Battery Devouring Digital Cameras and the People Who Love Them

Millions of people have fallen in love with their digital camera; and for good reason.  They are compact making them easy to tote along anywhere a person may wander, they are capable of producing images of outstanding quality which can easily be shared online with others anywhere in the world, and with digital storage, they are a space saving wonder.  In addition, digital cameras allow users to save the expense of film and developing.  But perhaps the greatest attraction of these cameras is the control they provide over the images one creates during the editing process.

Unfortunately, most of those who love digital cameras have also come to know their dark side; their thirst for power.  From the first touch of the button to power a digital camera on, setting the focus, shutter speed, zooming, and providing a flash for image capture, to reviewing images taken and editing, these cameras are energy junkies.

The good news is that there are things that can be done to help to make it easier to live with power craving cameras and to curb their appetite. Certainly, having a camera with rechargeable batteries is by far the best option and charging the battery per manufacturer’s guidelines can help sustain optimal functioning. For the people who love their digital camera, there are also steps that can be taken in the way they use it to help reduce the rate of power consumption.


• When finished shooting, remove the batteries from the camera if it will not be used for another 2 or 3 weeks.  This will prevent a trickling discharge that can occur when left in the camera.

The best suggestion for this problem is to have a couple of extra batteries.  You certainly don’t want to be out taking wedding pictures or family pictures and have your camera go dead.

Batteries are not terribly expensive just get a couple of extra batteries.  I have a couple of chargers which are allways charging batteries.  The strict rule in our studio is if you take batteries out of the chager you are required to put a set of batteries back in the charger.   My daughter has gotten scolded a couple of times for failing to follow this simple rule.

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wedding picture at Salt Lake City temple

• Use the on/off function appropriately.  Certainly a digital camera should not be left on for any extended period of time as the energy is wasted.  However, if another shot will be taken within a few minutes it is better to leave the camera on as it consumes a great deal of energy to power on/off.  If the camera has a sleep mode, it is best to set the timer for that function to the shortest interval in case the user forgets to turn the camera off.

• Disable or don’t use features that aren’t needed.  Zoom for instance uses a great deal of power.  If the same result can easily be achieved by simply moving the subject or stepping closer, do that instead.  Use of the flash function is also energy intensive.  Flash should be used only when it will be effective.  For instance, if lighting is already sufficient or the subject is out of flash range anyway, don’t use the flash function.

• When possible use the viewfinder to set up a shot as the LCD screen consumes a great deal of battery power.  Use of the LCD screen can improve some shots such as in the case of close-up/macro photography but in most instances use of the viewfinder is sufficient.  (Remember, photographers operated without LCD screens for most of the history of photography!)

• Use other power sources when appropriate.  For instance use an AC adapter when downloading images and use the computer for review and image deletion rather than performing such functions directly on the camera.

• Do things manually when feasible.  From powering the camera off to focusing; auto anything takes more power.

• Some experts indicate that some types of media storage consume more energy as well.  For instance, Compact Flash is said to be a more energy conscious form of storage than MicroDrive Media.

Certainly, the many features offered on a digital camera are convenient and desirable.  Users merely need to be aware of the tremendous demands placed on the camera battery by these same features. Understanding this allows a digital camera owner to make a choice between ease of use and conservation of the battery.  Steve says go for ease of use and get a couple of extra batteries.