One of the things that plagued mirrorless cameras for years – and probably a big reason why Nikon and Canon took so long to jump on it – was terrible battery life. At least, it was terrible compared to DSLRs. It couldn’t be helped, though. Mirrorless cameras power a display pretty much the entire time you’re using them, whether it’s the EVF or the LCD on the back. The optical viewfinder of a DSLR used almost no power.
Battery technology has come a long way since then and mirrorless camera batteries are lasting a lot longer than they used to. They still drain pretty quickly, though. What can we do to extend them? Well, Steve Perry just posted a video going over exactly this topic, providing eight tips to help prolong battery life with mirrorless cameras.
Steve begins by busting one of the biggest myths when it comes to battery life on mirrorless cameras. The current measure for battery life – which made sense with DSLRs – is the number of shots you can take on a fully charged battery. The problem with mirrorless cameras, especially ones with electronic shutters, is that they don’t use a lot of power at all when actually shooting photos and saving them to your memory card.
DSLRs used electromagnets to flip up the mirror and hold the shutter curtains open. This is why the number of shots you get falls dramatically while shooting long exposures with DSLRs. Holding that mirror up and the shutter curtains open for even a second uses a lot more power than flipping the mirror up and holding the shutter open for 1/1000th of a second. Mirrorless cameras don’t have a mirror to flip up and more of them are starting to switch to fully electronic shutters.
Steve proves the point by putting in a 64GB card in his Nikon Z8 (buy here) and jamming the shutter button down until the card fills. When the card was full, he’d shot 5,050 photos and had only used 7% of his battery charge. Mirrorless cameras have a whole lot more going on under the hood, constantly draining the battery that weren’t an issue with DSLRs.
So, what can we do? Well, Steve shares 8 tips to help increase battery life while shooting.
- Drop your EVF frame rate
- Shut off GPS (if your camera has it)
- Turn on airplane mode (to disable WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC)
- Turn down the EVF/LCD brightness
- Turn off VR/Stabilisation (when not essential)
- Turn off Auto Switching and leave the rear LCD dark
- Use appropriate standby settings
- Shut your camera off unless you’re actively using it
That last one wasn’t really an issue with DSLRs. When a DSLR is turned on, the only thing it really does is activate your buttons and dials. Until you actually press one of them, though, it doesn’t really use any more power than if the camera was turned off. And if a button did get accidentally tapped, it’d go back into standby pretty quickly. With mirrorless cameras, when a button gets tapped, it wakes up a lot more components in the camera that drains the battery.
What do you do to maximise battery life in your cameras?