Your camera battery is the lifeline of your photography. Many of us have experienced the frustration of trying to capture the perfect shot only receive a dreaded “change battery” message. Not only should you always have a spare battery on hand, but there are also a few tricks you can use to extend your digital camera battery life and make each battery last longer.
Photos via Boost Your Photography
Minimize how your camera uses the LCD screen
The LCD screen on your camera puts a heavy toll on your battery, but there are several ways to minimize its use and prolong your battery life. The first is to enable your LCD screen to shut off when not in use. You can enable “LCD auto off” in your camera’s menus. Most cameras will have this option enabled as a default, but you should check in your manual if you are unsure.
Turn off or at least minimize how long a photograph is displayed on your LCD screen after you take a picture. This “review time” can be set in your camera’s menus. If you choose off, photographs will not be shown right after you take them; you simply hit the playback button to review them. Or, selecting the minimum 2-second review will still help save some battery life.
Let your camera power itself off when it is not being used. Turning your camera on and off with the switch wastes battery power that can be conserved if you simply let your camera automatically power off and put itself to sleep. Choose the quickest auto power off time available (often 30 seconds) to save the most battery power.
Minimize how you use the LCD screen
Changing how often your camera utilizes its LCD screen will only get you part of the way toward maximizing your camera’s battery life. This second set of tips includes actions that you should take to minimize how you use the LCD screen on your camera.
Avoid chimping. Chimping is the practice of looking at and checking out every shot you take. Think about it for a moment. What are you trying to see by checking each shot on your LCD screen? You should be confident in your composition and focus from how you set up your shot while shooting.
If you are worried about your exposure, viewing a shot on your backlit LCD screen is very different than viewing it on your computer. Check your histogram, not the image. Once you have confirmed a given shot, do not look again for the rest of the series. Of course there are times, like if you are shooting a moving subject or in a rapidly-changing lighting situation, when chimping is essential. But try and see if you can do without it. Turn your review time to off, and limit yourself to chimping only if you have a real concern about a shot.
Use live view only when absolutely necessary. Live view allows you to compose and shoot using the LCD screen rather than the viewfinder, but this puts a large strain on your battery. If you are shooting macro on a tripod and using the 5x zoom feature of live view to get your focus pin sharp, then by all means, keep shooting in live view. But for most circumstances, you are better off using the viewfinder on your camera rather than the LCD.
Stop reviewing and deleting shots from your camera while you are shooting. Save your reviewing and photography decision-making for later, on your computer. Your LCD screen is not a reliable preview of your final image, and looking at and deleting individual shots takes time and battery power. Plus you can avoid costly mistakes like accidentally deleting the wrong shots.
Make your camera battery last
Finally, there are a few last steps you can take to prolong and extend the life of your camera batteries in general. One is to fully discharge your battery before recharging. If you have a spare battery on hand, then you can shoot until your battery first is fully dead before swapping. Fully discharging before fully recharging can help extend the battery life of certain types of batteries.
Keep your batteries protected from extreme weather. Buy a small waterproof or water-resistant case, if you are going to be shooting in extreme situations. Cold weather will shorten the usability of your battery. Keep spare batteries warm, such as close to your body in an interior pocket. If you have a battery that has died while out in cold weather, you may be able to get a few last shots out of it by warming it up again.
A final trick is to keep track of how long your camera batteries last, so that you know what kind of battery life you can expect. Each time your battery dies and you put in a new battery, your first shot should be of your dead battery. Tag these shots on your computer, and you can quickly calculate how many shots you were able to take on each battery that you own. Never again will you leave the house without knowing how much battery power you have along and how to squeeze out a little extra.