Wouldn’t it be an absolute nightmare to have your batteries die in the middle of an important shoot? Granted, we’re all responsible people that take great care to ensure that something like that doesn’t happen when we’re out on the job. However, after shooting with different systems one can easily see that the battery life of cameras from different companies can vary. Being in the tech industry, I’ve learned tips for conserving battery power and extending overall life. At the beginning of the year, I’ve started applying those tips to cameras: with amazingly positive results. Here are 8 pointers to keep in mind no matter what type of camera you shoot with.
1. Don’t Overcharge
Something I see often amongst other photographers (and even myself when I first started) is that when they pack their camera’s away they put the batteries in the charger and leave them in there for a long period of time well beyond the battery’s point of being fully charged. Doing this kills the Lithium Ion cells in the battery–therefore lowering the potential longevity of its life. Don’t overcharge your batteries. When the light on the charger turns green, take the batteries out.
2. Dim Your LCD Screen
Not all cameras have this option, but the ones that do allow for a blessing on your battery life. Dim the screen to the lowest brightness possible while still allowing you to see and read the information. LCD screens use quite a bit of battery life no matter how high quality they may be. The dimmer it is, the less energy will be pulled.
3. Let the LCD Screen Go to Sleep
More importantly, let the LCD screen go to sleep. I’ve shot alongside some photographers who try to keep their LCD screen on for as long as possible. The longer it stays on, the more life will be pulled from the battery. Most of the information you may require can be seen in the viewfinder. Shooting in RAW will allow you to customize your white balance, saturation, contrast etc later on in post.
4. Stay Out of Live View As Much As You Can
Using Live View is another way of using the battery to power your LCD. Live View is extremely useful in many situations (studio, over-the-head shooting, and others) but looking through your viewfinder typically gives you a much better viewing experience.
5. While on a Shoot, Only Delete Images When You Need To
There are many good reasons as to why you should delete images only when you need to. Besides missing great shooting opportunities while spending time deleting your images, deleting your images on camera uses more battery life. You should only do this if your memory card is running out of space. Further, you should also use your training and what you’ve learned from your mistakes to get the shot perfect in the first place in under three shots. While your deleting your images, people sometimes look over your shoulder and say stuff like, “Oh that’s a nice shot.” In a situation like that, you spend more time with your LCD screen not asleep. That continues us onto the next point.
6. Buy A Faster Memory Card
As a pointer: if you’re going to clear the space on the memory card, there is the option of doing so while it is hooked up to your computer. However, it is recommended that you format the card on your camera so that they two stay synced closely together. Depending on which card you have, the formatting process may take much longer. For example, on my Olympus E-510 it is much faster to format my PNY CF card than my Olympus xD card (I’m talking about 1 sec. vs 15+ sec.) Obviously the longer formatting will use more battery life.
7. Clean The Sensor Yourself
I’ve seen some photographers turn their cameras on and off over and over again just to clean their sensors. Doing this uses a lot more battery power. Instead, what you may want to do is pick up something like an Arctic Butterfly. This little brush can keep your sensor very, very clean when used in addition to your system’s self-cleaning methods.
8. Use An External Flash
Using an external flash can tremendously cut down on the need for extra juice from your battery. I’ve done a shoot with just an on-board flash before. While the pictures (like the one above) came out looking very good the battery life on my camera was cut down tremendously and I went through both of my batteries very quickly.
Using an external flash means that the camera will be pulling less power from the battery. External flashes run on their own batteries, so use those instead. You’ll get very nice results as externals are usually much more versatile.
However, there is always the option of shooting without a flash too. Chances are that if you’re shooting an event that other photographers around you will be using their flashes too. In that case, just time your shooting with theirs and you’ll get almost the same results by using less battery power. That was done in the image above: I shot alongside AP, Daily News, NY Post and other photographers–all of whom had flashes.
What Did I Miss?
Do you have any other pointers to help the rest of us make the most of our camera batteries? Share you tips in the comments below.