The Best Batteries for Speedlights?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by shuo_zhao, Apr 18, 2008.

  1. Hi everyone, the question(s) is fairly simple:

    What's the "fastest" AA battery for speedlights?

    What type of AA battery would be the longest-lasting for speedlights?

    What type of AA battery is "most reliable"?

    What type of AA has best price-to-performance ratio?

    Assume you're photographing a serious event (such as a wedding), what type of
    battery would you use?

  2. NiHM batteries by far. 2600mah or higher. A good charger, typically an overnight one. Juice brand batteries have been good for me.
  3. "What's the "fastest" AA battery for speedlights?


    "What type of AA battery would be the longest-lasting for speedlights? "


    "What type of AA battery is "most reliable"?"

    Any disposable battery.

    "What type of AA has best price-to-performance ratio?"

  4. check bhphotovideo they have pearstone or impact 2900mAH batteries. I have tried both and they working perfectly.
  5. Panasonic rechargeables for me, Ni-MH 2600mAh works a treat, lasts for ages and are very cheap.
  6. If it's speed you're looking for, as in speed of recycling the flash, even four of the highest capacity AA batteries will fall short in fast-action shooting. You need one of those external battery power units to keep the flash juiced up. Quantum makes some nice ones for your flash. It takes not only high capacity batteries, but some electronics to do the job. These external packs have a flyback transformer and circuitry that boosts output for rapid recycling.

    Understand that the MaH rating of the battery itself only has to do with how LONG the battery will provide it's maximum output voltage, not how fast it can recover from a flash burst. MaH stands for "milliamps per hour", which is a measure of time.

    I use 2600 MaH cells in my flash, but with only 4 cells, it still takes some time to recycle in rapid flash bursts. Plug in an external pack, and the recycle time is less than a second at full power. Makes all the difference.
  7. Instead of asking these questions, just say what it is you are wanting to do. For instance, Colin may be right--lithiums are the 'fastest', however I know they get fire hot when used for a sequence of flashes, such as one would do shooting at a wedding reception, bouncing flash against the ceiling. I know--I've done it. I think anyone that shoots weddings will tell you that high capacity NiMH batteries are the best to use, combined with an intelligent charger--one that evaluates, refreshes and charges each battery individually. Maha is a good brand. So is Ansmann. Particularly the chargers. I have an Ansmann Energy 16 charger that charges 12 AAs at once, and I have been using many sets of NiMh batteries for years (all brands) with absolutely no problems.

    Steve is right about speed of recycling. If you need it, nothing will beat an external battery. I have several--Dynalite Jackrabbit, Quantum Turbo SC and regular Turbo, as well as others. If you use Canon, their power pack is considered good. Just be careful of flashing too many flashes in a sequence. You can fry your flash seriously.
  8. I have the Maha charger and it like it. I did however get screwed by a bad set (a large set) of batteries that I ordered. I got a Kodak brand to differentiate my batteries as opposed to my kids batteries that they put in the Xbox remote controllers. The batteries appeared to self-discharge; I charged them up but they would only hold the charge for a day or so. Then I went out to shoot and my flash was not reliably firing. I changed to a "fresh" set and they were bad too. And then duh I looked like an idi*t. Must be the flash. I thought the 580 did not like the 1.2V NiMh but sure enough a set of Energizer rechargables worked fine and hold the charge very well, recycle well. I now keep a backup set of alkaline batteries now just in case - they hold a charge for years. And the kids have their own charger and set of batteries.
  9. Looks like NiMH is the best choice for starters then.

    I don't think I need the speed of external power pack just yet.
  10. It's important to understand that different battery chemistries have different discharge characteristics. Nickel Metal Hydrides are notorious for losing their charge just sitting around, even within a few days. You always have to keep them freshly charged, but they are well-suited for high-demand usage. Lithiums will hold their charge longer, but have other problems such as high temperatures and can explode/combust in certain circumstances. And, high capacity alkalines cost more, last a shorter time, but have the longest shelf life.
  11. I see...

    It's interesting that we can't get rechargeable Lithium Ion AAs for speedlights, while most DSLRs actually use rechargeable batteries.

