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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Battery mystery...Just wondered if anyone else has come across this "problem". I have a large number of AA and AAA batteries ...
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Old 20-12-2015, 10:00   #1 (permalink)
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Battery mystery

Just wondered if anyone else has come across this "problem".
I have a large number of AA and AAA batteries for my flash units and LED lamps.
I have a mixture of 3 brands but the main one, and the one this seems to occur with are Ansmann 2850.
What happens is, after around 6 / 8 months when I charge them one or two will show "fully charged" after 3 / 4 mins, if I remove them from the charger and immediately replace them they then charge normally.
However the same ones usually "die" before they are a year old.
I use an Ansmann charger so it cant be non compatibility with the charger.
I have no such problems with Delkin of the same capacity or with Duracell (I have a set of Duracell that are nearly 7 years old and still OK). Now as they fail I am replacing them with Duracells.
So I wondered if this was common or unique to me ?
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Old 20-12-2015, 12:11   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Battery mystery

I have these batteries for my battery grip and yes they give trouble, mainly losing their charge long before time if left unused. Now I make it a policy to recharge / recycle them every month (given that I haven't charged them due to usage). This brings them into condition where they behave more as expected.

For a company touted for the best chargers their batteries leave something to be desired. In my flash units I use Memorex 2500 as the flashes are less demanding for current. The 2850s are OK but you need to keep an eye on them. I bought several in a batch and while Ansmann guarantee them for 2 years, you need to keep a note of which you are using.

I started a pattern of use about 30 years ago with NiCd batteries, so I could be sure of my radio controlled aircraft would have reliable voltages. Simply, I stuck coloured lables in groups of 4 batteries, giving the set an ID and noting the purchase date. This tactic now helps to keep an eye on the sets as I still work with groups of 4 in the flash guns and battery grips.

My full frame camera demands much more from batteries than the APS-C camera, and rejects batteries that are not fully up to scratch. I had thought I was losing batteries too quickly until by chance I changed the way I worked and noticed the charge holding better during a shoot - which led to making sure that I recharge / recycle more frequently. For me Ansmann need to look more carefully at their battery lines, they are not as good as the competition and tend to make me doubt the worth of their chargers - which also expect the battery to be in good condition or the charger will reject the battery. I have several other chargers for one reason or another, mainly portability versus home charging, and I use one of these other chargers (which doesn't recycle but just charges) to bring any dubious batteries (or left uncharged for too long) back into the voltage range where the Ansmann charger will recycle that battery correctly. Often as not I will then put the battery in a couple of times to recycle it better.
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Old 20-12-2015, 13:46   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Battery mystery

Thanks for that Graham, I keep mine in small boxes that you can get, divided into 4 for AA or AAA and have stickers on them so they can be charged every month.
I too used NiCd s years ago, but for the radio control for my model cars and boats, ("glow plug" engines not electric) so tend to treat batteries as if they still have "memories" and if not used, they get discharged before charging.
Must admit I haven't seen Memorex at any of the dealers I shop at, but will have a look on line.
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Old 21-12-2015, 10:58   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Battery mystery

I've got quite a few rechargeable AA batteries from various makers and have had similar issues with all brands, but not every battery within that brand if that makes sense.

I think that my issues are partly my own fault as I don't charge them regularly which I think is the key to a long battery life.

I do keep them in set of four as long as possible, but usually one will fail in a set so I make up new sets from the remaining good batteries.

Now I tend to only keep a couple of sets charged for use in one flash, but the problem I get is that if I do a job that will need two or three flashes, I then need a couple of sets for each unit - mostly for just in case, which in turn leads to my not keeping between six and ten sets charged. The logistics make my head spin!

