My batteries are dead! Not again! I have owned two digital cameras over several years and I can definitely say that I have said these phrases at least a few times. Find out how a few simple things can dramatically improve the life of your batteries.
STEP 1. Buy good rechargeable batteries
My new camera uses 2 AA batteries. I only use alkaline batteries in emergencies. Most of the time I am using GE/Sanyo 2700 mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries…they last much much much longer than alkalines. However, not all rechargeable batteries are created equal. There are some brands that are much better than the rest and you need to do some research before buying. For example GE/Sanyo makes the best rechargeable batteries available on the market.
One important drawback of high capacity rechargeable batteries is that they lose their charge very quickly. The new GE/Sanyo Eneloop batteries while they hold less power, they hold their power for a long time even if not used.
If you use your digital camera on and off then these are the batteries you must have. If you’re using your camera all the time and need lots of power then get the 2700 mAh batteries.
STEP 2: Buy a good battery charger.
Just like batteries, chargers are not created equal. I avoid any chargers that are sold by battery manufacturers and are bundled together with weak rechargeable batteries. Duracell and Energizer make chargers also and they bundle them with their rechargeable batteries…a great deal indeed! However, the bundled chargers are very basic and not very useful especially when dealing with older batteries. You just get a light to indicate charging and when batteries are full, but you have no idea how much your battery is actually holding and if it’s less than its capacity…these are dumb chargers. Cheap but not very useful.
Here are a few things to look for when buying a battery charger:
- Get a charger that allows you to use different current strength when charging.
- It’s important that the charger would be able to perform discharge/charge cycles (see next tip).
This will give your batteries a longer life.
- Separate charging circuits for each battery. This will allow you to apply different current intensity to each battery. You can also apply different charging algorithms to each battery (charge, discharge/charge, refresh).
- If you’re doing any international travel make sure the charger can be plugged into any voltage from 100v to 250V. This way you only need to buy a plug adapter rather than by bulky power adapters. Of course, if you don’t take your digital camera with you when you travel internationally you wouldn’t care much about this feature. But then, if you don’t take your camera when you travel…what did you buy the camera for anyway?
I’m using a La Crosse battery charger that has four individual circuits that allows setting different current strength for each battery slot. This is a smart charger that analyzes the battery before applying the right current strength to it. Of course my battery charger is the best and smartest in the world!
STEP 3: Discharge your rechargeable batteries completely once in a while.
Smart battery chargers would allow you to run discharge/charge cycles on your rechargeable batteries. Granted, these cycles are slower but they do improve the life of your rechargeable batteries. If your batteries are old a few discharge/charge cycles can revive older batteries.
STEP 4: Learn how to turn off your camera display.
The display is the biggest consumer of energy. So, if your camera has an optical viewfinder then turn off your display and use the viewfinder for framing your pictures. This simple tip will double your battery life. Granted, your picture framing will not be completely accurate but you have to choose if you want the ability to take any pictures or just take a few pictures framed accurately.
STEP 5: Do not use the camera’s display to review your pictures.
Wait to get home to your computer in order to see your pictures. Everytime you look at the pictures you have taken on your camera’s display you’re accessing the memory card. This operation is the second biggest energy user in your camera.
STEP 6: Use the automatic picture review feature instead of using the display.
If you’re dying to review your pictures right after you take them then use the automatic picture review feature available in most cameras. This means that after you take the picture, the camera will automatically display the picture you have taken for a set amount of time. Set that amount of time to 2 or 3 seconds, but not more than that. This way you’re minimizing the amount of time the display is turned on.