AA Batteries: rechargeables or disposables best for me?

Started 6 months ago | Questions
SkiAddict1
New MemberPosts: 3
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AA Batteries: rechargeables or disposables best for me?
6 months ago

Hi all,

After a nasty car accident many years ago when I happened to have a camera with me, I have always carried a film camera in my car. The photos were incredibly useful in refuting the other driver's lies to their insurance company. But having a film camera necessitates changing the film every year or so when it expires.

So, recently I began to think about buying a cheap digital. I chose the Canon A1400 because it has a viewfinder and thus avoids the problem of LCD screens and sunny days. I also liked the fact that it takes AA batteries.

The camera takes one pair to run, so I'm thinking of having one spare pair in the car in the camera bag and a further pair in my handbag. This will mean any temperature problems are taken care of: my handbag doesn't get as hot or as cold as the car can.

So, which type of batteries do I get?

1. Rechargeables, once purchased, are essentially free, however:

  • I don't know enough about their "shelf" life (= how long a charge lasts), especially when exposed to temperature extremes.
  • I also wonder about recharging a battery which has simply been sitting there doing nothing since the last charge - I know laptop batteries have a longer total life when cycled regularly as opposed to treating the machine like a desktop computer. I wonder if the total life of the rechargeables will be similarly reduced if I don't pre-drain them before recharging. Rechargeables are more expensive than disposables, so I want them to last as long as possible, since the original aim is to save money.
  • A further concern is that I assume the "shelf" life declines with age, and how would I know when that started happening and to what extent?  I have a voltmeter, but would it tell me anything useful on this score?

2. Disposable alkalines, replaced once a year, ought to work just fine, but that would add to the cost of the overall system and again, the original aim is to save money.

So I figured I would ask you kind folks what you think. This camera system has to work, no matter when, no matter where, but will only need to take say 20-30 photos (though perhaps all with the flash). It will be sitting in the car unused the rest of the time. The car can reach temperatures of -12°C (10° F) overnight and let's say 35-40°C (up to 104°F) during the day. [The camera's operating temps are 0-40°C so unless I'm very unlucky it ought to work in almost all situations.] I accept that the batteries may not be very happy in the cold, that's why I'll have a pair in my handbag to exchange if necessary.

If I go with rechargeables, making sure they are recharged on a frequent-enough basis is not a problem -- I already have many repeating tasks on varying schedules. But I have to be sure that with three pairs of batteries, I will get the photos I need. And I don't want to have to replace rechargeables for a good while.

What do you folks think? Is buying rechargeables going to do what I need in this system?

ANSWER:
Canon PowerShot A1400
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alFR
Regular MemberPosts: 286
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Re: AA Batteries: rechargeables or disposables best for me?
In reply to SkiAddict1, 6 months ago

Wouldn't the camera on your phone do for this sort of documentary shots? Don't need to be ultra-high quality if all you're doing is proving where 2 vehicles were on the road etc.

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SkiAddict1
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Re: AA Batteries: rechargeables or disposables best for me?
In reply to alFR, 6 months ago

Number 1: my phone is very old and I don't want to upgrade it.

Number 2: I've already bought the cameras.

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Kuppenbender
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Sanyo Eneloop batteries
In reply to SkiAddict1, 6 months ago

I don't know whether these will save you much money over years (disposable AA's aren't all that expensive). Sanyo Eneloops will hold a significant proportion of their charge after months of inactivity. Unlike other rechargeables, they are sold fully charged and ready to use.

I've been using Eneloops for my flashgun, which rarely gets used for a couple of years now. I've recharged them a few times, but always as a precautionary measure. Whenever I reach for the flash, even after months of non-use, the batteries have never let me down. I will only buy Eneloop rechargeables these days.

