I don’t like to be negative, although it’s the south pole of any pair of battery terminals. Sometimes there’s no substitute for a flashgun as ‘the most available light’. As things turn out though, it’s not always that available. I bought a Nikon Speedlight SB-700 when it first came out in 2010 and fed my new pet flashgun on alkaline batteries. They have 1.5 volts under the hood, whereas rechargeable batteries only have a paltry 1.2 volts. Forget ‘less is more’, surely bigger must be better?
Not so fast. Literally. Last week I broke out a fresh set of alkaline batteries and started shooting with full-power flash. Things got off to a respectable start, with a recycling speed between flashes of 3 seconds. 50 shots down the line, however, that had slowed to 6.5 seconds. 75 shots in and there was an interminable wait of 9 seconds between shots, and by the 115 mark, the batteries were exhausted and only fit for the bin. Rubbish!
I’ve dabbled with rechargeable NiMH batteries in the past but, because I only use my flashgun occasionally, they’d usually gone flat all by themselves, by the time I wanted to use them. Waste of time.
Things have moved on though, courtesy of Panasonic Eneloop Pro batteries. With my SB-700, they give me a faster recycling speed of 2.2 after a full-power flash, and that stays constant throughout the whole discharge cycle of the battery.
Speaking of which, I can get 320 full-power flashes from a fully-charged set of Eneloop Pro batteries, nearly three times as many as from alkaline batteries. The cherry on top is that, after charging, they retain 85% of their capacity even after a whole year of being sat around.
I’m now on a mission to find every single battery-powered gadget in my home and replace alkaline with the new bread of low self-discharge NiMH rechargeable. It’s not just about the performance boost and added convenience.
I can also give myself a pat on the back for being more eco-friendly and making big cash savings in the process.