Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries

Started 5 months ago | Discussions
davesurrey Senior Member • Posts: 1,474
Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries

A thread on the Canonet QL17 reminded me that I need to get replacements for some of my old cameras that used the now illegal mercury batteries.

I've heard that Wein batteries are good replacements but there are also adaptors on ebay and I wonder how others are using their old cameras that need such batteries,

I'd appreciate any inputs based on real life experience.

Thanks

Dave

 davesurrey's gear list:davesurrey's gear list
Canon PowerShot G12 Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Nikon Coolpix A Panasonic FZ1000 +26 more
Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,053
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries
1

davesurrey wrote:

A thread on the Canonet QL17 reminded me that I need to get replacements for some of my old cameras that used the now illegal mercury batteries.

I've heard that Wein batteries are good replacements but there are also adaptors on ebay and I wonder how others are using their old cameras that need such batteries,

I'd appreciate any inputs based on real life experience.

Thanks

Dave

You can get little brass insets for a few pounds on eBay which convert a 675 battery to fit in the Canonet.  If you use a zinc-air battery then it's more or less the same as a Wein cell (just cheaper and lasts a lot less time).

Or you can get the  MR-9 adapter, which converts the voltage from a SR43 cell to be the same as the 625.  These are expensive though.

Or you can just use a SR44 in one of the brass adapters and not worry too much about it - the SR44 is pretty stable in voltage like the old mercury ones.  I've done this in a Canonet 28 (which is entirely automatic exposure) and it worked OK.

OP davesurrey Senior Member • Posts: 1,474
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries

Thanks that's very helpful.

I had a quick look and I think I'll order a voltage converting adaptor with SR43 cells plus I'll try a 675 for comparison.

I have a few cameras plus a Gossen which all need them.

I see there are a lot of adaptors that offer a mechanical solution but don't do any voltage conversion. I prefer to get the voltage stabilised but I read somewhere that the converter adaptors don't handle much current and so (for example) the QL17 Giii LED won't light on a battery test

Thanks again for your help.

 davesurrey's gear list:davesurrey's gear list
Canon PowerShot G12 Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Nikon Coolpix A Panasonic FZ1000 +26 more
Film-Friend New Member • Posts: 1
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries
1

I just replaced the Mercury battery with a MR-9 adapter for Canonette QL17 . It works well,,,,, How that helps.

Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,053
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries

davesurrey wrote:

Thanks that's very helpful.

I had a quick look and I think I'll order a voltage converting adaptor with SR43 cells plus I'll try a 675 for comparison.

I have a few cameras plus a Gossen which all need them.

I see there are a lot of adaptors that offer a mechanical solution but don't do any voltage conversion. I prefer to get the voltage stabilised but I read somewhere that the converter adaptors don't handle much current and so (for example) the QL17 Giii LED won't light on a battery test

Thanks again for your help.

I have a couple of MR9s in my Lunasix 3.  Oddly they read about a stop over in that compared to Wien cells.  When you do the battery test the Wein cells are at the bottom of the test area and the MR9s at the top. I’ve compared the Lunasix to another meter and the Wein cells give the right reading so I just half the ASA in the meter with the MR9s and they’re fine.   I’ve never had that problem when I’ve tried them in other cameras though.

there is a special adapter for the Gossen which takes two cells but it’s pretty rare now, I’ve only ever seen them on eBay second hand.

tassienick Senior Member • Posts: 1,350
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries
1

Another option is to modify the actual meter circuits. I had this done recently for an OM1n. Added about $30 to the price of a CLA and allows me to use regular Silver Oxide batteries without adapters.

OP davesurrey Senior Member • Posts: 1,474
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries

tassieneck

That's an interesting alternative although I'm currently having problems getting any company to reply to my emails asking for a simple CLA let alone electronic mods.

Who did you get to do the mods?

