Film      Camera Repair & Troubleshooting


There's something I've noticed about film cameras that take unusual batteries.  It seems that the more scarce the battery-- and the more useless the camera is without the battery-- the faster it drains;  AA batteries seem to last forever in a camera.  But when it takes a 4LR44, 223, or some other unusual battery, it seems you're buying new ones every month.

The Bronica SQ-A is one camera where people have said there's battery drain.  It's a 4LR44 battery, which not everyone sells.  The SQ-A needs the battery for most of its shutter speeds. 

Does this camera really have a battery drain problem?  Let's see how to test it.  This basic method will work for almost any other camera, too. 

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In This Article

Before You Start


Battery Door

Series Circuit

Storing the Battery In The Camera?


Before You Start

Just make sure you know how to hook up a multimeter to measure milliamps.  This article assumes you know the basics, but it's good to be careful each and every time you use a multimeter as an ammeter.  I have to do this, too.  It's very easy to forget and have the multimeter short-circuit something, possibly ruining your camera, your multimeter, or both.  Disclaimer.  (If you don't have the skills, this is why there are camera repair shops.  But some of you are camera tinkerers, so I thought you might enjoy this article.)

Also make sure you have the test leads plugged into the correct place on the multimeter, and use the correct range setting.  Which, of course, you knew already... but again, always worth checking each time.

Here's something you might not have known.  Don't touch the test leads with ungloved hands when doing this, because you'll draw 10 or 20 microamps from that 6V battery (you're a certain number of ohms) and you'll think you found an intermittent battery drain in your camera............. it took me about half an hour to figure out what was wrong....

See again the Disclaimer

Table of Contents


Use a fresh battery.  For the SQ-A, that's a 4LR44, A544, or 4SR44.

These are 6.2 volt batteries;  open-circuit voltage seems to be 6.3 to 6.4 volts.

Table of Contents

Battery Door

Lifting the battery door up and off the camera can be difficult.  The SQ-A has a battery door that looks much easier to remove than it actually is.

The battery door has to be off the camera, and the battery outside the camera, for this test.

Table of Contents

Series Circuit

It goes like this:

1. Multimeter set to 100 milliamps range (at first)

2. Negative test lead of multimeter to negative terminal of battery

3. Positive terminal of battery to an alligator clip that connects to positive terminal in the camera's battery compartment.

4. In the picture, the negative terminal in the camera's battery compartment has nothing connected to it right now.  That is where the positive test lead of the multimeter goes.

If you draw a series circuit of this, the multimeter is in series with the battery and the camera electronics.  The multimeter is on the negative or ground side of the battery.

If there's a battery drain, the circuit will be completed by the electronics in the camera itself. 

The tough part is to get all the wires to stay connected.  You can see how I rigged it up.

A Simpson multimeter worked great for this camera troubleshooting project.  This meter can detect currents down to 0.5 microamp, and you'll know it, because you can see the movement.  Half a microamp, that's only 0.0005 amps.  But don't start out there;  start out at 100 milliamps while you test various things on the camera (such as the battery test button).

Get your camera here

Table of Contents

Storing The Battery In The Camera?

Keeping the battery outside the camera seemed like a good idea at first.  Then I found why not. 

There's a roll of slide film in the camera.  You see something good to photograph, it will be in perfect light, you can't get to it again, et cetera.  Forgetting that there's no battery in the camera, you realize too late that it used 1/500th of a second when you actually wanted 1/125th.  With no battery, the SQ-A will use 1/500th.

The SQ-A that I tested does not have any battery drain.  Just sitting there, it wasn't even half a microamp.... unless something bumps into the battery-check button.  Then it draws about 18 milliamps, continuous.  (And yes, you'll probably want that Simpson set on the 100 milliamp range.)  Something could press that little button while the camera is in your backpack or camera bag, draining the battery.

Get your camera here

Table of Contents


This was a look at testing for battery drain.  As I found, watch that battery-check button.  That could be how the battery goes flat when it's in your camera bag.

It's also possible that a metering viewfinder could drain the battery.  And I'm sure some units need repair, because something could be amiss with the electronics.

Overall, though, the SQ-A is a great camera, and if you're thinking of getting into medium format seriously, this is a great way to do it.

As far as the batteries not lasting that long, the best advice is to keep a spare battery with your camera at all times. 


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