Nobody Mentioned that Flashes EAT batteries

Discussion in 'Lighting and Hardware' started by sm4him, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. sm4him

    sm4him In memoriam Supporting Member

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    Finally got an off-camera flash, a Yongnuo 560. I've had almost no time to practice doing anything with it, but one thing I've discovered quickly is that the thing takes the batteries I put in, chews them up like candy and spits them out.
    So every time I finally have a few minutes to go outside and practice shooting some birds, it turns out, the flash doesn't work. Dead batteries.

    I've been using regular old Duracell or Energizer batteries, because I was too uneducated about flashes to know what a bad idea that was. In another recent thread, I just saw some other possibilities, but I have to admit, I'd never even heard of some of them. Pixel battery packs? Eneloops?

    So, what's your recommendation for a good battery for the flash that will give me a bit more "flash for my buck" than regular batteries? Will just regular Duracell or Energizer NiMH batteries work better? Or do I need to throw yet more money at the photography monster in my house, for some specialized batteries?

    I'm not a pro, and don't even play like one on Facebook. I don't really do portrait photography (other than just a bit to learn how). I'm mostly using the flash to improve my bird and other nature photography, experiment with a little pseudo-macro or water drop stuff, things like that. So, I don't need PRO equipment, and if my flash fails it will disappoint only ME, not paying clients. But I'd still like to not have to change the batteries every single time I use the durn flash!


     
  2. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    If you're constantly doing full power dumps, regardless of who makes the flash they'll go through batteries pretty quick.
     
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  3. Robin Usagani

    Robin Usagani Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yeah.. ditto ^^^^^

    What flash power? The way I use flash, it lasts through the whole wedding.. sometimes I change the battery in the middle just because I want to make sure.
     
  4. analog.universe

    analog.universe TPF Noob!

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    Rechargeable batteries are an absolute must. Regular alkaline batteries are obsolete technology, not necessary since the early 90s. They are low capacity, horrible for the environment, and expensive.... the only place they might still be useful is in something like a smoke detector, but even then I'd probably choose a single use lithium cell.

    I use Duracell 2450mAh NiMH AA's in my speedlights, and they give me hundreds of full power flashes left on continuously for hours at a time. 20 minutes of charge gets me hours of use, so I have 3 sets for 2 flashes and I'm always covered.

    Beyond this are dedicated lithium ion packs based on the technology used in laptops and cell phones (quantum is a brand that comes to mind), which are very high performance, but generally more expensive.
     
  5. sm4him

    sm4him In memoriam Supporting Member

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    Not to sound totally ignorant, but what's a "full power dump?" I assume you just mean USING the flash on full power? So far, I've just experimented a little with it at various power levels. I haven't used it on full power that often, more often at half-power or less. But I really haven't used it for more than 30 minutes (not using it continuously for 30 minutes, just over the span of 30 minutes) at a time, because that's all the time I've HAD lately. And the batteries do good to make it through one session.
     
  6. sm4him

    sm4him In memoriam Supporting Member

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    I agree about the alkaline batteries; but I do use them in things like TV remotes where they last a long time, and it's not worth the extra price to me to buy better ones. I'd been given a bunch of them recently, so I thought I could just use them in the flash.
    It sounds like you're getting pretty good results from the Duracell NiMHs, I may try those or the Energizer equivalent...but I'm still curious about the other options, like these "eneloops" or Pixel battery packs that were referred to in another thread.
     
  7. sm4him

    sm4him In memoriam Supporting Member

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    Various flash power settings, since I'm just experimenting with it and learning how to use the thing right now. But it's not on full power all that much. So, what are you using?
     
  8. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I use the same duracells in mine with great, great results. Thousands of flashes at 1/2 power, hundreds at full power.

    You can get them in a pack with a charger from Walmart for like $20, additional packs of batteries are $10. I have 3 chargers and 10 sets of batteries, but I also have 5 flash units.
     
