I took 750 photos of a blank wall (all in the name of science)!

Flashguns flashing in the dark
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Over the years, my passion for photography has taken me all over the world. On professional assignments, I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot exotic, far-flung places and an eclectic mix of people (and animals). But never in my wildest dreams (nightmares?) did I imagine I’d the day taking 750 shots of a blank white wall in my studio. I don’t really know what to do with them all now. Maybe I’ll print them all as an album and create my very own, personalised blank notepad.

So what’s the point? Not everything ‘does what it says on the tin’ and it can pay to put things to the test, instead of just relying on manufacturers’ claims. With that in mind, I’ve been testing different brands of rechargeable AA batteries for Digital Camera World. They all come with a mAh (milli-Amp hour) rating stamped on the barrel, suggesting that some will give longer-lasting performance than others. But how long, and now much longer? And how well do they actually work in the real world?

I took 750 photos like this - just to prove which types of battery last the longest, and recycle the fastest (Image credit: Matthew Richards)

Armed with a Nikon Speedlight SB-700, a Nikon Z 6II with its built-in intervalometer, a few hours to spare, and multiple mugs of coffee, I set out to discover just what (battery) life was like. I now know that, at its full-power setting, my SB-700 will give me 117 flashes with a basic set of alkaline non-rechargeable batteries, 285 flashes with Powerowl Pro Goldtop rechargeable batteries, and 320 flashes with Panasonic Eneloop Pro rechargeable batteries.

It certainly hasn’t been time wasted. The results mean that we include ‘the science bit’ in our Digital Camera World battery reviews. And on a more personal note, it helps me to know which batteries to pack and which to avoid, next time I’m going on a shoot. I’m just hoping it’ll be something a bit more exciting, perhaps some brick walls with a nice color and a bit of texture.

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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.