Regular vs. rechargeable batteries...

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by photoworksbydon, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. I've used rechargeable batteries in the past and had horrible results. They'd last about half a football game and be done.
    I'm now delving into other kinds of work and am using three 580EXII and a 320EX speedlight setup for portraits and other subjects. I recently did my first real portrait shoot using this lighting setup and noticed the Duracell AA's didn't last very long (shooting mainly manual at various power outputs).
    I've spoken with a couple of hobbyists such as myself and they've mentioned that rechargeable technology has made leaps and bounds so I'm looking into it but would appreciate any suggestions and/or experience you've had with these.
    OR, if there is another setup that lasts even longer, like a powerpack, I'd be interested in knowing your experience with those as well. Those can get expensive though.
    Thanks.
     
  2. Unless you've decided on a powerpack, try Sanyo enelop. Currently the top of the heap in rechargeable batteries.
     
  3. I've had great luck with MAHA 2700 rechargeables.
    If you have two sets of 8, you should be good to go for a long time.
    Powerpacks are great but as you say, pricey.
    But if you're shooting hundreds of shots at high power, no AA's are going to last much longer than what you're getting now.
     
  4. Ni-MH batteries (the technology, not a brand name) is also called hybrid batteries. This is what the Eneloops are. Basically any pre-charged rechargeable is one of these and most are on par with each other. I've seen a couple of side by side comparisons and the Eneloops were actually about the middle of the heap. All that being said I use Eneloops and am very happy with them. The basic premise why the hybrids are better is that they don't start losing their charge like traditional batteries. It's like gas cans. Do you want a 2.7 liter gas can that leaks or a 2.0 liter gas can that doesn't.
    I did try regular Energizer and Duracell rechargeables and they are a total waste of money. In my 430EX's they would start to lag after 40 or so pops at 1/8th power. Almost unusable except in extreme situations.
     
  5. Thanks guys. What's this mean - 2000mAh? And is a higher number stronger, longer lasting, etc?
    For instance, I see B&H has these:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/758662-REG/Sanyo_SEC_HR3U8BPN_Eneloop_AA_Rechargeable_Ni_MH.html
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/535001-REG/Duracell_DC1500B4N_DC1500B4N_AA_Rechargeable_NiMH.html
    The Sanyo (and your post) seem to be the preferred choice, but what do the numbers mean, and is it a big difference between these two?
    Thanks again!
     
  6. +1 for Eneloops. Also heard great things about Ansman and MAHA batteries.
    Been using them for over a year now and love them. Nearly the same as alkaline for normal use only you get to recharge them over and over again.
    One thing to remember is that if you invest in rechargeable batteries you should invest in a good charger. They are available from MAHA and Ansman.
    RS
     
  7. MAh stands for (if I remember correctly) Milli Amps per Hour. At any rate, the higher the number the more charge the battery holds.
     
  8. Thanks again all. Sorry for the 20 questions but I want to get this right. Is this a good setup?
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00474TW36/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?ie=UTF8&m=AMEAQY81R6T0Z
    Thanks!
     
  9. Any of those will work better than what you have. I'd suggest getting a good charger. A 1 hour charger will kill any batteries. The best chargers will charge each battery individually (not just in pairs) and will also have a meter for how healthy the battery is. Barring that I use the chargers that came with my Eneloops which take a few hours for a full charge. I also bought a battery tester from Radio shack for less than $10 to check them from time to time. That's paid for itself already.
     
  10. MAh stands for (if I remember correctly) Milli Amps per Hour. At any rate, the higher the number the more charge the battery holds.​
    I am not nitpicking (or may be I am) but it's mAH and not MAh and it stands for miliampere hour (not per hour).
     
