Battery life: alkaline v NiMH v Li-Ion

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Top Spin, Dec 25, 2003.

  1. Top Spin

    Top Spin Guest

    I just ran a surprising test. I loaded my Olympus C-700 with three
    sets of batteries and then took a series of flash shots with the LCD
    display on. I was surprised at the results.

    This camera takes 4 standard AAs. It comes with 4 "Olympus Camedia"
    NiMH rechargeable batteries and a charger. I usually use the
    rechargeable batteries in the camera, but I keep a set of regular
    alkaline AAs in handy as backup. I thought that the NiMHs ran down
    fairly quickly and was considering using primarily alkalines until I
    ran this test.

    1. I loaded the camera with the standard alkaline AAs that I had lying
    around. They are probably a year old and have been used a few times,
    but they tested well into the "good" range on a tester.

    Battery life: about 60 shots.

    When removed from the camera, they still tested in the "good" range
    and they were able to take a few more shots when put back into the
    camera.

    2. I loaded the camera with the freshly recharged NiMHs.

    Battery life: 778 shots.

    As with the alkalines, they still tested good and were good for a few
    more shots after a "rest".

    3. Figuring that the old alkalines were too old, I loaded the camera
    with some brand new alkalines (Maxell brand).

    Battery life: 329 shots.

    If this test is any indication, the Ni-MH have over twice the life
    (power) of alkalines.

    Is this about right?

    I think I'll go get another set of the Ni-MHs.


    --
    Using an Olympus C-700 Ultra Zoom
    Running Win2K SR-1
    For email, use Usenet-20031220 at spamex.com
    Top Spin, Dec 25, 2003
    #1
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  2. Top Spin

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Top Spin wrote:

    > I just ran a surprising test. I loaded my Olympus C-700 with three
    > sets of batteries and then took a series of flash shots with the LCD
    > display on. I was surprised at the results.
    >
    > This camera takes 4 standard AAs. It comes with 4 "Olympus Camedia"
    > NiMH rechargeable batteries and a charger. I usually use the
    > rechargeable batteries in the camera, but I keep a set of regular
    > alkaline AAs in handy as backup. I thought that the NiMHs ran down
    > fairly quickly and was considering using primarily alkalines until I
    > ran this test.
    >
    > 1. I loaded the camera with the standard alkaline AAs that I had lying
    > around. They are probably a year old and have been used a few times,
    > but they tested well into the "good" range on a tester.
    >
    > Battery life: about 60 shots.
    >
    > When removed from the camera, they still tested in the "good" range
    > and they were able to take a few more shots when put back into the
    > camera.
    >
    > 2. I loaded the camera with the freshly recharged NiMHs.
    >
    > Battery life: 778 shots.
    >
    > As with the alkalines, they still tested good and were good for a few
    > more shots after a "rest".
    >
    > 3. Figuring that the old alkalines were too old, I loaded the camera
    > with some brand new alkalines (Maxell brand).
    >
    > Battery life: 329 shots.
    >
    > If this test is any indication, the Ni-MH have over twice the life
    > (power) of alkalines.
    >
    > Is this about right?
    >
    > I think I'll go get another set of the Ni-MHs.
    >
    >
    > --
    > Using an Olympus C-700 Ultra Zoom
    > Running Win2K SR-1
    > For email, use Usenet-20031220 at spamex.com


    True, the NIMH batteries are vastly better suited to digital camera use
    than alkalines. NOt only that, but their long life, and lot initial
    cost render the battery expense per shot to a value not worth
    considering. LIthium and lithium ion batteries are another option, and
    have their advantages, such as light weight and high energy density, but
    they currently cost a lot more initially.
    Ron Hunter, Dec 25, 2003
    #2
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  3. Top Spin

    PETERWOJ Guest

    >If this test is any indication, the Ni-MH have over twice the life
    >(power) of alkalines.
    >
    >Is this about right?


