Know The Age Of Your Batteries :: Digital Photo Secrets

Know The Age Of Your Batteries

by David Peterson 13 comments

Al Willen is our final "Power of 5" winner. Al's tip about batteries is very useful - even if you only have two batteries that you swap. When I emailled Al to say that he'd won the camera, he said he's had a run of bad luck, so this was great news. Congratulations Al. - David.

Whenever I buy a new camera or flash battery, I mark the date and give it a sequential number. This allows me to know the exact age of the battery, which is useful to know for future battery purchases.

It also tells me the order that I put it into the camera or charger. This ensures that all my batteries are used equally throughout their life span. Once the battery is flat (during the photo shoot), I wrap a rubber band around it so that when the time comes to recharge, I recharge the "right" battery or batteries ... and not ones that still have a fresh charge in them.

Al Willen

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  1. Coco says:

    Can old batteries affect the quality of the digital photo? I've noticed lately my batteries don't hold a charge longer than about 15 minutes and that my pictures aren't as bright and clear as they used to be. is this a sign that the batteries are messing with my photos? or is it time for both new batteries and a new camera?

  2. Al Willen says:

    Thanks everyone for your nice comments. I'm glad that my suggestion has helped in your photo endeavors.

    FOR JOY: There are so many variables that make up batteries -- quality of the battery, how often you use them, how often you charge them, what camera they are being used in -- that it's almost impossible to answer your question about average batter life. For example, I have one battery which has lasted 10 years of average use ... and several batteries which have lasted only a couple of months. (These are lithim batteries.)

    FOR KIM T: I would advise you forget "one time use" batteries and invest in high-quality Lithium batteries. Then, every month, I use the camera until the battery in the camera is depleted, replace it with a fresh battery, and completely charge the first battery storing it in my case when done. Also, if I know I'm going to be in "the field all day" shooting, I make sure that all the batteries have a fresh charge. (This is especially important in the cold weather when batteries drain faster.)

    FOR Elise Mitton: Thanks so much! I appreciate it.

    FOR Ramesh Vaidya: "Favor's" suggestion is right on the money. Complete drain your batteries before recharging them, and you'll have a longer-lasting charge.

    One last thing: invest in a good rechargeable battery to begin with. There are many genertic batteries which seem OK, but one trick is to compare batteries based on their "mAh" rating. The larger the mAh number, the more "energy reserves" the battery will have. Let's say that the camera-brand battery costs $40 and has a 600mAh ... and a "brand x" battery only costs $20 and has a 200mAh. Which battery should you buy? Well the more expensive battery is twice as expensive as the cheaper battery, BUT it will (all things equal) last 3 times as long before needing a charge. Therefore, the more expensive battery (in this case) is a better deal. However, if you can find a brand x battery costing $20 with a 500mAh rating, that would be a better deal (assuming that recharging it a little bit more doesn't bug you).

    I donated a few of my nature photographs to The Forever Wild Tree Conservancy for their conservation efforts. They can be seen at:

    Take care, Al

  3. Marvin Baer says:

    The best advice I can offer re batteries is as follows.
    I have 3 complete sets of NiMH batteries, 4 batteries to a set.
    I rubber band my batteries in the last function the batteries went through. If the batteries are coming from the camera with the usual one up, one down (2 up 2 down for me) pattern I know the one up one down batteries need a recharge. The batteries coming from the recharger come out 4 up & are rubber-banded that way. I immediately know they are ready for use in the camera. I store them that way. Is this clear? It works fine for me.

  4. christelle says:

    Very clever!!!
    Most practical!!!

  5. Ramesh Vaidya says:

    I have batteries -Ni-MH 2100.After fully charged they are not staying
    longer.Please guide me about the baateries which will remain longer.

  6. Favor says:


    I let the slide show run until the batteries are drained enough for the camera to shut off, then I charge them.

    Not every use, just when it seems that their life is beginning to end.

  7. Favor says:

    Thanks for the great tip, I Learned this one the hard way.

    Did some study last month and discovered how to extend the life of NiMH batteries.

    NiMH batteries don't have the 'memory' problems that NiCads do, but they will suffer 'voltage depression' if they are not occasionally fully discharged. Since the camera will shut down based on the measured voltage, when batteries begin to age, their performance drops drastically from charge to charge.

    After a day of shooting, I put my worst batteries in the camera and set it to show a slide show on the built in LCD. After a full charge which took much longer than usual, these batteries that had lasted about 20 minutes taking pictures last time, now ran for over an hour.
    (course, with the price to replace three year old batteries, maybe I'm being to frugal)

    I'm adding your tip to my arsinal today.

  8. WA says:

    Thanks for that real mind!

  9. Elise Mitton says:

    What a really useful idea it. Hope things get better for you in 2007. Cheers......Elise from Oz.

  10. Kim T says:

    I learned the hard way (after 2 worthless photo shoots) that I was shooting with dead batteries in my flash. Any suggestions on how to tell the AA batteries are nearing the end of life and need changed? I either notice a long shutter speed or blurry dark pictures after the fact. There's no battery life indicator for my flash like there is on my camera body. Is the only safe thing to do is change them before each shoot?Thanks, KimT

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