  11. If you want to pick nits, it's properly written mA-H. But that's not friendly to search engines. ;)
    There are two things that are important in a battery, the mA-H number and the internal resistance. The problem is that the second number is never published. But it can be measured, if you have the right equipment. It's effects can be observed, even if you don't have the right equipment. A battery with high internal resistance turns a lot of its power into heat, instead of delivering it to the camera. High mA-H number "conventional" batteries are known for high internal resistance. Eneloops (and some other "hybrid" batteries) are known for low internal resistance. Picture a 2000 mA-H eneloop delivering 1800 mA-H to the camera, and wasting 200 mA-H as heat. Now picture a high capacity 2700 mA-H battery delivering 1800 mA-H to the camera and wasting 900 mA-H as heat. Both batteries deliver about the same number of flashes (same mA-H to the camera) but the "high capacity" batteries created more annoying heat while doing it.
    That's why I switched from high capacity 2700 mA-H Sanyo batteries to 2000 mA-H eneloops years ago. I charged both the 2700 mA-H batteries and the eneloops on a good Lacrosse BC-900 conditioning charger, then set up a flash to pop once a minute (so the flash would stay cool) and I could easily count the flashes just by noting the time when the unit quit firing. The high capacity cells only made 10 flashes more than the eneloops (170 to 160, if memory serves). So, while the big numbers make you think that the high capacity cells will give you 35% more flashes, in real life, it's closer to 5%. Not worth more heat and more trouble (the 2700 are very temperamental about charging, and don't stay charged long, so they would leave me charging 8 sets of batteries (32 cells) the night before a shoot. The eneloops can go months between charging and use, so I can have a "recharge" bucket and a "charged" bucket, and just charge as needed...
     
  12. Thanks for the clarification guys. I knew someone would come up with that.
     
  13. Both.
    Rechargables for normal use.
    Keep enough alkaline back ups for when the run out.
     
  14. Surely if you have one re-chargable and it doesn't last then you put in a second or third battery to last the job? I don't know modern flash units but I was intrigued to find my new YN560 has a plug for external battery .. it must work off 6v with four AA's so an external 6v battery in one's pocket would last for ever I'd expect?
    After all the trials and tribulations I read about AA batteries over the years on blogs I doubt if I would consider them for 'work' only for casual snapping even if that was being done seriously :)
     
  15. I agree the Eneloops are best. And I also keep some normal Energizer spares. That said however, I would strongly recommend an external battery pack. First, Eneloops aren't going to last that much longer (if any) than a regular battery which was I think part of the point to the OP's post? To realistically get longer life, you need more power. Something like this should be sufficient for most situations: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/498738-REG/Canon_1947B001_CP_E4_Compact_Battery_Pack.html A Quantum Turbo is another option, but I find the Turbo batteries and the likes to be seriously overpriced in today's market (I can pick up a Vagabond mini and an Alien Bee strobe for the price of a Turbo battery?!).
     
  16. How about this ones:
    http://www.powergenix.com/?q=products
    I heard they are VERY good, so good that if you don't have a recent generation flash (e.g. Nikon SB800, which comes with surge protection) you might burn your flash, if you don't let him to cool down.
    Anyway, this topic came in the right time, because I want to "refresh" my battery collection too.
    Let me know what you think.
     
  17. There are two things that are important in a battery, the mA-H number and the internal resistance.
    I'd say one important spec that nobody appears to have mentioned is potential / voltage. AFAIK, all of the current rechargeable AA's are unacceptable to me for some uses because they only put out about 1.2 V. Alkaline AA's put out about 1.5 V at first, falling off with discharge but probably mostly around 1.35 V. Best are the lithiums, which not only last longer, but hold their voltage around the full 1.5 V for most of their life cycle.
    Why does it matter? For some purposes--recycling times of a flash can be one--higher voltage means faster operation. (For some purposes, even 1.2 V is fine.)
    And if we're going to pick nits, I'd say it's properly mA * hr or mA x hr--its milliAmperes times hours, that is energy stored. Amps tell you how much energy is flowing out at a time and hours tell you how long it flows out. If you want to compare it to water flow, Amps is kind of like gallons per second, mA*hr is kind of like total gallons in the tank--and Volts is kind of like the pressure at the output spigot (which would in the US be typically quoted in psi, pounds per square inch). (Right? Any errors, anyone?)
     
