G on September 22nd, 2008 at 6:37am JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hello – I had a D200 with DBS. I solved the problem by 1) updating the firmware, 2) cleaning the contacts, and 3) replacing the en-el3e battery with a new one. The camera has about 30k clicks and #1 and #2 did not solve the problem. Even though the battery meter said there was plenty of life still in the batteries (I had 2) I replaced the battery with a fresh/new battery and the problem was solved.

— comment by Kurt Hansen on November 2nd, 2012 at 11:13pm JST (11 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

i have the same problem… D200 using 18-70mm only . when i turn on it’s full but when using it’s show only one bar…

— comment by faizal on February 4th, 2013 at 10:28am JST (11 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Just tighten the battery holder at the bottom of your D200.

— comment by Murt Phillips on June 3rd, 2013 at 10:57pm JST (11 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

After a huge scare and scouring the internet i found DBS. I fixed it thanks to forums. Make sure you are updated to 2.0.1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQYmN59ZTmo) and then rub the battery and lens contacts with a pencil eraser. This worked for me and actually after i did the update it still didn’t work so i rubbed the contacts with an eraser and it fixed the issue. Good luck!

— comment by Tim on December 4th, 2013 at 5:33pm JST (10 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

D200{: same thing is happening to my camera(s)… go figure. I was shooting and the one camera began to act like the battery was dead, it wash’t, I just charged them all the night before. However, I changed batteries only for it to accrue again. I changed to my other D200 and after a short period it happen again?????

help!!!! Is this a camera issue or battery? I just cleaned all the contacts on the battery and camera so say a prayer please 🙂

— comment by mark on September 28th, 2014 at 10:37am JST (9 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink
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