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Glamour Photography TipsSubmitted by Michael on Thu, 2010-08-12 08:11

3 step strategy for digital camera batteries in your photo shoots

You are in the middle of a photo shoot when … your batteries go down. Nightmare. But, well, at least on workshops I’ve seen cases like that. The next thing you see is a photographer who is desperately asking if somebody got a (insert camera brand) battery charger or a spare digital camera battery. Not good.

In a way yours truly is guilty for those situation as well. In a number of posts I preached tethered shooting. And no matter if you tether by radio or via USB cable – someone has to deliver the energy for high bandwidth signal transmission. It’s one more task that your good old batteries have to cater for.

That’s why I think I owe you a strategy for dealing with rechargeable batteries for photo shoots. A strategy, that ensures your batteries always hold a bit more power than you actually need, never letting you down. 

It’s not so long ago that I felt the typical frustration that users often have when using rechargeable batteries: they are too expensive, too heavy, the battery charger is too bulky, they take too long to charge and once they are charged they loose their current in a matter of hours and much more. Nowadays I don’t feel this pain anymore. Partially because I decided to exchange my big pile of low quality batteries with a hand full of high quality batteries. Also because over time I developed a strategy for recharging batteries faster than I consume power.

If that sounds interesting for you, now check out the video.

I hope this provides you with the one or the other nugget of information that keeps you powered up like the Duracell rabbit – just rechargeable. 

 

If you like to have a look at the batteries that I am really happy with, then please follow these affiliate links:

The battery, that makes your MacBook go all night

Hypermac External Battery for MacBook, iPhone, iPad

 

Rechargable AA Batteries with Eneloop Technology

USA: SANYO eneloop 4 Pack AA NiMH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries

Europe: Panasonic Infinium AA Rechargeable Batteries X 4

 

Check this Battery Charger

GP Powerbank 15min AA Battery Charger

 

My Camera Batteries

Canon LP-E6 Battery Pack for Select Canon Digital SLR Cameras

 

I wish your good light!
-- Michael

 


What a coincidence: A minute ago Eric Slivka revealed in his blogpost on Apple's New Rechargeable AA Batteries, that the new Apple batteries are akatually rebranded Sanyo Eneloops. Seems like good ol' Apple shares my preference for eneloop cells. Excellent choice!

Hi Michael,
I really apreciate your work and knowlege that you share with us, but in this video you really could compress the content into "buy more batteries". At last from my point of view.
I hoped that there were some other tricks or that newer cams just did not consume so much energy. Normaly I can shoot for days with my battery pack and tethered shooting sucked it within roundabout 20 Minutes. Shock!!!

But anyways, thank you so much and keep on the good work!

Cheers,
Jan-Marco

20 minutes? There's definitely something going wrong. With my 5D / 5D MK II I do a 5 hour / 600 pics or so shoot on a single battery, while the camera is tethered via USB. A lot of times I even use a cable that is much too long (5 meters). I always have a flash or a flashtrigger on top. Usually I use my 28-300 USM zoom, which for sure is consuming quite a lot of power. So 20 minutes sounds like either a technical defect on one of the sides, or like the cam/laptop combination is inefficient for some reason. Which cam / laptop are you using?

I wish you good light!
-- Michael

Hi Michael,

Thanks for another great video. We are differently going to check out those batteries, I think the new Apples batteries are just rebranded versions of the ones you use. http://www.engadget.com/2010/08/12/apples-rechargeable-aa-batteries-are-...
We’ve just got our new Atlases after watching your review. I had my first go with them last night http://www.dotanddancreate.co.uk/blog/item/photography-portraits-6.html

Thanks again, we really look forward to your videos on Thursdays.

Dot and Dan

Dot and Dan, awesome portraits on your blog! Your style is unique and excellent!

Regarding the batteries: Yes, apple obviously licensed Sanyo Eneloops which are very similar to (if not identical with) Panasonic Infinium. I found a clip on youtube that shows how much better the Sanyos perform if compared to the GP2700 (which by the way are not bad either): http://bit.ly/aLGnKk

Hi,
I had earlier sent a request as to how to view the clippings. I had downloaded this software but some how I could not view the clippings. Earlier you had been using YouTube kind of version that was pretty simple to use and we could follow the great tips you share.
Can you not additionally use something that lay men can use them.
Regards
Inder
New Delhi

Hi Inder,
from your post I understand that the video player I am using over here, does not work on your system. I am so sorry for that. Since you first mentioned it, I do one additional thing: at the bottom of every post I feature a section "Related Links". In this section you will always find a link to the respective video on Youtube. Can you probably try out if Youtube is working for you?

Usually when browse to one of my posts over here on my blog, you should see the player with a still image and a big button "Click here to play" in the middle of the still image. If you click anywhere on the image, the clip should start to play. Once you click again, the clip should pause.

What is the behaviour in your case? What do you see? Does it show any error message or text?

Maybe we can arrange a quick little online meeting in which we can share our screens. Then I can have a look what does not work in your case. How about that?

I am using the Flowplayer in particular, because it is an open source project. It's one of this tools that democratize media a bit because now pretty much everybody can feature video on their blog. You don't even need to pay for the player. I'm loving this and hope that a lot of people make use of this opportunity. That's why I'm pretty reluctant to swap the player against any commercial player.

What I have in the pipe is a new script that would offer a quicktime player fallback in case the visitor does not have the required version of flash. But I still have to improve this script before I roll it out here onto the blog.

