Battery 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 AA batteries.

     The 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 cameras.

    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 for ~$20.

    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 expected usage.

    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.

  • Shelflife

    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 camera.

    (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 our landfills.

    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.


+ Longer 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 of photos.
- 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 run.
+ 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 'obsolete'.
+ 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.