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Battery: The heart of the camera, Part 2 (10/08/2006)
By Tom Hirsch
Many digital cameras come with a proprietary battery, one made specifically for that brand of camera. If your camera came with this type of battery, that's good because it's rechargeable, and the charger came with the camera. A proprietary battery will hold a charge to a much greater degree than AA or AAA rechargeable batteries. Depending on the type of camera, the manufacturer might say that you could get 200 to 700 or more exposures from a full charge, but don't expect that many because the given numbers are based on straight shooting with none of the camera's other options being used.

Proprietary batteries aren't cheap, but you will need a second battery. It's not so much a spare as a necessity when the first battery wears down. Number both batteries so you'll know which one needs recharging. This will also help to keep the batteries even so both get about the same number of charges.

Incidentally, you should always take the battery charger with you whenever you go anyplace. You never know when you'll need it, and no other type of battery will work in the camera.

Proprietary batteries don't last forever, but you'll be able to get about 300 charges from each battery. Let's see, if you get 200 pictures on a battery charge, that would be 300 x 200 which is 60,000 pictures from each battery, or 120,000 pictures from the two. That should be enough to cover many, many picture-taking situations.

You should know that when fully charged, rechargeable batteries don't hold their charge forever. These batteries should be charged every three months or so to keep them in operating condition. Always keep both batteries charged up so that when one loses power, you'll have the other to fall back on.

Unlike rechargeable batteries, today's standard AA or similar batteries have a much longer shelf-life than those of the past. In storage, a battery will lose between 2% and 5% of its power per year. This isn't enough to significantly shorten its life. Storing spare batteries at a temperature of 68 degrees or lower will keep the power loss to a minimum.

For safety, wrap spare batteries in plastic. Sandwich bags work well. Batteries can short out or produce extreme heat if they come in direct contact with metal objects. If your camera takes more than one battery, such as two or four AA's, secure them together with a rubber band before putting them in plastic so the ends don't come in contact with each other, and always replace worn out batteries with fresh batteries of the same type. Never pair a new battery with an old one.

To prolong battery life and protect the camera from battery leakage, remove the battery if the camera will not be used for a period of three months or more.

I think it was Benjamin Franklin who once said, "Be kind to your batteries and your batteries will be kind to your camera." 


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