A few weeks ago I was on a simple PR job alongside a small video crew and another photographer. Like most jobs we talked about what we needed, let the video team go first and then shot our pictures. As the day progressed the pattern was repeated until just after lunch the other photographer ran out of power for his camera. He was using a single Canon EOS5D MkIII and I was shooting with two EOS5D MkIVs so we had the same type of battery and I offered to lend him one of my spares. When asked how many spares I had I said that I had four in my camera bag and another four in the car along with a battery charger that would run in the car or on mains should I get desperate. He was amazed that one photographer could own so many and I was equally amazed that anyone doing this for a living wouldn’t. Since then I have been asking around and it turns out that I am quite unusual.
Even the video crew who were shooting with a single Canon camera were amused by my “be prepared”, Boy Scout approach to my job. I have never forgotten the phrase used by my old friend Jez Coulson who used to pack his camera gear with more film than anyone else and every lens he owned under the heading of “operational readiness”. I cannot carry everything I own but the car can and there’s usually one or two of everything safely stowed in the boot.
Whilst having this discussion with one of the few people whose apparent fetish for batteries is as great as mine we got around to talking about what else we both had collections of. I, for example, have more than one power supply for each of my computers and my colleague keeps spare body and lens caps in his bag. I have plenty of memory cards whilst my colleague travels with a tool kit that would put a lot of watchmakers to shame.
No matter what you do for a living you need to have spares. How many is up to you but I reckon that having at least one back up of everything is a good starting point.
I’d like to congratulate Canon for hanging onto the LP-E6 and LP-E6N battery for such a long time. I got my first ones with the 5D MkII cameras back at the end of 2008 and they have fitted into at least nine different bodies that I have owned since then – it makes having back-ups a lot easier and, dare I say, cheaper. Most of mine are Canon original equipment but I do have a couple of after-market ones as well.