Some camera models have very short battery span — meaning that a new battery for a particular camera model has a short life span, as it can take fewer shots per charge.

What would camera experts out there do if they had such a camera?

Would they do one or more of the following:

  1. Buy more extra batteries
  2. Buy a AC Adapter
  3. Others?
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I expect AC adapters (and DC power supplies running off car batteries, etc.) are pretty common for specialized applications like astrophotography and time-lapse, where you don't want to have to change batteries in the middle of the process. \$\endgroup\$
    – coneslayer
    Apr 30, 2012 at 1:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @coneslayer the problem with AC adapters for stuff like astrophotography is that there often isn't any place to plug it is. It depends a lot on the gear you've got with you, but you're usually trying to get out in the middle of nowhere. I've seen guys with huge external batteries or generators though. \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Apr 30, 2012 at 17:39

5 Answers 5


Usually, we buy more batteries. For pros, a few extra batteries is a very marginal business expense, and for serious enthusiasts, it's usually just worth it. I always want a spare battery for my DSLR, even though it has excellent battery life. If you're in the studio, an AC adapter may be an option — although even then, keeping the camera free of an extra tether is nice, and being in a studio means you don't actually have to tote those extra batteries.

You can also:

  1. Take battery life into consideration when selecting equipment, if things seem equal otherwise, and
  2. Turn off battery-draining features, like live view and automatic review of pictures on the rear LCD, and avoid using the pop-up flash.

If you're going to use the camera with regularity, you simply need an extra battery, in my opinion. You will, eventually, have a few days where you can't recharge for some reason so having the extra on-hand is important. You may forget to recharge, you may not be near electricity, you may have forgotten your charger, etc., and having an extra battery just solves the problem so easily.

Of course, you may want/need several extra batteries or an AC adapter -- things which could be useful depending upon your circumstances, photographic goals, and camera.


Buying more batteries is the easiest and simplest solution.
I have 2 original manufacturer and 3 clone batteries for an A77 or A700.
(See below re clone/original capacities etc) I find that there are very few days that that is not enough. For a wedding or all day event or similar I carry two chargers which can charge from mains or from a car lighter (or a 12V 7Ah SLA "brick battery" in extreme cases)('on the road') and I charge expended batteries 'on the fly' where/as time allows BUT even the longest day would probably not exhaust 5 LiIon batteries.

Camera battery usage can be minimised to some extent.
Avoid backlighting where not needed.
In a DSLR ec where the rear LCD is not essential it can usually be disabled. Auto power doen can be set to minimum.
Post shot post-view can be minimised or turned off. (I usually turn off post view so I can use half pressure focus-held multiple shots and still view between shots (otherwise postview prevents this) and then postview by button push when wanted - this also limits display power in backlight but most people probably like post-view turned on.)
Avoid postviewing multiple past shots except where essential.

It is helpful to measure actual camera current in various modes to see what actual battery usage is. If you are not electrically inclined find a tame friend who is. All that is needed is to make a temporary battery intercept unit that passes battery current out to a test sensor and back. this is not much more than some tape and a sliver of plastic and some wires in most cases. Knowing actual currents helps avoid putting excessive effort into something which actually helps very little. When I did this with a prior camera I was astounded to see how much current it did draw at some points. Nowadays I just buy more batteries :-).

Lithium Ion custom: If your camera uses brand specific LiIon batteries there are usually clone batteries available at very much lower prices than genuine replacements. These will also usually (not always) have lower capacities than genuine ones but the Capacity/$ ratio is usually much better. They also usually have a lower total cycle lifetime (speaking from personal experience) but the end result is usually still more $ effective. These is a small chance that clone LiIon batteries will self destruct and take your camera with them but this is rare enough to be worth the risk (unless it actually happens to you personally). Despite the many warnings re LiIon battery dangers (which I also pass on to people) I have never seen a LiIon battery self immolate.

AA: If your camera uses AA cells then using the highest capacity reputable brands available will help. 2550 mAh is about the upper genuine battery limit (I am assured by one of the world top 3 (all Chinese) factories that I deal with. Any cell above 2600 mAh claimed capacity is suspect. AA NimH high capacity cells should weigh a least 1 ounce (30 grams) and ideally more like 33 - 35 grams. Cells under 30 g are very suspect.

Quality AA Alkaline cells have similar capacity to good NimH cells. Find a brand that works well and stick with it. I have seen substantial variations between AA Alkaline cell capacities.

Two LiIon custom batteries: Many cameras have a vertical grip option that accomodates two standard batteries.

Extreme measures: I wanted to be able to take an extended number of photos, occasionally with internal flash (heresy :-) ) and without having to be caught out by low recycle times or the need for a sudden battery change at an inconvenient time. (eg some events such as Motocross may have many fast moving objects wanting many burst of multiple exposures for an extended period.

My cameras had a 6V power input jack designed for use with a mains adaptor. I used a lead-acid battery in a belt pack, with a lead running from the camera up the battery strap and with a quick detachable connector. Using a 6V x 7Ah lead avid battery gave me the energy capacity of 2 to 3 of the camera standard batteries plus allowed use of the internal battery when the plug was disconnected. A lead-acid battery has a usefully flatter voltage discharge profile than a Lithium Ion battery and a 7Ah battery will happily exceed the LiIon current capacity even when rather discharged. You have to be somewhat obsessive to use a solution like this but it's great fun, and also useful.


The simplest and arguably most effective solution is just get more batteries.

Another option that is available (for some cameras at least) is to get a Battery Grip which holds extra batteries and also provides a second grip for shooting portraits.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This is the only one answer I expected to see for this question :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Apr 30, 2012 at 23:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was also chewing through the list for this one. battery grips should just be on by default from the factory, haha, oh wait, a camera with integrated battery grip is called 1D :p \$\endgroup\$ Jan 29, 2013 at 7:46

I'm surprised nobody answered this yet, but I would seriously consider returning the camera and getting a camera with better battery life. There are thousands of models out there, and almost all that I've used have had excellent battery life.

For DSLR cameras and slim cameras, since you almost always have to use special battery packs, it is nice to find a camera model that will take hundreds of shots per charge, rather than a battery eating monster of a camera.

For cameras that take standard AA batteries, just buy at least double the number of rechargeable batteries, and keep one set as a spare in your camera bag.

Life's too short to have to worry too much about batteries; find a camera that will shoot with you a full day, and work on saving power by doing the following:

  • Don't use flash unless it's necessary or you need it creatively. (This may be the biggest power wasting facility on a camera).
  • Turn off the LCD when you're not using it.
  • Don't record full-length movies with a picture camera (that's why we have dedicated video cameras).
  • Turn off the camera or put it in a standby mode if you're not going to use it for a minute or two (unless you're using an SLR; most of these go into low-power mode automatically and can stay on for days).
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's true that with so many camera models available you can always choose one with better battery life. Of course, so many models offer different features that I would bet you're giving up a feature you wanted in favor of lesser battery life. I wouldn't be willing to make that exchange! \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2012 at 15:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

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