Camera doesn`t recognize NiMH batteries

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jose_angel, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. Yesterday, a couple hours before shooting a church event, my D700 didn`t recognize the power of the MB-D10.
    As usual, I just attached charged NiMH batteries in the MS-D10 battery rack, slide it into the battery grip, switch on the camera, and... the BP icon on the screen don`t appear. It has happened to me several times. I used to clean the contacts, to move the batteries, etc., sometimes worked, sometimes don`t. Not a big problem, I finally used the EN-EL battery on the grip. I missed the power and weight of the NiMH batteries all the time.
    I`m now trying to resolve the mystery, checking the voltage with a good tester, several sets of new and old NiMH batteries, different chargers, etc. I have come to the following conclussions:
    • "New", "intelligent type" testers doesn`t accept certain used batteries. I used to think that they consider them as damaged. The "non-intelligent" type testers charge them without hassle.
    • Both used and brand new batteries end with more or less the same charge to the tester, usually near 1.4 volts (charged in that "intelligent" and "non-intelligent" chargers).
    • The camera don`t use to recognize the batteries refused by the "intelligent tester", even if the charge is exactly the same in the brand new batteries. The tester says both sets of batteries in the MS-D10 have the very same voltage... around 10.90 volts, depending on the set.
    • I routinely use this "refused-by-the-non-intelligent-charger" sets of batteries with flash heads and -sometimes- with battery grips amongst other appliances), and never noticed a difference in performance with those accepted by the "intelligent charger".
    So I think there is something "hidden" in the heart of used batteries that makes them to be refused by the "intelligent" chargers, the same "issue" that makes them to be refused by the camera; in this case the camera simply doesn`t show the BP icon.
    Until now, I thought it was a dirty contact issue, but it`s not; now I think it`s a battery "issue". The problem is that NiMH batteries are refused to be charged by "intelligent" chargers after a few uses... so one need to buy new rechargeable batteries more often than expected to use them in the battery grip.
    Maybe someone with more knowledge could send a bit of light about this problem...
  2. Jose, I documented my experience with rejuvenating AA Ni-MH batteries:
    Intelligent chargers will not charge batteries if the terminal voltage is somewhere near or below 1.0V. It will also have problems if any battery in a group of 4 is defective or exhibits low state-of-charge in a typical charger.
    The only sure way I've found is to make sure the state-of-charge in a group of batteries is similar, and I do this by fully charging the batteries, then using them under light load such as popping the flash once or twice, followed by measuring terminal voltage - they should be reasonably close to one-another and fall within the "good" range.
  3. Jose,
    I've never tried AA-/Mignon-sized rechargeable batteries in the MB-D10, only the fat EN-EL4-packs. For other cameras, flashes, speedlights and so on: it might sound like an advertisement - all of my troubles with rechargeable AA-sized batteries are completely gone since I've started to use Eneloops with „smart” chargers. I've used quite expensive NiMH-batteries from well known brands before and had a lot of trouble.
  4. "more or less the same charge to the tester, usually near 1.4 volts" -
    Seems that in good faith you take the voltage value for an indication of a good battery charge...
    Discussion of some of poor quality rechargeable batteries, as well as method to prove that they are bad or poor, was discussed as in below:
    ...there was newer and simpler explanation, but is hard to find, once one writes thousands of posts.
  5. As soon as intelligence comes into this, either in the case of a smart charger or the MB-D10 and/or D300/D700, there's going to be a potential problem.
    The Nikon forum has many examples of 'conflicts' between 'dumb' batteries and cameras via a grip, usually clones but not always.
    Power management has gone 'clever' and that means anything that has a value that can be deemed 'wrong' by a system, causing an error. That is often a lock-up, shut-down or 'denial of battery'.
    I've yet to read a problem of this sort with an EN-EL3 or EN-EL4 in an MB-D10. They are smart batteries, that require a smart charger to 'talk' to the smart camera. This communication to and fro is propriatory Nikon and sometimes the reverse engineering is not perfect and causes errors either from the clone chargers or clone batteries or as 'dumb' batteries can't chat, sometimes that happens too.
    I object to the high price of genuine grips and very expensive batteries. What you're actually paying for is the reliable comms chip. Not an electricity storage package. That's just chemistry.
    Some people seem 'lucky' with clone grips and AAs etc, sadly, I'm not one of them. I finally ponied up for a genuine MB-D10 and an EN-EL4 + Charger and have never looked back.
  6. ...this comment is made from a non-Electrical Engineer knowledgeable person: the voltage of 1.2 per cell on most AA NiMH batteries may be the trouble spot. The Nikon camera bodies normally like to run on 1.5v x 4 --- 6 volts, or multiple factors of 1.5v. Adding power with 1.2v per cell may not work very well. [From old film days...the Nikon F100 disagreed with operating on NiMH cells, but on 1.5v AA cells, the camera was near perfect.]