  18. IMHO, if you're going to do a lot of pops on full manual, the only way to go is a high-voltage exernal power pack like the Quantum Turbo or the Lumedyne equivalent. These packs give reycling in literally about a second, maybe less, on full manual and virtually instant on any kind of automatic setting, and give 200-300 full-power manual flashes or more per charge, and thousands on automatic.
     
  19. One of the reasons why manufacturers make these flashes with AAs in mind is that's what it's designed for. Going for tons of full powered pops will burn your flash out faster. If you need your flash on full power all the time you need a more powerful flash. It's just not good for todays modern flashes to try to put out a couple hundred full powered pops in an hour or two.
     
  20. Two things I learned through experience. I am a wedding photographer so I abuse my flash every weekend. Lithiums get extremely hot under fast shooting conditions and will probably trigger the unit's overheating shut down switch. I keep lithiums as a last ditch 'forgot to bring my AAs' set in my shoulder bag. I don't use them for weddings. The Powergenix batteries indeed allow fast recycling but the temptation to abuse the priviledge is too much for most people. I heard too many stories of burned flash units among wedding photography pros.
    I had both NiMH high capacity cells and Eneloops. The high capacity cells gave up the ghost within 6 months. The Eneloops, I'm still using. I have 8 sets which I maintain religiously with an Annsman Energy 16 charger (maintainance and use of an intelligent charger are crucial). I won't buy anything else. I own Quantum Turbos (SC and regular) and a Dynalite Jackrabbit, but I often don't use the packs for my on camera flash at weddings. I find two sets of Eneloops pretty much carries me through the typical 6 hour shoot. It depends, of course, on how much flash one is using.
     
  21. Ditto on Sanyo Eneloops. Apple (Mac) AA rechargeable batts are great, too, but there are those that say these batts are actually Sanyo Eneloops, repackaged.
     
  22. For what you paid for 3 580 's and trying to make them into studio lights you could have bought two alien bees with mini vagabonds and had real location lights.If you want to continue using the canons (i have 2 ) i would strongly recommend the cp e4 battery pack from canon then u can choose whatever 8 batteries you want. Use the battery pack on your key light and eneloops for fill,background or hair
    '
     
  23. Don:
    You need to purchase the hybrid ni-mh batteries. The problem with the reg ni-mh is that they start to lose power pretty soon after they are charged. The hybrids like eneloops, powerex imedion are supposed to retain up to 80% of their charge for up to one year. I use a Powerex charger from Maha Energy: this charges 8 aa's or 8 aaa's and each battery has its own charging circuit. You can charge them normally, a soft charge or a conditioning charge. The Powerex brand is available at www.mahaenergy.com.
     