    Yes and No. Yes NIMH will last much longer than alkalines where there is high
    current draw. In some applications alkalines can't be used at all since they
    can't provide high current due to high internal resistance. No, NIMH have less
    total capacity than alkalines, the problem is you can use full capacity only
    when current draw is much smaller than your camera (about 10 times smaller) so
    if you were to use the batteries in transistor radio your results could be
    different. As a side note: alkalines differ widely depending on the maker. At
    one point I had an emergency where I needed to purchase batteries for my
    camera. First I bought no name alkalines which lasted for about 10 pictures.
    That forced me to get Duracells which lasted for the rest of my trip. For
    digital cameras using AA you can't get better price/performance batteries than
    NIMH by a long shot. Unless you don't take pictures for very long periods of
    time, take only few pictures and hate to be bothered with charging ahead.
    PETERWOJ, Dec 25, 2003
    #3
  4. Top Spin

    Wilt W Guest

    << I usually use the
    rechargeable batteries in the camera, but I keep a set of regular
    alkaline AAs in handy as backup. >>
    One thing to consider about 'backup batteries' is that if they are
    rechargeable, they will SELF-DRAIN even when not used to power something. So a
    non-chargeable Lithium battery -- which has a 10 year shelf life -- is a good
    'emergency backup', although they are not cheap.
    The Lithium ion you would need to charge just before you took your camera on a
    vacation, to ensure that they have not self drained too much (and be useless as
    backups).
    Wilt W, Dec 25, 2003
    #4
  5. Top Spin

    LauraK Guest

    >If this test is any indication, the Ni-MH have over twice the life
    >(power) of alkalines.
    >
    >Is this about right?


    It's not battery "life" exactly, but useful life at the high power level that
    cameras demand. As you found, the Alkaline AAs still had a lot of juice left,
    but not enough to power the camera.
    The NIMH can provide the high power needed a lot longer than regular AAs.
    Lithiums, while not rechargeable, are handy to keep around as a backup.


    http://www.madmousergraphics.com
    web design, print design, photography
    LauraK, Dec 25, 2003
    #5
  6. On 2003-12-25, Top Spin <> wrote:
    > 1. I loaded the camera with the standard alkaline AAs that I had lying
    > around. They are probably a year old and have been used a few times,
    > but they tested well into the "good" range on a tester.
    >
    > Battery life: about 60 shots.


    This is normal- The power drain of a digicam is such that an
    alkaline cell will see it as a shortcircuit, and the cell will break
    down before delivering all the current inside it.

    NiMH, Li-Ion and NiCd can all deliver the higher current, and will
    thus last longer, even though they store far less energy. They will
    survive the "punishment".

    One thin to bear in mind is that NiMH loses around 2-4% of the loaded
    energy per day on the shelf, being used or not.

    NiCd has a much better shelf life, but not the 5 years of alkaline.

    Best of the rechargeables are the LiIon, but some self-discharge
    fast, other lasts for a long time.

    You can also buy expensive Lithium non-rechargeable cells, with
    a shelf life of 10+ years. They are the best alternative to
    rechargeables.
    Povl H. Pedersen, Dec 25, 2003
    #6
  7. Top Spin

    AT Guest

    can AA nimhs be used in regular cameras like, for example, a nikon
    8008 without damaging the camera ?

    thanks for the info.
    @
    AT, Dec 26, 2003
    #7
  8. Top Spin

    Ralph Mowery Guest

    > I just ran a surprising test. I loaded my Olympus C-700 with three
    > sets of batteries and then took a series of flash shots with the LCD
    > display on. I was surprised at the results.
    >
    > This camera takes 4 standard AAs. It comes with 4 "Olympus Camedia"
    > NiMH rechargeable batteries and a charger. I usually use the
    > rechargeable batteries in the camera, but I keep a set of regular
    > alkaline AAs in handy as backup. I thought that the NiMHs ran down
    > fairly quickly and was considering using primarily alkalines until I
    > ran this test.


