Tim Smith (Camcorder Training Specialist) gives expert video advice on: Should I get an extra battery for my camcorder?; How do I make my camcorder's battery last longer?; Are brand-name camcorder batteries better than generic camcorder batteries? and more...
Should I get an extra battery for my camcorder?
One of the things you need to think about when purchasing a camcorder, or even when using a camcorder, is battery life. Some camcorders come with a battery that may not last too long, though some have longer ones. Almost all camcorders offer different batteries as accessories, some which can double the recording time, or double the life of the battery, sometimes even triple the life of the battery. They tend to hang off the back of the camera. They get a little bit bigger. It's always good to have an extra battery; you can never have too much power. So, whether you're choosing to bring a couple of little ones or just one big one, just make sure you have enough battery to get you through a good day.
Are brand-name camcorder batteries better than generic camcorder batteries?
You're going to find obviously that every manufacturer has their own labeled batteries, and you're going to find some off-brands or what we call third party brands. Third party can tend to save you a lot of money on batteries, but with batteries, I don't know if I want to recommend it. If you buy the manufacturer's battery, no matter who it is, you're gauranteed that that battery is the right battery for that camera. There has been cases in the past where in buying third party products batteries tend to leak depending on the manufacturer of the battery. They may not be made of the right stadnards. If it's a brand you don't recognize, stay away from it. It might damage your camera.
What is a "camcorder battery charger"?
Alright, so it's time to change your batteries. You're going to have, in most cases, one of two choices. Your camera either came with a separate charger that you'll plug in to the wall and then just cradle the battery into or you have to use the camera as the charge, meaning the camera's plugged in to the wall. It passes the voltage to the battery, and then it charges on camera. Both of them are going to work just fine. It's a matter of convenience. If you have a separate charger, then you can take the camera with you while you're charging the battery when you're away, but if you have the on camera one, you know, it's less stuff to carry around but maybe not as convenient when it comes to the charging.
Do I need a "stand-alone" battery charger for my camcorder?
If the camcorder you bought is one that has the battery charge on the camera, you're going to find that most manufacturers offer an accessory "stand alone" charger. One that's a wall plug charger, something that can be used without the camera having to be involved in the charging process. This is a great accessory. It's a really handy thing to have so that you can recharge your batteries while you are away and using the camera. It cuts out downtime waiting for batteries to charge. I highly recommend stand alone chargers.
Should I let my camcorder battery run down completely before recharging?
If you owned camcorders in the past, you have probably heard the term battery memory. Older batteries and battery types needed to be treated a specific way. Essentially, they needed to be completely discharged before they were recharged or they ended up actually becoming no use. There were a series of cells inside an old battery that would charge sequentially. If you didn't charge it from the botttom all the way up, the cells that weren't getting a charge on a regular basis tended to die. They no longer functioned and it shortend the life of the battery. The good news is that almost all of today's camcorders dont use that style anymore, we use a battery that doesn't develop memory, so it's really not a problem.