I decided to write about battery maintenance as much to be a reminder for me as anyone. This is something that if you forget you will end up paying the price when you can least afford to do so.
Batteries run our lives, or at least many things in our lives. Whether it is the smoke detector, cell phone, calculator, camera, flash, flashlights, laptop or many other things they all have batteries and if the battery is not happy neither will you be!
I try to have a system to check, charge or change my batteries on a regular basis and believe me it sure helps – a lot! The problem is that some batteries need more care than others.
– Phones, laptops, tablets are easy to charge – plug in leave a few minutes and they are done. If they stop holding a charge then all you can do is replace the battery as there is little else you can do to renew the battery.
– Other batteries like a smoke detector just need to be changed twice a year and they will be happy.
– But some things like cameras, flashes and flashlights require a little more work. I have a system that once a month I will turn on my flashes and cycle them for a few minutes so that the electronics stays powered up, then after the cycling I will charge the batteries. I have a couple great chargers that I use, one takes all day (5 hours) and the other will top up in as little as 5 minutes to charge a set of AAA or AA’s.
My flashlights mostly take single use batteries (I have tried rechargeable batteries but it added a lot of work to make sure they were always charged). The exception is my big area light and it uses 12 rechargeable – AAA and 6 single use D cells, this light charges the AAA’s from the D cells when it is in use. So for the flashlights that use single use batteries I toss the batteries when they get weak. For the rechargeable AAA’s I charge them outside the light a couple times a year to make sure they are fully charged.
My cameras, like most, now use a battery packs. I never liked these when I first started using them but have fallen in love with them. For me I charge camera batteries before I am going to use a camera and / or once a month. I charge all the cameras (5 batteries = 5 hours) to be safe. I also have a AA insert that will power the cameras should I have a problem with the battery packs but this is only for emergencies.
One problem with the camera and flash batteries happens when you trust the battery indicator on the equipment. The other day I was shooting with a camera and the indicator said full, no need to take time to charge up the batteries as I did just a few days before. Three pictures in cold weather and it was dead. The indicator is a guide only, to be safe charge.
So what should you do to be safe?
- Check your non rechargeable AA batteries at least once a month to make sure they are charged. If you are not using something like a flash for a month or two remove the batteries. This will stop them from draining.
- Rechargeable batteries – top up once a month. If you have a bad battery get rid of it, one bad battery in a set can cause huge issues.
- Camera batteries – buy a second battery and a in car inverter so you can charge while driving. Great for road trips or heading out on an assignment.
- Top up or check your camera / flash batteries before a big shoot
- If shooting in the cold, keep one set of batteries warm, do not use heat for this, putting in an inside pocket is enough.
- Carry extra AA batteries. I trust my rechargeable AA’s but feel a lot safer with a set or two of disposable batteries as they tend to hold the charge better, especially in the cold.
- If you have emergency lights (flashlights or a built in battery pack) in your house or car, check the batteries every couple of months.
With a little preparation your batteries will hold a charge when you need them the most.
Who are we……….
Paterson Photography Ltd. has served southern Alberta since 1985. Mike has done work for many individuals, companies and organizations. With work published locally as well as internationally and photos in collections around the world Mike has been taking pictures longer than many photographers have been alive.
Paterson Photography Ltd. offers a variety of courses, workshops and adventures around Canada. From our classes at our Lethbridge studio, our one on one classes, group classes, adventures and more you will love learning your camera. Mike has been teaching for over 20 years and offering courses through his studio for over 10 years. Visit our web site, E-mail or call for more information.
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