  7. +1 to changing over to new-technology, so-called "hybrid" Nickel-Metal-Hydrides. I've been using ones from Uniross (who actually originated the technology) and GP for some time now. The Uniross cells are called "Hybrio" and the GP ones are called "Recyko". These brands are far more reasonably priced than Eneloop, and seem to work just as well. I mainly use them in my portable flashes and get good recycle times, plenty of flashes and excellent standby performance between use. I was forever charging the old style NiCds and NiMh cells when they'd stood a while without being used. Deep discharge - especially self-discharge - does rechargables no good at all, so having them keep their charge can only be an improvement.
    WRT the use of old-style NiMHs in a D700 battery grip; my experience has not been positive. They don't power the camera for long at all and I'd only use them in an emergency. As for "intelligent" chargers; I have one from Energizer and quite frankly it's a pile of crap. The two halves don't charge equally, and there's no way that the cells are fully charged when it turns them off. It also refuses to charge many cells that have some useful life left in them. Not only that, but it charges the cells in pairs by pumping the same current through two cells in series, which is a rubbish way to do things. So when I don't need a rapid charge I prefer to use a simple "dumb" charger and time the charge myself. Actually I have a countdown timer made from a modified plugin mains timer that can be set for up to 23 hours, and which turns itself and the charger off after a preset time. Never had a problem with that!
  8. I have run into this problem with my D300 and MB-D10 and I do not use rechargeable. There are times when I will stick a new set of AA cells in the holder and nothing happens. Contacts are all clean and batteries are in correctly.
    I pull the holder out and gently flex it in a couple of directions and stick it back in. And about 75% of the time that fixes it.
    I think the AA holder is just a week point in the system. It is no where near as robust as the on for my F5.
  9. (I wonder why I wrote "tester" when I wanted to mean "charger"... my excuses).
    Well, many useful answers. Thanks a lot. Rodeo`s experience is quite similar to mine,
    "As for "intelligent" chargers; I have one from Energizer and quite frankly it's a pile of crap. The two halves don't charge equally, and there's no way that the cells are fully charged when it turns them off. It also refuses to charge many cells that have some useful life left in them. Not only that, but it charges the cells in pairs by pumping the same current through two cells in series, which is a rubbish way to do things. So when I don't need a rapid charge I prefer to use a simple "dumb" charger and time the charge myself... "

    I already have three chagers from Energizer; the "smart" latest one refuse to charge their own NiMH batteries after, say, 10-20 full charges. The battery blister says they last 1000 charges! (ha, ha...) After that, I need to use the other two "dumb" ones to make the batteries work.
    I recently bought a Varta "intelligent" charger, thinking that the Energizer was malfunctioning; the very same results. Sincerely, I´m tired of such -expensive- crap.
    My batteries are ALL from well known brands; Energizer, Duracell (with another charger, same experience), and now, Varta. Sadly, I have never seen in the shelves that "new" products (hybrid, eneloops, etc.)
    Michael C., the thing is that my batteries are always over, say 1.35volts. The voltage measured with a quality tester (SOAR 4055) directly at the MS-D10 terminals doesn`t subtantially differ between that "not recognized by the smart charger" batteries to those "recognized"... the "not recognized" ones are this time the ones that doesn`t make the camera to show the "BP" icon on the screen. Low voltage, unchargeable ones are discarded. I also threw away many batteries thinking they were off (with my first "smart" charger).
    Georg and Mike; for sure the EN-EL4 packs are expensive, but cheaper that all that stuff I bought along the years. Flash heads and other camera grips makes me to buy all this AA sized batteries. If not, I`d be saving money with Nikon packs. -Never- in my life experienced a problem with them (EN-EL 3/4).
    Michael B., I also was convinced it was the issue... The racks looks like not so well designed, I was always suspicious about that "separators" between the cells; at least this time it is not the problem. This time with the tester I have checked that the terminal output is always right.
    I think I`ll buy another charger (this will be the number six), a Maha with individual circuits for each cell (eight cells). I`ll start with fresh batteries again, Eneloops or whatever if I find them. What a pain...
  10. Jose,
    if I should recommend a charger it would be a La Crosse BC 900 (available under different names, I have a „Technoline BC 900”).
    This unit (and it's cheaper brother, the BC 700) will charge only 4 batteries at a time, but with digital readout for each single cell.
    These chargers have different modes like simple charging, un-charging, testing and refreshing. I usually charge with 500 mAH.
    Testing and refreshing old batteries (not needed with my hybrids so far) can take a very long time.
    I've done this to check my conventional NiMHs but don't use them (except for a couple of good ones) anymore.
    I'm using Eneloops (AA- and AAA-sized, together about 40 cells) and a BC900 (plus a BC700) since 2007/2008 and can really recommend this combination.