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jdurant
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Re: AA Batteries: rechargeables or disposables best for me?
In reply to SkiAddict1, 6 months ago

It doesn't sound like you will be using rechargeables enough to justify the added cost. I would just buy disposable batteries and leave them in the car. If you decide to use your camera more than 20-30 times a year, you may want to consider buying Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries. Eneloops are rated to hold 70% of their charge 5 years though they may drain faster in extreme heat. Regular NiMH batteries only hold their charge for a few weeks so avoid those.

http://www.eneloop.info/eneloop-products/faqs/faqs-eneloop.html

Hope this helps.

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SkiAddict1
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Re: AA Batteries: rechargeables or disposables best for me?
In reply to jdurant, 6 months ago

Many thanks people.  I hadn't heard of eneloops, or I wouldn't have needed to ask the question   That's obviously the way to go.  They're not that expensive and the entire system will pay for itself in a few years, and from then on it'll be free.  Excellent!

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BBbuilder467
Contributing MemberPosts: 623
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Duracell
In reply to SkiAddict1, 6 months ago

SkiAddict1 wrote:

Hi all,

After a nasty car accident many years ago when I happened to have a camera with me, I have always carried a film camera in my car. The photos were incredibly useful in refuting the other driver's lies to their insurance company. But having a film camera necessitates changing the film every year or so when it expires.

So, recently I began to think about buying a cheap digital. I chose the Canon A1400 because it has a viewfinder and thus avoids the problem of LCD screens and sunny days. I also liked the fact that it takes AA batteries.

The camera takes one pair to run, so I'm thinking of having one spare pair in the car in the camera bag and a further pair in my handbag. This will mean any temperature problems are taken care of: my handbag doesn't get as hot or as cold as the car can.

So, which type of batteries do I get?

1. Rechargeables, once purchased, are essentially free, however:

  • I don't know enough about their "shelf" life (= how long a charge lasts), especially when exposed to temperature extremes.
  • I also wonder about recharging a battery which has simply been sitting there doing nothing since the last charge - I know laptop batteries have a longer total life when cycled regularly as opposed to treating the machine like a desktop computer. I wonder if the total life of the rechargeables will be similarly reduced if I don't pre-drain them before recharging. Rechargeables are more expensive than disposables, so I want them to last as long as possible, since the original aim is to save money.
  • A further concern is that I assume the "shelf" life declines with age, and how would I know when that started happening and to what extent? I have a voltmeter, but would it tell me anything useful on this score?

2. Disposable alkalines, replaced once a year, ought to work just fine, but that would add to the cost of the overall system and again, the original aim is to save money.

So I figured I would ask you kind folks what you think. This camera system has to work, no matter when, no matter where, but will only need to take say 20-30 photos (though perhaps all with the flash). It will be sitting in the car unused the rest of the time. The car can reach temperatures of -12°C (10° F) overnight and let's say 35-40°C (up to 104°F) during the day. [The camera's operating temps are 0-40°C so unless I'm very unlucky it ought to work in almost all situations.] I accept that the batteries may not be very happy in the cold, that's why I'll have a pair in my handbag to exchange if necessary.

If I go with rechargeables, making sure they are recharged on a frequent-enough basis is not a problem -- I already have many repeating tasks on varying schedules. But I have to be sure that with three pairs of batteries, I will get the photos I need. And I don't want to have to replace rechargeables for a good while.

What do you folks think? Is buying rechargeables going to do what I need in this system?

I use re-chargeables in my flash because I use it constantly, but I always have a spare set of Duracell's just in case.

In the P&S I keep in my shop for a few shots now and then, I just use the Duracells. They might last 2 or 3 years. I think they have a 10 year shelf life. I started using them in all my old AA P&S cameras. Then no matter how long they sit around, they always work. I hate charging batteries just to see if an old camera still works.

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hotdog321
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Re: AA Batteries: rechargeables or disposables best for me?
In reply to SkiAddict1, 6 months ago

I like the Eneloops, too. I just bought 16 AA. Another big plus is that they are less prone to leaking compared to alkalines.

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calson
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Re: AA Batteries: rechargeables or disposables best for me?
In reply to SkiAddict1, 6 months ago

Lithium will last the longest when not in use with alkaline a distant second but still OK. No rechargeable will hold a charge for months at a time and even when fully charged they produce less voltage than an alkaline or lithium battery so the discharge can be slight but still enough to prevent the camera's electronics from working properly.

