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camera batteries

Am buying a new camera. Looking for experience with comparative life of AA batteries vs. rechargable EN-EL lithium batteries used in Nikon cameras. One Ritz Camera person said the rechargable lithiums last longer, but said both they and standard AA batteries get about 100 pictures- of course depending upon percentage of flashes.

Posted by
21709 posts

I have used other batteries but the lithium last much longer. I sorry but that is one item that I just do not pay a lot of attention to. It is such a small cost. I just put in batteries and when they are dead I replace them. So many variables -- how many times you turn on and off, preview pictures, zoom, flash, etc. -- go into battery life that it is hard to make comparison. I do take my TV cable and often will do some editing (deleting) in the evening which uses more power so it is hard to determine actually number of pictures take per battery. My original digital camera used a unique rechargeable battery which had to be recharge is a separate charger. I thought that was a real pain in the butt so made sure that my new camera used AA batteries. Consumers Report has had some good evaluations on this subject including battery life.

Posted by
9363 posts

100 pictures doesn't sound right to me. I've gone almost a whole week on a set of lithiums and I take way more than that. I prefer regular lithiums (not rechargeable).

Posted by
21709 posts

The last thing I want to take is another small piece of equipment that I have to keep track up. I use a Canon camera but I don't keep track of the number of picture -- just time. I can generally get about two weeks of steady usage on two AA lithiums. I always start with fresh batteries and carry four extra. AND you always buy additional batteries along the way. I would skip the rechargables.

Posted by
837 posts

Thank you Nancy and Frank. Sounds like you both use cameras that take AA sized batteries. Have either of you used alkaline batteries? If so, how did the life of the lithium compare with the lithium? Has anyone used the Nikon flat lithiums? They are about 1" square and about 1/4 inch thick; much smaller than two AA sized batteries.

Posted by
2193 posts

I use a Nikon Coolpix and start with 2 fresh AA alkaline Energizer or Duracell batteries in “the chamber” and another 4 in the carry case. I keep the balance of a 10 pack in my bag. The first time I used this camera, I quickly burned through a bunch of cheap alkaline batteries…had to stop by a small convenience store just off Trafalgar Square to procure better batteries. I’ve never really tracked it since, but I do know that I will take around 300 photos in two weeks…don’t remember ever using more than 4 (maybe 6 tops) Energizer or Duracell batteries.

Posted by
9363 posts

I have had the same experience as Frank. My first digital took special rechargeable batteries, and when it was time to replace the camera I made sure the new one would also use regular AAs. I use alkalines only if, for some reason, I run out of lithiums and can't get them where I am (like on a river cruise in the middle of China). Alkalines only last a day or so, so they are only for emergency replacements. Nonrechargeable lithiums last a decent length of time, and you don't have to worry about whether they were fully charged before you started, or if they will develop memory, or if your charger was working properly when you charged them, or if you remembered the plug adapter for the charger.

Posted by
5669 posts

I have an Cannon D SLR and I love having the battery that goes with it. It lasts way longer than the AA batteries that I used to use with my Olympus point and shoot. With the double AA's I was always charging them every night and toting them around. With my Cannon I've found that a single battery lasts all day and longer. Pam

Posted by
1354 posts

Consumer's Report had a review of batteries some months ago. They said that the Energizer Ultimate Lithium (non-rechargeable) AA lasted substantially longer than others (nickel, etc.). I have a simple Canon A590. I loaded it with these batteries (on two trips) and took no spares. I assumed correctly that I could find AA's if I needed them. I did not need them. I took over 100 pictures, which is perhaps not enough for others. I rarely used the flash.

I used carry-on luggage and tried to minimize my luggage weight. I was pleased to forgo chargers and extra batteries. I will stick with AA.

Regards, Gary

Posted by
31465 posts

david,

First of all, what model Camera are you considering?

The most typical type of rechargeable AA batteries these days are Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries. If you buy higher capacity models (ie: >2600 mAH) these usually provide good operating times. However, you'll also have to pack a Charger along, ensuring that it's designed for operation on 100-240 VAC.

The most common type of "proprietary" batteries for Cameras are the rechargeable Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries. These have excellent power-to-weight ratio and therefore also provide good operating times. These also usually require a small Charger, which is included.

The actual operating time for a P&S Camera will depend to some extent on several factors. The largest power draw on this type of Camera is the LCD display, so if you frequently review photos and use the LCD extensively, this will of course reduce the operating time (time spent focusing is also a factor, as the LCD is on).

Most dSLR Cameras have exceptional battery life as the LCD is only on for about 2-seconds after each photo is taken. Focusing to take pictures is done "though the lens" so the LCD isn't normally used (although with some of the newer models that have "Live View", the battery life will be reduced).

Your original question asked about rechargeable batteries, so I won't address the subject of the disposable Lithium batteries.

Just for clarification, I always travel with both a Canon dSLR and a P&S, both of which use rechargeable Li-Ion Batteries. The Chargers for both are designed for "world operation", although a Plug Adaptor is required. I've never had any problems with this approach and will continue using it.

Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by
837 posts

Thank you all for your assistance. I have used a Canon which uses AA. It came with a recharger and I found that they didn't last any longer than non rechargable AAs. I am now considering two Nikons, the L20 and the S630. The S630 has a more powerful zoom, which I like. However, it uses a small (approx. 1 sq in and 1/4 inch thick) EN-EL12 lithium battery. It comes with a charger and I can us rechargable lithiums. However, I take well over 1000 picutures on three week trips and am changing AA batteries several times a day. I am fearful that I would need several lithium batteries. They cost over $30 each. The L20 takes AA batteries and I can get an 8 pack for $18.49. From the responses above, they appear to last significantly longer than alkaline AA and for the price of 1 En-EL12 I can buy plenty of lithium AAs.

Posted by
14881 posts

My digital Sony uses 2 AAs. When I bought it 3 years ago, I also bought a Sony worldwide charger and lots of batteries. I found that 2 AAs (2500 Ni-mH) would last more than one day (around 300 photos per day, sometimes more) and I always had spares with me. The charger is small and weighs next to nothing, easy to recharge overnight (takes up to 4) wherever I was staying. Now I find that I run through 4 to 6 a day, depending on whether I am using the flash, so I am about to buy new batteries.

In Beijing last January, my old batteries lasted about 30 minutes until I realized they were freezing cold. Keeping them warm helped squeeze a bit more juice out of them.

Posted by
588 posts

I have a Canon and my camera person at Shutterbug advised not to use rechargeable batteries. She suggested lithium and and regular AA batteries which can be purchased anywhere. I recently tried a Nikon 630 and wasn't happy with the photos. I will stick with my Canon which is my second one.

Posted by
837 posts

Thank you, all. Audry, thank you for your comments on the Nikon S630, a camera I was considering because of its zoom. What model Canon do you have. I am also interested in your comment that disposable lithium batteries were recommended. I read a comparison chart on dpreview.com which showed recommended batteries and two cannon models recommended alkaline or I think it is Nh, but didn't mention lithium. Lithium is what I want to use. I think the two Canon models I was reading about were Powershot A1100 and A2100. Again, what model do you use?

Posted by
588 posts

David, my current Canon is a Power Shot 590. There is a new Canon out that has a 10 or 12x zoom. I saw it at Costco. It takes two double AA batteries (Lithium or just regular AA). I normally just use the AA batteries but carry a pair of Lithium ($14) as my pro camera dealer suggested. She doesn't even bother with rechargeable batteries.

The Nikon 630 is cute, small, and easy and has some great features.However, I wasn't that impressed with 10x shots. Even my friend who bought the camera says she really gets better photos out of her old Canon (and her new biggie Nikon with all the extra lenses).

Oh and I get far more than 100 pictures from my AA batteries --- more like at least 200 plus messing with viewing and deleting. I would never buy a camera with rechargeable batteries. It was a pain and I couldn't rely on them.

Posted by
515 posts

I use Canon PowerShot, regular AA. I take loads of pics, so I take along enough AA's for replacement every two days. Just keep 2-4 batteries in your daybag, the remainder in luggage. Very little extra weight, lighter as you go, no extra equipment or time involved. Worked great for us on our trips. Will do again the same way. EASY.

Posted by
300 posts

For any camera that takes AA batteries I'd get enough NiMH rechargeables for the camera plus one exchange (e.g., if the camera takes 4 batteries, get 8 rechargeables. The only other thing is to make sure your charger is compatible with 240 VAC. Generally you'll have longer ife per charge than alkaline AAs and the lifetime cost will be much lower than a set of lithium AAs every few days.

Posted by
552 posts

Costco carries the Energizer "Ultimate Lithium" batteries (12-pack) now, bringing the price down to just over $1.50 a battery.

With three four-packs, I'd be able to use the display screen as a reading light each night and still have enough juice to last a month.

The problem with rechargeable batteries is that they hold a little less charge each successive time. Eventually, an aging set of batteries has you spending all your time hunting for a convenient power outlet. This reminds me... I'd better tend to the charger for my portable drill motor before work tomorrow!

Posted by
11805 posts

A decent camera today will get as much as 300 shots on a charge. I've gone nearly a month on the road with only one or two recharges. I do use a very low percentage of flashes (day shots and museum mode primarily). Last time I brought home 500 pictures but easily deleted another 500 while still on the road. I consider the rechargeable batteries significantly better than using AAs.

The one negative on rechargables is they last a long time but die quickly. It's best to get into the habit of checking each night to see if you might need to recharge before the next day. I avoid charging if I don't need it. I may be wrong but I think running the battery to dead or near dead between charges conditions it to last longer. It's something they taught us in the Air Force that may not apply to today's batteries.

Many carry a second battery and replace/recharge the first when it dies.

Posted by
113 posts

My wife and I both use rechargeable NiMh AA batteries, Panasonic and Sanyo Eneloop. We take both of the chargers and 3 pairs of batteries that came with each set. The weight and volume is no bother.

I have no idea how many pics per charge we get. We take a lot of pics, so we carry the extra batteries with us during the day just in case. In general I'd say I get about 2-3 days per pair. Since my wife takes a lot more than me, she probably gets about 1 1/2 - 2 days per pair. We only change batteries when the camera warning comes on. The dead batteries get recharged at night while we're asleep.

As for cameras, my wife uses a Nikon L15 and I use an L1.

Posted by
14881 posts

I think that rechargeable batteries, aside from being cheaper and easier (not having to run around in a foreign place looking for overpriced batteries), is better for the environment. Am I wrong?