Camera acting weird? Getting images with the wrong date and time? Settings seem to go crazy or just default back to factory setting? Then you are having trouble with the internal battery, also known as the clock battery, on your digital camera.
Wait, you mean that big battery I pull out and charge? No, that’s not the one. All digital cameras have two batteries – the main, large rechargeable one and then an internal one. The internal one keeps track of the date and time and volatile memory settings while you have the main battery out of the camera. Otherwise the camera would reset itself every time you took out the main battery. And these internal batteries wear out. We see this problem a lot at the lab – always happening during an important job of course!
Now depending on the type of camera you have it could be an easy fix – or could be unfixalbe. Some manufacturers actually use a battery that is in a compartment outside the body of the camera (Canon cameras are generally like this). Simply open the compartment, remove the old bad battery and replace with a new one and you are good to go.
Some manufacturers opt to solder the battery onto the motherboard inside the camera – making it difficult and expensive to change. And some manufacturers actually have gotten rid of the batteries and use a capacitor that is charged by the large, external battery. While this is a great solution as these capacitors last a long time, they can discharge if the camera is left unused for a while (a few months). And they do wear out too. If you have a digital camera with a battery soldered to the motherboard or that uses a capacitor, this problem is really unfixable as the repair would be more than the camera is worth. You can just live with the problem – but remember some data linking systems for underclass photography rely on the camera keeping a working date and time stamp so it’ll make the camera useless for this. Plus it make it tougher / impossible to accurately search for a picture by the date taken – as the date for hundreds of your pictures will default to 1/1/2001 or some other date in the past!
So take a quick look at your cameras today and see what kind of internal batteries they use. It’s always better to be prepared and to head off trouble before it hits you!