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Monday, January 29, 2007

POWER GUIDE: Battery Options & Tips

New batteries and chargers let you keep shooting and shooting and shooting...

Power Guide: Battery Options and Tips

As digital photographers, we enjoy the freedom of working with a flexible, creative medium. Without batteries, though, our cameras and flash units would become high-tech paperweights. With the development of new batteries and chargers, there's now a great variety of power sources from which to choose. They offer vastly better performance than our old familiar standards. Here's how to choose among them, and how to get the best out of your batteries in the field.


Battery Types
Just a few years ago, our battery options were largely limited to disposable alkaline batteries and NiCd rechargeables. Neither type works very well with digital cameras and related gear. Today's rechargeable NiMHs and Li-Ions, as well as lithium disposables, usually are a better choice. Although your choice of battery can be limited by what your device accepts, understanding your battery type can help you get the most out of it.

Rechargeables
NiCd. The old rechargeable standard, these batteries are known for their limited capacity. They also have "memory" effects, which seriously degrade performance and the battery's life span: Unless the battery is fully discharged before recharging, the battery's capacity will go down with every recharge cycle until it's useless. NiCds contain cadmium, a heavy metal that's decidedly unfriendly to the environment. While NiCds still work nicely for power tools, they're not your best choice for photo equipment.

 


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