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Thread: Battery life in digital cameras: Lithium vs Alkaline vs NiMh?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* HighlanderNorth's Avatar
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    Thinking Battery life in digital cameras: Lithium vs Alkaline vs NiMh?

    While on vacation last month in Fl, my camera got some water droplets in its zoom lens(built in zoom-Nikon 8700) during a 9 mile kayaking trip, because the ziplock bag malfunctioned, so use of my camera ended on day 2. Then, after 5 days, my Mom flew down to start her 1 month long vacation(must be nice!), and brought her point and shoot digital camera along. She takes more pictures than I do, and wants pictures of me taken just about every where we go! Its annoying..........

    But anyway, I had to start using her camera to take some of the pictures I wanted to take, since mine was down, and then have her email those pics to me later. Her camera runs on 2-AA batteries, and she brought standard alkalines with her. I noticed that the batteries were going dead somewhat frequently, seemingly once per every day if we took a fair amount of pics, but we werent taking that many though, and there were 2 times where there was a great sunset, and I go to take a picture of it, but the batteries are dead! That happened at this upscale tiki bar type restaurant we ate at one night too.

    So when I got back from Fl, I decided to buy her a 4 pack of Sanyo 2000mah Eneloops with charger. She just got back from the '2nd' part of her vacation at the Outer Banks of NC, where she was renting a house near the beach in a nice community called "Duck", which is close to Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk. So I gave them to her a few days ago.

    When I had read about these and disposable lithium batteries, it was said that lithiums will last up to 8 times as long as standard alkalines in digital cameras, and that NiMh will also last longer. In other words, you can snap more pictures before the you need to change batteries vs alkalines.

    So, I have a bit of a hard time believing that Energizer Ultimate litium disposables will last 8 times longer, and allow you camera to take 8 times more pictures before they go bad, vs alkalines, which is the claim Energizer makes. Is that really true and accurate?

    How much longer will the Sanyo 2000mah Eneloops last in a small point-shoot camera vs standard alkalines, if at all?

  2. #2
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Battery life in digital cameras: Lithium vs Alkaline vs NiMh?

    As someone who has been teaching digital photography for years, I can answer that for you.

    Alkalines are unsuitable for digital cameras due to higher internal resistance than Ni-MH cells. It's not that the battery "goes bad" only that it can't supply the current needed by the camera. If you put the "bad" cells into another device you would find they still have a lot of useful life left.

    I have converted plenty of students to Eneloops over the years, although less so of late since very few new cameras still support AA cells. Your Eneloops will give far more pictures than Alkalines in a digital camera simply because they hold up under load.
    On the other hand, if you were to compare the relative performance in a low drain device such as a small radio or low-powered flashlight, they would be much closer in overall useful life to the Alkalines.

    Get the Eneloops, but try to spring for a pack that includes a charger with individual channels and smart cut-off rather than the "dumb" timer-based units that only charge in pairs. Your cells will thank you. If your Mom uses a PC, there is a nice Sanyo Eneloop charger powered by USB (or you could get her a wall-wart) that fits the bill. Supplied with two AA cells. I picked up a couple here (Aus) for about $17ea.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Battery life in digital cameras: Lithium vs Alkaline vs NiMh?

    It depends a lot on how you are using your camera and the camera itself. If you are just taking outdoor pictures (no flash) then it takes considerably less power to not have to use the flash. If you are using the LCD screen on the back of the camera that takes a lot of power to operate it also. The high drain rate of digital cameras under full use can such an alkaline dry fast as alkalines are not designed to operate devices at heavy drains and the internal resistance causes them to waste a lot of power heating up like a resistor while nimh and lithium primary batteries have a lot lower internal resistance and lose a lot less power in use due to heat. The 8 times claim is probably close to correct if you are using the screen on the back along with taking pictures cycling the flash. I would say that eneloops should last at least 2-3 times as long on a digital camera perhaps 4-5 times but the capacity of them is less than lithium primaries which would average about 2500-3000mah or 25-50% more. My advice is if you use the camera heavily get two sets of eneloop batteries for it and one set of lithium primaries for backup as they are very light and don't need recharging for up to 10 years or so such that if you go on a heavy picture taking spree you rarely will use the lithiums at all.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Battery life in digital cameras: Lithium vs Alkaline vs NiMh?

    I have two cameras that use AA size batteries and I did a test on alkalines and routinely use eneloops.

    I got about 50 pictures on good quality alkalines. Mostly not using the flash.

    I routinely get about 200 pictures on Eneloops over the course of a week vacation, using the flash only when neccesary.

    I have not tested Lithium primaries but the Nikon camera I have came with them and says it is rated for 400 pictures on Energizer Lithiums. The Sony camera manual I have said to only use Alkaline or Nimh.

    I have also had alkalines leak in my Nikon and that was a pain to clean up.
    Last edited by cave dave; 06-17-2012 at 08:33 AM.
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