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Everything a Photographer Needs to Know About Batteries

Creative Market March 31, 2021 · 4 min read

Photographers have many options when it comes to choosing the best kinds of batteries for a camera. There are plenty of contenders for the job as well as external power sources to consider, such as portable battery packs and battery grips. They come in all shapes and sizes and use a wide range of methods to power a camera. So what are the best types of batteries for photography?

The Versatile AA

AAs can be used in a number of compact cameras as well as more sophisticated cameras. However, almost all DSLR and compact system cameras have their own dedicated batteries that are shaped to fit that particular camera. If you have a camera that uses AA batteries, it’s important to choose the battery that has the longest life. The biggest question is whether to use non-rechargeable or rechargeable batteries.

Should You Use Rechargeable Batteries?

For devices like digital cameras that drain batteries quickly, it’s always best to invest in a set of rechargeable batteries. You’ll get much more usage out of them than having to purchase disposable batteries every time they run out, which, depending on how much you use it, could be every few days. It’s a bigger investment in the short term but will vastly reduce expenses over time. For point-and-shoot cameras or other devices that don’t drain batteries as quickly as digital cameras and flashguns, using non-rechargeable batteries makes more sense.

What’s The Best Rechargeable AA?

There are a number of types of rechargeable batteries. Alkaline rechargeable batteries are great for devices that aren’t high drain. Nickel Metal Hydride batteries (NiMH) are incredibly environmentally friendly and are great for photographers who use a camera a lot over a short period of time.

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Source: Panasonic

When it comes to Speedlites, the best batteries are rechargeable AAs. Sanyo developed the first low self-discharge rechargeable battery, Eneloop, which are some of the best batteries on the market for Speedlites. The chart above shows the various envelop batteries and how they differ. As you can see, the standard Eneloops can survive up to 2,100 life cycles.

If you’re really serious about flash battery life and recycle time, there’s a whole market of external battery packs that dramatically increase the effectiveness of your Speedlite.

Camera Batteries

The most popular type of battery for digital cameras are Lithium-ion batteries. They are exceptionally lightweight and can be recharged over and over again. They are most often molded to fit the make and model of a particular camera and require dedicated chargers to recharge them. If your camera is a modern and popular model, there are likely to be third-party manufacturers that make them as well as your camera’s manufacturer.

Third Party Batteries

Buying these third-party replacement batteries can save money, but it’s important to read the reviews before buying them. Sometimes you will find that they don’t last as long or tend to leak or damage easily. Hahnel is a premium third-party battery manufacturer that has a trusted name in the industry

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I personally, have had no luck with third party batteries and recommend dropping a few extra bucks to get a battery right from your camera’s manufacturer.

Battery Grips

Battery grips are another option for people with DSLR cameras. Many of them perform other functions in addition to powering a camera, including having an extra shutter button. The power supply varies depending on the manufacturer but because of their larger size, they can often drastically increase the life of a battery. They can be a considerable initial investment but you’ll find that it pays off over time.

All rechargeable batteries will lose their charge over time due to self-discharge. It’s important to keep batteries stored in a cool, dry place and not to overcharge them. The longer they are kept on a charger after they have been fully charged, the more quickly they will lose their charge over time.

Which Batteries Do You Use?

Camera batteries sounds like such a simple topic, but it’s a vast market full of choices and it can be easily overwhelming to a newcomer. Hopefully, we’ve shed a little light into what types of batteries work best.
Now it’s your turn to chime in. Which AAs are in your external flashes? Do you use a battery grip? Tell us all about your battery preferences!


Header image created using Abstract of bokeh on street and Batteries.


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