Batteries for Flash Units

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kohanmike, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. I'm prompted to post this because of Shun's post about flash unit battery packs. For a number of years I've been using rechargeable nicad batteries in my three Nikon SB600 strobes, which just barely last me through the concert/events I cover. Recently I decided to try a set of lithium ion (non rechargeable) batteries just to see how well they work. I was more than surprised at how long they last, and especially how fast they recycle. I'm able to use them throughout the night without them slowing, and they are good for maybe two more events, a couple of weeks apart. In the long run they're probably more expensive than nicads, but I have to say, with the fast recycle time and shelf life, I think it might be worth it.
     
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Li-ion is a good choice. According to Nikon, it gives you faster recycle time. In these days I mainly use Eneloop rechargeable AA batteries. I get them from Costco.
    Sorry, I meant NiMH, not Li-ion.
     
  3. +1 on the Eneloops. I use them in my Canon Speedlites.
     
  4. hbs

    hbs

    My experience with NiCd's (and NiMH, too) is that they discharge by themselves faster than I like. I switched over to regular alkaline, but they don't last very long either. I just bought some non-rechargeable Li batteries that I will try next. According to Consumer Reports, in spite of their high initial cost, these Li batteries cost less in the long run due to their much longer life (and longer storage life, 15 years!). Also, with that long storage capability, keeping an extra set in my camera bag makes a lot of sense.
     
  5. I've had great results with Maha (PowerX) Imedion ultra low discharge 2400 mHa rechargeables - both long storage, and fast recycle times. Same concept as the Eneloops.
     
  6. Oops, let me correct myself, I used NiMH, not NiCad. 2500mha and 2700, but I still find the lithium to be better.
     
  7. Harvey, yes the NiCd and NiMH discharge by themselves. This was quite discouraging for me; I could never depend on these unless I charged them just prior to use.
    The Eneloop batteries are a different design, still NiMH, but they have design changes internally so they self-discharge much less than any other rechargeable battery I've ever used. I can leave my Eneloop batteries sitting for a month or two and then use them in strobes with good results.
    As usual, WikiPedia has a good article.
     
  8. from experience years ago. the ni-cads are troublesome.
    they have a memory. meaning if they are not fully dis charhed
    and then recharged they " think"
    that is their total capacity. But if allowed to really be discharged
    they can reverse voltage. Must always be charged in series as if charged in parallel
    the weakest. one will not get charged.
    If they are almost dead one way to bring them back is
    a really long recharge.
    and it goes on and on. with care they are usable but now that
    better cells are made.
    it may not be worth the effort to put up with ni-cad problems.
    they develop whiskers internally and short. a blast from
    a big capacitor will blow up the short.
    but reduce the overall capacity of the cell,
    there is also a crusty substance formed at one end.
    hot water and a brush will remove it.
    But years ago they were the only thing.
    some old flashes even used lead-acid batteries.
    If you are still having good luck with ni-cads. good for you.
    many of the replacements work much better
    but do loose their charge in a few week s.
     
  9. Li-ions do seem to last forever. However, I nearly came unstuck badly using them in my SB-700 at a wedding. A brand new set died (apparently) in the middle of the processional.

    Reading up afterwards, I discovered that disposable Li-ions have a thermal cut-off built in. When they get too hot they shut off. The flash then comes up with the battery exhausted symbol and refuses to fire. Left to cool, they start working again in 30 seconds or so.

    For that reason I wouldn't use them again in any circumstances where I expect to be working the flash fast and hard.

    Chris
     
  10. hbs

    hbs

    There seems to be some confusion here, but maybe it'e academic.
    First, NiCAD (nickel cadmium) and NiMH (nickel-metal-hydride) batteries are both rechargeable and both have a single cell output voltage of about 1.5 volts. Eneloops are NiMH; they are not lithium based.
    Lithium batteries come in two main types. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are rechargeable and single cells have an output voltage of about 3.7 volts, much higher than NiCAD or NiMH. Disposable lithium batteries (which are NOT Li-ion) have an output voltage close to 1.5v, the same as NiCAD and NiMH, but they are not rechargeable. An example of these are the Energizer Ultimate Lithium. In spite of their high cost, they last much longer and have very long shelf life.
    In AA form, NiCAD, NiMH, disposable lithium, (and of course standard alkaline and really old zinc-carbon) batteries are essentially interchangeable. However, 3.7 volts Li-ion batteries, even if they physically resemble AA batteries, cannot directly be used in place of a nominal 1.5 volt battery.
    Sorry to be so picky.
     
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Sorry, when I mentioned Eneloop earlier, I had NiMH in mind. Somehow I typed Li-ion.
     
  12. Thanks for the clarification Harvey.
    It was Energizer Ultimate Lithiums (i.e. the non-rechargeable type) that I had the trouble with.
    Chris
     
  13. Eneloops For The Win.
     
  14. Apart from the capacity, I've been very impressed with the weight difference of lithium batteries. I don't
    use flash much, but carrying lithium is sometimes the difference in whether I can be bothered to bring a
    flash, especially on a flight, and affects how I can dangle a flash on the end of a pole. They also make a
    huge difference to the weight of an F5 (and presumably vertical grips, though I've yet to load mine up).

    I do feel a bit environmentally unsound for not using rechargeables, though.
     
