I recently returned from photographing bears in Alaska. The shooting was fast and furious, thousands of images a day. I was using my Nikon D6, and I never even bothered to check battery life during the day. Even photographing this much during the day, I would charge up my battery about once every three days. And I never brought a spare battery, you just don’t need it for this camera unless you are on an extended field session (days).
The situation is a little different for mirrorless, and that includes any mirrorless camera. Battery life is definitely getting better, but I would never leave for a day of photography without at least two extra batteries. I really like my mirrorless cameras, but battery life is one thing that I hope will continue to improve. But there are few tips that can really save battery life when you are shooting your mirrorless camera. Try these out:
- Don’t use your automatic LCD preview. Constantly using my LCD to preview an image with my DSLR has been one of the hardest habits to break with mirrorless. But now I can review my image in the viewfinder, and I really don’t need to have my LCD automatically pop the image up after every shot. Besides, I can often see the image better in my EVF in bright light conditions. So turn off your LCD unless you really need to use it.
- Only use autofocus when you need it. In other words, with static subjects, you don’t need to keep refocusing (back button or shutter priority) every frame. I found in Alaska many bears were just lying on the ground or standing in the water….but I kept refocusing every time. Don’t engage autofocus unless you need to.
- Turn off image stabilization unless you need it. This feature can really drain batteries, so if you are on a tripod, or shooting at shutter speeds faster than 1/1000, image stabilization should be turned off. It is not doing much at fast shutter speeds anyway.
- Put your camera in airplane mode. This disables linking to your phone and other devices, and is always running in the background whether you are trying to sync up or not. I turn on airplane mode except when I am using Snapbridge to update my firmware on my Z cameras.
- Use single frame per second unless you are photographing action. I often forget to choose single frame after photographing action. You don’t need 12 FPS to photograph a static building.
- Use the newest battery for your camera. Nikon’s latest battery, the EN-EL15c, has more battery life than any of the previous versions. I went ahead and bought all new batteries for better life in the field.
- Use a vertical grip. Another option is using the optional vertical grip with your camera system. I get all day battery life out of my Z7II using the optional grip. And I also really like having a vertical grip with my camera.
Batteries will only continue to get better, so hopefully this will become less of an issue. I’m very excited that Nikon Z9 uses the same battery as my D6. This should give a nice boost to mirrorless battery life. For now, use your mirrorless camera wisely, and don’t forget to bring a lot of batteries!
Speaking of wildlife images, next Monday we start our online wildlife editing class. We will cover new features in LR and PS, look at the common mistakes photographers make editing their wildlife images, and how to ensure accurate and realistic color. This class also offers a one on one session to cover a topic of your choice more in depth. Only a few spots remain…
Have a great weekend!