Here's how to get the most out of your camera's batteries
December 28, 2004
Batteries keep your camera going, so doesn't it make sense to keep your batteries happy? Here are some quick tips that will keep your batteries running longer:
Rub it the right way
Before putting batteries into your equipment, lightly rub both ends of batteries with a clean pencil eraser. Doing this removes any thin corrosion films and improves the flow of current. Even better, get a Battery Saver, Hakuba Power Pen, or similar contact cleaner pen from your photo dealer. These little gadgets combine a glass-fiber brush and a corrosion–inhibiting fluid that keeps your batteries working to their max. I have had good results with them. In the process of testing many hundreds of batteries I have found that I often get recycling times a full second shorter in the test flash by simply cleaning the contacts with such a brush.
Use thin cloth gloves or a clean handkerchief to grasp button cells when installing them in cameras, meters or calculators. Sweat from your fingers can corrode the battery surfaces or your camera contacts during the year or more service life of the cells. If you do get fingerprints on the button cells, wipe them clean with a cotton swab or napkin lightly dampened with any type of alcohol.
- Inspect the battery compartments in all of your equipment every few months to be sure your batteries are not leaking. A timely inspection can save you a lot of grief and expense. You can also use a Hakuba Power Pen to spruce up the battery compartment contacts. If the contacts have been exposed to leaky batteries, they may be corroded beyond help and will need to be replaced.
- If you're not going to be using certain photo gear for a few months, remove the batteries. That way they’re less likely to leak in your equipment and cause serious damage.
- Always replace alkaline cells as a set. You will not get good performance from three half-used cells and one new one. A better way to save money is to recycle partially rundown cells into a flashlight or radio.
- Caution! Never try to recharge primary batteries. With the exception of Rayovac’s Rechargeable Alkalines they are not rechargeable. Indeed, primary batteries may well explode if put into a charger. I have received mail from a reader who related how a charger was blown apart by the force of a set of alkaline AA’s he tried to recharge.