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

Digital camera FAQ: basic photography questions

A modern digital camera.
A modern digital camera.

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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 is the best way to pull a little more power out of your battery? You may have a few different solutions.

Out With the Old

Remember that rechargeable batteries tend to lose their abilities to hold a full charge over time. As the batteries age, they have slightly diminished capacities — they hold less and less power. If your battery is a few years old, you might simply need to replace it because of this problem.

Remember: Looks Matter

Along those same lines, a battery may become corroded over time. This can be a common problem if you stored the battery inside the camera for several weeks without using it in a humid environment. A battery that has corrosion on it will have green or brown smudges on the metal connectors on the battery. These must be cleaned, or the battery might not charge properly.

Make sure there are no deep scratches or other smudges on the metal contacts on the battery on the metal contacts inside the battery compartment. Anything that interferes with the ability of the metal contacts to make a close connection may cause below average battery performance on the camera.

Refrain From the Drain

Beyond physical problems with the battery that could be causing it to perform below standards, you can take a few steps to reduce your camera's power usage in the short term. For example, if your camera has a viewfinder, use it to frame photos and turn off the LCD (which causes a significant power drain). You also can turn down the brightness of the LCD to preserve battery power. Turn on the camera's power-saving mode, which powers down the camera after a period of inactivity. Don't use the zoom lens unless you actually need it. Avoid using the flash unless you need it. Try to avoid scrolling through the stored photos or cycling through the camera's menus as well.

Don't Let Your Camera Battery Catch Cold

Using the camera in really cold weather can cause a battery to perform below its projected lifespan. If the camera is stored in a cold location, the battery will not hold its full charge either. If you must work in cold conditions with your camera, try carrying the battery in a pocket close to your body, where the heat from your body will allow the battery to stay a little warmer than it would inside the camera, which will allow it to maintain its full charge for a longer amount of time versus keeping it inside a cold camera for an extended period of time.

Call for Backup

Finally, carrying a second battery is a good idea. Carrying extra batteries is the best way to ensure you have enough battery power for your project. Because most digital cameras contain rechargeable batteries that specifically will only fit inside one particular model of camera, you cannot easily swap one battery from a different camera into your current camera, so you have to purchase a second rechargeable battery.