    This has been done many times. The cam requires a short burst of very high
    current to take a pix. The NiMHs do this very well. For a more "normal"
    current draw such as a radio or maybe a flashlight the alkaline will last
    longer. It is similar to the way the deep cycle car size batteries work
    vers the regular car batteries. One is beter for long term use and the
    other is beter for a short burst of high current. As others have mentioned
    the alkaline will last a long time in storage where the NiMhs self discharge
    in a few weeks. Nicads also self discharge but not as bad.
    Ralph Mowery, Dec 26, 2003
    #8
  9. Top Spin

    Travis Guest

    Top Spin wrote:
    > I just ran a surprising test. I loaded my Olympus C-700 with
    > three sets of batteries and then took a series of flash shots
    > with the LCD display on. I was surprised at the results.
    >
    > This camera takes 4 standard AAs. It comes with 4 "Olympus
    > Camedia" NiMH rechargeable batteries and a charger. I usually
    > use the rechargeable batteries in the camera, but I keep a set
    > of regular alkaline AAs in handy as backup. I thought that the
    > NiMHs ran down fairly quickly and was considering using
    > primarily alkalines until I ran this test.
    >
    > 1. I loaded the camera with the standard alkaline AAs that I
    > had lying around. They are probably a year old and have been
    > used a few times, but they tested well into the "good" range on
    > a tester.
    >
    > Battery life: about 60 shots.
    >
    > When removed from the camera, they still tested in the "good"
    > range and they were able to take a few more shots when put back
    > into the camera.
    >
    > 2. I loaded the camera with the freshly recharged NiMHs.
    >
    > Battery life: 778 shots.
    >
    > As with the alkalines, they still tested good and were good for
    > a few more shots after a "rest".
    >
    > 3. Figuring that the old alkalines were too old, I loaded the
    > camera with some brand new alkalines (Maxell brand).
    >
    > Battery life: 329 shots.
    >
    > If this test is any indication, the Ni-MH have over twice the
    > life (power) of alkalines.
    >
    > Is this about right?
    >
    > I think I'll go get another set of the Ni-MHs.


    What about the Li-Ion's?

    --
    Travis in Shoreline Washington
    Uses a Kodak DC4800
    Travis, Dec 26, 2003
    #9
  10. Top Spin

    y_p_w Guest

    "Povl H. Pedersen" <> wrote in message news:<>...
    > On 2003-12-25, Top Spin <> wrote:
    > > 1. I loaded the camera with the standard alkaline AAs that I had lying
    > > around. They are probably a year old and have been used a few times,
    > > but they tested well into the "good" range on a tester.
    > >
    > > Battery life: about 60 shots.

    >
    > This is normal- The power drain of a digicam is such that an
    > alkaline cell will see it as a shortcircuit, and the cell will break
    > down before delivering all the current inside it.


    Not quite. It's internal resistance of the cell versus the load presented
    by the device. The higher the battery's internal resistance is compared
    to the device load, the less efficient the battery will be. More of the
    energy will be converted to heat in the battery than useful work in the
    device. For anyone who understands basic electronics, it's a simple
    voltage divider. 100% of a battery's charge (current is simply charge
    over time) gets delivered to the device, except for some rather
    miniscule self-discharge.

    > NiMH, Li-Ion and NiCd can all deliver the higher current, and will
    > thus last longer, even though they store far less energy. They will
    > survive the "punishment".


    Alkalines have a rather high internal resistance. They work great in
    devices where the load of the device is extremely high, such as
    wall clocks. The battery's internal resistance is miniscule compared
    to the load. On a digicam or other high-drain device, the internal
    resistance of the alkaline will approach that of the device load,
    especially when snapping a picture.

    I remember seeing some Energizer datasheets a few years ago. From
    memory, the specs were about:

    standard alkaline AA: 2700 mAh. internal resistance 700m? (fresh) -
    1500m? (depleted).

    nickel-metal hydride AA: 1600 mAh. internal resistance 75 m? (fresh) -
    125 m? (depleted).