I use rechargeable batteries for all my flash and frequently used flashlights but never for cameras or other electronics.

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Freeman-Jo
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Answer for everyone else
In reply to calson, 6 months ago

While the OP already got the answer, I think in the future, search-ability or for other who are looking at the same line of making the purchase, here is what I'm thinking.

How often you are going to use that camera?

if all you ever want to do is purely use it as an emergency tool, then I suppose picking a camera that use AA is fine, but guess what I strongly suggest you use Alkaline instead and don't leave them in the camera. As any other electronic stuff, if you not gonna use it for a long period of time, don't leave them in the device. If your camera need 2 AA, buy 4, and have it as 2 separate set sitting next to the camera in a small box label "emergency" along with other tool you need.

If you want to use it for other thing too, then buy a better camera and don't worry about the type of battery. Most newer camera use don't use AA but instead a proprietary one, but they are lithium-ion. Even then when you brought it, you will notice the camera never have the battery come installed.

As far as what other have said about Eneloop, it's what a type of NiMH or Nichel Metal Hydride with a Low Self Discharge(LSD).  Normally NiMH have a very short shelf life and they self-discharge very quick.  Meaning once you charge it, you have to use it very soon, if you wait a month after it was fully charge it probably close to empty by then.  But the LSD is as the name implied, it self-discharge very slowly.  Once charge it, it can last a year before it self discharge by 10%, meaning you about about 90% battery life left.  The down side of the LSD battery is that it will not have as much juice as non-LSD.

And for most photographers, you maybe better off doing your own research as what suite you better.  For the most part, I use AA batteries mainly for the speedlite.  Some people may need external power-pack for their work.  I don't mostly.  Alkaline usually don't do well for the flash gun, usually don't provide large number of pops.  And even for NiMH, each one have specific characteristic.  Some people will prefer Eneloop 2000 for this, I prefer PowerEX 2700.  Most photographers after doing their own research will end up picking one(well more like a pack of 4) of these.

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Michael Fryd
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Re: AA Batteries: rechargeables or disposables best for me?
In reply to SkiAddict1, 6 months ago

SkiAddict1 wrote:

...

1. Rechargeables, once purchased, are essentially free, however:

  • I don't know enough about their "shelf" life (= how long a charge lasts), especially when exposed to temperature extremes.
  • I also wonder about recharging a battery which has simply been sitting there doing nothing since the last charge - I know laptop batteries have a longer total life when cycled regularly as opposed to treating the machine like a desktop computer. I wonder if the total life of the rechargeables will be similarly reduced if I don't pre-drain them before recharging. Rechargeables are more expensive than disposables, so I want them to last as long as possible, since the original aim is to save money.
  • A further concern is that I assume the "shelf" life declines with age, and how would I know when that started happening and to what extent? I have a voltmeter, but would it tell me anything useful on this score?

2. Disposable alkalines, replaced once a year, ought to work just fine, but that would add to the cost of the overall system and again, the original aim is to save money.

...

For your needs traditional Alkaline batteries will save you money, and work much better.

I am assuming this is a camera that only gets used in emergency situations.  The rest of the time it spends sitting in a hot (or cold) car.

The Canon A1400 uses two AA batteries.  A 20 Pack of AA batteries is $10 from Amazon.  Assuming you replace the batteries every year, that's a 10 year supply.

A 4 pack of Eneloop batteries will tun you about $15 on Amazon.  Unused, the Eneloops will lose about 85% of their charge over the course of a year.  Possibly more if left in a hot car.

With either Eneloops or Alkalines, you need to pay attention about once a year to recharge or replace the batteries.   Alkalines have a lower upfront cost ($10 vs. $15).  Alkalines also afford you the option of buying over time (no need to blow $10 up front on a 10 year supply).

If you are looking to maximize availability and minimize cost, then traditional alkaline batteries seem like the best solution for your particular situation.

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