Speedlights are some of the best tools in my bag. I can set them up in just minutes, and they can really help add dimension to my scene. The only problem with them is powermy 4 speedlights take 4 AA batteries each. That’s 16 batteries each time I want to use my lights. Depending on the output power, one set of batteries might not last you through a full day of shooting. Over time, the cost of buying disposable batteries can really add up and it might make financial sense to purchase rechargeable batteries.
The best choice for speedlight batteries are Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH). While offering less voltage per battery, NiMH batteries deliver a faster, steadier current, resulting in fast recycle times and more flashes per charge. NiMH batteries can be recharged hundreds of time if you care for them correctly. My favorite brand are the Powerex 2700mAh batteries.
The best way to recharge your NiMH batteries is overnight with a trickle charger. By passing a slow, steady current through the batteries, you’ll get a fuller charge that will last longer. Avoid 15 minute chargers, as they can push too much current too quickly and lessen the lifespan of the batteries.
When preparing for your shoot, always
- Charge your batteries before every use
- Avoid generic batteries that can ruin your speedlights
- Bring your charger with you so youre always prepared
- Rotate your working set and backup set of batteries so they wear down evenly
The only downside to using NiMH batteries is the self-discharge rate These batteries self-discharge faster than traditional alkaline batteries, meaning its important to charge them before each use (especially if theyve been sitting for more than a few weeks).
Using rechargeable batteries can save you hundreds of dollars each year and is more environmentally-friendly than buying bulk packs of traditional alkaline batteries from your local warehouse store. If you shoot with frequently with your speedlights, than the NiMH rechargeable batteries should be a no-brainer. If you don’t shoot a whole lot with your speedlights, then maybe alkaline batteries are for you.