We all need batteries to operate our flashes. Using non-rechargeable batteries can quickly turn into hell. First, this is not very green (not ecological), and after a while it represents a significant budget (not economical).
I have been using only rechargeable batteries at home for a few years now.
Today I’ll be talking about one of the bestseller from Eneloop (Panasonic), the 4th generation of 1900mAh Ni-MH AA batteries (LR6), model BK-3MCCE.
1- Who is Eneloop?
Formerly Sanyo, then bought by Panasonic in 2013, Eneloop batteries are not new (they were 13 years old in 2018), and have always been among the best rechargeable batteries on the market.
If you want to read more about the Eneloop and Panasonic philosophy (sustainable lifestyle, environmentally friendly), you can check their website and learn a few facts.
There are now a lot of competition and the main brands of rechargeable batteries are Varta, Panasonic (Eneloop), Duracell, Energizer, AmazonBasics, Camelion, EBL, Tenergy, Bonai, Mr.Batt, etc.
The main arguments of Eneloop batteries are:
- Can be recharged up to 2,100 times
- Ready to use (shipped fully charged)
- Retain >70% capacity after 5 years in storage
- Are more powerful than conventional dry batteries
- Japanese design and technology
- Are more durable even at high temperatures
- Reduce wastage and environment impact
Eneloop rechargeable batteries are Ni-MH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) batteries, i.e. they are insensitive to memory effect unlike older NiCd or NiCad (Nickel-Cadmium) batteries and cells. As a reminder, the memory effect is a physic-chemical phenomenon that affects the performance of electric accumulators if they are not completely discharged before being recharged. Good news then, no need to ask yourself this question before recharging our battery packs as Eneloop technologies prevent this memory effect.
For your information, Ni-MH batteries are also widely used in hybrid cars (Toyota Prius or Honda Civic for example). Even if now Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries are taking the lead (Tesla cars for example).
Since 2005, manufacturers have been developing Ni-MH batteries with low self-discharge, and can therefore ship their batteries precharged. Low self-discharge means that the battery will retain 70% to 90% of its capacity after one year of storage at a temperature of 20°C. So that’s very good news for us consumers. Technological advances over the last decade have considerably improved the possibilities of batteries. And the future look bright.
There are 3 versions of Eneloop batteries:
- The Eneloop (standard) (white cover)
- The Eneloop Pro (black cover)
- The Eneloop Lite (blue cover)
If you want to buy these Eneloop batteries, make sure you are buying the latest generations. Pay attention to the description because it is not uncommon to find older generations on E-commerce websites, at the same price as the latest generations. It would be a shame to pay a higher price for an “outdated” product.
To help you, you can refer to this table below, which list the Eneloop different generation of rechargeable batteries (white/standard model) :
|Gen.||Ref.||Date||Capacity||Recharge||after a year|
|1st||HR-3UTG||Nov. 2005||1900mAh||1,000 times||80%|
|2nd||HR-3UTGA||May 2010||1900mAh||1,500 times||85%|
|3rd||HR-3UTGB||Nov. 2011||1900mAh||1,800 times||90%|
|4th||BK-3MCC||Apr. 2013||1900mAh||2,100 times||90%|
2- Test of the batteries (Eneloop 1900mAh)
There are several packs available, with 4, 8 or 16 batteries, sometimes sold with a battery case included. So I opted for a pack of 4 batteries, case included (the price difference was only a few cents, and it allows you to store the batteries in your camera bag without them having to carry around or mix.
One positive point is that they arrive already charged, ready to use. Just put them in your speedlight flash and start using them.
You can immediately feel the power, compared to non-rechargeable conventional batteries, and you can immediately feel it in the flash recycling time, which are shorter and allow you to take more pictures in the whip.
For photographers who need an even shorter recycling time between flashes, I would recommend to use an external power source.
Don’t worry if your batteries get a little hot, it’s normal, especially when using them on a cobra Flash (they shouldn’t get hot if you use them in your TV remote control, but in this case I would advise you to take the Eneloop Lite, or even another cheaper brand).
After a year of use, I did not see any decrease in power, although I don’t use them everyday. They get the job done, and they still get it done nicely after a year.
3- Recharging and Charger
When you talk about rechargeable batteries, you have to talk about a charger! And the total price (charger + battery packs) can quickly start to be significant.
I started to use a 10 years old charger that I found in my house, but I later bought a Panasonic charger. You can read the test of the Eneloop charger BQ-CC55 here.
Be very careful though, it can be very dangerous to use chargers that are not compatible with batteries! Risk of fire or explosion. I therefore strongly recommend that you read the manual carefully (or search the Internet) to find out if you can use your old charger with your new batteries.
4- Important note
There were some stories over the Internet that stated that Amazonbasics rechargeable batteries were older generations of Eneloop batteries branded with the Amazon logo. I tried to find more information on discussion forums, but could not find any proof. This might or might not be true, but the truth it both Amazonbasics batteries and Eneloop batteries are solid choices if you are looking for rechargeable source of energy. I have them both and are happy.
You read it, you can be safe buying Eneloop products (batteries and chargers). These are strong batteries that will for sure satisfy your needs. You can buy them with your eyes shut, you won’t be disappointed.
One thing to remember is to look at the reference number and get the latest generation (BK-3MCC in 2018) whenever it’s possible. Don’t pay extra money for an old generation that you can have for cheaper. Or buy the latest generation at the right price.
And last but not least: enjoy yourself, take hundreds of pictures with your speedlight! The batteries are already charged and so ready to use.
Rechargeable batteries are not only great for photographers and speedlights flashes. You can use them in a wide range of product at home: (Console controllers, cameras, TV remotes, ).
Let us know in the comments what batteries are you using and why did you choose them?
For more information, I invite you to read Amazon comments.
That’s really useful most of the time before making a purchase decision.
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