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AA battery options for flashgun?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by foto2021, Feb 4, 2012.

  1. foto2021

    foto2021 Mu-43 Veteran

    301
    Nov 5, 2011
    SE England
    After downsizing from full frame FX to Micro Four Thirds I also need to downsize my flashgun. For years, I have been using a trusty Metz CL-4 but it's too big/heavy to carry around with my delightfully small, light outfit. So I dusted off the Metz 54 MZ-4 I used on a rangefinder camera a few years ago and bought an SCA 3202 adapter for it.

    So far, so good. It is usefully powerful and works well with 4 AA alkalines, but there must be other options to power it, such as AA lithiums and rechargeables. I won't be using it often, but I want it to be ready to go when I need it, even if it is a few weeks since I last used it.

    My CL-4 is NiCad which is old technology and probably not an option any more. I'm guessing that my main options are:

    a) Use AA alkalines and carry a spare set,

    b) Use NiMH rechargeables and remember to recharge them regularly, plus carry a spare set of AA alkalines just in case I forget, or

    c) Use AA lithiums and no need for a spare set.

    The lithium option seems attractive because the darn things hold their charge for ever, don't ever seem to leak and will probably last me more than a year of use, so I will change them every January 1 in the knowledge that they will always work when I need them for a little fill flash.

    What is your choice of batteries for your flashgun, and what experience have you had?
     
  2. Markb

    Markb Mu-43 Top Veteran

    532
    Jun 9, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Mark
    Try Sanyo Eneloops or similar. They're NiMh rechargeables that don't self discharge in a week so no need to remember to recharge when you need them.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    Seconded. Eneloops are what you need.

    Gordon
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. shnitz

    shnitz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    989
    Aug 25, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Eneloops are a type of NiMH. I will third the recommendation, but you can't really go wrong with any of the various brands, so just see what's cheap right now either at Amazon or your local store. I have used Radio Shack brand, Sanyo, Energizer, Duracell, etc. and they all work well. Make sure to get a well-rated, smart charger as that will extend the useful life of the batteries. Not only will you save a ton of money in the long run, but NiMH also work much better in flashes than alkaline batteries. I remember the first time I used NiMH AA batteries in my flash; I had forgotten to buy a set of alkalines, was at a friend's place, and was about to go cover a concert. He gave me a set of NiMH he had, and I was amazed at the noticeably faster recycle times that I was getting. Just make sure to get 2300 mAh or higher rating. They are just as reliable; I don't know why you feel that you need to back up a set of NiMH batteries with an alkaline set. Just buy yourself 3-4 sets of rechargeables, and keep two small boxes around: 1 for charged and 1 for uncharged. You probably won't ever need more than 1 set of NiMH batteries for an event, but I carry a backup set anyway.

    Also, I think you are confused, there is no such thing as lithium AA rechargeable. Plus, they wouldn't last "like a year" even if there were. Panasonic G2 batteries are Li-ion for example, and they only last a few hundred charges. The "good" rechargeable AA's that everyone is using is NiMH.
     
  5. foto2021

    foto2021 Mu-43 Veteran

    301
    Nov 5, 2011
    SE England

    Thanks to everyone who responded. Recommendations of Eneloops are noted. The technology has clearly moved on significantly since I last used rechargeable AAs.

    However, buying and managing multiple sets of NiMH batteries and a charger doesn't attract me at all. This is exactly the kind of drudgery I wanted to avoid, and can do without. I had enough of it a few years ago when I was running a Nikon F4 and an F100. I would only do it again if there was no other option.

    I'm not in the least confused about lithiums. I didn't mean rechargeable lithiums - I meant the lithium AAs that you buy, use and discard, or more accurately recycle. They have an extremely long shelf life measured in multiple years rather than months. I have a pack with a 'use by' date of 2025!

    As I explained, I will only rarely use flash, and only for fill flash, as I mostly use available light, so I have no need of more than one set of lithium batteries. They pack a punch, so they are fine for flash. If I replace them once a year, that's overkill, but I know I will always have power.

    If that doesn't work I will resort to AA alkalines. I won't be using the flash often enough to justify NiMH.

    Thanks again for your helpful and constructive replies.
     
  6. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    Eneloops are great but don't have as many mAh as other alternatives. They do hold a charge well though. The set I have are rated at 2000 mAh. There may be newer, higher power versions as well.

