(Many) Digital cameras don’t charge by computer/USB

“Yes, honey, I will just take a picture of you at this stunning landscape…oh crap.”

So that was yesterday morning in the idyllic jewel of North America, Prince Edward Island, as my Canon digital camera gave up on the first picture of the weekend. My multiple mistakes for not carefully packing for the weekend, not checking I had the charger, and not checking that the camera was charged.

PEI 001

East Point Lighthouse

Next mistake was that of ignorance about my devices. I long bought cameras and MP3 players that can use regular disposable batteries for which I used generic rechargeable batteries, but those have been harder and harder to find in suitable models.

Now everything I have is with proprietary rechargeable batteries, plug into computer or wall and charge up. I never bothered to test my camera until it was too late.

So yesterday I plugged my camera into my computer but USB…and nothing. Turned on the camera and the last drop of juice was gone.

Did a bit of research and that short answer is:

  1. Few cameras have the built-in ability to charge via USB.
  2. There are ways to remedy this by spending cash and/or procedures that involve soldering.

Conclusion: I am stuck using the decent, but limited camera on my phone this weekend. Wife not happy. Mother-in-law really not happy.

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  • Larry

    For both my digital cameras I bought spare batteries on eBay for a few bucks each. Yeah it’s not OEM equipment but their purpose is for situations like you describe, not the normal everyday usage. It has worked great for me so far.

  • This must be a new development. I charged my camera throughout Europe for four weeks every time I stopped at an Internet cafe. Slow, but the regular visits worked for me.

  • It all depends on the camera. The lesson here is “know your gear”.

  • aadvantagegeek

    Wife and mother-in-law? That may turn out to be the most costly camera you’ll ever buy. 😉

  • eagertraveler

    wife and mother-in-law? u r so scr****

    Sorry dude

  • This could be a costly learning experience. Was there no smartphone with a camera around?

  • Agree with the above, it depends on the camera. I always have my charger in the hotel room and have two fully charged batteries in my bag (as well as two 32gb CF cards)…of course my primary reason for travel is photography so I am ultra diligent on that front. Luckily these days and iPhone (or one of those other smart phones) make a decent pocket camera!

  • @All – I have updated the title to reflect that some cameras do charge by USB, albeit very slowly. Back with a better connection I was able to take your comments do a bit more thorough research. Thanks.

  • LarryInNYC

    Just back from five weeks in Asia during which I carried a football-sized bag of chargers.

    Some cameras do charge via USB. Most photographers prefer the separate charger solution since it allows you to use the camera while charging a spare battery.

    For my “principal” travel camera I carry the charger plus two spare batteries. With a total of three batteries (assuming I keep them charged) I’m unlikely to run out of power at a crucial moment.

    My most likely next camera purchase (the Sony RX100) features only USB charging, which will be a bummer.