The Right Battery?
First thing to consider is whether you’re using the right battery. For some people, there will be no choice: the camera comes with a rechargeable battery, and this and this alone may be used as a power source. You have no choice; move on to the next section. For all those other people with some choice on the matter, read on:
Lithium batteries are all the rage right now, and with good reason. Not only are do they hold more charge and are thus more economical, but they are also better for the environment by merit of not requiring as many of them.
Extend this now to rechargeable lithium batteries. Not only do you have this long charge that will last a long time out on the field, but it can be reused again and again, extending both the economic and environmental benefits. Rechargeable batteries require a certain amount of care for optimum performance. For more on rechargeable battery care, check out this article.
Now that we’ve got you using the best sort of battery, let’s look at some tips to make your current charge last longer:
Power Saving Habits
From here, there are a number of little things you can do to simply decrease the amount of power your camera needs.
The biggest power-suck is the LCD screen. First, make sure you have some sort of power save mode enabled on the camera; this can be found somewhere in the camera menu, though consulting your user’s manual might be somewhat faster. This will make sure your LCD screen turns off if you’re idling. Next, dim the LCD screen to as low as it can go and be visible. Does it really need to be at its maximum brightness while at night?
Also, try not to avoid going on playback and look through those photos you took. You’ll be using battery power unnecessarily in many circumstances, when you can just wait until you can show them on a larger screen of a laptop—which takes up even more power, but at least you’ll be doing the photos and the batteries justice.
Try using the viewfinder, if possible. While this is impossible on some digital cameras where virtually all of the adjustments are made via the LCD screen, try to take advantage of the viewfinder if you can.
Sound is another power waste. Those loud fake shutter noises, those beeps as you flip from menu to menu—many people find them obnoxious, but they take up power on top of that. If you dislike them, try just turning them off. That might also help make you less conspicuous (and less of a nuisance) as a photographer.
Try to cut down on your flash use. While some circumstances may call for flash usage… there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t be using longer exposures, lower f-stops or higher ISOs in a lot of circumstances, especially if you’re worried about your batteries. Turn off that automatic flash, and play around with these other techniques to counter darkness, especially in night or indoor situations where a flash might stun your subject more than photograph them. When you do use flash, try to only use as much of a flash output as you really need.
Battery Care To Maximize Your Charge
It’s important to take proper care of your batteries if you really want to extend an individual charge. Here’s a few tips:
If you won’t be using your camera for a week or more at a time, take your batteries out of the camera and store them in a cool (not cold as in refrigerator!), dry place. This will the charge from draining slowly away as fast as it would within the camera.
If you’ll be photographing in cold conditions, make sure that you keep your camera in a warm place between shots, such as inside your jacket. This will keep your charge from draining as quickly as they might otherwise in the cold.