    I've tried measuring battery voltage on a 3-AA LCD TV. A set of Ikea
    (Varta) AA alkalines lasts about 3 hours, while my Energizer NiMH
    (rated 2100 mAh - made in Japan) will last over 4. The alkalines
    get very warm within a few minutes and very hot by the time the
    backlight dies. The NiMH are barely warm up to the point where the
    voltage dies. A fresh alkaline is maybe 1.62V open, and 1.2V with
    the TV turned on. A freshly charged NiMH battery is maybe 1.42V
    open circuit, and about 1.32V with it turned on. What it means is
    that the internal resistance in the battery is consuming a higher
    proportion of the battery's energy. It gets much worse for the
    alkaline as it drains.

    > One thin to bear in mind is that NiMH loses around 2-4% of the loaded
    > energy per day on the shelf, being used or not.


    Self-discharge increases with higher temperature/humidity.

    > NiCd has a much better shelf life, but not the 5 years of alkaline.


    I'd say marginally better. Maybe 1% self-discharge per day.

    > Best of the rechargeables are the LiIon, but some self-discharge
    > fast, other lasts for a long time.


    They're also dangerous (can explode) if charged after they've been
    completely discharged. You'll only find them in smart devices that
    shut off automatically to prevent them from being completely drained.
    They absolutely require some sort of smart charging mechanism to
    prevent them from being overcharged. Back in '95 Sony's battery
    plant making about 30% of the world's Li-ion batteries caught fire.

    > You can also buy expensive Lithium non-rechargeable cells, with
    > a shelf life of 10+ years. They are the best alternative to
    > rechargeables.


    I remember some of the earlier ones had problems with too high
    a voltage (sudden spike to 3V) when turned on.
    y_p_w, Dec 26, 2003
    #10
  11. Top Spin

    Guest


    >
    >What about the Li-Ion's?


    The Li-Ion are the best rechargeables, but
    there don't make Li-Ions in an AA package.
    , Dec 26, 2003
    #11
  12. Top Spin

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Ralph Mowery wrote:

    >>I just ran a surprising test. I loaded my Olympus C-700 with three
    >>sets of batteries and then took a series of flash shots with the LCD
    >>display on. I was surprised at the results.
    >>
    >>This camera takes 4 standard AAs. It comes with 4 "Olympus Camedia"
    >>NiMH rechargeable batteries and a charger. I usually use the
    >>rechargeable batteries in the camera, but I keep a set of regular
    >>alkaline AAs in handy as backup. I thought that the NiMHs ran down
    >>fairly quickly and was considering using primarily alkalines until I
    >>ran this test.

    >
    >
    > This has been done many times. The cam requires a short burst of very high
    > current to take a pix. The NiMHs do this very well. For a more "normal"
    > current draw such as a radio or maybe a flashlight the alkaline will last
    > longer. It is similar to the way the deep cycle car size batteries work
    > vers the regular car batteries. One is beter for long term use and the
    > other is beter for a short burst of high current. As others have mentioned
    > the alkaline will last a long time in storage where the NiMhs self discharge
    > in a few weeks. Nicads also self discharge but not as bad.
    >
    >

    Perhaps you are using the wrong batteries. I find that NIMH batteries I
    use take 3 months or more to lose more than half their charge.
    Ron Hunter, Dec 26, 2003
    #12
  13. Top Spin

    imbsysop Guest

    "Povl H. Pedersen" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > On 2003-12-25, Top Spin <> wrote:

    snip
    >
    > One thin to bear in mind is that NiMH loses around 2-4% of the loaded
    > energy per day on the shelf, being used or not.


    1-2%/dat may be a far more realistic figure :)
    imbsysop, Dec 26, 2003
    #13
  14. Top Spin

    Digitalis Guest

    On Thu, 25 Dec 2003 20:36:39 -0800, y_p_w wrote:

    > They're also dangerous (can explode) if charged after they've been
    > completely discharged. You'll only find them in smart devices that
    > shut off automatically to prevent them from being completely drained.
    > They absolutely require some sort of smart charging mechanism to
    > prevent them from being overcharged.


