Light Meter: Batteries 102

I previously went over the differences between AA batteries and lithium-ion batteries. This time around I’ll touch upon the 5 common types of AA’s; American Airlines, Aristocratic Aardvarks, Alan Alda… Making sure that you’re paying attention.


Alkaline – Bar none these are the ones we’ve all used. They’re easy to find in your local supermarket and wholesale warehouses among many other locals. While they may be the most common they don’t last very long. Alkaline batteries actually lose power sitting around waiting for you to buy them and while sitting idle in electronic devices. My recommendation is to only use them in a pinch. A 4-pack averages $5.00.

Oxy nickel hydroxide – What? I know, I know…most people haven’t heard of this species. It’s a new cross-breed of throw away batteries. They’re not as easy to find as they should be. In comparison to alkalines, oxy nickel hyroxide batteries last twice as long. A 4-pack goes for around $6.00 and are avaliable in electronics stores as well as discount department store chains.

Lithium – Energizer is producing these and advertising them everywhere. These powerful little guys last 5-7 times as long as alkalines. In fact they can outlast rechargeables however once they’re kaput, they’re kaput. Look for them in camera shops, hardware stores, and online. A 4-pack costs $15.00.


Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) – An alternative to the previously listed batteries are rechargeables. Since they can be used over and over again, you’ll save money in the longrun. NiCd’s are a great option in this regard. There are a variety of companies making them. Ideally they are for those who use their cameras often because these batteries can develop problems if they are not properly discharged before recharging. A 4-pack of AA’s with a charger sells at $20 -30.00.

Nickel-metal hyrdride (NiMH) – As more and more consumers are purchasing their 2nd, 3rd or even 4th digital camera they’ve learned that NiMH batteries are the way to go. Unlike NiCd’s, they can withstand random charging . Available for purchase nearly everywhere you find alkalines, a set of 4 can be bought for $10.00 or with a charger for $15-40.00. Also, there’s another breed elbowing it’s way into town. These are ready-to-use AA’s made by Sanyo and Rayovac among others. Typically they cost $12 for a 4-pack.

Important things to remember:

Never mix battery types in a camera.
Store batteries in a cool dry place. They are perishable; extreme heat or cold can ruin them.
Don’t attempt to charge alkaline, lithium or oxy nickel hyroxide batteries.
New NiCd’s and NiMH’s need to be charged overnight before their first use.
Don’t leave your charger plugged in for an excessive amount of time.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

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