With the love of photography, especially on location speed light use, comes the need for batteries and a way to manage them. I started out using alkaline batteries. They were cheap, easy to replace, and very easy to find when out on a shoot. But I realized I was throwing them away as fast as I was buying them. At this point I started to think that there had to be a better way.
I started researching rechargeable batteries. All of the ones I found initially had the same issue, they would lose their charge over time. I needed a battery that was rechargeable, but acted like an alkaline. I found the Eneloop batteries by Sanyo that stated they were slow discharge and would have 75% of their charge after 3 years of non-use.
I was skeptical, but decided to give them a try. They worked and the worked well. In my non scientific tests, they held up in my flashes as well as alkaline which always lasted longer the NiMH. I could now charge up these batteries and leave them in my bag with no worries about dead batteries.
Next dilemma, how to charge the batteries so that I wouldn’t destroy them?
In my research for rechargeable batteries, I ran across many stories about quick chargers damaging batteries and even some causing the batteries to explode. I knew that I wanted my batteries to last for as long as possible since they do cost about 3x more than your average alkaline and 2x more than the standard rechargeable.
I found the La Crosse Technology BC-900 Battery Charger, which at the time was one of the best chargers on the market. This charger can Charge, Discharge, Refresh, and Test your batteries.
The Charge mode allows you to select you the rate from 200mAh to 1800mAh – how fast do you want your batteries to charge. Discharge mode will drain the battery entirely and recharge it, very useful for NiMH batteries that can develop a ‘memory’ and reduce the charge capacity. The Refresh mode will refresh the rechargeable battery to maximum capacity by charging and discharging it repeatedly. And the test mode will tell you the current battery capacity.
This charger has been updated to the La Crosse Technology BC-1000. This is a great charger, which I have never had any issues. My only need now is the ability to charge more than 4 batteries at a time. For that I’m looking at the Powerex Maha-C801D.
My final battery issues came down to how to tell my charged batteries from my discharged ones. I played around with using different bags to keep them separate, but that didn’t work for me. I finally stumbled across the Storacell by Powerpax.
This solved all my battery storage woes. I now keep my charged batteries with the positive end down and the negative end up. My discharged batteries are put in the opposite way, positive up and negative down. This way I can easily tell with a glance how many batteries I have ready to go and which ones need charging.