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  9. Spoe

    Spoe TPF Noob!

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    Eneloop from Sanyo. One of the top, if not the best rechargeable batteries around right now. They also can hold the charge a very long time, so you don't have to worry about them draining when not being used.
     
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  10. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Yes, certainly get away from Alkaline batteries.

    The most common type to use, are NiMH rechargeable batteries. They work really well, and one great benefit of using them in a flash, is that they work pretty consistently, until the batteries are almost (80-90%) used up. Then the flash really starts to slow down. With Alkaline batteries, you notice the slow down around the 50% mark...so you can continue using the flash for some time...it just gets slower and slower. I used to use alkaline batteries in a flash, take them out when they slowed down...then use them in something else (flash light, kids toys) and they would last for months or years.

    Back to NiMH. There is (was) a major problem with them...they had a terrible shelf life. In other words, they would discharge, even when not in use. So if you charged them up, then left them along for weeks or months, they would be almost dead when you when to use them.
    This problem is now almost fixed. Sanyo Eneloops were one of the first (certainly the most popular) type of NiMH batteries to have a much long shelf life. They will retain much of their charge over a longer period of time (not being used). These days, more and more companies have this technology...although, it's not front and center in their advertising or packaging.

    One of the disadvantages of the Eneloops, is that they have a lower capacity (mah) than the better models of Duracell/Energizer etc. For example, I think the AA Eneloops are 2000 mah. Many of my Energizers are in the range of 2450 to 2700 mah. That is a measure of their capacity, and thus how many flashes you can get out of them.

    Another thing to be aware of, is the charger and charging. They say these batteries don't have a memory, meaning that you can charge them up, even if they aren't all the way dead, without any harm or ill affects. I believe that to be true...but I also think they benefit from an occasional full draining and charge.
    Most will tell you that the rate of charge (and resulting heat build up) will affect the overall lifespan of the batteries. You want to avoid the 'one hour' chargers, as they can push a lot of power and thus build up a lot of heat. A slower charger is said to be better.
    Also, a very cheap 'dumb' charger will just charge and relies on you to take them out when their done. Better ones will detect when the batteries are full (or acting like their full) and turn off the charge. Some will also monitor heat.

    The best chargers, allow you to set the charging rate. That way you have the option for a nice slow/cool charge, or you can speed it up if you need. Also, these good chargers may also have a cycle mode, to fully discharge and charge up the batteries. They may even have a 'break-in' mode, which is meant for the first time you charge them....but it's also great for older batteries that don't work so well anymore.
    Yet another mode is 'test'. This mode, runs the batteries though several charge and discharge cycles and tells you the actual capacity. It's not uncommon to find that many batteries don't live up to their rated capacity...and some will sometimes be higher than rated.
    Usually, after a long life of being used...the capacity drops. That is where the break-in mode can help to reset that capacity back to where it should be.

    Here is probably the most recommended 'really good' charger. MAHA / POWEREX MH-C9000 WizardOne Charger-Analyzer for 4 AA / AAA
     
  11. MLeeK

    MLeeK TPF Noob!

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    Eneloops and several others are "Ultra Low Discharge" batteries which causes less energy use producing heat each time you fire them causing them to last longer when in use and not overheat. They also last longer in recharges than regular rechargeables because the amount of energy they discharge is much reduced while sitting unused.

    As far as the regular AA batteries go the cheapies won't last you a minute or two. The decent ones will last a little while, but if you are using quite a bit of power in your flash it won't be long. The GOOD ones will last a bit longer, but you'd still see a difference between an ULD battery and the good disposables.
     
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  12. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I forgot to mention Lithium batteries. They are not rechargeable, thus bad for the environment...but their big advantage is that they are very light. If you're traveling with 20 or 32 batteries, the weight savings is pretty significant.
    Lithium Ion battery pack are rechargeable, but they don't make these in AA form, as they don't operate at 1.5/1.2 volts.
     

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