How Do I Fix It When My Camera Uses Batteries Too Fast?

Get a little more use out of your battery before charging it

One of the most frustrating things about using a digital camera is that it always seems to run out of battery power at the worst times. What's the best way to get a little more power out of your battery? We have a few solutions.

A modern digital camera.
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Reasons Why a Battery Drains Too Fast

There are many reasons why a camera's battery can drain quicker than normal. Aging rechargeables lose their oomph over time. Features like automatic flash and the LCD screen require a lot of power. Or it could be a case of operator error (you forgot to charge it).

How to Fix It When Your Camera Uses Batteries Too Fast

Try some of the suggestions below to get a little more life out of your camera battery between charging sessions.

  1. Replace the old battery. Rechargeable batteries lose the ability to hold a full charge over time. If your battery is a few years old, you might need to replace it.

  2. Check for corrosion. Corrosion commonly occurs when a battery is stored inside a camera for several weeks without being used, especially in a humid environment. A battery with corrosion on it has green or brown smudges on the metal connectors. Remove the buildup, or the battery might not charge properly.

    Make sure there are no deep scratches or other smudges on the battery's metal contacts or the metal contacts inside the battery compartment. Anything that prevents the metal contacts from making a close connection may cause below-average battery performance.

  3. Use the viewfinder. If your camera has a viewfinder, use it to frame photos and turn off the LCD, which causes a significant power drain. If you prefer the LCD, turning down the brightness can help preserve the battery. Also, avoid excessively scrolling through stored photos or cycling through the camera's menus.

  4. Turn on battery-saving mode. If your camera has a power-saving feature, use it. It powers the camera down after a period of inactivity, which is helpful if you forget to turn it off manually. You can find this feature in the camera's settings. Check the manual for your specific model if you have trouble locating it.

  5. Stop shooting in RAW. RAW image files capture the most information when taking a photo, which gives more options when post-processing an image. This format requires more resolution, which can drain a battery faster. If you're taking photos of your kids playing in the park, you probably don't need RAW files. Save this format for a big event or for situations where you know you want to do a lot of editing after the shoot.

  6. Temperature matters. Using the camera in cold weather can cause a battery to perform below its projected lifespan. It won't hold its full charge if it's stored in a cold location. If you must shoot in cold conditions, carry the battery in a pocket close to your body. Body heat allows it to stay warmer than it would inside the camera. This can help it maintain its full charge for a longer amount of time.

  7. Pick up an extra battery. Carrying extras is the best way to ensure you have enough power for a project. Because most digital cameras contain rechargeable batteries that only fit inside one particular model, you cannot easily swap a battery from a different camera into your current one, so you have to purchase a second.