I assume you mean adding some sort of voltage regulator rather than just adjusting the meter calibration.

 davesurrey's gear list:davesurrey's gear list
Canon PowerShot G12 Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Nikon Coolpix A Panasonic FZ1000 +26 more
Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,053
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries
1

davesurrey wrote:

tassieneck

That's an interesting alternative although I'm currently having problems getting any company to reply to my emails asking for a simple CLA let alone electronic mods.

Who did you get to do the mods?

I assume you mean adding some sort of voltage regulator rather than just adjusting the meter calibration.

You can find details to make the modification yourself for some cameras on line (see for example https://www.rangefinderforum.com/classics/forum/messages/6901/2312.html?1080656689). You solder a diode onto the power lead - I’ve never done this although I’ve had a Nikon F modified for 1.5v as part of a repair/service.

OP davesurrey Senior Member • Posts: 1,474
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries

Overrank wrote:

davesurrey wrote:

Thanks that's very helpful.

I had a quick look and I think I'll order a voltage converting adaptor with SR43 cells plus I'll try a 675 for comparison.

I have a few cameras plus a Gossen which all need them.

I see there are a lot of adaptors that offer a mechanical solution but don't do any voltage conversion. I prefer to get the voltage stabilised but I read somewhere that the converter adaptors don't handle much current and so (for example) the QL17 Giii LED won't light on a battery test

Thanks again for your help.

I have a couple of MR9s in my Lunasix 3. Oddly they read about a stop over in that compared to Wien cells. When you do the battery test the Wein cells are at the bottom of the test area and the MR9s at the top. I’ve compared the Lunasix to another meter and the Wein cells give the right reading so I just half the ASA in the meter with the MR9s and they’re fine. I’ve never had that problem when I’ve tried them in other cameras though.

there is a special adapter for the Gossen which takes two cells but it’s pretty rare now, I’ve only ever seen them on eBay second hand.

When you say you have a couple of MR9s do you mean the MR9 adaptors or the actual mercury MR9s?

I used to have a Lunasix 3s but now have a Lunasix F and a Digiflash which luckily don't have this issue.

 davesurrey's gear list:davesurrey's gear list
Canon PowerShot G12 Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Nikon Coolpix A Panasonic FZ1000 +26 more
Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,053
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries

davesurrey wrote:

Overrank wrote:

davesurrey wrote:

Thanks that's very helpful.

I had a quick look and I think I'll order a voltage converting adaptor with SR43 cells plus I'll try a 675 for comparison.

I have a few cameras plus a Gossen which all need them.

I see there are a lot of adaptors that offer a mechanical solution but don't do any voltage conversion. I prefer to get the voltage stabilised but I read somewhere that the converter adaptors don't handle much current and so (for example) the QL17 Giii LED won't light on a battery test

Thanks again for your help.

I have a couple of MR9s in my Lunasix 3. Oddly they read about a stop over in that compared to Wien cells. When you do the battery test the Wein cells are at the bottom of the test area and the MR9s at the top. I’ve compared the Lunasix to another meter and the Wein cells give the right reading so I just half the ASA in the meter with the MR9s and they’re fine. I’ve never had that problem when I’ve tried them in other cameras though.

there is a special adapter for the Gossen which takes two cells but it’s pretty rare now, I’ve only ever seen them on eBay second hand.

When you say you have a couple of MR9s do you mean the MR9 adaptors or the actual mercury MR9s?

I used to have a Lunasix 3s but now have a Lunasix F and a Digiflash which luckily don't have this issue.

MR9 adapters.   I think the Lunasix 3 has a better low light performance than the F, but to be honest I’ve never needed -4EV, even living in the U.K.

OP davesurrey Senior Member • Posts: 1,474
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries

Overrank wrote:

davesurrey wrote:

tassieneck

That's an interesting alternative although I'm currently having problems getting any company to reply to my emails asking for a simple CLA let alone electronic mods.

Who did you get to do the mods?

I assume you mean adding some sort of voltage regulator rather than just adjusting the meter calibration.

You can find details to make the modification yourself for some cameras on line (see for example https://www.rangefinderforum.com/classics/forum/messages/6901/2312.html?1080656689). You solder a diode onto the power lead - I’ve never done this although I’ve had a Nikon F modified for 1.5v as part of a repair/service.

