What is the difference between Silver Oxide and Alkaline Batteries?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jason michael, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. I was recently purchasing some new batteries for my FE, FM3A, and Mamiya 6 and
    came to the observation that all three cameras have the choice of Silver Oxide
    batteries, SR44, or Alkaline batteries, LR44. I would basically like to know people's
    experience with these differing batteries and especially how they function at lower
    temperatures (I am based in Toronto, Canada and the autumn is upon us (which of
    course leads to our, at times, brutal winters)).

    I am well aware of the differences between Lithium batteries and Alkaline batteries
    but I have no experience with the Silver Oxide batteries.

  2. In that form factor, I have always considered alkaline batteries a 'last resort'. Silvers in an FE can run the camera for 2-3 years (though it's a good habit to change your batteries on your birthday anyway, sort of like smoke detectors). Alkalines seem to poop out in 6 months or so for me. The lithium ('double stack', works in the FE and FM3a, I don't know about the Mamiya) has the best 'shelf life', and is the one I have squirreled into the bowels of my camera bag in case I need one.

    I *suspect* (no real experience) that the lithium might be the cold weather champ as well.
  3. The usual choice for the Nikons is between 2 stacked 1.5v Silver Oxides (S76, SR44 etc) or a single 3v lithium (forget the #s). The silver Ox are best for a camera that gets used constantly, the lithiums are best for a camera that spends most of its time on the shelf.

    Alkalines are not a good long life choice especially in brutal winters! Not sure about the M6 batteries, if they are stacked, then you can use the lithium, if there is just one, or they are side-by side, use silver.
  4. Curses, beaten again by Todd:)
  5. Silver Oxide batteries give a constant voltage over their entire life; both Lithium and Alkaline batteries allow the voltage to taper off gradually (see attached graph). This causes serious problems in some cameras (generally in the form of sudden, premature battery failure), while other cameras that are not as voltage sensitive work fine with them. My Nikon FM2 likes Lithium okay, as did my Ricoh XR7 with an electronic shutter; the Olympus cameras don't like them much. Silver Oxide will be the safest choice under most conditions, but you may find by experiment that you can work with the others.

    rick :)=
  6. "...both Lithium and Alkaline batteries allow the voltage to taper off gradually (see attached graph)..." -- richard oleson

    This blanket statement is not useful. Lithium AA batteries do NOT taper off gradually. Check the battery characteristics of the particular battery you are interested in.
  7. Cameras with electronic shutters may have problems with DL1/3N type lithium batteries. The battery may supply the correct voltage but not the milliamps under load that are required to complete the exposure cycle. The shutter may close prematurely causing exposure errors and there may be no warning but only incorrectly exposed film.

    I use DL1/3N type batteries in my FM2n(s) and F2As but NOT in my FE2(s). S-76 silver oxide batteries may last longer in an FM2n under heavy use. I believe lithiums are less likely to leak but they tend to get a white powder on them that should be wiped off.

    I don’t use any alkaline batteries, AA or button, in any of my cameras because of the increased chance of leaking.

    Here are a couple of links that have technical information...



    You can search for more brands using http://www.google.com/.

  8. I use the lithiums in my F3HP's and haven't noted any exposure problems.
  9. My impression is that the silver oxide batteries are better for heavy use, alkaline are better for occasional use. On average I go through a film or two a month, which makes me an occasional but regular shooter. I have not noticed a difference between the battery types, I always seem to need new batteries every year or 18 months. I use alkalines since they are cheaper. My camera is the FE2.

    If you really want to know, put fresh alkalines in your camera and see how many rolls of film they last for before they die. Then do the same with silver... assuming both are used under similar conditions (temperature etc).
  10. There are discharge curve issues, as Rick pointed out. I've had better service from silver oxide and lithiums. Like you, I know about Canadian winters and have found that meter accuracy is the first thing to suffer from prolonged low temps; shutters seems to stay accurate till the cells are almost flat.Luckily, your FM3A's hybrid shutter allows for battery-free operation. I've opted for a handheld meter kept warm inside a coat and mechanical cameras for frostbite season.
  11. David H. Hartman said:

    "...This blanket statement is not useful. Lithium AA batteries do NOT taper off gradually. Check the battery characteristics of the particular battery you are interested in."

    David, i guess you're right here. I haven't ever found a published discharge curve on the AA Lithiums, so I'm in the process of making my own at the moment: though it's still early, the curve looks very flat so far.

    I don't know what the chemistry of the Lithium AA is; at 1.5 volts, it can't very well be LiMNO or LiSO (LiMNO is the chemistry used in 3 volt lithium camera batteries). Does anyone know just what the 1.5 volt lithium chemistry is and how (or if) it relates to other lithium batteries?

    rick :)=
  12. Richard,

    I didn’t realize the 3v button lithiums taper off as much as they do. I was surprised as I figured they were similar to the AA lithium batteries.


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