  24. Dave Redmann [​IMG], Jul 14, 2011; 11:07 a.m.
    There are two things that are important in a battery, the mA-H number and the internal resistance.
    I'd say one important spec that nobody appears to have mentioned is potential / voltage. AFAIK, all of the current rechargeable AA's are unacceptable to me for some uses because they only put out about 1.2 V. Alkaline AA's put out about 1.5 V at first, falling off with discharge but probably mostly around 1.35 V. Best are the lithiums, which not only last longer, but hold their voltage around the full 1.5 V for most of their life cycle.
    Why does it matter? For some purposes--recycling times of a flash can be one--higher voltage means faster operation. (For some purposes, even 1.2 V is fine.)
    And if we're going to pick nits, I'd say it's properly mA * hr or mA x hr--its milliAmperes times hours, that is energy stored. Amps tell you how much energy is flowing out at a time and hours tell you how long it flows out. If you want to compare it to water flow, Amps is kind of like gallons per second, mA*hr is kind of like total gallons in the tank--and Volts is kind of like the pressure at the output spigot (which would in the US be typically quoted in psi, pounds per square inch). (Right? Any errors, anyone?)​
    Some errors, yes. Another factor is votage regulation. The reason Lithium AAs last so long, and are less likely to lose charge in extremely hot or cold environments, is because they have an extremely consistent output. NiMH are not very consistent; they tend to surge and ebb. This inconsistency means that if it's hot (perhaps because you're shooting fast), they die much faster than lithiums. But it also means that they will recharge a flash more quickly. Lithiums are the longest lasting, but will take the longest to recycle a flash unit. I can't speak for Canon flashes, but the Nikon flash units say so right in the manual.
    I recommend NiMH batteries for weddings or anything fast-paced. Like, a whole pocket full of them. In fact you should have two pockets: one for fresh batteries, and one for dead ones. For general use, I recommend the lithiums, as you are easily the least likely to have dead batteries at any given time.
    ray price , Jul 14, 2011; 02:58 p.m.
    For what you paid for 3 580 's and trying to make them into studio lights you could have bought two alien bees with mini vagabonds and had real location lights.If you want to continue using the canons (i have 2 ) i would strongly recommend the cp e4 battery pack from canon then u can choose whatever 8 batteries you want. Use the battery pack on your key light and eneloops for fill,background or hair​
    Respectfully Ray, you may be missing the point. The most important thing is that this is the gear than Don already owns. But beyond that, using speedlights over strobes isn't necessarily a bad idea. I own a couple Einstein lights, and I still opt to use my SB-800s instead sometimes. They're a third the size, run in TTL mode (I assume the Canon versions do as well), and don't require being placed near an outlet or present nearly as much of a a tripping hazard. Lastly, you can secure a speedlight with duct tape; good luck doing with with a monolight.
     
  25. I recently bought the Eneloops from here, I got a couple of the 16 packs and couldn't be happier. I got one of these MAHA chargers too.
     
  26. Dave - I'd say one important spec that nobody appears to have mentioned is potential / voltage. AFAIK, all of the current rechargeable AA's are unacceptable to me for some uses because they only put out about 1.2 V. Alkaline AA's put out about 1.5 V at first, falling off with discharge but probably mostly around 1.35 V. Best are the lithiums, which not only last longer, but hold their voltage around the full 1.5 V for most of their life cycle.
    Why does it matter? For some purposes--recycling times of a flash can be one--higher voltage means faster operation. (For some purposes, even 1.2 V is fine.)​
    The only problem with that is that it's the voltage that the battery supplies to the flash that matters, not the internal voltage of the battery.
    • Vx=Vi-I*Ri
    That's the reason that, if you look at the Nikon SB-900 manual, page F-21, you'll see the recycle times, with fresh batteries, listed as...
    • 2.3 sec Eneloop
    • 3.0 sec Oxyride
    • 4.0 sec Alkaline
    • 4.5 sec Lithium

    Yes, despite having the highest voltage, the lithiums actually deliver the worst recycle times.
    Nikon also says 165 flashes on a set of eneloops, 110 on Alkaline, so eneloops will both increase the OP's flashes and decrease his recycle times. Lithiums, which you called "best", deliver the worst number of flashes in real life. You'll see insane figures in the Nikon manual, 230 flashes from a set of lithiums, because Nikon calls the Alkaline, Oxyride, and NiMH cells "dead" when their recycle times hit 30 seconds, but didn't call the lithiums dead until they hit 240 seconds. Test them to the same 30 second standard as other batteries, and they are "dead" at about 90 flashes. Seriously.
    And the ANSI says mA-H, not mA*H. ;)
     
  27. Joe, that may also have a lot to do with the voltage drop-off of batteries too. If you take a set of "just barely dead" lithium and "just barely dead" eneloops and put them in a lower-drain device (like a flashlight or an mp3 player), the lithiums will usually power the other device much longer. This is because there's a much longer drop-off in the lithiums from "too slow to recycle" to "no power at all" than other batteries.
    This is why I recommend them for situations like travel, where you may take a photo every few minutes, but not for weddings, where you may take a photo several times per minute.
     

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