I've read up a lot over the last 12 hours plus thanks to all who have helped here.

It does seem however that most of these adaptors use a diode to drop the voltage and even if they use a Schottky diode the voltage drop will still be temperature and most importantly current dependant. The extensive paper by F de Gruijter " The Mercury cell problem and its solutions" is very detailed on this.

But how this will affect results in practice only time will tell.

So ideally I'd like a voltage regulator inbuilt eg using the Toshiba TCR2EE135LM. But perhaps I'm over thinking this and should just enjoy the photography.

Dave

 davesurrey's gear list:davesurrey's gear list
Canon PowerShot G12 Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Nikon Coolpix A Panasonic FZ1000 +26 more
elmo Senior Member • Posts: 2,872
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries
1

When I sell a camera that uses the standard Mercury cell, I include the following:

Battery NOT included. A battery is not needed for manual exposure control (you can use the Sunny 16 technique, or use a light meter app in your phone). If buyer desires to use the light meter and/or auto exposure mode, a plan will be needed to substitute for the no-longer-available 1.3v mercury cell. Best solution: I recommend the MR9 adapter sold on Ebay by pratedthai, currenly $22.50, for use with SR43 silver oxide 1.5v cell. This changes the size and reduces the voltage, and, the silver oxide cell has long life, and a proper discharge curve, for consistent results. Cheap solution: Use a 625A alkaline 1.5v cell. It's the right size, but high voltage and poor discharge curve will give imperfect metering. This would be unacceptable for picky slide film, but, for the high latitude of negative film most commonly used, the error may not be significant for most users. Results may be best by adjusting the camera's light meter downward (for ISO 400 film, set the meter closer to ISO 200). Easy solution: Use a Wein MRB625 cell. It has the correct size, voltage and discharge curve, with a lifespan of about a year (this is shorter than other cell types). Other solutions: Make your own cheap and easy size adapter (Google it). Then, use an inexpensive 1.4v zinc-air 675 hearing aid battery for very close exposures and good discharge curve. Or, use 1.5v silver oxide SR44 / 357 or alkaline LR44 / AG13 / A76 cells, and adjust the camera's light meter, as noted for the cheap solution, above.

 elmo's gear list:elmo's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1 Panasonic LX100 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,053
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries

elmo wrote:

When I sell a camera that uses the standard Mercury cell, I include the following:

Battery NOT included. A battery is not needed for manual exposure control (you can use the Sunny 16 technique, or use a light meter app in your phone). If buyer desires to use the light meter and/or auto exposure mode, a plan will be needed to substitute for the no-longer-available 1.3v mercury cell. Best solution: I recommend the MR9 adapter sold on Ebay by pratedthai, currenly $22.50, for use with SR43 silver oxide 1.5v cell. This changes the size and reduces the voltage, and, the silver oxide cell has long life, and a proper discharge curve, for consistent results. Cheap solution: Use a 625A alkaline 1.5v cell. It's the right size, but high voltage and poor discharge curve will give imperfect metering. This would be unacceptable for picky slide film, but, for the high latitude of negative film most commonly used, the error may not be significant for most users. Results may be best by adjusting the camera's light meter downward (for ISO 400 film, set the meter closer to ISO 200). Easy solution: Use a Wein MRB625 cell. It has the correct size, voltage and discharge curve, with a lifespan of about a year (this is shorter than other cell types). Other solutions: Make your own cheap and easy size adapter (Google it). Then, use an inexpensive 1.4v zinc-air 675 hearing aid battery for very close exposures and good discharge curve. Or, use 1.5v silver oxide SR44 / 357 or alkaline LR44 / AG13 / A76 cells, and adjust the camera's light meter, as noted for the cheap solution, above.