I prefer a low and slow charge, preferably overnight, but I also have a high speed charger that will charge 4 AAs from flat in 45 minutes, but try not to use it too often.
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Old 22-12-2015, 09:31   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Battery mystery

I discharge / charge them every month, my main problem is numbers, main flash magazine 16, (2 sets)
2 extra flash units 8, two diode panels 16 and a set of 4 standby to cover for failures.
I have two main chargers but since Grease spots reply I have tried 4 "dead" cells in a Duracell charger and three have revived so the problem may lay more with the chargers than the batteries.
I wonder why no camera manufacturers use camera batteries to power their flash units, after all camera batteries last ages between charges and would probably work out more cost effective as well.
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Old 22-12-2015, 10:20   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Battery mystery

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Originally Posted by blackadder View Post
I wonder why no camera manufacturers use camera batteries to power their flash units, after all camera batteries last ages between charges and would probably work out more cost effective as well.
It would certainly save on the number of chargers, but only if they make a standard battery, which up until now none of the manufactures have succeeded in doing. As the technology improves, a battery providing more power can take up less space in the camera. If they made an adapter cassette for each camera Li battery to fit the flash unit AA housing, and tuned the voltages accordingly, it might help.

The problem comes when people mix and match flash heads and the ubiquitous AA cell has become just the solution for most battery requirements. Now if rechargeable AA size (or even AAA) Li batteries were readily available it would be a win win situation. Longer storage life, more reliable and faster recycling times with a longer usable voltage plateau - plus a reliable method of being able to read the battery condition if it were so chipped.

As the EU applies more and more pressure on manufacturers of electronic equipment to come up with a charging standard that does away with the annual discarded charger mountain, maybe we will see an enforcement to unify battery usage - if only on the grounds of protecting the environment. The current situation makes working equipment redundant as soon as a specialised battery goes out of production.
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Old 22-12-2015, 10:51   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Battery mystery

I have gradually switched to eneloops over the last couple of years as other batteries failed or lost charge. Usually pick them up in lightening sales on Amazon. They don't lose charge even when left for months and I have never had one fail. I have used them in three speedlights for hours, powerful torches, the kids use them in game controllers and just about everything else now.

I do use a smart charger as well and empty them before charging every time. The last lot I got even came in snazy colours.
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Old 22-12-2015, 17:02   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Battery mystery

Thanks Charles and Graham for the info on the batteries, I only use mine at the moment for the mouse and keyboard of the Mac and have always used Duracell Alkaline for my Flash guns, now though I think I should get in the habit of recharging all the Ni-Cad once a month.
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Old 23-12-2015, 09:36   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Battery mystery

Grease spot, didn't think about the vast numbers of flash units, as I only use Canon guns on the canons and Leica flash on the Leica. So my reasoning was, get a *** brand camera and flash and the camera battery would in my example be the same as the flash battery, this would have the added advantage of a spare battery and charger in case of a failure.
Pinnacle. not heard of eneloops, they sound like a good buy, and frequent use and "refresh" ensures longer life.
cmajor 335, good idea, should make them last longer, for my way of working (whole day of flash sometimes) alkaline would be expensive.
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Old 01-03-2017, 13:54   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Battery mystery

I recently bought a small portable DAB radio from John Lewis and purchased four rechargeable "Eneloop"
1900mh batteries they claim to hold 80% of charge after 10 years storage . I use two in the radio and two spare charged on an 7Daysshop ultra charger purchased about eight years ago. Works fine.
Just as a matter of interest a consumer program on the TV tested about four different AA batteries Duracell, Panasonic and some cheaper brands put them into four electric model cars and ran them till they stopped. The winner surprisingly was Liddel's supermarket own brand and less than half the price of Duracell which was second.
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Old 01-03-2017, 23:08   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Battery mystery

To add to Colin's comment, after using a mix of brands at around 2800 - 3000 mAh for a long time I invested in 2 sets of the latest 2500 mAh Panasonic Eneloop AA's at 12.50 a set of 4. These have been rated as the best at retaining charge over a year with more than 85% from memory.

However the Energiser 2300 mAh ran them a close second and are half the price of the Eneloops at 7 Day Shop. The 2000mAh Energisers are cheaper still at less than 6 for 4.
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Old 02-03-2017, 16:38   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Battery mystery

A bit off subject but just to say I bought the Roberts radio on 2nd February for 59 and it has developed a fault. I phoned John Lewis this afternoon and explained and they immediately said they would send a new replacement and I could keep the old radio as they did not want it back too much bother at the price. How is that for excellent service no hassle at all. I could have had it to-morrow by collecting from shop only we don't have a John Lewis over here so it comes by courier.
Another off subject. John Lewis have the site just outside Belfast and applied for planning permission just over ten years ago and permission is still being considered. Our wonderful government, just don't start me.
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