chargers reduce the need to buy
replacement batteries for digital cameras, especially since many digicams
can go through a set in an hour or two of use. They allow users to charge
rechargable battery types such as Ni-Mh, Ni-Cd, and Li-Ion batteries.
Some digital cameras ship
with rechargable batteries, some don't and often can use rechargable
costs of buying rechargable batteries and charger should be weighed
against the cost of using regular AA batteries as well as the runtime
of batteries in digital cameras.
Some of the points to keep in mind include:
- Longer runtime vs. alkaline batteries
Most digital cameras made today contain high-drain electronics that
require the use of battery types that can provide a high-drain rate.
At the minimum, this includes commonly used alkaline AA batteries, but
also includes Ni-Mh and Li-Ion batteries.
Due to very short runtimes and other undesirable characteristics, heavy
duty and Ni-Cd batteries are almost never recommended for use in digital
Both Ni-Mh and Li-Ion batteries run longer than other battery types
due to their higher energy capacity. Ni-Mh batteries have a slower drop
in output voltage over time than Li-Ion and other battery types. A consistanly
high voltage level is requried for many digicams, and many digicams
stop working when the battery voltages drop too low.
Often, you can expect to see Ni-Mh and Li-Ion batteries to last twice
as long as alkaline AAs, if not longer.
Larger Li-Ion batteries are typically used as rechargable battery packs
when included with certain digicams by the manufacturer; Ni-Mh batteries
are typically used as replacements for AA alkaline batteries for those
digicams that do not use a specially designed battery pack.
- Cost of rechargables and Return on investment
A 40 pack of AA alkaline batteries can typically be found selling for
~$15 USD today. A Ni-Mh recharger and 4AA batteries can be found selling
Older digicams go through batteries very quickly, typically a set of
AAs per hour. On the other hand, some of the latest digicams can go
hours and hundreds of pictures before exhausting a set.
Whether buying a recharger kit is a good use of money depends on the
For example, with the FujiFilm 2800z, a set of 4 AA alkaline batteries
will take 200 pictures as rated by the manufacturer. A set of 40 AA
alkalines will give you: 40 AAs/4 AAs per set * 200 pictures per set
= 2000 pictures!
At a rate of a picture a day, 40 AA alkaline batteries for ~$15 would
last about 5 1/2 years. Naturally, this figure doesn't take into account
additional battery usage when viewing or download pictures from the
camera, but nevertheless, you can expect many hours of use from a pack
of 40 AAs, especially from the latest low-power digicams being released
today such as the FujiFilm A101, A201, 2600z, and 2800z series.
In comparison, a new Ni-Mh AA charger kit would cost a bit more and
force you to recharge often. However, if you expect to take many more
pictures than one a day, you can expect the recharger kit to pay for
itself quickly, especially if you use AAs in other equipment such as
portable radios, flashlights, etc.
Keep in mind that some digicams continue to draw a miniscue amount of
power even when stored powered off.
Non-rechargable alkaline batteries typically have a far longer shelflife
than Ni-Mh or Li-Ion batteries due to their slower rate of natural discharge
when in storage.
You can expect Ni-Mh and Li-Ion batteries naturally drain empty in storage
after a few weeks or months whereas alkaline batteries take several
years. The rechargable chemistry in Ni-Mh and Li-Ion cells simply cannot
hold their charge very long at all.
This can be a very critical factor for users that need their cameras
to work even after months of storage with batteries kept outside the
(Almost always, store batteries outside the camera when both are kept
in long-term storage!)
- Environmental Impact, Lifespan and Conditioning of rechargables
Rechargable batteries can be recharged hundreds of times. Li-Ion
batteries typically run 200-400 charge cycles; Ni-Mh batteries are good
for 500+ charge cycles before their capacity drops significantly. This
means that after so many charge cycles, these batteries will only hold
50-80% of their maximum initial capacities when fully charged, if they
haven't failed completely by then.