    For higher mAh options, check out Powerex (2700 mAh), Ansmann (2850 mAh), and certain varieties of Energizers (2450 mAh).

    I'd also suggest a good charger. We have a Maha. Charges 8 batteries. Works great.
     
  7. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Gordon
    True, but no other battery holds their charge like the Eneloops. After 12 months of storage they hold 85% of their charge. I use Powerex in my work flashes and cameras and Eneloops in everything else and as my back up batteries. Even Powerex batteries loose 50% of charge if not used in about a month, compared to 3% in an Eneloop. Powerex also make an Imedion which are a slightly higher capacity but using the same technology as Eneloops.

    Gordon
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. dpj

    dpj Mu-43 Regular

    142
    Jul 20, 2011
    If you don't want to shell out for Eneloops, i can highly recommend 7dayshop own brand Nimh batteries. They do a 2900amh that i use a lot in my flashes. They are pretty well priced and hold their charge quite well.
     
  9. FastCorner

    FastCorner Mu-43 Veteran

    310
    May 28, 2011
    FWIW I'm doing well with a Lenmar rapid charger and 8x 2700mAh and 4x 2500 mAh NiMH batteries.
     
  10. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I carry over 3 full sets of NiMH batteries for EACH flashgun. I'm always running half a dozen flash units at full power, so I really don't have need for Eneloops since my batteries are being drained constantly, lol. It takes well over $500 worth of batteries and chargers of mixed, affordable brands to power my setup. It's still a lot more portaable than studio strobes, though.

    I know... this post really doesn't help the topic at hand at all, now does it? For what the OP is asking for, I would also suggest Eneloops. I was at Black's Photography yesterday (part of my job is going to these camera stores), and I noticed a 4-pack of Eneloops for only $20. Hell, I pay $30 just for a set of 4 Sony NiMH which are just as low wattage and aren't slow discharge!

    One thing I will say though, is to ditch the idea of having no spares or using non-rechargeables as spares. Please, save yourself endless headaches and buy yourself two full sets of rechargeables. I never have less than 3 full sets myself.
     
  11. foto2021

    foto2021 Mu-43 Veteran

    301
    Nov 5, 2011
    SE England
    Thank you for the further replies, all recommending options with rechargeables. There would seem to be a lot of potential here for a discussion forum for rechargeable battery enthusiasts. :wink:

    Meanwhile, the OP (me) will be using non-rechargeable lithiums. But if I ever decide to use my flash gun a lot more often, I now have the benefit of some excellent advice about which rechargeable NiMHs I will need.

    Thanks again.
     
  12. Aniseedvan

    Aniseedvan Mu-43 Regular

    173
    Sep 25, 2011
    Northants,uk
    I noticed you're in the UK - I picked up 4 Uniross hybrio 2100 mAh for £5.05 from an Amazon seller recently. I'm expecting to pick up another 2 sets of these at least in the near future. This make are the same long lasting types as eneloops and get a lot of good reviews.

    I've also a pile (26 I think!) of Uniross 2700mAh, which either go in my flashgun, grip for my DSLR or my GPS, and they have been hammered, particularly in the flash and still are performing pretty good, 10 of which I've had 3 or 4 years now.


    Apparently with the hybrio batteries, you should get a decent charger, and to this end I've also just bought the technoline BL700, instead of frazzling them with the uniross sprint I used to have.
     
  13. dpj

    dpj Mu-43 Regular

    142
    Jul 20, 2011
    I'm with Ned on this, always make sure you have a using set and a backup set. For 3 flashes i have 6 sets of NiMh's. I number each set and keep them together for charging, then pack them up as a set and only ever use them as a set. If i get a dud battery, i trash it, then keep the three left for tv remotes etc. Then just replace with a brand new set of 4.
     
  14. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Yes, and you bring up another good point.. always keep your 4-sets of batteries (or pairs if you use the FL-36R or something) together. Batteries which are used together will have similar lifespan, but if you just grab all your batteries and mix them up in a pile, you could be using an old battery with a new battery and that old battery will put more strain on your new battery.

    I'm unfortunately not so good at this because I use a combination of 2-cell and 4-cell flash units... but I do try to keep it in mind. :D