Gain Better Digital Camera Battery Life

Tips for improving battery longevity

Don't be surprised if your digital camera's battery power isn't lasting quite as long as it used to. Rechargeable batteries lose their ability to hold a full charge as they age. Losing battery power is frustrating, especially if your battery-empty light flashes just as you prepare to take that once-in-a-lifetime photo. These tips and tricks can deliver a little extra digital camera battery life, even from an older camera battery.

A rechargeable camera battery.
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Viewfinders Save Battery Power

If your camera has an optical viewfinder (the small window at the back of the camera you use to frame images), you can turn off the LCD screen and only use the viewfinder. The LCD screen has significant power demands.

Limit Using the Flash

Using the flash drains the battery quickly. Obviously, there are some situations where a flash is required to create the photo, but if you can shoot the picture with the flash turned off, do it to save battery power.

Limit Using Playback Mode

Don't spend a lot of time reviewing your photos. The longer you have the LCD screen on—while you aren't shooting photos—the faster your battery drains, reducing the number of photos you can shoot per charge. Review your photos later when you return home and have a fresh battery.

Activate Power-Saving Features

Use your camera's power-saving feature. This feature can be annoying because the camera goes into sleep mode when you haven't used it in a while. However, it conserves battery power. To achieve the most battery power savings, set the sleep mode to kick in as quickly as possible. With some cameras, this can be after as few as 15 or 30 seconds of inactivity.

Reduce Screen Brightness

Turn down the LCD's brightness level if your camera allows this change. A brighter LCD drains the battery faster. A dim LCD is more difficult to see, especially in bright sunlight, but it extends battery life.

Don't Expect to Match the Manufacturer's Battery Life Claims

Don't believe the manufacturer's claims about how much life your batteries should have. When testing the battery life of their cameras, most manufacturers conduct their measurements in perfect conditions, something you likely cannot recreate in real-world photography. If you're able to achieve at least 75 percent of the battery life the manufacturer claims, that's a good starting point.

Newer Batteries Work Better

To obtain the most life from your camera's battery, don't fall for the myth that you should fully drain it before recharging. In reality, a battery has a limited number of hours of use in it. If you're using some of those hours to drain it, it won't last as long over its lifetime. Just use the battery normally, and charge it when it needs it or when you're done shooting. A partial charge isn't going to affect the life of a modern battery significantly. That may have been the case with rechargeable batteries from years ago, but it's not true with newer batteries.

Don't Turn the Camera On and Off Repeatedly

Each time you restart most cameras, the introductory screen appears for several seconds. Although this doesn't seem like much time, if you turn the camera on and off 10 times, you probably lose at least a minute of battery power, which may be the difference between snapping that last great photo and seeing the battery-empty message. Use the sleep mode instead.

Consider Replacing Older Batteries

Finally, because all rechargeable batteries hold less power as they age, you may want to purchase a second battery and have it charged and available. If you find yourself constantly altering your photography habits to try to conserve power with an older battery, you're better off buying a second battery as a backup.