Care and Use of Camera Batteries

In this day and age when the majority of photographers shoot digital cameras (excluding our smartphones) is easy to overlook the role of the common camera battery.

Most photographers in their rush to use the camera (if you are like me) tend to open the box, take the battery out and place them on the charger or the camera and forget to read the disclaimers on the manual.

That is the reason I wanted to write this article. I wanted to give you some general guidance, that will apply to most camera batteries.

The Battery

Most batteries are not charged at shipment.

Sure, you will find some remaining charge on the battery from the manufacturing and testing process, but generally speaking you should not rely on the remaining charge. It’s important to remember that the battery might have gone through a few situations where the temperature changed and that leads to fluctuations.

Always charge your battery before first time use!! And keep the battery in its case when not in use.

Even though the technology has advanced over time, most batteries will lose their charge when not in use. For that reason, we should always try to charge the battery one of two days before each use.

You can always extend the battery life by turning the cameras off when not in use (especially is you are a Sony shooter!) 😉

All the batteries will experience a decrease in capacity at low temperatures.

Try keeping spare batteries in a warm place, like your car on inside your coat, or try to insert the battery right when you are ready to shoot (not always practical).

It’s a BAD idea to place the batteries near hand-warmers or other heating devices. Batteries can overheat and explode or the casing can separate from the actual battery.

Depleted batteries may not function when it’s cold.

Charging the Batteries

Always try to charge your batteries in the manufacturer supplied charger, Never mix and match batteries from other manufacturers. Voltages and amperage differences might harm your batteries.

The ambient temperature will affect the charging times. Generally the charging times will be longer in temperatures below 10ºC (50º F) or above 35º C (95º F).

Avoid at all cost trying to charge batteries above 40º C (104º F) or below 0º C (32º F). Generally speaking, the batteries will not charge in these conditions.

The batteries do not need to be completely discharged before you attempt to charge them again. Never try to recharge a fully charged battery.

Battery Life

Charging cycles vary from one manufacturer to another. In general, batteries can be recharged and average of 300 times. When you start to notice a decrease in the length of time your battery holds a charge, it will mean that your battery has reached the end of its service life and most be replaced.

Storing Batteries

Try not to store your batteries inside the camera. The battery’s performance might be impaired if it’s left unused for long periods of time. Best practice is to run the battery flat before storing it.

If the battery is not going to be used for a long time, remove the battery from the camera and store it on a dry place. Avoid locations where there is a temperature fluctuation (See Charging batteries above).

Battery Handling

  • Keep the terminals clean. Use a pencil eraser to clean them if necessary.
  • Do not transport batteries together with metal objects. If you have to, try to find covers for the terminals.
  • Do not expose to flame or heat.
  • Do not drop them or subject the batteries to physical shocks
  • Do not disassemble or modify.
  • Dispose of used batteries according to local regulations, and promptly. Trust me, you do not want to deal with battery acid!
  • Do not expose to water or submerge the batteries.
  • Always use the designated charger for the battery.

Batteries are one of the most important elements in digital photography. Everybody eventually has a story where pictures where not taken because of discharged or defective batteries.

Hopefully these guidelines will help you keep your camera batteries healthy and lasting longer.