Digital cameras are packed with lots of great features and spiffy enhancements. But a lot of the goodies are big culprits when it comes to power usage. And there is no worse feeling in the world than having your digital camera battery run down in the middle of a crucial shot.
While you can quickly stop and put a fresh battery in, you can’t always go back and recreate what would have been a great moment for the camera. And even though you may have a few backup batteries, the real trick is to maximize the life of the one that you’re using so you can get the most shots per charge possible.
Here are some things you can do to help get more out of your battery’s life.
- Give your LCD screen a rest and use the optical viewfinder. What ends up happening is with each picture you take, it will appear on your digital camera’s LCD screen, eating up valuable battery power. Looking through the viewfinder saves your power for taking more pictures. Of course, be aware that what you see on the viewfinder isn’t exactly what you’re going to see on the actual picture. Some of the scenes to the sides of the frame may be cropped off so make sure you’re focused on your subject if the LCD screen is off.
- The same idea applies to previewing pictures on your LCD screen. Taking a picture, then pulling it up on the LCD screen to show your friends is a wasteful use of battery life. You can save more power by only looking at a previous picture on the LCD screen if it’s going to help make the next shot better. Save the photo sharing for when you’ve uploaded your pictures to your computer or burned them to a disc.
- If leaving the LCD screen off isn’t practical, look at lowering the screen’s brightness to save power. Lower it to an acceptable level, remembering that you may have difficulty in bright sunlight viewing the screen. Shade it with the palm of your hand if this is the case.
- Using your camera’s menu function, try adjusting the “sleep” option. What this will do is put your digital camera into a power-saving sleep mode after a designated period of time, but it still remains ready to be used and can usually be “awakened” by touching one of the camera’s function buttons or the shutter. You may even be able to leave your digital camera in sleep mode to squeeze more shots out of your battery’s charge.
- Use the single focus feature whenever possible. You’re asking your battery to work that much harder when your camera is using continual focus, and that feature is really only necessary if you’re taking pictures of subjects with lots of motion – say, children playing or maybe shots of a sporting event.
- Many amateur shutterbugs find themselves playing with the zoom out of habit. Use your zoom sparingly. The motor that zooms your camera’s lens in and out is another unwanted power drain, and you should only use it when you’re ready to shoot.
- Only press the shutter button when you’re ready to actually take a picture. Pressing it halfway puts the camera into a preparation mode that drains power because it thinks it’s about to take a picture and needs to be ready – and it gets ready by resetting and refocusing the camera – a big expense of power.
- Don’t charge your battery if it still has a relatively strong charge. This can diminish a battery’s ability to hold a charge, and that is something you will start to notice when you begin getting fewer shots per charge. Avoid dropping the battery too. This can affect its polarity and therefore its ability to properly charge.
- If you’re shooting pictures in cold weather, keep your camera warm by keeping it close to your body. Colder temperatures cause batteries to drain faster, and your body heat can help battery performance remain at optimal levels.
- Save the video clips for a video camera. Recording and playing back video clips eats up lots of power, and if you’re really wanting to shoot videos, get a camera dedicated for that use.
- Don’t go cheap on the recharger. It’s true with some things you get what you pay for, and battery chargers are one item you don’t want to skimp on. A good charger will extend your batteries’ lives and charge them more efficiently.
- Keep spare batteries handy, and rotate through the batteries you use so they all get used as equally as possible. This helps to ensure that battery life remains constant from battery to battery, and more importantly it also means you’ll grab a battery that’s been recharged, instead of the dead one you kept forgetting to charge.
- Use the flash only when necessary. Most professionals will tell you that the flash on digital cameras don’t really add anything to a picture anyway, even at night.
- Wait until you’re back safely at home before you start deleting pictures. Deleting shots only drains more power, and you can get rid of unwanted pictures after you’ve uploaded them to your computer for review.
- If you’re using lithium ion batteries you’ll get more life out of them by making sure they’re charged completely and regularly. Lithium ion batteries typically hold a charge longer than regular alkaline batteries too.
- When storing your camera for a week or more, remove the batteries to prevent an accidental discharge.
These battery maintenance tips will help you dramatically extend the life of your battery, while getting the most out of each charge. They’ll help you prolong your enjoyment of your digital camera. And they’ll help you and your camera to always be ready to take a great picture – no matter when the right photo opportunity arises!