    Nickel Metal Hydrides already suffer from the problem with "memory effect", not a good thing along with the self-discharge characteristic.
  12. NiMH batteries have no memory effect that I've noticed. If you have NiMH batteries that don't perform well, I'd blame it on the charger. As I said, get a good charger and any brand of NiMH battery will work well with no memory effect. Self discharge is not so big a problem--just keep them on the charger until right before your event.
  13. Nadine is right, Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMh) batteries do NOT have a memory effect. It's Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cad) batteries that have this problem. Hardly anyone uses them anymore, leastwise in photography. Power tools still utilize them extensively.

    The "memory effect" has to do with recharging the batteries before they're depleted to a certain level. You can recharge NiMh batteries at any level of depletion, and they will perform properly.

    Nickel Cadmium batteries were the staple for years, before the new chemistries came along. They were used because of their power delivery characteristics. They will give you very high output voltage all the time they are being used, and then the voltage will drop abruptly at the end of the charge span. That's why they used them so much in power drills and electric razors. Other chemistries have different discharge and shelf life characteristics, and are used depending on what type of equipment they're powering, and what the needs are.

    For instance, lithium technology is in wide use now, because it's sort of the "best of all worlds", with long shelf life and high power delivery. The temperature problem and self-destruct issues are troubling, though.
  14. When I used the Fuji S2 that was powered by AA batteries I got the Powerex ones that were the highest mAh I could find. Now with them just going into flash units I do not bother with the brand other than to get a "name" brand from a reputable source.

    What I do make an effort to confirm is that they are charged properly (and with minimal heat) and that they are actually holding a charge. One defective battery will pull down all the others in the series in your strobe or battery pack.

    Best source I have found for chargers, batteries, and a true charge state battery tester is
  15. You won't go wrong with NiMH. I rarely run through one set of NiMH even for 2 full weddings back to back (using flash all day, including the ceremony), but I always keep a spare set of charged ones in my gear bag just in case. Alkalines? What are those again? ;)
  16. Howdy!

    I too recommend NiMH, but with one reservation: Make sure that whatever batteries you purchase support rapid charging, and you get a good quality charger. If you do not properly charge the battery, you can damage your equipment

    The Energizer brand works great for me.

    If you shoot with Canon Flash, I highly recommend the Canon CD-E3 and CP-E4 battery packs. They carry eight AA batteries, and bring flash recycle time down to less than a second.


  17. If you are going to use and abuse your cells I do with hundreds of full power pops per shoot... than you need to look seriously at the Maha PowerEX 2700 mAH AA Cells...

    I have bought over 100 of these cells from Thomas Distributing, + (4) of the Maha Chargers (two 8 cell and two 4 cell) and I have never had one of them go bad yet...

    I took a sharpie and labeled them all with a date and group number when I first purchased them (actually I bought them in three different batches) and I try to keep them in the same group in the strobe so that they have the same charge characteristics...

    Prior to the Maha cells, I was using the Energizer 2500mAH cells from Sam's Club...with the energizer 4 cell chargers. I got reasonable service from these cells, but of the (48) cell I purchased over a two year period, I have probably lost 10 or 12 of them to failure. They just are not the quality of the Maha cells or the charger is rough on them. It may be the charger, as since I started using the Maha chargers to charge my remaining energizer cells, I have yet to loose another one.

    Like I said, I own (8) Speedlights and (2) SD-8A battery packs + (2) AA powered camera bodies and I really run these cells hard...Go with the Maha PowerEx and you won't be sorry.

  18. I generally use NiMH batteries and CP-E3 packs.

    I use a mix of standard and "low self-discharge" units like Sanyo eneloops. Before an event, I charge the eneloops first and the standard types last.

    I usually have a couple of Lithium packs for emergency use only.
  19. These:
  20. or if you can spend a little more, these:
  21. powerex - recommended by Bella to their photographers
  22. At least on Nikon flashes, lithium batteries have long recycle times, longer than regular alkalines or NiMHs. But they do last for a greater number of shots and are lightweight.
  23. Bruce Stenman and Gholston Matt do make some important points we all should observe (I do). Keeping the batteries marked with a sharpie and keeping them in groups of 4 cells (groups A, B, C, etc.) or similar will ensure that you don't mix cells with various voltage levels. A cell with 1.13 volts will pull down the overall output voltage of the other cells with higher voltages. You want them all to have roughly the same voltage when charged. I keep a small voltmeter so I can read each cell. If I have a cell that is not charging fully, I can pull it out and diagnose/toss it. You can't just mix cells of varying voltages. One thing that can happen is that when the lowest cell hits a certain "low" voltage point, the stronger cells will apply a reverse voltage to it, and overheat/damage it.

Share This Page