Faster Batteries that both Save Money and the Environment!

What if I told you that you could get faster recycle time on your speedlites all while saving tons of money AND helping the environment? In today's post I'd like to take a quick look at the 4 main benefits to Eneloop NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) rechargeable batteries along with my choice of accessories. 

Drew Gray Eneloop NiMH rechargeable batteries for speedlites and flashes. 

1. Rechargeable (Save Money)

These batteries can be used anywhere standard alkaline AA's and AAA's can be used but can be recharged over 2000 times!!  Instead of routinely tossing your batteries you simply juice them up again. Do I use these around the household too?  You bet!!  I've saved literally hundreds of batteries on the kids toys, flashlights, hanging lights, etc.  

Yes, rechargeable NiMH batteries cost a little more upfront but as you keep reusing them they pay for themselves fast! (For more on the best charger keep reading)

2. Faster Recycle Times

It's true, NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries do have lower voltage than alkaline cells do (1.25V vs 1.5V), but that's not the whole story. Strong current is actually more important for a speedlite's recycle time than voltage, and NiMH are excellent at this.  You can expect your average wait time between full power flashes to move from about 6 seconds down to more like 4. Yup, 2/3rds faster! 

3. Lower Self-Discharge Rate

Until Eneloop's hit the market most NiMH's were plagued by fast self-discharge rates (when not in use) typically loosing 20-30% of their charge after 1 month. Eneloops have totally changed the game and hold at least 85% of their charge after an entire year of sitting (and still 70% after a LONG 10 years). Let's be honest, most of us photographers are using them within a few weeks if regularly booking jobs. 

4. Helps the Environment

This one is obvious.  By not constantly disposing of batteries and purchasing new ones you're living with a much smaller footprint. All Eneloops come pre-charged by solar energy at the factory so they start green from the get go!

Drew Gray Photography Eneloops vs Eneloop Pro

Which Eneloops Do I Get?

Eneloop's come in standard (White) or Pro (Black) versions. Standard Eneloops have 2000mAH (or 800mAH for AAA's) and Eneloop Pro's boast 2550mAH (or 950mAH for AAA's). Pure number of flashes isn't even the primary concern here though.  

I've switched almost entirely to the Eneloop Pro's as their power recycle time is much faster than the already fast standard versions (especially when firing many frames in a quick manner). They allow me to work much faster and have more than paid for themselves in saved time. That being said, the standard Eneloops are still quite good and a great place to start out (especially for around the house where I've delegated my standard Eneloops at this point)

Best Charger?

One of the few potential downsides of these NiMH batteries is that yes, you do have to recharge them.  This can be a real hassle with the 4 capacity battery chargers that usually come with a kit when you buy the batteries.  Seeing as we use them in such bulk, you'll want a better option.  I suggest the Titanium 16 bay charger. At $60 you do pay a bit up front, but this charger is packed with features that make it well worth it in the long run. Here are a few:

  • Simultaneously charge AA's & AAA's (as little as 1 at a time or many as 16)
  • Features 2 USB ports for charging additional devices (I often use to charge my Sony A7rII)
  • LCD readout for the power level of every single battery
  • Feature to fully drain your batteries before recharging to help avoid any bad memory effect.
  • Included 12V Car Plug Adapter in addition to AC wall plug. (Convenient)  

No, I'm not sponsored by this company (or any for that matter) but this charger really has made my workflow much easier! SLR Lounge has a full review of this charger that you can view here!

How Do I Store & Organize Them?

I use "Storacell" caddies made by Powerpax to store both AA and AAA eneloops.  These caddies are highly space efficient and hold your batteries in a clearly visible way.  The batteries click into place when fully inserted to avoid falling out but also have a very pleasant friction to their slide.  

I have a simple workflow system.  Batteries with the the positive (bump) side up are charged and batteries with the negative (flat) side up have been depleted. This way I am always organized and know where I stand on batteries. No more loose batteries fumbling around and getting lost. 

These storacells come in many different colors and storage number capacities, check them out here!

Eneloop Gif Drew Gray Photography

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