Since it is a portable device, digital cameras contain a portable power source in the form of dry cells. These can be made specifically for your camera , or can be a series of commercially available 1.5 volt AA or AAA cells. Many cameras also include an AC adapter in the camera kit.
Rechargeable Cells Specific to a Given Camera

Some cameras required a special power source specific to that model of cameras. The Sony digital cameras fit into this class. You usually get one cell with your new camera, but it is wise to carry a second cell if the first one discharges. Don't get caught without a spare. You may be surprised at the cost of some of these cells, but usually the more they cost, the longer they will hold an acceptable charge. We have had some Sony cells for four years, and they are still operating at full capacity.

Some cameras allow for recharging while they are in the camera. Others require removal from the camera for recharging. There is a benefit for external charging: you can use a second cell in your camera for continued image capturing while recharging the first cell.

Click on the images below to view a movie which will demonstrate how the cells are recharged or replaced. To stop the movie, click on it again.
Charging the Cell Using an Internal Charger
Charging the Cell Using the External Charger
Non-Rechargeable Cells Specific to a Given Camera

Some camera manufacturers produce a disposable battery which can be used in their cameras. We do not recommend single use batteries. Experts in the use of digital cameras suggest using lithium cells when powering electronic devices such as digital cameras.

The movie shown below displays the specialized product that Olympus makes for their cameras. AA lithium cells can be substituted for these powerpacks. Be sure to install them with proper polarity orientation.

Disposable, Non-Rechargeable Power Pack
Rechargeable, Nonspecific Camera Cells
Cell and battery technology has made tremendous leaps in the past decade. We recommend using a rechargeable product. If the camera uses standard sized cells such as AA or AAA cells, the best cells we have found to date is the "Nickel Metal Hydride" cell. These cost about the same as the disposable lithium cells used in electronic devices, but can be recharged. We do not recommend that you use rechargeable alkaline cells because they will discharge rapidly. We also do not recommend Nickel-Cadmium cells (NiCad), since they do not produce the total voltage required by the electronic devices (1.2 volts versus 1.5 volts per cell). Nickel Metal Hydride is the way to go. Be sure to use a recharger specific to NiMH cells.
Rechargeable, "Off the Shelf" Cells (NiMH)
AC to DC Power Adapter

If you are using a camera in a stationary location and the camera is near an AC outlet, using the AC to DC power adapter will save on power pack expenses and save on time replacing batteries or cells. The AC to DC power adapter is also useful when you are displaying images directly from the camera to the television monitor. Using the camera as an image player through the TV is draining on the cells and will cause a rapid discharge, if no AC power adapter is used.

Keep in mind there is a difference between an AC/DC power adapter, and an AC/DC charger. Both devices plug into the wall outlet, but do different things. The AC/DC power adapter powers the camera for taking, storing, retrieving and displaying images. The AC/DC charger charges the cell in the camera, as shown in the first movie above.

The AC to DC Power Adapter

©2000-2002 Dr. John Park for Science Junction, NC State University.
All rights reserved.
Last updated 07/25/02

Digital Camera CharacteristicsLearning to Use Technology  | Teaching With Technology |