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Regular AA batteries vs rechargeable AA batteries in speedlight

Jimmy_JusticeJimmy_Justice Member
edited May 2012 in news & discussions
I was always hesitant to buy rechargeable batteries for my speedlight (580ex) because I already have too many battery charging responsibilities with my camera , phone, vagabond mini etc. It is so convenient to be able to put in a fresh pack before a job and then just throw them out when they are done.

I was recently complaining to a salesman at B&H that I usually dont use TTL mode because it often uses too much power and causes a longer recycle time.Sometimes it can take 7 or 8 seconds and that is way too long.

He suggested I switch to rechargeable batteries and claimed they provide a faster recycle time for my flash.

I am still a bit wary and I would like to hear some opinions on this matter before I go out and buy rechargeable batteries for my speedlight.

Is it possible that rechargeable batteries can provide a faster recycle time?

Thank You.


  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2012
    One of the best ways to get faster re-cycling times is to add a battery pack to the speedlite.

    Canon's own battery pack or 3rd party ones are available here is a list:


    Also I've had great success with these:

    Now, regarding the batteries themselves, absolutely, definitely without a doubt use re-chargeable, more expensive upfront but once bought last a long time.

    Nearly everyone I know and many many here on forum use re-chargeables.

    Do they re-cycle faster, IMO yep. Your recycling time of 7 to 8 seconds would be like poking a stick in my eye if I had to wait that long.

    I can fire a full manual charge and it's ready to go in less then 2 seconds, and often when using TTL mode without needing full power I can fire @ a rate of 10 frames per second and get 3+ or more, depending on power needed before it fails to fire, then I only need to wait like 2-3 seconds and good to go once again.

    Brand: You cannot beat Sanyo Eneloops, and with the new ones out, they are absolutely more bang for your buck.

    These are the standard ones I used for quite a while, read the specifications on them, great re-charge times, hold charge for a long time, etc.


    These are the newer versions, the 'Black Caviar' to speak, more power.


    I got a full set of these for speedlite and battery pack [always make sure you don't mix up batteries, whatever you get put the same brand/strength in both speedlite and external battery pack].

    Also, the new 'Glitter' ones, read the specs on these, 2000amh, but can hold charge 75% up to 3 years and be re-cycled up to 1500 times. A hell of a lot better than 'use and ditch' non re-chargeables.


    But you will not be disappointed, either way you go.


    PS: Although they come factory pre-charged, don't rely on that, charge them each and every time you want to use, also they don't hold a memory like the old re-chargeables, no need to discharge first, you can get an 8 battery Sanyo charger which will recharge them along with triple 'A'. The more charge you keep up to them the longer they will last.

    This is the charger I currently use:


    In the last 3-4 years, I have only had to throw away 2 of them, [no light come on when I put them in the charger].

  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited May 2012
    I tried many different brands of rechargeable batteries. I have 10 year old AA GP battries which still works fine. It's a very good investment. In my opinion, GP batteries are extremely reliable. Just make sure they are fully charged before you use them.


    I recently purchased Sony Eneloop batteries. It's to early for me to comment on the Eneloops.

    Rechargeable batteries is the way to go in Speedlights. They work fine and will save you a lot money.

    With alkaline batteries, you can't "top the battery up to 100%". You need to use it till it's empty. It's not the case with rechargeable batteries, as you can always start with fully loaded batteries.
  • RolfRolf Member
    I purchased a MAHA MH C801D based on a a friend's recommendation and have absolutely loved it. Coupled with the Sony Eneloops AA's. I have an SB600 and SB900 as well as a Battery pack. Pack them with these batteries and I have had 7 hour shift events without a problem. I just purchased AAA Sony Eneloops and the MAHA charger charges those as well! Will be using those on other electronics. Have had the charger and the batteries for close to 8months. Not a hiccup.

    Would recommend this.
  • But with only 2000 MAH does the sanyo's last that long? I use PowerEX with a 2700 MAH rating with no problems.
  • RolfRolf Member
    Yes, good point. And pardon me, I just noticed I've been calling them Sony above - but they are SANYOs. The Sanyo eneloop AA's are 2000 mAH - but they seem to work good for me.

    And the AAA's are even lighter at 750 mAH - I'll see how these do - but am not using the AAA's with any of my photography gear - so not so worried about this batch....
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited July 2012
    Here ya go: Currently the ones I am now using and they sure are great. 2500 mAh.


  • have Eneloops and PowerX. i prefer the eneloops they go the distance. the more powerful PowerX seem to start loosing charge the moment that they are removed from the charger.
  • Hi Jimmy Justice
    I started out with the regular Sanyo envelops then upgraded to the Eneloops XX and recently went back to the Regular Eneloopes I actually find they last long and have less heat problems also with the fact they can be recycled 1500 times means I don't need to worry as much about shorting there lives with every charge.

