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Tips on Using Rechargeable Camera Batteries
The basics of digital camera rechargeable batteries
Rechargeable camera batteries are an important part of any photographer's kit bag. They're not exactly the sexiest items of photography equipment! But none of those amazing DSLR's and beautiful lenses are any use without them!
So I want to share a few key tips with you on camera batteries, which ones to use and how to look after them. It's actually pretty important to be aware of batteries when you're choosing a camera, be it a DSLR, compact or bridge.
Cameras are getting better and better, with more and more great specifications. But manufacturers are increasingly good at cramming all these capabilities into tiny little models. The dilemma then is that high performing small cameras, which need a lot of juice to operate, can only accommodate small batteries that frizzle out too quickly!
So here's a look at the options for compact, bridge and DSLR users when it comes to batteries.
Compact and Bridge Camera Users
Most compact and bridge cameras can be used with common, off-the-shelf batteries, typically AA's.
(Bridge cameras, by the way, are just a half-way-house between compacts and DSLR's - with more functions than compacts, but less than DSLR's).
These types of camera can be really high quality and produce fantastic images. They're easy to carry around and use in any situation. The fact they run on AA's is certainly convenient - but it's a double edged sword!
You can pick up these common batteries anywhere. But with high end compacts and almost all bridge cameras, they don't pack much of a punch. Your digital camera battery life could end up being annoyingly short if you use these cameras.
I once owned a really cool Olympus bridge camera that did most of what I would want with a DSLR, but fitted in my jacket pocket! The problem was it ran out of juice so quickly that not only did I get lots of promising shoots cut unintentionally short, I ended up paying a small fortune on new AA batteries!
If you find yourself in this situation, what to do!? Find some AA rechargeable camera batteries. I started using rechargeable AA batteries which had greater longevity and saved me from going into debt!
These kinds of digital camera rechargeable batteries are called 'Nickel metal hydride batteries', shortened to NiMH. You should find them easy to find and they're really inexpensive. But I thoroughly recommend you do look out for them because it will make your photography more enjoyable and cheaper.
More or less all DSLR cameras come with their own 'lithium ion' batteries that are unique to the manufacturer. These are much beefier than off-the-shelf batteries and provide DSLR's with the power they need to function for a decent length of time.
Digital camera battery life with DSLR's is not normally a problem. But as batteries get older there are certain things you can do make sure you get your money's worth from them. Lithium ion camera batteries are true to the form of all photography equipment - they ain't cheap!
Tips for Looking After Rechargeable Camera Batteries
So rechargeable camera batteries are the way forward! Cheap NiMH AA's are ideal for smaller cameras, whilst lithium ion batteries make life easy for DSLR users.
But no batteries are immortal! They all conch out eventually - but there are things you can do to prolong digital camera battery life.
Top Tip: I can't overstate the importance of always carrying a spare battery or two. The one time you don't bother will be the time you get the best photo opportunity of your life and end up having to stop shooting before you're ready!
Get into the habit of having 1 or 2 fully charged batteries on standby, with another one in your camera.
Put your recharger somewhere prominent and easy to reach so you are always reminded of it and can get a little system going easily.
Ok, now let's take a look at the main things that reduce digital camera battery life span. Being aware of these will help you get the most out of the money you spend on batteries:
Prematurely stopping a charge is a really bad idea. If you've not been organized before a shoot and forgotten to recharge a battery, it can be tempting to just give it a shortened charge and at least have something to work with.
But this reduces the life span of lithium ion camera batteries for DSLR cameras and NiMH AA's for compacts and bridge cameras. Occasionally, undercharging can even cause rechargeable camera batteries to clap out altogether!
Leaving a battery recharging for hours and hours after it's ready cuts the life span short.
For most of us this is not always possible to avoid. We're busy! We need several batteries fully charged at all times. We can't sit around in the house waiting for the second the light stops flashing and the charge is complete.
Just make sure you know how long your battery takes to charge and try and be there to stop it as soon after this time as possible.
- Cold surroundings.
Shooting outside on a wintry day? That will cause rechargeable camera batteries to run down quicker. This can't be helped sometimes, of course.
But be sure to store your batteries in a room that doesn't get too cold.
- Repeat charging.
Every time you recharge a battery it loses a bit of its life span. Unavoidable.
So those are my brief tips on using rechargeable camera batteries. I hope they helped!
To summarise: Small cameras are so good these days that you'll spend a fortune powering them with standard AA's. Get hold of some NiMH rechargeable batteries instead.
Whatever camera you use, always keep fully charged spare batteries on the ready. Have a system. Look after lithium ion DSLR batteries by charging them carefully and not letting them get cold too often.