CR123a batteries and Fuji S2 Pro shutdown problems

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Ever suffered from the dreaded error or shut down problem with your Fuji S2 Pro?

Having recently purchased a fuji S2 Pro I decided to go for the rechargeable CR123a batteries rather than rely on standard non rechargeable ones.. What a mistake that was!...

I purchased the charger and batteries from an Ebayer called "rareandcollectable" and the description was as follows:

CR123A/CR123 x 2 Rechargeable batteries & charger 3.7v

This eBayer had a 99.7% feedback so I wasn't unduly worried about buying from him... The goods arrived shortly after purchase and as I was keen to get out there with my camera I plugged it in and charged the batteries. Everything seemed ok (as they charged up without problem) so I left positive feedback. However, when I tried the batteries in the camera it seemed ok until I tried the built in flash then it shut down completely without warning!... I then turned the camera off and on again only to be confronted with the dreaded "error" message on the top panel... I was at this point extremely worried that the camera may have been damaged. Having removed the batteries I then fired up the camera again and it worked without problem (minus the flash). Out of interest I tried the same thing again.. and yep, it shut down again.

At this point I decided to contact the seller to confirm there was a problem with either the charger or batteries and could they respond... After trying 3 times to get a response they still haven't replied, so now it looks like I will have to go through the eBay resolution process as the goods have been misdescribed as new and suitable for digital cameras...

Fuji S2 Pro handbook...

In the hand book it states the camera will shut down if the CR123a batteries are low, however, if you remove them it will operate on the main AAA batteries but with limited operation, ie; no flash etc. There is nothing that I could find that points to or links to the "error" code when there is a problem with these batteries though.

Searching for the problem...

Having checked the internet for advice I found many other S2 users have had a similar problem so I decided to have a look at the camera to try and find out what the problem was. Whilst looking into the battery bay I noticed 2 prongs running down the bay which when pressed turned the camera off... 

At first I thought it may be a problem with the battery width as the rechargeable ones have a plastic cover on them and this was pushing against the prongs and turning the camera off, however, having checked the width against other batteries this was not the case...  

As far as I could tell the error code is there because the camera thinks it either has the wrong batteries fitted, there is a fault of some sort, or worse the wrong voltage is being pumped into the camera by the batteries (this being the Fuji way of telling you there is a problem).

What's the answer...

The first thing is to avoid purchasing from the eBayer mentioned (rareandcollectable) as they are not interested when they have your money...on rechecking their shop it appears they normally only sell records and for some reason are selling this charger and batteries too... seems to me like it could be a job lot bought on the cheap so beware...  (their batteries are blue and the charger is black).

Secondly, I would stick to non rechargeable batteries if you can as I haven't read any reports of faults occuring when using them (and of course Fuji recommends them), lastly, the only other option is to purchase a battery grip to get away from CR123a batteries altogether. It means you can stick to the trusted rechargeable AA's, makes life a whole lot simpler and they last a lot longer too..Using a battery grip is well known amongst the Nikon pro guys and there doesn't appear to be any bad write ups out there about using them. 

After giving up on the rechargeable batteries I decided to purchase a grip from a Hong Kong supplier.. After waiting forever for it to arrive the postie finally came with the box... Brilliant I thought, I can now finally play with my new toy and forget all about the CR123a problem...Must be an idiot proof thing to fit... Or so I thought!

First thing was there were no instructions on how to remove the existing CR123a battery cover from the camera (you need to do that to slide up the new grip connection). Checking the internet I didn't find anything to help so, as I was now committed to trying it I held my breath and had a go at taking it off hoping I wouldn't break the two pegs that hold it in place (a previous encounter with a cover like this left me did just that and I couldn't find a replacement). This time I decided to twist it (when the cover is fully open) and hope for the best. At first it felt like the pegs were going to break and then it just popped off, so medium constant pressure is the answer..

Having removed it without damage I then placed it in the grip storage bay made especially for it and fix the battery grip to the camera. Loading it with fresh recharged batteries it slid into place without problem but... the camera immediately shut down again!.. Another set of batteries.. and the same problem again!.. At this point I nearly gave up out of frustration, but as an ex-engineer I knew there had to be some easy explanation so I checked the battery grip connection depth against the camera battery bay depth, just to see if there was a problem with the two connecting... sure enough there was!

It appears there is a very slight difference in depth of the grip connector and the same problem is with the rechargeable batteries. This means there is no direct connection between the batteries and camera, and that is why the camera shuts itself off as soon as you put the batteries or grip into it. It seems the two prongs in the camera bay are to tell the camera the batteries (or the grip) have been inserted... however, as no power is coming from the batteries (or grip) the camera shuts down (if you look in the Fuji manual it does say low batteries will cause a shut down).

 So how did I get around the problem?

Years and years ago I remembered my dear old dad having a problem with a house fuse that kept blowing, so he used a bit of silver paper (from his fag packet) and wrapped it around the fuse (silly I know as he could have set fire to the house), anyway, it worked so I thought maybe I could do the same... Just bridge the gap between the top terminal of the battery (or grip connection) and the camera terminal and see what happens...  I used a slightly posher version of the fag packet paper and went for kitchen foil.. I took a piece about 10cms long by about 1cm wide and folded the 1cm width inwards three times then rolled it up making a flat square so the finished thing was about 5mm by 5mm and about 2mm depth (you need this for both terminals). I then placed each square on top of each terminal (when the camera battery bay was point upwards) and replaced the battery grip (have to say at this point I was a bit worried). Turning the camera over and expecting the usual shut down I was amazed it had actually worked! Full zoom and flash function and no problems... I have repeatedly tried the flash and zoom since and still no problems.

Note: What ever you don't use the foil to bridge across the two battery or camera terminals (they have to be inline)... otherwise you will fry your camera!

So there you have it... weeks of frustration cured by a bit of kitchen tin foil!

Good luck, hope it works for you and happy bidding...

*** Please help make ebay a safet place to buy and sell by voting YES below - Thanks ***

P.s For anyone wanting a mains adaptor for their S2 go to digi-connects eBay shop. Brilliant eBayer, brilliant comms and a first class service...

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