Getting The Most Out Of Your DSLR’s Batteries

In the days of film, photographers had to worry about running out of exposures long before running out of power. In the days of digital cameras, that concern has been replaced by two: memory card space and battery life. Memory cards are easy to deal with; they’re inexpensive and small enough to keep several on your person at all times. Batteries, on the other hand, are a different issue. Unless you spring for extra batteries, you’re stuck with the battery that came with your SLR body, and maybe an additional battery for a grip. It’s economically unfeasible to treat batteries like memory cards, cheap and easy to replace. Fortunately, there are many techniques for stretching out your already long-lasting SLR even further on a single charge.

Turn off Live View

The LCD is one of the biggest power hogs on your camera. If you use it instead of your viewfinder (which requires no power, besides the small amount used for the AF lights and indicator LEDs), you can expect to see your SLR’s battery life drop fast. Disable Live View and frame your shots with the viewfinder, and your battery will go much farther.

Seriously, turn off Live View

I’m not kidding. This is the single biggest step you can take in conserving SLR battery life. All the other tips in this story won’t save as much power as disabling the LCD for framing shots. Not only does it keep the LCD constantly lit, it keeps a sensor constantly capturing information, which viewfinders don’t require.

Disable photo review

This is another technique to reduce the use of your LCD screen. Set the camera to not display your shots after you see them. It saves even more power by keeping the LCD turned off after you shoot, and will help stretch your battery even further. It might be difficult getting used to not checking your shots a second after you take them, but that’s how photographers did it for decades before we replaced film with a sensor-and-LCD combo.

Dim the screen

Yes, it’s another power-saving tip that focuses on the LCD. Dim the display as much as possible, so when you look over your shots and change settings, the screen uses less electricity. It won’t make as big a dent in your camera’s power consumption as disabling live view and shot review, but it’ll still help.

Manually focus

There’s a motor in your lens, driving the elements back and forth to adjust for focus when you use your camera’s autofocus. Motors take electricity, and every time you get a focus lock on a subject that’s further or closer than the last subject you shot, that motor is sipping from your camera’s battery. It’s usually not a big deal, but if you find your camera repeatedly cycling the focus range of your lens to get a lock, you should switch that baby over to manual focus. Adjust the focus yourself and take a lot of the power consumption off of the battery.

Don’t Erase Images In Camera

Though you may not think about it too much, erasing the images in your camera will actually drain a bit of battery as does formatting. Doing this uses up processor and LCD power and sitting there deleting image after image will drain more power than you think. To ensure that you don’t need to do this at all, get the image right the first time around.

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