It’s funny how we take things for granted – until they don’t work any more, and then we get upset and curse, and wonder why life sucks! And I think camera batteries come into this category very well. They work like a dream, until they pack up, suddenly, and at the most unexpected times. We can be out in the bush, down by the water or up in a plane – it doesn’t matter. Battery problems can affect us anywhere, any time!
So, what can we do to give ourselves the best chance of having a fully functional camera battery every time we need one? Well, let’s examine five relevant issues and try to answer that question.
- overusing flash and live view: We all love gizmo’s and those cute functions of our camera which make life easier or more interesting – but keep in mind that you often use these often at the expense of your battery power. If you are planning a busy day of shooting, you might need to consider whether one battery is enough. If you only use your flash for one in 30 photos, or use the ‘live view’ sparingly to check for overall composition then you may be fine, but if taking lots of portrait shots in the dark or bright sunlight, please take a spare battery or two.
- holding down your shutter button to focus for prolong periods: Did you know that many cameras allow you to set up ‘back-button focus’ so you don’t need to focus for every shot? If you tend to hold your shutter button down for a while when planning each shot you might be better off checking out this function as it really will save you on power over a day.
- type of lens: This is something that many people do not think about when choosing a lens for a busy day of photos – it is the battery which powers many of the lens functions. Every time you use a telephoto lens to zoom in and out to focus you are using power. The lens stabilization feature also does what it does at the expense of the battery. So maybe for that long day of portraits, a prime lens could be the better choice.
- most charged batteries gradually lose power: If your battery was charged last week or last month, did you know it probably won’t now be operating at 100%? Many modern batteries maintain their power for extended periods of time but this is one of those examples where you really do get what you pay for. It might be better to pay a little extra and get a reputable battery known for its long life. Buy a cheap battery at your peril.
- cold weather: If you shoot in the cold, be warned that your battery will probably drain quicker and take longer to recharge. One of the best things I learnt when shooting in Tasmania was to keep my batteries in my shirt pocket where my body warmth seemed to make a real difference over time. I have known many people to carry small ziplock bags where they keep spare batteries and SD cards in their pocket too.
Don’t let yourself get caught out with a flat battery ever again. Take some simple precautions and you can be way ahead of others who take it for granted.
Chris and Trev Barre
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