Lets admit it, most new camera models are to add in cool little features to make that “camera body of the week” better than the version that came out 4 months ago. Each time they add something that is amazing at the time, and commonplace in 6 months.
None of this is really needed mind you, half decade old cameras can still have Shutter, Aperture, and ISO settings that allow you to take amazing pictures. Sensors may slowly evolve to be slightly better but you can still take amazing pictures with an old camera you got for under $100 on eBay using the basics you learned in Photography 101.
But the cool new features are nice. I’ll make a list of the recently past “killer” features cameras have gotten:
- Lens Stabilization
- In-body Stabilization
- GPS tagging
- WIFI connection
- Remote control over WIFI
- Focus Peaking
- Electronic level
- Electronic Shutter
- Live View (really?! All point and shoots are “live-view”)
- Ever Faster Continuous Drive Shooting
Well I discovered the new Killer Feature over the weekend. It sounds simple now but like everything above, when it becomes more common on cameras you’ll wonder how you did without it.
Camera charging via USB.
My Lumix LF1 pocket camera has this and I treated it as an annoyance. Instead of having a outlet based charger-brick you just plug the camera into USB and it starts charging (unless you tell it to goto transfer mode on a computer). I preferred the old way of just taking the battery out and popping it on the charger.
But this weekend with a fellow photographer I learned the benefits of the USB in camera charging. She has a Sony a6000 that charges similar to the LF1. Late in the day we were roadtripping through Canyonlands National Park taking pictures and her camera was down below 30%. She pulled out an Anker cell phone charger, plugged the camera into it and charged the camera as we were driving from overlook to overlook. The camera charged in no time at all with over 75% left on the Anker to save her later.
I ran out of power too but had backup batteries, but what if I didn’t? My car is full of USB ports for charging my tablet, cell phone, etc. But I need a 110v outlet to plug my charger brick (which I left at home) in to charge a battery. She just needs a Micro USB cable which I have already 3 of from charging my in-car tech bits. She can charge from the USB cigarette outlet adapter in the car, the Anker portable battery, the Jump Starter Battery in the trunk. She could even plug into any laptop and use it’s massive battery as an extension of her camera battery. Basically any operational USB port is now an opportunity to charge your camera back up. No more fighting over the 2 inverter ports with the other 4 photographers on your road trip. Buy a multi-port USB outlet and everybody can top off their batteries between shooting locations.
The drawback is if you have more than one battery and have to charge a battery while you use your camera you still need the charger brick. But if they can change the firmware so the camera can run off USB while shooting you’d have a very good alternative to long exposures and night shooting using just common cell phone batteries and standardized plugs and cables.
The tech is already in point-and-shoot cameras, and spreading through Mirrorless cameras now. So in 3 years when the first DSLR comes out with it people will be raving about the possibilities it presents. But you heard it here first, USB charging is the next killer feature you don’t even know you can’t live without.
Disclaimer: I’m not paid by Anker to promote their products. I’ve just used them in the past and had good experiences with them. But if you purchase using the links above Amazon does give me something like $0.03 for directing you there.