  15. NiMH batteries come in two varieties. One is the low self discharge "hybrid" such as the Sanyo Eneloop the other is the
    standard NiMH that has a larger charge capacity but will self discharge faster by a factor of 6. Over all the NiMH have a
    higher capacity than Nicads and come in aaa, aa, c and d cell size. I am not sure why anyone would use a NICAD rather
    than a NiMH. I have gone through over 100 of the older NiMh standard discharge batteries. The new hybrids are more
    stable and take longer to permanently fail. I have completely switched over to low self discharge cells. Good hunting.
    Andy
     
  16. I'm using GP "Recyko" and Uniross "Hybrio" Hybrid NiMH cells. These are low self-discharge cells with good storage properties. They're cheaper than the Eneloops, but with a similar performance. Recycle time from a full power flash is around 4 seconds. If you want quicker recycling and longer usage between battery changes then an external power pack is the answer.
    Personally I wouldn't even contemplate the use of disposable lithium cells on grounds of cost alone, never mind the ecological impact. A pack of four is anywhere between £6 and £8 here, that's roughly $10 - $12 US.
     
  17. hbs

    hbs

    I am not sure why anyone would use a NICAD​
    NiCADs are pretty much old school. They've long had problems with "memory" effects and of course are environmentally the worst having cadmium (Cd) in them.
    I wouldn't even contemplate the use of disposable lithium cells on grounds of cost alone​
    Consumer Reports has published numerous reviews of these batteries and has concluded they have much longer life for applications including camera flash. Whether the cost difference is enough to warrant their purchase I do not know. However, if using them means that you don't suddenly run out of charge in the middle of an important shoot such as a wedding, then maybe they're worth it.
     
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I checked Nikon's flash manual a few years ago. Lithium batteries provide the slowest recycle time. That can be an issue for some people.
     
  19. hbs

    hbs

    You're right, Shun. I found this in my SB-600 manual. However, Li batteries are listed as providing the greatest number of flashes. I guess it all depends on your need -- recycle time or total flashes.
    00bELi-513533584.jpg
     
  20. Flash--my subject! :) Background: For the past six years I've been taking outdoor photos, mostly of trains, using large flash set ups. I have eight Nikon SB-28 flash, ten Cybersync triggers, and a Nikon SB-900. I've also been shooting some weddings during the past year for pay. Some thoughts. I've tried several brands and types of AA batteries. For my SB-28 flash I've settled on Ray-o-Vac "precharged" rechargeables. I get them at Walmart very cheaply. I think I own something like 96 of them. They are the low discharge type and hold their charge very well. I've also owned some Eneloops but was not that impressed for what they cost. I see no difference at all between them and the ray-o-vacs side by side in the field. When shooting weddings I use my SB-900 and rely on fresh Energizer Lithium Ultra. I've had no problems. I use the Ray-Vacs in my SB-28 flash for formal shots and a set almost always lasts for one shooting session (about 150+ shots.) Here's another angle. I am usually shooting at night in Minnesota, in winter. It can get WELL below zero! When it's approaching 20 below zero, I usually load all my flash and triggers with the Energizer Lithiums. they will work even at 40 below for that matter. The Ray-Vacs "precharged" will keep firing to at least until 20 below, and probably colder. In comparision, alkaline batteries are usually dead by the time it hits +10F. My thinking is that if a battery can work just fine at 40 below, it should work perfectly at room temperatures! One thing I'll add that no one has mentioned is that I've come to think that the recharger you use makes a big difference. I strongly recommend a "smart charger," one that recharges each cell. I use a MaHa that takes 8 batteries at once, set to "slow charge." Twice a year I use the "recondition" function on the MaHa to freshen up my batteries. There are several brands of "smart" chargers and they are definitely worth the money. Finally, do not drop rechargeable batteries. It seems to really screw them up.
    Bottom line for me is when I really want the flash to fire in tough conditions (extreme cold, weddings,) I load up with Enegizer lithiums. For everything else I just use Ray-Vac low discharge rechargeables.
    I forgot to mention that I buy my Energizers from eBay, and get them very cheaply. I buy something like 12 of the 4-packs at a time. They don't really cost all that much on eBay.
    Kent in SD
     
  21. All I can tell you is the NiMH 2500mAh recycle time slower than the lithium I'm using, and they just last one 5-7 hour rehearsal/concert/event (about 100-300 shots), where the lithium makes it through at least two, maybe three full events without a hiccup. I haven't calculated the exact difference in cost, but I'll look into buying the lithiums on eBay or such to narrow the cost gap. But I have to say, the cost for me is definitely worth it, and I always recycle all my batteries.
     
  22. FWIW-
    I believe Sanyo is coming out with a new, higher capacity Eneloop. Though, for the time being, it seems to be only available in Europe.
    Bob
     
  23. I use the Eneloop XX batteries, which are 2500 mAh each. Found them to be very durable and a little longer lasting than
    the standard Eneloops, however on a set I had in one of my camera body battery packs they went from showing a full
    charge on the camera display to half full...no 3/4. Not sure if the memory in the battery is off ... I've heard you need to
    charge them and let them fully drain before recharging as to allow the full charge and full empty limits to be set. Well see
    how they go next time.
     
  24. You have to get Eneloops. I run them on my SB600, and they just last and last and last. Fast recycle and it stays very steady. They also drain slowly sitting in the bag.
    The new Eneloops are the Eneloop XX. B&H has them in the US. They are 2500mah versus 1900/2000 (I have bought packs with varying numbers on them...) If they are even slightly better than the regular ones they are worth it. Seriously worth the rather minimal investment.
     

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