Most of us have seen a battery grip. These bulky extensions to your DSLR can be life-savers for some, but mysteries to others. Perhaps it’s best to take a wider view for a moment.
We take it for granted, but you simply can’t take pictures with digital cameras without a battery. While some old-fashioned film cameras can use human mechanical power to cock the shutter, lift the mirror and wind on the film, all digital cameras have so many electronic components that they become little more than a paperweight when they run out of electricity to run on.
Although the rechargeable lithium ion pack that you get with your DSLR lasts for hundreds of shots before it needs to be topped up from the mains, it is put under more strain than you might think.
Powering the LCDs, processors, and intelligent circuitry is one thing – but the cells also provide power for a number of high-drain motors, as your camera is still a very mechanical machine. The shutter, mirror, image stabilisation and lens focusing are all powered from this one battery.
And then there is the built-in flash, which drains out a significant amount of power from the cells to charge up the high-voltage capacitor needed to provide the charge that creates its signature spark of light. A flash-lit picture takes almost twice the battery power to create as a flash-free image.
Temperature also plays a role here too. In warm climates, a battery will not give you as much service as in a cold one.
This is where a battery grip can prove extremely useful. If you plan to be out shooting for a prolonged period of time, and recharging isn’t an option, a battery grip can double your power by storing extra batteries, letting you shoot for longer.
- For a quick fix, see these 4 easy ways to extend the battery life of your camera
In our latest photography cheat sheet, we looked at the anatomy of a battery grip and explained what’s inside and how they work. To view a larger version of this infographic, simply click on the image below to expand the file. Or drag and drop it to your desktop.