Best rechargeable batteries

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by plavchak, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. I'm looking for a good brand of rechargeable batteries for use with an SB800 on
    a D300 for weddings/events. I using Energizer Lithium e2 now and love them. I
    get a ton of flashes and fast recycle times, but the price is killing me. $9.50
    + for a four pack.I'm also using the Nikon battery pack with the Sb800, so
    that's 11 batteries per flash unit. So I'm looking for something with the same
    or close to the power and cycle times I'm getting from the Energizers with a
    reasonable recharge time. Also needs to have a charger unit that holds a lot,
    more the better since I'm using a lot of batteries at a time. Thanks for any ideas.
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Mike, take a look at page 19 in the SB-800 manual. Lithium batteries provide the slowest flash recycle time on the SB-800, worse than Alkalines. IMO, NiMH rechargable AAs is the best choice and I get 2900mAH types from B&H.

    Additionally, I highly recommend the SD-8A external battery pack to speed up the recycle time. It takes an additional 6 AA batteries and speeds up the recycle time to 1 to 2 seconds. The SD-8A was very hard to find until a few months ago. I like it so much that I actually bought a second one as a backup.
  3. Consider at least one set of the Eneloop-type AA battery. Although the capacity is less (around 2100mAH), they have a very slow discharge rate when compared to regular NiMH batteries.
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    David, what is the advantage of those Eneloop batteries? A very slow discharge rate merely means that if you leave them sitting on the shelf for weeks, they'll lose their charge very slowly. At least to me, that is not important.
  5. Use NiMH as your best best for life and power and cost. Regular or long life Eneloops or Imedions, your choice. My reg. NiMh cells self-discharge to 'useless' in about two+ weeks. I use them in my SB-600s. I don't use the strobes that often, for what I do, so for me the long life trumps a bucket of power. I chronically forget to charge, I know, my issue :). Anyways, the charger should be selected carefully. I would say a charger that charges the group of cells with an individually monitored circuit is a must have to guarantee all cells get up to snuff. Most cheapie chargers charge cells in a two cell series-string, so if one battery of the two in the series is not as depleted it pre-empts the charger first, thereby not fully charging what had been the more discharged cell. I find I get a lot better performance now that I've changed to that type of charger, regardless of what type of NiMH cells. All cells are at 100% after charging, and the group lasts longer in any device. My thoughts ...Jim M.
  6. Thanks Shun. Yes, I have the SD-8A, and am going to get a second on for my other SB800. I know the SB800 manual does not like lithium, but how old is that manual? I get very fast recycle times with the energizer e2. They have only been out a few years, so I wonder if the SB800 manual was printed before this battery came out. Anyway, it does not matter, since I'm going broke buying the lithium anyways. Is there a certain brand that you think is best? Yes I agree, discharge time does not matter since I would do a full charge a day of so before the event.
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The SB-800 was introduced in July 2003 along with the D2H; those were the first iTTL/CLS flash and camera, respectively. So the manual is at most 4+ years old. Earlier before I knew any better, I indeed used Energizer lithium batteries (but not the e2) in my flashes for a wedding, and recycle time was painfully slow.

    Anyway, upon recommendations from this forum, I bought a bunch of Impact 2900mAH rechargables from B&H, but that brand name apparently has been changed to Pearstone now.
  8. I agree with Shun. The SD-8A is a good way to go and 3 times cheaper than the quantum
    turbo. But I do find it limiting at times to have the wire. So, lately I've just been changing
    batteries when the recycle time starts to slow. I use the MAHA NiMH batteries with the MAHA
    charger available from thomas distributing (based on advice here).
  9. Try the Power 2000-2900AH batteries, they're great for the days shoot as the "in flash" batteries, but I would get an external pack for an event shoot.

