If you enjoy traveling with photo gear, you know how annoying it is to manage all the chargers, cables and batteries. Even the cameras from the same manufacturer have different batteries and chargers, not to mention other electronics like smartphones, laptops and so on. This is why photographer David Bergman gives you a couple of great tips for managing these gear elements when you’re on the road. This is one of the most frustrating parts of packing for me as well, so I’ll also jump in with a couple of tips of my own.
Keeping track of batteries is a pain. We have to change them so much more often in our cameras now. Especially since the advent of live view LCDs and video. So, most of us keep a well stocked supply of spares, particularly with small juice suckers like action cameras. But when you go out to shoot, how do you keep track of which are charged and which are depleted?
One option is to keep separate sections of a bag, or even separate bags for each. But things can often get mixed up easily. You could just write numbers on them and just use them sequentially, but that’s easy to lose track of. Here’s a solution from Knoptop that’s simple and pretty effective, just using some small rubber bands.
Lithium based batteries power a lot of stuff these days. Phones, cameras, laptops, and even vehicles. There’s a lot of “best practise” advice out there when dealing with Li-Ion and Li-Po batteries, but it’s not common knowledge. Most consumers don’t know how to look after their batteries. Or that there even are suggested ways to use, store and charge batteries. They just assume technology will take care of it all for them. Many times it will, unless you get unlucky with cheap or counterfeit batteries.
Problems aren’t always the consumer’s fault, though. Sometimes manufacturers screw up. Given the issues with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, it’s clear that Li-Ion and LiPo batteries aren’t perfect. Now, we’re a step closer to getting a little more perfection out of them. Or, at least make them a little less explosive. Researchers at Stanford University have developed a solution for Li-ion batteries to self-extinguish in the event of thermal runaway.
If you are shooting with a Sony camera, you know that they eat and spit batteries faster than I eat M&Ms. One trivial options is carry another set of batteries (though originals are about $45 each). What I am doing is using off the shelf power banks to run the Sony for much longer than its original battery.
Now this is an idea I think we can all get behind. Anything that keeps us charged faster and for longer while out shooting can’t be bad. So, imagine being able to go out and shoot as much as you want for as long as you want without having to worry about your battery life at all. And if it does run out, you can recharge it in just a few seconds.
Such batteries are the vision of scientists at the Univercity of Central Florida, using supercapacitors. Supercapacitors store more energy and can be recharged more than 30,000 times without degrading. Using phones a a comparison, most phone batteries tend to last only around 1,500 charges before severe degradation kicks in. This is why your 3 year old iPhone barely lasts til lunch despite charging overnight.
One thing that really irritates me is the price that camera makers put on their batteries. I mean an original battery for a sony A7II costs about $53, the same battery from a third party costs about $13, that’s quite a difference isn’t it? For the price of one original battery, you can get four after market ones.
And it’s not just Sony, Canon’s popular LP-E6N are $62 vs $15 and the same goes for Nikon. It gets worse as the batteries get bigger. Sony’s original NPF970 is $128 vs, a $16 off brand. And the list goes on….
Now, why is getting a good battery crucial? Because batteries explode if they are bad.
If you are shooting on location (and even if not) you must have a ton of batteries to power your production war-horse. The camera takes batteries, the lights take batteries, remotes, phones, monitors. Actually, most devices take more than one battery. And every battery set want their own charger. And every charger want it’s out power outlet. It’s a nightmare. If you wanted to take it all on location you’d end up with a messy table full of cable spaghetti. There has to be a better way!
There is! Videographer Yair Shiloach came up with this charging station, which both keeps everything in order and makes setting up and tearing down a breeze.
I’ve shot many football games in my life. At times, my camera’s batteries have lost charge more quickly than usual, but never before have my batteries actually frozen to the point where they won’t even turn on.
9 Volt batteries are good for a lot of things, but they are also somewhat dangerous as both terminals are on the same side and if they are not stored right can create a spark or heat up to the point where they could start a fire. Actually we share a tutorial on how to use a 9 volt battery to start a fire when shooting steel wool sparkles.
The folks at hdslrnow sent us this quick tip about using a pill case to store a 9V battery so the terminals are protected.