    I will give the cheaper hybrid-NiMH-batteries Joe recommends a try soon, just to document that I'm not a Sanyo-fanboy :)
    Best of luck, Georg.
  11. Thanks Georg. I have also kept this charger´s reference.
    Just for the archives, I have just re-checked my own test with my latest charger, the Varta LCD 57070 (this is what I call an "intelligent" charger, who theoretically refuse to charge damaged cells). Six sets (four cells each) were fully charged yesterday, so I think there will be a loss or charge stabilization since then. I tested another three sets days ago.
    • The battery sets that are "accepted" by this charger, despite of their voltage (from 1.25 to 1.36 volts individually, each set with almost the same charge per cell) are also accepted by the camera. The "BP" icon is shown inmediately after sliding the battery rack.
    • The battery sets that are NOT accepted by this charger, despite of their voltage (from 1.24 to 1.34 volts individually, also each set with almost the same charge per cell) are NOT accepted by the camera (D700), in no way the "BP" icon is shown.
    I checked the battery rack (MS-D10) voltage at its terminals with the tester (SOAR 4055) with the different working and not-working sets, and the output reading was from 10.42 to 10.89 volts. I also twisted, shaked, turned the cells in the rack looking for a bad contact, and it didn`t happened. Definitely, the voltage level has nothing to do with the working condition of the sets in this camera.
    I finally checked the sets in a similar (faster) "intelligent" charger from Energizer; funny, it refused to charge ALL the Energizer batteries (the ones accepted by the Varta, too!) and only accepted to charge the ones from Duracell (old used ones) and the new Varta ones.
    Conclusion: If your battery grip doesn`t work with charged, "good looking" NiMH batteries, check the batteries first, even before cleaning the contacts!
  12. Just a further thought, Jose. The terminal voltage of NiMH cells isn't a very good guide to their condition. For example, I have some tag-ended NiMHs that have been in storage for a while, but their voltage when charged is a healthy-looking 1.4+ V. However their internal resistance has increased such that they can't give good recycle times with the Metz hammerhead flashguns I intended to use them with. The result was that I had to take them out of the battery packs I'd just re-celled and replace them - damn! What a waste of time that was. They'll probably be OK for some low-drain use (should I ever find one), but for camera or flash powering they're useless.
    Anyway, long and short of it is that simply measuring a cell's voltage is no guide to its usable condition.
    PS. Best source for Hybrid technology cells is from Internet sellers.
  13. Ok, Rodeo, thanks.
    I have already found Eneloop and Imedion. I`ll try to find the most convenient seller.
  14. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    When you use 8 AA batteries in the MB-D10 to power a D700 or D300/D300S, one Custom Setting to check is MB-D10 Battery Type; on the D700, it is Custom Setting d10:
    • Alkaline
    • Ni-MH
    • Lithium
    • Ni-Mn
    Due to the different chemicals used in different types of batteries, those AA batteries have somewhat different voltages. When you connect 8 of them together, the difference adds up. If you have the wrong d10 custom setting that does not match the actual AA batteries used, you may run into problems.
    I have had good experience with Eneloop AA batteries. In the US, you can get them easily from Costco under the Sanyo brand. Are they hard to find in Europe.
  15. Shun, I`ve just found that the only place to buy Eneloops around here is... my Nikon dealer! I`m lucky. No other places nor any other brand, only this "Sanyos" and only in the 2000mAh flavour are shown in their web site. Yes, I have the correct settings and battery order.
    And it`s not by chance they also sell (Maha) Powerex and Ansmann chargers. No trace of La Crosse ones, I`ll ask them in situ. They have high prices but I`ll save buying them (no shipping costs).
    The Ansmann chargers looks better for a variety of cell types, not for me; the only one (8 cells), is called "Energy16", huge and the most expensive.

    I only need to charge AA and AAA type batteries, specially in sets of 3, 4, 5 and 8 cells.
    Amongst the Powerex chargers, I see two models (8 cells); MH-C800S and MH-C808M. There is another "advanced" model, the MH-C9000 LCD, but only for 4 cells. I tried to look at them in the Powerex site this morning, but the page was not charged, I`ll try it again.
  16. I just started using "regular" Alkaline AA's in my MB-D10, as the Eneloop/ NiMH's are way too much work, and too many hoops to jump through. They simply are not worth the effort and endless frustration. I simply want to use my camera, not be a battery scientist.
  17. Arthur, in my opinion EN-EL4s are hard to beat in the MB-D10. But these packs and the proper charger aren't exactly cheap. I've had some working EN-EL4-packs and a charger as a leftover from my old D2H. Depending on how I use the D700 I've got up to 3000 shots out of a single EN-EL4.
    „Regular” Alkaline AA's are too expensive for daily use in my opinion, but I like them in less used Motordrives.

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