    I have a 40watt Digital Camera Battery pack and connecting cable, it really speeds up the flash and goes all day with plenty left to spare.
  10. The eneloops are convenient for devices that get intermittent use. If you are in a more intense usage cycle where you always have plenty of batteries in a ready state and have charger capacity and a routine to keep rotating, then they probably won't do much for you.

    I notice a big difference though in the way they work for my wife's digicam compared to older batteries in my old Fuji S602, and my flashes which I use more intermittently. In the past I had to plan ahead on weekend uses and if I went too long -as in more than about 2-3 days from a charge, I couldn't count on the camera or flashes. My wife went on a cruise with her mother for a week, used her camera every day but not too intensely and she never needed to change or charge batteries. With the S602 and earlier type batteries, if I'd charged for her Friday night before leaving Saturday, she probably would not have been able to take pictures after Tuesday, even if not using the camera much at all.
  11. I highly recommend the Maha Energy IMEDION.

    They are a little less powerful than the Powerex but they hold their charge! I believe the specs say that they might lose 5% of their charge after ONE YEAR!

    I would use them with the Maha C801D charger and you should be pretty good.

    Most rechargeable NiMH's seem to give decent performance. The charge time is what is killer. You don't have that problem with the IMEDION's.
  12. On the thomas distributing website they have a figure comparing the Imedion with regular
    NiMH. In 6 months the Imedion are at 90% capacity (90% of 2100 = 1890 mAh). For regular
    NiMH, they say after 6 months they are at 75% capacity (75% of 2700 = 2025 mAh). I have
    never had a problem letting my regular high capacity NiMH sitting for a week or so. I still get
    excellent results. So, I fail to see the advantage of the Imedion or similar low discharge
  13. If you shoot a lot, it may be worth the money to buy a Quantum battery pack. Recycle times are negligible -- just don't get carried away or you could fry your SB800.
  14. Mike, if you are doing weddings get or make yourself an external battery pack. I have made them for other Nikon stobes. They are simple to make, have very fast strobe recycle times, and are really really inexpensive to make yourself.

    When I did weddings I used these inexpensive $4.75 batteries to power my Nikon strobes:,_1.3_AH_BATTERY_.html

    A whopping $4.75 for 1.3 a/hr!!! Had a couple batts with RCA connectors for fast...and I do mean very fast battery replacement. During a wedding I would sometimes exceed one battery pack, but never two.

    I also used larger version of the same batteries to power the radio strobes on roll-around stands, these $10 batts:

    If you are ok wearing a battery pack on a sling over your shoulder I would get that $10 4.5 a/hr battery. That one $10 battery is probably all you will need for a whole wedding. I used the smaller ones with the hook side of Velco glued to it so that I could stick it to the loop side of Velco glued on my Stroboframe.

    When I got home I would throw it all on an inexpensive (less than $10) 6v trickle charger and leave it there until next weekend's wedding. Over the years I never experienced a single failure with the battery packs and charging system I built. The secret is to keep it simple. You will save a gazillion dollars by not having to buy anymore batteries.
  15. Btw, 6volts dc is 6volts dc. There is no magic in it. It does not matter if you are getting your 6vdc from four AA cells (4 x 1.5v each), or from the 6v sealed gel cell batteries like the ones I posted the link to, or from a 72-lb Trojan T-145 260 a/hr golf cart battery costing $200 that you hooked up to your SB-800 and drag along behind you on a trolley. As long as it is putting out 6vdc it is not going to fry your Nikon strobe.
  16. I have the Nikon SD-8a battery pack. Recycle times with it is fast enough. Was justing wanting a good brand of rechargeable batteries to put in the battery pack and in the Sb800. Thanks for all the input.
  17. > "As long as it is putting out 6vdc it is not going to fry your Nikon strobe."