You can get a silver oxide 625 (https://www.smallbattery.company.org.uk/sbc_s625px.htm). I use these in my Nikon F which has been converted to the right voltage.

elmo Senior Member • Posts: 2,872
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries

Overrank wrote:

elmo wrote:

When I sell a camera that uses the standard Mercury cell, I include the following:

Battery NOT included. A battery is not needed for manual exposure control (you can use the Sunny 16 technique, or use a light meter app in your phone). If buyer desires to use the light meter and/or auto exposure mode, a plan will be needed to substitute for the no-longer-available 1.3v mercury cell. Best solution: I recommend the MR9 adapter sold on Ebay by pratedthai, currenly $22.50, for use with SR43 silver oxide 1.5v cell. This changes the size and reduces the voltage, and, the silver oxide cell has long life, and a proper discharge curve, for consistent results. Cheap solution: Use a 625A alkaline 1.5v cell. It's the right size, but high voltage and poor discharge curve will give imperfect metering. This would be unacceptable for picky slide film, but, for the high latitude of negative film most commonly used, the error may not be significant for most users. Results may be best by adjusting the camera's light meter downward (for ISO 400 film, set the meter closer to ISO 200). Easy solution: Use a Wein MRB625 cell. It has the correct size, voltage and discharge curve, with a lifespan of about a year (this is shorter than other cell types). Other solutions: Make your own cheap and easy size adapter (Google it). Then, use an inexpensive 1.4v zinc-air 675 hearing aid battery for very close exposures and good discharge curve. Or, use 1.5v silver oxide SR44 / 357 or alkaline LR44 / AG13 / A76 cells, and adjust the camera's light meter, as noted for the cheap solution, above.

You can get a silver oxide 625 (https://www.smallbattery.company.org.uk/sbc_s625px.htm). I use these in my Nikon F which has been converted to the right voltage.

OK, good. That will give a proper discharge curve, which is half the battle with the 625A alkaline cells.

 elmo's gear list:elmo's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1 Panasonic LX100 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
CortoPA
CortoPA Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries

I did the Diode Mod on my FT, easy if you have a soldering iron or know someone who does:

https://youtu.be/yzgVodBm-DY

tassienick Senior Member • Posts: 1,350
Re: Replacement for the dreaded Mercury batteries

davesurrey wrote:

tassieneck

That's an interesting alternative although I'm currently having problems getting any company to reply to my emails asking for a simple CLA let alone electronic mods.

Who did you get to do the mods?

I had it done by Yoshi at Nagami Camera Service in Melbourne. Unfortunately he announced his retirement a few days ago

I assume you mean adding some sort of voltage regulator rather than just adjusting the meter calibration.

EmmaNems Regular Member • Posts: 272
Why bother?

The camera's mechanical. It only needs a battery to operate a near-useless meter. Built-in meters suck. Get a good incident meter and forget the camera batteries.

Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,053
Re: Why bother?
1

EmmaNems wrote:

The camera's mechanical. It only needs a battery to operate a near-useless meter. Built-in meters suck. Get a good incident meter and forget the camera batteries.

Given that it’s so easy to fix why bother buying and carrying an external meter and dialling in the setting each time?

Using sunny-16 is of course a different thing, that would avoid having to carry anything, but not always so good.

CortoPA
CortoPA Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: Why bother?
2

EmmaNems wrote:

The camera's mechanical. It only needs a battery to operate a near-useless meter. Built-in meters suck. Get a good incident meter and forget the camera batteries.

I get excellent results with the meter in my Canon FT and prefer not to haul around any more gear if I can avoid it. It is pretty accurate.

EmmaNems Regular Member • Posts: 272
Re: Why bother?

Overrank wrote:

EmmaNems wrote:

The camera's mechanical. It only needs a battery to operate a near-useless meter. Built-in meters suck. Get a good incident meter and forget the camera batteries.

Given that it’s so easy to fix why bother buying and carrying an external meter and dialling in the setting each time?

Using sunny-16 is of course a different thing, that would avoid having to carry anything, but not always so good.

Because, as said, built-in meters suck. A reflected meter only works accurately when you get lucky. An incident meter works all the time.

Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads