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Friday, January 12, 2007

Portable Power

What to know about camera batteries for maximum performance

Rechargeable Power
QuestMost experts will tell you that if your digital camera, electronic flash unit or other electronic device relies on AA cells for power, it will generally perform best when fed a diet of NiMH. NiMH batteries are memory-free, which means that frequent charge-discharge cycles won't degrade their performance or life span. Plus, they're "green," meaning that they're environmentally friendly and pose no threat to landfills.

NiMH cells are durable (they can survive up to 500 or more charges before suffering a chemical breakdown) and they're highly affordable—about $3 per cell. When you average out the cost of rechargeable NiMH batteries and a charger over 500 recharge cycles, they become embarrassingly inexpensive.

Ansmann and Quest are big names in the NiMH arena, as are Sunpak and Maha. Delkin has a full line of eFilm rechargeable batteries, chargers and other accessories. Harding Energy, the company behind the Quest brand, is launching a new 2700 mAh cell with a high-speed charger at about the time you read this.

Maha Energy offers a set of four PowerEx 2500 mAh cells. Its MH-C204W One Hour Worldwide Travel Conditioning Charger weighs only four ounces and performs complete battery reconditioning functions.

It's a buyer's market, but stick to a major label. Avoid the unknown brands that are sold by nameless online auction merchants. If you're looking for a bargain, check out the electronics departments in warehouse clubs and appliance stores. Just keep in mind that the milliamp hour rating (mAh) is the key indicator of the battery's energy capacity. Don't buy AA cells rated lower than 2300 mAh. And buy a fast charger; if the charge time isn't listed on the package, that probably means it's too long to talk about.


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