eli5: Why DSLR (and mirrorless) camera batteries so inferior compared to smartphones?


I had Canons and Nikon DSLRs and lately a mirrorless Panasonic micro 3/4 and this always bugged me:
How come these camera batteries die within hours while only snapping a few pics here and there, while my iPhone (and I heard many androids are even better) last a full day (or more) doing a lot more processing intense tasks (watching HD videos, taking pictures, browsing the net, etc)
I have to carry 3-4 extra batteries when taking my “big” camera out for a hike and I’m not even shooting insane amounts of pictures.

In: 4

If you were to use your phone like a camera it would die rapidly too. The act of reading all that image data from the sensor, converting it to a digital file, and writing it onto memory consumes a lot of power.

Not to mention the act of needing to physically open and close shutters. There are compatively little moving parts in your phone and the size is smaller so it takes less power to move them.

It’s an area camera makers feel they can cheap out on without getting too much flak from customers. If customers complained loudly and en masse, they would probably change it. Most likely, they’d end up cheaping out on something else to make up for it to try to keep their already slim margin. In the manufacturer’s mind, improving this aspect of the product will not likely give them more revenue, so why bother?

I’ve had the batteries on my dSLR last for thousands upon thousands of photos. This would be different if I turned the screen on all the time, but it’s a dSLR so I don’t really need it.

With that said, they did eventually die and any new ones I try to get _are_ crap. Probably because they’ve been sitting in a warehouse for over a decade.

The batteries in cameras are the same technology as used in phones. They could make them larger for longer life but this makes the cameras less convenient. It’s easier to have heavy users carry extra batteries or use external battery packs than to disadvantage casual users who only take a few shots per day.

These camera use a lot of power with their large sensors, image processing, operating shutter, focus and stabilisation mechanisms, writing data quickly to flash storage, displays, etc.

Canon 7D

I would regularly shoot well over a thousand shots of lacrosse games in a single game and could easily do multiple games in a single day without recharging