I wish you good light!
-- Michael

Hallo,Michael.
I tell you: I had a bad experience with rechargeable AA batteries.
So I set my speedlights with AA Lithium batteries.
Live long an prosper.
Pedro.

I mean AA non rechargeable Lithium batteries

Hey there,
Great blog, I just stumbled upon it and I’m already a fan.

excellent video and information, I think at the most I have about 48 AAA batteries in my camera bag. I however, don't have rechargable batteries cause for some reason I didn't think that would last as long but you have givem me something to think about.

I'm glad to hear that, Gerald. Yep, go a bit greener, use rechargeables. For me one of the killer advantages is that the flash recycle time of my speedlights is a good deal shorter compared to using non rechargeable batteries.

good post. thank you for share.

Hard to get my thick German accent? Here's the transcript!

Hey fellow photographer, how is it going? I’m Michael Zelbel, and in this little video I would like to share my strategy for re-chargeable batteries in photo shoots with you.  There’s pretty much nothing more disheartening in my opinion than you have the opportunity to shoot a good photo and all of a sudden the batteries go flat dodododo, you can’t shoot any more.  Now that’s bad!

This is why I care about my batteries a lot and I would like to share the strategy for that with you, and this is also because last week on my blog, in the comments cousin jan-Marco asked how would I handle rechargeable batteries especially during energy consuming talent shoots. But anyway in my opinion it is always the same, we have to care about power and digital photography, it’s just like that.  

But it comes down to, in my opinion, to 3 very easy things, very obvious things actually, the first one being:

 

1) Have enough batteries!  Just have enough.  Camera batteries they last quite a while but I have 3 batteries per camera with me and that is usually enough.  I have a very big battery for my laptop, an external batteries so that my laptop keeps going for ages and AA batteries for my speed lights and my radio remotes and whatever, I have 24 of them with me because so many things, especially these speed lights are running of AA.  This brings me to the second thing;

2) I am using high quality batteries only.  I tried cheap batteries; they don’t just work for me. For instance this important AAs, these are all Panasonic Infinium Batteries. They have this inner loop technology which keeps a charge for weeks or months while our batteries  give up their charge within usually  a couple of days.  I had been the impression that in a matter of hours but these babies they just keep their current and those are 2,000 milli-ampere hours. Sounds like not so much, yes, sounds like batteries for wimps  right? But I tell you those batteries are really good, we tested them in the lab, charging them and dis-charging them, and so on and metering all the battery behavior and the results just blew me away. Those batteries are excellent, I can highly recommend them and I use them only. Especially for my flashes they re-charge much faster than a… let’s say a normal Duracell battery would do it and they just work. 

Then I go this hypermac battery. That is also very high quality battery, it has got 150 Watt hours which is enough for my mac book to keep going for now depending on the load, 5 to 8 hours. That’s quite a… that’s a very good one and then the topic of camera batteries, I use original manufacturer batteries, even though they are insanely expensive and I did try a number of cheaper knock offs, quite a number I have to admit but they all didn’t work, they usually … they sort of work in the beginning and then they give up working after 2 or 3 months while those babies they go typically for me for 4 years and are absolutely reliable. So they are well worth the investment.  Just in case I don’t have enough of them then my camera got an adapter and it’s running on AAs, pretty much like everything in photography, isn’t that cool?  But so far I never needed it. I always had enough batteries with me.  The next thing which is important is;

3) Recharge early and often! When I go on location, I usually figure out where is the power, where can I connect the power, and I have something like this with me, it is multi purpose power plug, I can plug in our German power plugs or British plugs or Chinese, or whatever, ‘cause I buy equipments all round the global, and the charger I usually use is this little charger it is fast double AA charger, GP power bank, so it may look a little bit cheap and it is a bit cheap but it is good, it is very very good. It provides me with feedback about batteries, it tells me how much charge or what the current of the battery is, it tells me when a battery will go down or it’s getting broken and it re-charges AA batteries in a matter of minutes! It’s really cool, it’s really handy.     

What I do during the photo shoots is usually this, once I finish the first scene, once we did shoot the first couple of photos I take my first speedlight and exchange the batteries even if they are still quite okay, I alread take them out and put them into the charger and so that they are recharged and exchange them against fresh batteries. And then after the second scene I do the same with my second speed light, right after the third scene with my third speed light, so the batteries are on rotation all the time and the basic strategy is I recharge faster than I consume battery power with my speedlight set up. That’s pretty much it and it is working quite well because the speed lights can do a bunch of flashes with a one battery load so it is always enough for a couple of scenes but I start directly after that first scene. I directly start to recharging. If I’m on location for a very long time, if the external laptop battery would go flat, then I would take it off and recharge it and have the laptop in the meantime running on its internal battery, that’s okay as well. Like I said with the 3 camera batteries so far they were always more than I needed.

 

Okay finally, I want to know anything about batteries, I want to know if those batteries are good, who do I ask? Usually I ask people who are into model making, you know these little ship models and model planes and so on, they know a ton about re-chargeable batteries, really and they have got the instruments to measure everything so I usually go to them and ask them.

Okay that’s it for today, what I would like to know from you is, is this information useful for you? Is it good or is it something where you will say, Michael, I know all that stuff and so why are you babbling along all that crap, so please tell me, is that useful for you or not?  Okay I hope to see you next Thursday and until then, I wish you good light.


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