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Battery technology has improved with the advancements in consumer electronics, including your camera, but batteries still have limits. Nothing’s more frustrating than suddenly discovering that the batteries are almost drained just as you’re ready to shoot a bunch of photos or record video. Of course, the #1 solution is always carry extra batteries with you, but it’s easy to forget, especially if you’re shooting with a pocket or purse-sized camera.
In either case, you have some control over the life of a battery charge when you know what features and functions on your camera are power pigs. Try to keep these 4 from the battery slop trough and you’re more likely to have power when you need it.
Your camera uses significantly more power when you first start it than is necessary to take a picture. It’s better to leave the power on while you’re shooting, even though a few minutes may elapse between shots. Too many photographers continue to power on and power off their cameras throughout the day, which will quickly drain the battery. It is likely your camera has a sleep mode, much the same as your computer, so it remains on, but isn’t using as much battery power as cycling from power off to power on to power off.
The movement of optical zoom lenses on many cameras, especially point-and-shoots and other compacts, is mechanical, meaning that parts must be moved to extend and contract the lens. To drive mechanical processes requires quite a bit of power, thus reducing the life of a battery charge. Use zoom sparingly, or make sure you have plenty of power before commanding the parts of the optical zoom to move.
The LCD screen on your camera is a major energy hog. It provides a bright, well-lit view even if you’re not using it. Learn how to use your viewfinder (if your camera is equipped with one) and use it as much as possible to frame your images instead of the LCD. Of course, if you have a camera with an articulating LCD screen, then be prepared for plenty of battery use if you love to shoot with the screen tilted to various angles, including self-portraits and overhead picture taking. Refer to your manual to learn how to dim the LCD’s brightness or turn it off completely. Try to group the shots that require the use of the LCD, and shoot them in succession, so you can then power it down.
Your camera’s flash feature is also growing fat off your camera batteries. A built-in flash is a wonderful accessory, but learn how to use it for the best situations. Firing your flash in an attempt to illuminate a subject positioned beyond the reach of the light is a waste of time and battery power. Again, spend some time with your camera manual to understand exactly how far the flash will properly illuminate a scene or subject. Take some test images to help you learn. Then, only use your flash when your subject is within that range. Your flash will be an actual asset, your photos will look better and your batteries will last longer.
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