I spent a good hour today moseying after some azure-winged magpies. We had a nice waltz across a parkland, they rarely letting me get close enough to even contemplate a shot. As such, I spent long stretches (~10min) with my Nikon DSLR on but not in use.

And then I began wondering about power drain in such situations (switched on but untouched), and how different that status actually was from off, and after what period of time it makes sense to go ahead and switch the camera off?

  • 4
    At least on Canon DSLRs, automatic sensor cleaning happens when you switch your camera off, but not when it goes to the sleep mode. Therefore it might be a good idea to actually occasionally turn it off. Jan 21, 2012 at 21:42

6 Answers 6


It really depends on the model but modern cameras are very good at saving power during sleep mode.

Sleep mode however on most cameras consumes some non-negligible amount of power, so if you wanted the more battery-life then turning it off is better.

Even better than off is to remove the battery as some cameras, particularly Nikon DSLRs, use power even when off.

That being said, most DSLRs can last for days if not longer in sleep mode, so I would not really worry about it unless you went somewhere without access to power for days.

  • If you have a 3rd party battery grip like mine there is definitely constant drain on the batteries even when off. I think it uses them to charge up the watch battery it uses for the timer :/ SO removing is definitely preferable when possible
    – Dreamager
    Jan 22, 2012 at 1:37
  • 1
    I suspect removing the battery gives you pretty negligible gain. For example, my D90 regularly goes several months on a single battery, with light use. Do you have any numbers?
    – Reid
    Jan 27, 2012 at 19:22
  • Not sure about the D90 but the D300S and D3S each maintain the status LCD on even when powered off. So, there has to be a gain but it would take a while to measure :)
    – Itai
    Jan 28, 2012 at 2:48
  • My old Canon 7D lasts even months in sleep mode.
    – Erbureth
    Apr 20, 2016 at 9:47
  • Do you have any refferences or at least personal experience comparing off vs. sleep? The thing is that I would assume startup also consumes some power, so shutting it off and on could possibly consume more power. Jun 22, 2019 at 18:35

When I am out shooting I always leave my Canon switched on, after 30 seconds or so it goes into sleep mode. I have never noticed any negative effect on battery life. Leaving it switched on means that it is ready to shoot as soon as I need it and I don't risk missing a photo opportunity.

I will usually turn it off when I put the camera into my camera bag as it would take me a few moments to get it back out so I reason that I will have the time to switch it back on.

Sleep mode does require one more consideration. When in sleep mode it is possible that the camera could be unintentionally woken and take unintended photos or perhaps more importantly, delete previously taken shots if the correct combination of buttons were pressed. Unlikely perhaps, but certainly plausible.


I never turn my Canon DSLR off. I don't believe it drains any battery life after it goes to sleep, but I don't have any evidence to show you of this.

If it is very very cold outside like in the winter in Minnesota where I live, I will pull out the battery and put it in my pocket to keep it warm. So I guess this is turning it off more or less.

  • Just to point out - the battery in your camera is most likely a Lithium Ion battery - these prefer the cold. NiMH batteries in contrast don't.
    – DetlevCM
    Jan 21, 2012 at 20:29
  • 6
    The certainly do not prefer the Canadian cold while running. They do prefer the cold for longevity, as long as they do not freeze. This is easy to see. When the camera displays the 'depleted' warning, warming it in a pocket and putting it back in brings it back to life.
    – Itai
    Jan 21, 2012 at 21:52
  • 4
    I don't need to read any specs or any second hand accounts to know that my lithium ion battery's work much worse in the winter temperatures here.
    – dpollitt
    Jan 22, 2012 at 3:19

I almost never turn the camera off, and rely on the sleep mode, and the battery life is very good on my D90. However, I've learned to try to actually turn it off when I put the camera back in the bag because I had an occaision where I think I put the camera in the bag in such a way as there was some pressure on the shutter button, and I think it kept trying to autofocus in the dark and drained the battery overnight.


When I am driving around with my camera, I usually leave it switched on. I turn it off when I put it in my backpack bag but if I am using my toploader bag I usually leave it on in case I need to quickly take a photo. I find that if I don't press any buttons on my 7d it uses very little power


Leaving a DSLR turned on isn't much of a battery drain: they're good about going to sleep, and they don't really do anything when you're not using them.

Contrast this to a pocket digicam where leaving the battery on will often keep the LCD on and active, the image stabilization on and active, the autofocus on and active, and the meter on and active. It'll eventually go to sleep, but those few minutes powering everything means that it's sucking down the battery much faster.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.