In-camera charging: Is it a good idea or something you don’t need? Perhaps you even hate it. When we first encountered direct USB charging there was antipathy in some quarters. It was accused of being a manufacturers’ excuse to stop providing an external charging pod.
Yet more pragmatic photographers accepted that USB charging is almost universal in the world of technology and that bringing it to cameras was actually a big step forward.
I am completely sold on the idea of in-camera charging via USB. Most small to medium-size cameras now have the facility, including, from my stable, the Ricoh GR, D-Lux 7 and the Sony RX100 VI. This convenience is now moving to larger cameras with bigger batteries.
Once upon a time, I thought the capacity of the battery was a limiting factor; that bigger batteries were less suitable for direct USB charging. This now appears to have been a fairy tale. For instance, the Panasonic Lumix S1 has in-camera charging despite the huge 3050 mAh battery. Furthermore, Panasonic has adopted the newer, faster USB-C standard. I suspect this ambidextrous connector will take over from the annoying micro-USB on all cameras in the near future. Every time you use one you attempt to insert it the wrong way up.
My Leica D-Lux 7 and the Sony both use now
The overwhelming advantage of in-camera charging is convenience. The camera can be powered from any USB charging device, even from a laptop or from an external power pack.
It’s the ideal system for travellers because you need never fear the consequences of leaving the charger at home.
Recently, John Shingleton did just this when he left for his European vacation. His chances of picking up a spare Leica X1 charger were virtually nil — until a Denmark-based reader, John Nicholson, offered the loan of a spare charger. On this occasion, John was very lucky.
Even with more modern cameras, the chan
Leica lags behind the competition with in-camera charging. You won’t find it on any of the German-made models, not on the M10, CL, TL2 or Q. Even the Panasonic-based V-Lux doesn’t offer it, although the Panasonic update, the FZ1000 Mk.II does at last feature it. I have no doubt that the next V-Lux, which is reportedly imminent, will also offer in-camera charging.
The lack of direct charging for Leica models is doubly annoying because, even if you can find one, replacement chargers are expensive. Forget your M10 charger and you will have to fork out £100 or its equivalent. And the Q2, with the SL battery, has a charger costing £120. All this presupposes you can actually find one. Unless you are visiting a major city with a Leica store you have little chance; and even then there is a good possibility that chargers are out of stock.
Leica should pay heed to this. Presumably, there is time to add in-camera charging to the next M (M11?), and to the next CL. The Q2 is completely devoid of ports (as is the current CL), so we will have a wait.
I suspect Leica will say that not having ports is part of the “
But if manufacturers move over the in-camera charging, what happens if we want to charge a battery (or batteries) externally? In some cases, cameras offer both options. The Panasonic S1, for instance, comes with single-battery external charger as well as a USB-C socket. But single or double USB charging stations are available on the aftermarket for almost all cameras and batteries.
I can recommend with those from Patona, a German company although, as expected, the chargers are made in China. Patona
I have three of them to complement the Leica CL, Leica D-Lux 7 and Sony RX100 VI. They are very light at 55g and only 17mm deep (with a small 110mm x 65mm footprint). They cost less than £12 and, as far as I am concerned, they are an essential accessory.
Charging speed via USB is slower than with mains-powered chargers, although these traditional units are inevitably bulkier because of the extra electronics inside. So far I’ve had no problems and the Patona double chargers and find them essential for travel. They are so easy to slip into a bag.