You’re just about to head out the door when you grab your camera, turn it on and are disappointed to find you forgot to charge the battery. At a half charge, how long will the camera battery last? Do you have a backup?
Though a camera is a complex device and you need to attach a lens based on the look you’re going for, no shooting will happen if you don’t have a battery. But how many batteries should you actually have? There are many things to take into account when trying to determine the perfect number of batteries so in this post we break down all things to consider!
1: How Many Photographs Are You Going To Take?
If you are a wedding or portrait photographer, you may know the average number of photos that you take during 1 session. This is great information to know as this gives a baseline as to how long you need the battery to last! Unfortunately, there are many factors that can decrease this number, however all cameras will present a ‘Possible Shots’ number based on CIPA Standards. These numbers can be found in the camera instructional manuals as seen below.
Battery Life of the LP-E6 as shown in the Canon 5DMKIII Instruction Manual
Battery Life of EN-EL18 as shown in Nikon D4 Instruction Manual
2: What Weather Are You Shooting In?
Believe it or not, weather can play a pretty significant role in how many shots your camera can take. As a CIPA standard, all cameras must be tested at 73°F. As you can see from the examples below, when shooting in freezing temperatures the number of shots decreases. Though we’re guessing that not too many people are shooting in freezing temps, know that if you are in the New England area shooting a winter wedding that you’ll certainly need some backups!
Battery Life of LP-E8 as shown in Rebel T5i Instructional Manual
3: Are You Using The LCD Screen?
If you are shooting on a SLR camera, conserve some of your battery’s life by looking through the optical viewfinder to compose the shot rather than relying on live view. If you are using a compact camera, this may not be possible, however. Most cameras have a power saving mode in the menu settings. These can include options to put the cameras to ‘sleep’ as well as changing the brightness of the LCD screen.
4: How many times do you press the shutter release halfway down to focus?
This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but remember that every time you press the shutter button halfway down to focus, you’re making the camera work! If you rely on AF, then try to set the mode to single-point AF so the camera is only searching to focus on 1 point instead of several throughout the frame.
5: Are You Using GPS or Wi-Fi Connectivity?
Though sometimes these functions are things you do need and reasons you invested your money into the camera, sometimes they are not needed. When not needed, refer to your manual on how to turn off these features to extend your battery’s life!
6: Do You Use The On-Camera Flash?
Though it’s easily accessible, using the built-in flash on your camera eats up a lot of power. Whenever possible, do not use it. Instead we recommend using an off-camera flash that is powered independently (most likely AA batteries) and syncs to your camera. There are even additional battery packs that you can buy/rent for these off-camera flashes to extend the life of them as well!
7: Are You Shooting Long Exposures, Burst Mode or Video?
Keeping the shutter opened for a long period of time results in extra processing time needed to develop the image, thus resulting in quicker battery drain. High ISO as well as shooting in burst mode or continuous shooting also require more processing time. How long would you need to process 11 frames per second? Our cameras are surely warriors, but even the best ones need time to process what images were just captured.
8: Are You Using Any Additional Features On Your Lens?
Using features such as Image Stabilization (IS) and autofocus (AF) will also drain the battery. If you are shooting outdoors in bright light, turn off IS. This is also true when you are shooting on a tripod. If you can go without shooting with the AutoFocus function on, turn that off as well. When the AF is hunting for focus, especially in low light, it drains power quickly.
All of this is to say that if you are shooting freezing temperatures while also using GPS, live view to compose the shot, burst mode and IS with a high ISO, you will absolutely need extra batteries if you are planning to stay out shooting for a bit.
We ALWAYS recommend having an extra, fully charged, battery with you no matter what you are shooting. Of course you want to be prepared if the battery drains, but worse, if your battery dies unexpectedly, you’ll have a backup.