One technology that hasn't kept up with the rapid pace of new digital cameras is camera batteries. The more features a camera has, the quicker it seems to use up precious battery power. There are three features of digital cameras that chew up battery life the quickest:
- LCD Screen. This is by far the most power thirsty feature in digital cameras. You can turn the screen off to conserve power, but I don't recommend this because the screen is very useful to determine if you have taken a great shot.
- Flash. Another big power user. The flash uses lots of battery as it's charging, so minimize usage.
- Zooming in and out also uses battery power to drive the motor. Refrain from changing your zoom too much. I recommend staying close to full optical zoom.
Make your batteries last longer
Given the two biggest power users on your camera are the LCD screen and Flash, there are ways to reduce the usage of these. If your camera allows you to, reduce the brightness of the screen to get more time from your battery. This will still allow you to see your photo, but it won't use as much power.
How do you minimize usage of the flash? Try doing without the flash when you're in low light by increasing the light around you. Or increase the "ISO Speed". The higher the ISO setting, the less light is needed to record the image.
Other secrets for making your batteries last longer:
- Most digital cameras have a Power Saving mode. This 'shuts down' the camera - not switch off - after a period of time without use. Make sure Power Saving mode is on, or simply switch off your camera when you're not using it.
- In cold weather, keep your camera and batteries warm in your jacket until you are ready to use them. Cold weather to batteries is like RAID is to bugs!
- Store batteries in a cool, dry location away from sunlight and other heat sources.
- Avoid unnecessary playback of your already taken images, as this can also use a lot of juice.
- If you haven't used your camera for a while, your rechargeable batteries will have lost some of their charge. Ensure you charge them fully before leaving the house.
Buy a spare battery
This has two advantages. You can get double the time from of your camera before needing to recharge by using two batteries. If you don't need an extra battery all the time, you can have one charging at home when you're using the other. Then when you get home, swap them. Never leave your camera behind again because you don't have a charged battery.
What kind of battery should I purchase?
You will need to purchase a battery that is compatible with your camera, so I recommend taking your camera's battery to the shop with you when purchasing so the staff can find another compatible battery. You don't need to purchase a battery from the same manufacturer as your camera, although be aware that choosing another brand may void your warranty - check your manual.
Go for a rechargeable nickel-metal hydride battery if possible. These battery types have a greater capacity than the rechargeable ni-cad batteries and will pay for themselves in a short period of time.
Use the AC adapter
Most cameras have an adapter to allow you to plug directly into a power point. If you're going to be shooting for a long period of time in the one location, a camera plugged into a power point can be very handy. Note that some cheaper cameras have the plug for an AC adapter, but not the adapter itself.
David Peterson has a great love of photography and has created a series of free tips at http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/ to help digital photography users everywhere take better photos.