Recharging a set single of rechargable AAs vs. disposing of several
hundred sets of alkaline AAs significantly reduces the waste going into
While older rechargable batteries, especially Ni-Cd cells, used to require
frequent conditioning (discharging fully, then recharging fully) to
maintain their ability to hold a full charge, today's Ni-Mh and Li-Ion
batteries are not affect as greatly by the memory effect caused by partial
discharging & charging cycles.
In fact, with the latest Ni-Mh batteries, which are relatively resistant
to the memory effect to begin with, you would need to run them through
about 800 partial charge cycles before you see their maximum capacity
drop to 80%, and for most users that use them, the chemistry of the
cells would have naturally degraded over those years to require replacement.
In general, most rechargable batteries, whether kept in storage or in
use, will only be useable for a few years (~2-5 years) before their
chemistry naturally degrades to the point where the cells become unusable
and conditioning of batteries is not required at all.
- Charging speed and Intelligent charger electronics
With rapid developments in the field of charger technology, today's
chargers can fully recharge batteries in an hour or less. Older, obsolete
chargers take far longer than a few hours to recharge batteries and
should be avoided - no point in waiting and they often were not designed
to handle the latest higher-capacity batteries.
Due to their very sensitive nature towards overcharging and overheating
during the charge cycle, rechargable batteries are best recharged by
the latest intelligent chargers which have the latest controllers.
Examples of good chargers include:
Rayovac 1 hour Ni-Mh rapid charger, currently the fastest available
charger on the market.
Kodak K1000, Monster Cable, and DigiPower all-in-one ~1 1/2 - 3 hour
rapid chargers. While slower than the Rayovac, these portable chargers
are pocketably-slim and do not require an external AC adapter.
Maha ~1 1/2 - 3 hour chargers. These have an available DC lighter adapter
for use within a car as well as an external AC adapter.
- Ability to charge single and multiple cells
Some chargers on the market today can charge only 2 or 4 AAs at
once, not a single or odd number of AAs.
For example, the Kodak K1000 can charge 1, 2, 3 or 4 AAs at once whereas
the Maha C-204F can only charge 2 or 4 AAs at once.
In short, if rechargable batteries make sense for your needs, pick a
fast charger like the Rayovac 1 hour charger or an all-in-one model such
as the Digipower/Kodak/Monster Cable chargers depending on if you want
the fastest charging or better portability. You can expect longer runtimes
from your digital camera when using rechargable batteries versus alkalines.
And since rechargable batteries can be charged hundreds of times and used
in most devices like stereos and CD players, you can reduce the number
of batteries you buy while helping our landfills.
run times with rechargables, typically twice as long as alkalines.
+ Rechargable reduces waste.
+ All-in-one chargers are easily carried but slower than the
fastest, bulkier chargers with external AC adapters. Modern
rapid chargers can fully recharge batteries in 1-3 hours.
+ Some chargers can charge 1, 2, 3, or 4 AAs at once, other
chargers are limited to charging only 2 or 4 AAs at once.
+ Conditioning of modern rechargables is not necessary at all
for most users.
- Rechargables drain quickly in storage.
- Rechargable cells only have a usable lifespan of a few years
(~2-5 years) before their chemistry wears out, rendering cells
dead or unusable.
- May not be cost effective for owners that take a low number
- Rechargables are not available for use while recharging; alkalines
are always available for use.
Consider how much you expect to use your digicam before buying
a recharger. Alkaline AAs may be the more cost effective choice
depending on the number of photos you expect to take in the long
+ Pick and buy a rapid charger such as the Rayovac 1 hour Ni-Mh
charger, the Kodak and Monster Cable all-in-one 3 hour slim, rapid
chargers, or Maha chargers. Slower chargers are pointless and
+ Buy the higher capacity batteries available. The latest Ni-Mh
AAs are available in 1800-2000mAh ratings. Older, lower capacity
batteries are often out-of-date and run out of power quicker.