    Beware that some devices such as cameras pull a small current to run date
    backs and the like. They will NOT shut off when the Li-Ion pack is below
    minimum discharge voltage. This will potentially destroy the pack.

    It is best to take Li-Ion batteries out of cameras or the like when they
    are not being used. Instead, replace with primary batteries such as
    primary lIthiums or alkalines to keep the date back or whatever running.
    Digitalis, Dec 26, 2003
    #14
  15. Top Spin

    W6DKN Guest

    Digitalis wrote:
    > On Thu, 25 Dec 2003 20:36:39 -0800, y_p_w wrote:
    >
    > Beware that some devices such as cameras pull a small current to run
    > date backs and the like. They will NOT shut off when the Li-Ion pack
    > is below minimum discharge voltage. This will potentially destroy
    > the pack.
    >
    > It is best to take Li-Ion batteries out of cameras or the like when
    > they are not being used. Instead, replace with primary batteries
    > such as primary lIthiums or alkalines to keep the date back or
    > whatever running.


    Nonsense. Lithium Ion pack technology has internal pack circuitry to
    prevent over-charging and limit discharge levels. If they didn't, the
    manufacturer's liability would preclude anybody actually marketing the
    devices to the general public.

    This is why there are no generic single cell lithium ion batteries sold to
    the public. All lithium ion cells sold to the public are in proprietary
    packs, which are designed to have the necessary internal circuitry to
    safely charge/discharge the packs (usually with a proprietary charger).

    See these links for more details of lithium ion technology:

    http://www.ulbi.com/whitepapers/UBI-5112_Li-ion_Li-Poly_Precautions.pdf

    http://www.panasonic.com/industrial/battery/oem/images/pdf/Panasonic_LiIon_
    Precautions.pdf

    http://www.nexergy.com/Reflib/Lithium_Ion_FAQ.html


    = Dan =
    W6DKN, Dec 26, 2003
    #15
  16. Top Spin

    y_p_w Guest

    wrote in message news:<>...
    > >
    > >What about the Li-Ion's?

    >
    > The Li-Ion are the best rechargeables, but
    > there don't make Li-Ions in an AA package.


    There are several reasons you don't find li-ion in a primary (AA/AAA/
    C/D/9V) package:

    1) A single li-ion cell is a nominal 3.7V, while NiCAD or NiMH is 1.2.

    2) Li-ion cells can can be permanently damaged if they've been
    completely drained. You'll only find them in single-purpose
    cells meant for devices with smart mechanisms that shut off
    before the cell(s) are completely drained. Ignore my last post
    saying they'd explode.

    3) When overcharged, li-ion cells explode at a rate far greater than
    NiCad or NiMH batteries. I remember hearing a story from a
    former coworker who worked for AST. The head battery guy
    there would always leave the room when they were charging
    the li-ion batteries.

    If li-ion was used in a primary cell, there would be too much risk of
    completely draining them in a "dumb" devices (flashlights, etc.). As
    it is now - li-ion batteries in single-purpose packages can only be
    placed in chargers designed for them. If available in primary packages,
    it would be to easy to place them in a dumb charger that could very
    well overcharge them.
    y_p_w, Dec 26, 2003
    #16
  17. Top Spin

    y_p_w Guest

    W6DKN wrote:
    > Digitalis wrote:
    >
    >>On Thu, 25 Dec 2003 20:36:39 -0800, y_p_w wrote:
    >>
    >>Beware that some devices such as cameras pull a small current to run
    >>date backs and the like. They will NOT shut off when the Li-Ion pack
    >>is below minimum discharge voltage. This will potentially destroy
    >>the pack.
    >>
    >>It is best to take Li-Ion batteries out of cameras or the like when
    >>they are not being used. Instead, replace with primary batteries
    >>such as primary lIthiums or alkalines to keep the date back or
    >>whatever running.

