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Make Camera Batteries Last Longer

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography

OK, if you’ve been shooting your digital camera for more than a few hours you’ve probably noticed your camera thinks of your battery inventory as an all-you-can-eat buffet. So, here is some advice that will, hopefully, save you some money and make your batteries last longer:

1. Use rechargeable batteries. Check your owner’s manual to see if you can use rechargeable batteries. If the answer is yes, then go out and buy some!

When I was doing photography professionally, I used nothing but rechargeable batteries. I had several sets and each set was discharged and recharged at least once or twice a week. They lasted a couple years and they saved me a small fortune in alkaline batteries.

2. Keep extra batteries with you at all times. Don’t ya just hate it when you’re about to snap a photo and the stupid battery quits? Usually they croak right when you’re in the middle of shooting an exciting event. Always keep at least one spare set of batteries in your camera bag at all times.

If your camera uses its own proprietary battery, you may need to contact the manufacturer or go to their website to get extras. Probably not a bad idea to get several extras, especially since cameras get obsolete faster than last year’s pop music . You don’t want your original battery to wear out, only to find no more are available for your camera due to its age.

Oh, and if you’re using sets of rechargeable batteries, try to keep those sets together. That way, they all “age” at the same rate.

3. Use less LCD monitor. LCD monitors are really great—they’re one of the reasons digital photography is so fun. You just look at the LCD panel and snap when the image looks good. What could be easier? However, there is a downside.

That little LCD monitor on the back of your camera is like a battery vampire. The more you use it, the faster the life gets sucked out of your batteries. If you want to conserve battery power, keep the LCD monitor use to a minimum. That optical viewfinder on your camera will work just fine for most images, and can really stretch out your battery life.

4. Avoid excessive playback. Yup, I’m going to be picking on the LCD monitor again here, since the playback feature can also eat a lot of battery juice.

If you’re running low on power, use playback only when absolutely necessary. If you really need to examine a photo you snapped a moment ago, that’s fine. Just keep in mind that if you’re showing a friend the last 200 photos you’ve taken of your pet chihuahua, you may not have any power left the next time you need it.

5. Keep your batteries warm. Cold weather is to batteries what RAID is to bugs—it kills ’em good.

If you’re shooting in cold weather, keep your extra batteries in a warm pocket, wrapped in a ziplock bag. (The ziplock is to keep them from shorting out with other metal in your pockets—things get a little hot when that happens, trust me.)

You may be able to resuscitate cold batteries by removing them and warming them up in a pocket (again, I stress using a ziplock bag). I usually end up switching back and forth between a couple sets when it’s cold.

6. Keep ’em fresh. It’s been a long time since you’ve used your digital camera, but now you’re going on vacation. As you pull it out and blow the dust off, you remember that you charged all your batteries before you put the camera away, so no need to worry, right?

Wrong. Rechargeable batteries can lose their charge over time, just by sitting. Not sure where all that power leaks out to (wasn’t lying around on the floor), but it’s gone nonetheless. So, before any trip, be sure to stick those batteries on a charger.

That’s it! Happy shooting!

~ Steve

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