Saturday, July 13, 2013

How Long Does Your Camera's Battery Last?

Do you know how long your camera’s battery lasts between charges? It’s more than just an academic question. Knowing the average life of your camera’s battery can help you plan ahead and avoid being stuck with a dead battery and missing the shot(s). There are also several steps you can take to lengthen your camera's battery life.

Promaster makes off-brand batteries for digital cameras

Battery life varies due to several factors. All actions undertaken by your camera rely on the battery. Using the LCD display to check and change your settings takes battery power. Reviewing or deleting your shots on the LCD display takes battery power. Using the LiveView function (using your LCD as the viewfinder) takes battery power. Turning off and turning on the camera again takes battery power. Leaving your camera on for a long period of time without powering down takes battery power.

You can minimize the impact of these actions in a few different ways. You can change the settings in your camera to choose a shorter ‘review time’ (how long an image is displayed on the LCD screen after you take the picture). Mine is set to 2 seconds, which is the minimum, unless I turn the feature off completely. You can change how quickly your camera ‘auto powers off’ and puts itself to sleep. Mine is set to 30 seconds, which is the minimum. Allowing your camera to auto power off quickly and simply leaving it on (rather than turning it off and on after shots) also saves battery life. You can also minimize your use of the LCD screen by only using LiveView when absolutely necessary and by not reviewing or deleting shots in-camera. In addition, some sources recommend always discharging your battery completely before recharging to maximize battery life over the lifetime of the battery.

Be sure to safeguard your batteries in cold weather

Another factor that impacts the battery life of your camera is the weather. Cold weather will wear down your battery much more quickly. If you are out shooting in cold weather, keep your spare batteries in a warm, interior pocket until you need them and be prepared to go through batteries rapidly. You may find that you are able to get additional shots out of a ‘dead’ battery after warming it back up again inside your jacket, but the impact will be minimal.

The final factor that impacts how long your camera’s battery will last is the types of shots you are taking. A longer shutter speed shot will take significantly more battery life than a rapid snap at 1/2000th of a second. If you are out shooting star trails or light painting or other types of shooting that require 20 or 30 seconds for the shutter, you will be able to get far less shots total than if you were shooting more rapidly.

Long exposure shots like these light trails wear down your battery more quickly

Determining your Camera’s Battery Life

There is a simply method for determining the life of your camera battery. Every time your camera’s battery gets low and you switch out your battery, your first photograph with the new battery should be of the old, low battery. (If you only have one battery, your first photograph after recharging your battery should be of the battery charger. You should also consider purchasing a second battery to avoid dead-battery disappointment. Several brands of off-brand batteries, such as Promaster and Sterlingtek are available at reduced prices compared to branded batteries and often work just as well. Just be sure to get the right model for your camera.)

Then, when you get home and review your shots on your computer, tag every shot of your old batteries with a consistent tag. (I use 'battery.' I know, inventive.) That way, you can do a search of the tag 'battery,' take a look at the shot numbers, and figure out the average life of your camera’s battery. You can also tell from the picture which battery you are measuring.

How Long Does Your Camera Battery Last? | Boost Your Photography
Reviewing your dead battery shots allows you to calculate average battery life.

For shooting with my Canon T1i, I have three batteries. The average shooting life of the Canon battery that came with the camera is around 850 shots. The average shooting life of the Promaster replacement battery is around 630 shots, and the average shooting life of the Sterlingtek replacement battery is around 680 shots. For shooting with my new Canon A4000IS point and shoot, the average shooting life of the Canon battery it came with is 300 shots.

It is a simple process to find out the average life of your camera’s battery and one that will help you avoid disappointment. There are also some easy steps to take to reduce how much of the battery you are using. So, the next time you replace the battery in your camera, remember to take a picture of the low battery. Simple!

This battery died near the top of Electric Peak in Yellowstone National Park

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