Picking a Good Flash Battery

As with anything, photographers perform a natural progression with their flashes.  We start with the built-in flash, then quickly move to an added flash.  Said flash then becomes external, but still tethered to the camera, until finally we liberate the flash from the camera via wireless triggers and remote control.  Through all of it, we need to fire these flashes with some power source.  Inevitably, the question comes up about what battery is best for your flashes.

There are lots of options out there with options in every category from type of battery (alkaline, NiMh, and LiOn) to vendor (Sony, Sanyo, Duracell, Energizer, etc.), milliamps (1500 vs 2000 vs 2400), and then of course the never-ending debate over chargeable versus rechargeable.  As always, your mileage may vary, but I’ve always found some of the best results come from my usage of the Sanyo Eneloop brand.  These are rechargeable batteries and the ones I’ve used are the 1500 milliamp variety.

They’ve  been good, but after a couple years of usage and re-usage, it became time to get a whole new set.  So, I set out to look at how the landscape has changed in the battery realm.  Here’s a couple things I’ve found out:

1.  Normal versus Rechargeable:  This was almost a no-brainer given the cost per battery…go with rechargeable batteries.  After recharging, you can reduce your cost per charge down to mere pennies instead of even a dollar per battery with regular alkalines.  The question is really whether you should choose the Nickel Metal Hydride batteries (NiMh) or the Lithium Ion (LiOn).  The difference lies in your intended usage and needs.  The NiMh batteries apparently charge much more quickly, but also deplete more quickly, and take fewer charges.  Conversely, the LiOn batteries last longer, but also take longer to charge.  Additionally, you can also likely get more recharges out of these.  Of course, the downside is that the latter are a tad pricier.

2. Brand Stength:  Here I really think it comes down to personal preference.  Just like the Coke vs Pepsi, Ford vs Chevy, Canon vs Nikon, Mac vs PC debates, if you are strongly inclined by one brand or another, there is a battery out there that will work for you.  Pick your poison!

3.  Milliamps:  I liken the milliamps (mA) power of a battery to the Megapixels of a camera.  You can never have enough, and the race for more will never end.  Just a few years ago, a AA battery that had 1500 mA was cooking with gas.  Nowadays, that’s pretty much the norm and 2400 or more is desired.  There have been some reports of the higher powered ones overheating and cooking your flash, so I tend to shy away from the onces that are juiced the most.  As always, your mileage may vary.

So, there ya have it – 3 factors to consider when buying rechargeables.  What did I end up going with?  Sanyo Eneloop Pros – the 2000 mA variety:

I got some AA’s for my flashes, and some AAA’s for my wireless triggers…along with the charger and it was less than $40 after shipping…not too shabby imho.  What are your favorite batteries for your gear?

5 comments for “Picking a Good Flash Battery

  1. Paul Tetreault
    at

    I have several sets of the Eneloops which you can get from Costco from time time and save some money. Some Eneloops come with shells the size of C and D size batteries that the AAs fit into so they can be even more versatile. I’ved used them in my flashes, in my point and cameras, in clocks and motorized gizmos like remote controlled spiders for halloween. LOVE THESE Batteries.

  2. Paul Tetreault
    at

    I have several sets of the Eneloops which you can get from Costco from time time and save some money. Some Eneloops come with shells the size of C and D size batteries that the AAs fit into so they can be even more versatile. I’ved used them in my flashes, in my point and shoot cameras, in clocks and motorized gizmos like remote controlled spiders for halloween. LOVE THESE Batteries.

  3. Joe
    at

    I have been using the eneloop series for a couple years now. I will say I love them enough that I am replacing *slowly* every battery in my house with an eneloop.

  4. at

    An additional point of interest in this discussion is recycle time; I’ve read several times on David Hobby’s blog (strobist.blogspot.com) that the NiMh batteries also recycle your flash more quickly, which means less waiting for the flash to recharge between shots. This may or may not matter to users, depending on the application, but it’s worth knowing, at any rate.

  5. Rich
    at

    I have used the eneloop batteries. They hold a charge longer than other brands I have tried including Maxell, Sony and Energizer. I wonder if others have had the same experience. It is very frustrating taking a batteries that are supposed to be charged and finding out they are dead.

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