    >
    >
    > Nonsense. Lithium Ion pack technology has internal pack circuitry to
    > prevent over-charging and limit discharge levels. If they didn't, the
    > manufacturer's liability would preclude anybody actually marketing the
    > devices to the general public.


    I don't know how many li-ion packs contain sophisticated circuitry
    other than the Sony InfoLithium batteries. They definitely require
    more sophisticated chargers. I'm an electrical engineer, and some
    of the li-ion batteries I've seen at work are minimalist - sorry,
    I forgot the brand name. They're nothing more than the cell, wires,
    and a paper/plastic/foil membrane cover. Casio uses similar batteries
    in their Exilim digicams. Here's a picture of one:

    <http://exilim.casio.com/acc_pop/np-20d_pop.jpg>

    > This is why there are no generic single cell lithium ion batteries sold to
    > the public. All lithium ion cells sold to the public are in proprietary
    > packs, which are designed to have the necessary internal circuitry to
    > safely charge/discharge the packs (usually with a proprietary charger).


    I don't know if you really need a "proprietary" charger. You most
    definitely need something that monitors the voltage and shuts off
    automatically. I'll repeat - a single li-ion cell is 3.7V nominal.
    However - two of them in a 9V battery "form factor" might work, but
    it might leak or explode if charged in a "dumb" timed shut-off
    charger, and might be drained below the acceptable threshold.
    y_p_w, Dec 27, 2003
    #17
  18. Top Spin

    stacey Guest

    Top Spin wrote:


    >
    > If this test is any indication, the Ni-MH have over twice the life
    > (power) of alkalines.
    >
    > Is this about right?
    >
    > I think I'll go get another set of the Ni-MHs.
    >


    The problem with alkalines is the voltage drops below the value the camera
    can operate on fairly quickly. I'd bet the batteries you took out were
    still OK for a flashlight etc for quite a while and yes the Ni-MH have a
    longer "straightline" discharge rate that maintains a higher voltage as
    they discharge.
    --

    Stacey
    stacey, Dec 27, 2003
    #18
  19. if it takes AA batts, then ANY AA batt wil work - Lion, NiMh or Nicd.

    the difference is the chemicals in side and the power curve of ht
    ebattery - among other detiails.

    NiCads can give off lots of energy very fast and be charged very fast
    (RC cars often use up all the juice in 4 minutes and charge in 15
    minutes..they get too hot to touch!)

    Alkalines will hold their charge a long time on a shelf 9or ina
    flashlite)

    NiMh are currently the darllings of the rechargeable consumer battery
    world.

    With a set of 4 NiMh costing $10 or less at walmart, and $20 or less
    witha charger, why use anything else for cameras?

    chris
    (5 sets of AA nimh and 2 chargers...)



    On Thu, 25 Dec 2003 17:35:13 -0800, " AT" <>
    wrote:

    >can AA nimhs be used in regular cameras like, for example, a nikon
    >8008 without damaging the camera ?
    >
    >thanks for the info.
    >@
    >
    Chris P in PA, Dec 27, 2003
    #19
  20. Top Spin

    Digitalis Guest

    On Fri, 26 Dec 2003 20:18:43 +0000, W6DKN wrote:

    > Digitalis wrote:
    >> On Thu, 25 Dec 2003 20:36:39 -0800, y_p_w wrote:
    >>
    >> Beware that some devices such as cameras pull a small current to run
    >> date backs and the like. They will NOT shut off when the Li-Ion pack
    >> is below minimum discharge voltage. This will potentially destroy
    >> the pack.

    >
    > Nonsense. Lithium Ion pack technology has internal pack circuitry to
    > prevent over-charging and limit discharge levels.


    I am aware Li-Ion packs come with circuitry in them, however minimum
    voltage cutoff circuitry is not mandated. You wanna try on a $100 pack to
    find out? I'm not breaking my packs apart to analyze them either, nor
    will anyone else.

    The warning quoted above comes from the manufacturer, by the way.
    Digitalis, Dec 27, 2003
    #20
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