    I recommend the Sanyo eneloopls

    Lou Recine
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Sanyo Eneloops all the way.
    Their slow self-discharge time make them fantastic.
    Jimmy_Justice said: I was recently complaining to a salesman at B&H that I usually dont use TTL mode because it often uses too much power and causes a longer recycle time.
    Now, I have to hover here for a minute.
    TTL doesn't use "too much power" compared to manual flash.
    You need EXACTLY the same amount of light from your flash (and hence the same amount of energy / juice / batter power), for the same exposure ... regardless of exposure mode.
  • neil RE "You need EXACTLY the same amount of light from your flash" i always assumed it uses more battery power and it takes longer to recycle when using ttl over manual becuase of the preflash
  • sasko1sasko1 Member
    edited July 2012
    is Sanyo Eneloop MQR06 charger ok for charging? Or some other is recomended for those xx batteries?

    Which you recommend XX 2500 or regular eneloops or even glitter (I can still get them in one shop)?
  • MatrixphotoMatrixphoto Member
    edited July 2012
    I would recommend getting the regular Eneloops I found them less trouble and actually lasted longer in the field. I went with Neil's recommendation and got the Pearson Battery Chargers


    separate battery circuits and a refresh button make them perfect for the job.
    The only thing is these are not quick charges so you have to give your self more time.

    Matrix Photo
  • oh cool u use the pearstone charger for ur eneloops! i think ill get one as well
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Naftoli .. you're right. I had forgotten about the pre-flash. I was just thinking of the actual exposure.
  • Is there any other charger that you would recommend? Don't have much of an option here in my country. Maybe eneloop charger, that comes with batteries (MQN04)? Any good?

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited August 2012

    I use the actual Eneloop charger, no problems at all. I got the 8-battery charger though, saves a lot of time doing 8 at once.

    oh, there is a Blue button on top of the charger, that's to discharge the batteries first before charging, but I never use it.

    The place I got it from is purely batteries/lights and he knows his stuff and he said there is absolutely no need to discharge first except on 1 one condition.

    If you put the batteries in, and the lights all turn solid red, meaning they are charging, but maybe 1 or more light is flashing red, that battery needs to have a full discharge done and recharge and it works perfectly when you do that.

    Once charged, the battery lights turn green, and ready to go.
  • thanks Trev. I had in mind also this charger: VOLTCRAFT IPC-1L Intelligent Battery Charger AA AAA

    A bit expensive, but has discharge / charge function and also digital displays. Any opinion about this one?
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Sorry, no experience at all with that one.

  • Thanks Trev. I found one and I ordered it. Looks great! We will see. Can't wait to test it.
  • It's easier to trust regular AA batteries and AAA batteries, as opposed to rechargeable. What happens if you forget to charge them. Stock up on regular batteries at home and you'll be fine.
  • Trev,
    What is the actual Sanyo Eneloop 8x battery charger? I don't think they sell it in the U.S. All I see are 2-AA and 4-AA Sanyo Eneloop chargers.
  • BatteriesButter, i couldnt disagree with u more, i do keep a set of 4 nonrechargable batteries in one of my bags as an extra backup backup but thats still unecessary, eneloops r the best!
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited August 2012
    Naftoli said: BatteriesButter, i couldnt disagree with u more, i do keep a set of 4 nonrechargable batteries in one of my bags as an extra backup backup but thats still unecessary, eneloops r the best!
    Ditto, how much are you paying, for just 1 session you would go through a pack of 4 in the one flash, but here 's the problem. Do you then toss them out even if they are still firing although you are waiting longer for them to recharge, or do you take them along on the next shoot, wait until at the most critical point in a wedding as in walking the aisle, only to find they don't fire, 'hold on a sec guys while I swap the batteries out' just won't cut it.

    Sorry to disagree but having a half loaded set of normal batteries would stress me out. Rechargeable, sure the price is a lot more initially, but to have over 1000 charges, how much would non-rechargeable cost in that time. Literally $$$1000's.

    Anyone who knows his stuff the very first thing they do on getting ready for a shoot the day before, out come ALL the batteries, those that were not even used, ALL get recharged again.

    The very first thing I do Camera Batteries, Flash Batteries, my FreeXWire to fire my Quantums, the Quantum Batteries, all come out and put on chargers. My place looks like a Christmas party the day before with all the chargers going.

    I even go to the trouble of taking the batteries out when charged, put them in flashes, test fire a couple times, and then put them back in for top-up before replacing.
    My Quantums I do same but leave them on charger and pack them up the next day so they get a slow trickle charge right to the very end, fully topped.

    Beauty of Eneloops, non-memory. Same as Quantums.

    @ Stephen: Here, Australian site but at least you will know the product code.

    NC8700 [presume that's generic all over]


    My mate got the charger I listed above in previous post, the Maha when he was in the States, and he absolutely swears by it. I also did some searching on it and it seems to be very good. Has features in it, look at the video on the link. At the time I got mine it was not available here in Australia but it is now.

    It's dearer @ $129AU but comes with the AA Eneloops also. Bargain.

  • Exactly as Naftoli and Trev says... i do a lot on location shooting and was first on regular batteries and frustrated since I never know how full they are, waited for recharge speedlights etc... I want fully charged batteries for every session and that is why I went to eneloops. And yes, I do have 3rd set of eneloops for backup, just in case if other two got empty. :)
    I spent a lot on regular batteries since I couldn't afford to have them half empty for my sessions. So I bought every session new one... and now I am stuck with a lot of regulars at home, for which I don't even know, how full they are.

