Cold Weather Battery Performance: NIMH vs. Lithium

Discussion in 'Nature' started by mark_van_bergh|1, Jan 25, 2000.

  1. I'll be venturing into extended subfreezing (possibly subzero)
    shooting next month in Yellowstone. In the past I've used lithium
    batteries with good success, keeping several in inside pockets to use
    as replacements when necessary. However, my Maxxum 9 vertical grip
    allows me to use lithiums (in the body) and lithiums or AA alkaline or
    NIMH batteries in the vertical grip, simultaneously (for those
    interested, in the vertical grip I can use either two CR123's or one
    2CR5, or 4 AA NIMH or alkaline - the latter of which has lousy cold
    weather performance - while still having the CR123's in the body
    available for use). The question is whether anyone has any cold
    weather experience with NIMH vs lithium performance, and whether to go
    strictly with lithiums in both the camera body and grip, or lithium in
    the body and NIMH in the grip. Thanks in advance for your responses.
  2. I use 1300 mAH NiMH batteries in my EOS 3 power booster. In December at Bosque I shot 15-20 rolls per day, with battery-sucking 500/4.5 and 300/4 IS lenses at 6 FPS and AI Servo AF mode. Typically it would go above freezing as the day progressed, but it started out very cold, probably below 20 F.

    I wouldn't hesitate to use NiMH batteries in the cold, so long as you can recharge them each day. Since your camera gives you the option, keep a couple of lithiums inside your jacket pocket as backups.
  3. At -4 degrees F both NIMH AA and Lithium CR5 batteries are down to 1/2 normal capacities. At 32 degrees F both are down to between 90% - 95% of capacity. Alkaline AA cells are down to 65% at 32 degrees F and useless at -4 F.

    Four NIMH cells will give you about 4.8 volts, while the Lithium batteries will put out about 6.0 volts. Most voltage regulators drop out when the supply voltage drops below a certain level, thus all things being equal the Lithium batteries will probably run longer.

    The daytime temperature in Yellowstone will probably be between 10 - 30 degrees F in the next month. The best solution might be to keep the grip under your coat with a power extender cord running to the body. The 90 degree temperatures near your body should extend battery life considerably.

    From central Wyoming..
  4. Does Minolta make an anti-cold battery pack like Nikon does? You can put the batteries in your pocket on a cord which connects to your camera. They can be expensive but that will solve your problem.

    At typical Yellowstone temperatures you'll likely be fine with almost any battery type (have lots of spare sets) but if the temperature gets to the 0 F / -18 C range or below batteries really start to die fast. My solution was a mechanical body but the cord is probably your best solution if it's available.
  5. Unfortunately Minolta does not offer a remote power extension set for any of it's bodys after the 9000 but pulling out the battery holder and switching batteries is fast enough. You could get that battery holder as a spare part and have it modified.
  6. Thanks for the responses thus far. As noted Minolta doesn't make a remote cord that will allow me to keep the battery pack in a pocket connected to the camera. As for the power level, my own prior experiences shooting in Yellowstone in winter, as well as the comments about the relative output power of NIMH and Lithium batteries indicates that I should be OK with either. Of course I had planned on taking a good supply of back ups, although in prior shoots there I found that I didn't need more than two batteries(one 2CR5 in my then 9xi's) in a given day. Even during shoots at or before first light (e.g.sunrise eruption of Old Faithful) when temperatures are near or below freezing the camera continued to function, albeit in a slower than normal manner. If anyone has any further thoughts please add them.
  7. Mark,

    I am in North Dakota and shot the lunar eclipse last month in -12F temperatures using a 2CR5 battery in my ElanIIe. It was subjected to these temperatures for over 3 hours and I still had power to shoot to the end. It is doubtful that you will put your equipment to more of a test than this. Good luck in Yellowstone.

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