    True enough. :)

    But that's not the risk with an auxiliary high capacity pack that Keith was warning about. The flash gets "fried" when the high capacity pack permits such short recycle times that the flash overheats and essentially melts.
  18. I have 10 Nikon SB flash units, one of which is the SB-800. I shoot these all at once taking night photos of trains. I do this two or three nights per week since last September now and have some experience. I've tried different batteries, and here's what I have learned. All the NiMH batteries are basically the same. The ratings on them don't really seem to mean much as there is no standardization. The exception is the low discharge batteries do seem to have longer "shelf life" once recharged. OTOH, they don't last quite as long in intense shooting situations.

    I've settled on the Kodak rechargeable batteries, olive green label. They are available at Walmart for $7.44 per four. These work. They absolutely work. I took my photos at night in Minnesota, when it was almost always below zero and as cold a 28 below zero. The flash would sit out there for hours at a time. Every flash fired. NO Kodak battery has ever failed me and I own 44 of them. I use them in very tough environments. They are certainly the best value out there. I've tried the Eneloops and they are WAY overpriced. They definitely aren't better than the cheaper Kodaks, side by side out in the cold.

    The battery charger makes a big difference. Don't use a fast charger, or 1-hour charger. They fry batteries. Buy the Maha Powerex 8 slot charger. It's about sixty bucks but it's worth it. Also, mark your batteries as a set of four and keep them together. I mark sets as "A", "B", etc. with a permanent marker and always use and recharge them the same.

    The Kodak rechargeable batters, $7.44 at Walmart, are excellent. They don't fail, not even at 28 below zero. They will be perfect at the more normal temps you will be shooting at. I get over 10 hours use out of each charge, but I'm not shooting as intensely as you would at a wedding.

    Kent in SD
  19. Thanks Kent for the info.
  20. The best batteries I've ever used in an SB-800 with an SD-8A (or without it) are the eneloops. Do not use the fifth battery when using the SD-8A, it will not affect recycle times at all, because recycling is via the larger inverter in the SD-8A: the SB-800 batteries are powering the control systems and the zoom motor. Managing (storing, charging, and sorting) your batteries in sets of 10 is so much easier than sets of 11.

    The statement "Btw, 6volts dc is 6volts dc. There is no magic in it" is, of course, totally wrong. Batteries have two important parameters, voltage and internal resistance. The internal resistance means that, although the battery chemistry is 1.25v, when you make the battery deliver a high current, some of that 1.25v is dissipated (or "dropped") by the internal resistance and goes into heating up the battery. So, the voltage at the terminals of the battery is lower, the amount of power availiable is lower, and the recycle times are, therefore, longer. High resistance also makes the batteries create more heat inside the flash or inside your SD-8A, where you don't want it.

    The eneloops have the lowest internal resistance I have ever encountered. When the flash tries to draw a lot of current, they don't drop as much voltage as other cells, so they cycle the flash faster, and stay cool doing it. You can still overheat a flash, because the flash's own circuitry generates considerable heat (I have added 1 inch fans to a pair of SB-80, but haven't done any SB-800 yet).

    The low resistance also translates into more flashes. The Sanyo 2700mA-H batteries I used to swear by actually give less full power flashes in an SB-800 than the 2000mA-H eneloops do. The LaCrosse chargers say the eneloops and the "bigger" cells are both charging up to their proper capacities, so the only way to account for the difference is that the bigger batteries are turning so much of their stored energy into heat in the process of trying to get power out of them, that the smaller, but more efficient, cells actually do better.

    It also translates into cooler charging. I can charge the eneloops at 1000mA and they stay cooler than the bigger batteries do charging at 700mA or even 500mA.

    I am phasing out all other NiMH in my own operation in favor of eneloops. I don't know how well they age, maybe I'll be sorry in a couple of years, but right now, they are clearly the best.

    I have no idea what the internal resistance of eneloop clones like the Imedion cells is like, but that also is probably worth investigating.
  21. I'm using the Duracell 2650 Mah rechargeables in my SB-800. One set will usually get me through an entire wedding shoot.

  22. Be creative!!!! Dont be fool by branding! Do it your self batteries pack....That's more effective!

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