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12 Mistakes That Are Draining Your DSLR Camera’s Battery Life

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If you’re like most photographers, you probably purchased a DSLR for your first camera. You likely learned a lot about your device and how it works during your first few months. And one thing you may have discovered is that your battery drains quicker than you’d like it to.

You can often prolong your camera’s battery life with a few minor tweaks. Here, we’ll discuss why your DSLR battery might drain quicker than expected. You’ll also learn about the potential solutions to fix these problems.

1. You’re Using the LCD Screen

Probably the biggest mistake is to use the LCD screen rather than the viewfinder to set up your shot. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that the LCD uses a lot of battery power; it’s used to preview and review photos before and after they’re snapped.

If you don’t feel that you can stop using it altogether, at the very least, reduce the amount of time you spend using it. Two suggestions are to disable post-shot reviews and to lower the brightness setting.

2. Too Much Zoom

One of the rules of photography is that you should only use zoom if you can’t get any closer to the subject. In most cases, it will result in a better photograph, and you’ll also find that your battery lasts a bit longer.

It’s all down to the motor that moves the lens. Each time you zoom, it whirrs around, using up power with each turn. Switching your DSLR on and off is bad enough, especially with the added weight of a lens attachment, so keep further use of the lens motor to a minimum if you want to maximize your DSLR camera’s battery life.

Battery life isn’t a problem for the many DSLR cameras equipped with a manually adjustable zoom ring.

3. You’re Using a Bigger Lens

This point somewhat ties in with the above. In some instances, you’ll need to use a telescopic lens. Examples include certain types of portrait photography and capturing landscape shots while standing far away from your subject. However, you don’t need to have one on your camera for every kind of shot.

A telescopic lens will drain your DSLR battery more than a smaller one. If it’s not an absolute necessity, try to use more of a wide-angle lens. You can crop anything that you don’t want in your picture later.

4. Autofocus Is Set to Continuous

Getting your subject in focus isn’t as challenging as you might think. The problem is that tiny motors control autofocus, each of which relies on the battery for power.

Continuous focus is the worst offender. If you don’t need it, you can rely on the one-shot or Autofocus Single mode, which has a reduced impact on your battery.

5. You’re Pressing the Shutter Button Too Many Times

Here’s a battery-draining mistake everyone makes: the slight press on the shutter button to focus the shot before you take it. But each time you press the button, the lens resets and refocuses, once again setting those little motors off.

Using one of these—such as an LCD screen, continuous autofocus, or shutter half-press—in isolation will have a negligible effect on your battery. But if you’re the type of photographer who regularly uses all three, reducing your reliance on these settings and habits can considerably impact how often you need to recharge the DSLR’s battery.

6. You Have Automatic Flash Switched On

How often has your DSLR’s flash illuminated a shot it didn’t need to? Having automatic flash enabled is very good for capturing photos at parties and other nighttime scenarios when adjusting the ISO setting doesn’t produce satisfactory images. Still, you rarely need it on for daytime shoots.

If your flash is going off in daylight, there’s clearly a problem (perhaps an overhanging branch casting a shadow on the sensor). But the best way to deal with this is to disable the flash altogether.

7. Features You Don’t Need Are Active

You probably don’t use most of the features on your DSLR. For example, you can add overlays in post-production software like Adobe Lightroom or Capture One. And while image stabilization is useful when shooting handheld, you don’t need it when you’ve mounted your device on a tripod.

Beeps and other sound effects are almost always unnecessary; you can turn these off via your camera’s menu.

8. You Left Your Camera in Record Mode

One of the problems with video camera mode is that you can forget the device is still recording. With the standard stills mode, if you’re using the LCD, you will see the image in the viewfinder displayed on the screen. The same is true of the video camera mode, but besides a couple of small icons, the display is almost identical.

A quick glance won’t necessarily tell you that you’re in video mode. So, always ensure that your camera is switched off before you put it away, and disable the video camera function as soon as you’re done with it.

9. You Forgot Power-Saving Mode

One way of avoiding the problem above is to enable your DSLR’s power-saving mode. Once activated, this will boost your battery life by shutting down the camera after a predetermined period of inactivity should you forget to switch it off manually.

Power saving settings are in different places on different manufacturers’ DSLRs, so check your device documentation to find and activate them.

10. Shooting in RAW

Let’s get this straight: you need RAW format for taking the best photographs and ensuring the best results in post-processing. But you don’t always need RAW.

For situations like trips to the park with your family, you might prefer to switch to a different format, reducing resolution and thereby saving battery. You can save RAW for those occasions where you need top-notch quality, such as landscapes, client work, and beauty portraits.

11. You Forgot to Charge the Battery

It might seem like the most obvious mistake, but it is a mistake. Not fully charging your DSLR’s battery between uses will affect how long you can take photos before it drains completely.

Whether you have an in-car charger or some other solution for recharging the cell, make sure you use it whenever possible. If this isn’t possible for whatever reason, the best thing you can do is make sure you have a fully charged backup battery that you can switch to when the first battery drains.

12. You’re Using Your Camera in Colder Weather

Winter is arguably the most magical time of the year for photography. However, you’ll need to prepare accordingly for shooting in cold conditions. One issue you’ll need to deal with is that colder weather often drains your battery quickly.

While you can’t control the temperature too much, you can try a few tactics. Consider shooting, for example, when it’s a little warmer during the day. And if you need to photograph at colder points, look for a better battery for withstanding low temperatures.

You can also try photographing from an indoor location instead of going outdoors.

Preserve Your DSLR Camera’s Battery Better

Modern DSLR cameras have a better battery life than older versions. However, that doesn’t stop them from draining quickly, especially if you’re not careful. Luckily, you often only need to make small changes to increase your camera’s battery life.

The tips in this article are an ideal starting point. However, you can also consider purchasing a spare battery or two. Taking your charger on longer trips is also a good idea.

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