    It is time to move on. :)
  • StephenStephen Member
    edited August 2012
    Hi Trev,
    Thanks for the URL. Ok, I thought these were official Sanyo 8-battery chargers. This is made by Master Instruments. It looks like Master Instruments is only an Australian company, as those are the only results I'm getting back from Google. So, I can't buy this.

    I have had trouble with the Maha units. They would be fine initially, but after about a year, I had three (yes) three all malfunction. One time, the power adapter stopped working within 3 months, and I was able to contact Maha for an exchange. They are too pricey for me to replace if they fail.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited August 2012
    Thanks for the feedback re Maha. I thought they looked good my mate still has his working great, so that's a bummer.

    Re the other charger, I assumed made by Sanyo, I have never bothered to look think it was another company, since when I bought my chargers they came with the Eneloops, were white like them and packaged all up with the batteries, and called Enechargers, so I totally assumed [wrong] Sanyo. Sorry for the confusion.

    So I don't know where you would get an 8 cell charger then in the States.

  • Hi Trev,
    No problem. I know where to find chargers in the U.S. Maha happens to be the most prevalent brand, and I have had no real luck with them. Maybe I got a bad batch or something, but at $60+ USD, it's a bit hard to replace when one breaks. I'm currently using the Pearstone chargers that Neil uses. They only cost $35 USD, so they are a little better on my budget if they need to be replaced.
  • I have a Canon Speedlite 540EZ unit which doesn't charge on regular 1.5v AA 700mAH batteries that now measure nearly 1.31v each - only the LCD panel and its controls are operable. Fresh battery cells or DC supply of 6v does work for it, and I have never tried re-chargeable cells for the speedlite.
  • Ikea chargers works well. You can change the figure 8 cord of the charger with a cord of another country when traveling. Just check the voltage of the charger.


  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited August 2012
    It's interesting to take note of the possible "Dangers of Lithium Batteries":

  • In some situations, it may be better to use regular AA batteries for safety purposes, e.g air travel.
  • Am I right in thinking the higher the Mah the faster recycling? I've seen some ultrafire ones that have a rating of 5000Mah ! But they are 3.7v and not 1.2v, are they likely to fry my speedlights?
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Yeah, I wouldn't go for the higher voltage.

    And yes, a higher Mah will mean faster recycling. But I wonder how well this would sit with the flashgun, or whether there is limiting circuitry in operation that would protect it.
  • Hi Neil, I've just been doing a bit of research on the subject and eBay has a bit of info on the subject here> http://www.ebay.co.uk/gds/Pros-and-Cons-of-High-Voltage-Rechargeable-Batteries-/10000000177628847/g.html
    I guess from what I can gather the only downside is the fact they can heat up if overworked? I've ordered myself some ultrafire 3.6v 900Mah ones and will give them a blast through. I think the higher voltage ones are a fairly new thing, I'm not really up there with electrics, but it seems its not the voltage I need to worry about but the current. Anyway, they're safe to use so will let you know how I get on with them.
  • cakencamera... are you saying that you were entertaining a higher "voltage" battery? I can't see how that would be a safe thing to do given that the speedlite works at a given voltage (+/- a margin within the circuitry) but if you exceed the stated voltage then the way I see it is that you are asking for trouble.

    An "AA" battery is 1.5v and therefore a speedlite (typically) holds 4 x AA batteries or a total of 6.0v

    The Ultrafire batteries you refer to are 3.6v (and anywhere up to 4.2v) which could potentially mean anywhere from 14.4v to 16.8v for 4 x AA. I don't view them as a replacement.

    Is this wise or am I unaware of something? Please correct me if I am wrong, but it just doesn't 'sound' right.

    This link:


    Provides this warning:

  • Have a read on this from eBay. It seems to me its not the voltage we should be worried so much about but the current coming out...I think. I'm still a little unclear about it, but saying that I have ordered me some and am going to give them a blast. The way I'm thinking is if we use a external battery pack that houses 8 AA batteries and they are 1.5v then wouldn't that be the same or does the power pack reduce the voltage along the line?
  • I have emailed yongnuo and the flash centre but not had a reply yet.
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    The battery packs are not so much about the actual power they produce, it's to do with how fast they recycle therefore being able to fire more rapidly.

    If all the batteries are 1.5V and there are 12 of them [including in the flash] does not equate to 18v, it's merely how fast recycling they can achieve.

    Personally I would be very careful on getting higher voltage, and check the flash manual on the voltage.
  • JerryJerry Member
    Trev is right, it all depends on the circuit the batteries are in the batterypack. Two types. One adds the voltage together, higher voltage but runs out just as quick as a single battery (what is used in torches for an example).

    The other type (parallel circuit if I'm not recalling it wrong) gives the same voltage as a single battery but adds the mAh together, hence lasts longer and are mire durable etc (whuch is used in battery packs and such like)

    Ps. Knew my electricity studies would pay off one day :p
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