Digital cameras are, first and foremost, power-consuming gadgets. There’s nothing worse than an empty battery when there’s a picture-perfect moment right in front of your eyes. As digicams become more complex, knowing which batteries are more efficient and learning how to prolong their life becomes all the more significant.
Know Your Batteries
Different types of batteries have their own host of pros and cons. But the general rule of thumb here: Know how often the digital camera will be used. Longer and heavier workloads for the camera will obviously require sturdier and longer-lasting batteries.
Standard vs. Propriety batteries
Standard batteries come in the usual AA size and they have been around since anyone can remember. They get drained much faster than propriety batteries but they’re still here with good reason: they’re cheap, versatile and they’re everywhere.
Propriety battery packs are so-called because they are customized for a certain digital camera—or a specific range of them. This allows for the highest possible power consumption efficiency while sacrificing its versatility. They last longer and take less time to charge but are relatively more expensive and are available only in select retailers.
Kinds of Batteries
Batteries vary according to their chemistry and the amount of power they can store.
Alkaline batteries are the most widely used type specially because they are the cheapest and the most versatile. Though they may be useful as an emergency power source, using alkaline batteries regularly on digital cameras is very expensive simply because they deplete the fastest. It also has the highest “self discharge” rate meaning it loses a significant amount of its power even when not used. Leading brands may offer “high performance” alkaline batteries, but because of a high internal resistance, they won’t last long enough in high-current devices such as digital cameras.
Lithium batteries, are also disposable, but lasts much longer and is more expensive. They will also prove useful as emergency replacements.
The Nickel Cadmium type utilizes the oldest technology and is most prone to the so-called “memory effect”. It would be wise to stay away from Ni-Cad battery-powered cameras as they have so many restrictions; they should be completely drained and they should never be overcharged.
NiMH or Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries are considered to be the best power source for digicams. They suffer much less from the “memory effect” compared to the Ni-Cad, and has a nearly negligible self discharge rate. Nevertheless, these batteries should still be recharged after long periods of idle storage. Hybrid Alkaline-NiMH batteries are also available which are a much cheaper yet very competitive alternative to Lithium Ion batteries.
Lithium Ion or Lion batteries ranks the highest in terms of power rating, longevity, and, unfortunately, price. Yet, along with the hybrid NiMH battery, Lion is a great investment since it is the least affected by the “memory effect” and has the lowest self discharge rate.
How to care for your batteries
To date, there is not a type of battery than can withstand misuse, abuse and utter neglect, so the fate of a battery still lies in its owners’ hands. But caring for a digicam’s battery is no rocket science; just remember that if it C-L-I-C-K-S, you’re definitely doing it right.
Cooler temperatures result in longer battery life
Studies have confirmed that batteries last longer when stored in cooler temperatures, such as in a refrigerator. It slows down the chemical reactions inside the battery thus delaying the wear and tear. But it’s still recommended to protect the battery from extreme temperatures.
Limit power consumption
Every rechargeable battery has a charge cycle limit ranging from several hundreds to a few thousands. If a battery has maxed out its charge cycles, it won’t be long until its internal resistance becomes too high to be useful. So, as much as possible, try to conserve power by turning off unnecessary applications or features of your digital camera.
Insert batteries correctly
Instructions on how to properly insert the battery are there for a reason. Doing it the wrong way is as bad as overcharging your battery.
Charge batteries with caution
Never overcharge batteries and never use those so-called “fast chargers”. They significantly diminish the battery’s performance and shelf life. Use a “smart” battery charger instead to avoid overcharging.
Keep older batteries away from new ones
A state-of-charge mismatch happens when older batteries are used together with new ones. Instead of “stepping up” its performance, the fresher batteries step down to allow the weaker cells to keep up, greatly diminishing their combined battery life.
Store batteries separately from cameras
This is a rule for all battery-operated devices. Storing the battery inside a gadget for extended periods of time may cause leakage which damages not only your battery, but your digital camera as well.