You’ve got the cameras, lenses and empty storage cards galore. Your AA batteries are all full.

Or so you thought.

How many of us have been let down by rechargeable batteries going pancaked far faster than expected on a shoot? Batteries age, some faster than others. It’s just one of those pain in the rear facts we have to live with. Expect it to happen and have a plan.  I’ve got a number of tips to share, some from other photographers that have suffered the same problems. We’ve each come up with things to help keep the shoot going. If you’ve got other tips along the same lines I’d love to hear them.

  1. Test a new set of cells. We all assume that each will hold a full charge and be 1.2 Volts. Unfortunately that’s not always the case and there will be a defective cell in a set. After the first full charge meter each battery individually and get the store to swap out any DOAs. If you start shooting with 6V rather than 7.2V you’re already that much closer to needing a battery change.
  2. Keep your batteries in sets. Assign a letter to each new pack of 4 AA’s you purchase and label them in a way that wont make them stick in the equipment. Use and charge them together in a set. If your camera needs 6 as mine does with the battery grip, use set A and half of set B, then the other half of B and set C, charging them in their A, B and C groups rather than mixing them.
  3. Get high capacity batteries. These days 2700mA are quite common and worth the little extra they cost.
  4. Put a rubber band around each set of 4 charged cells. When empty put them loose in your camera bag or bits box. When reaching for new cells in a hurry you don’t want to be trying to work out which are which.
  5. Every few months meter each of the cells to see that they’re still holding a charge.
  6. Use a charger that can drain the batteries before charging to do a “Full Cycle” charge every so often.  Such charging methods will lengthen the life of the batteries.