Are Rechargeables Better?
At this point, there are at least a dozen major brands selling NiMH AA batteries, and countless discount brands selling cheaper batteries, many of which will only hold a fraction of their claimed capacity. So which ones are the best?2
Standard vs Low Self-Discharge (LSD)
One of the major drawbacks of early NiMH batteries was that they didn’t hold a charge for very long while being stored; after only a couple months sitting unused, your batteries might be discharged beyond usefulness. About ten years ago, however, a new type of battery was developed that held it’s charge much longer. These are generally known as “low self-discharge” or LSD batteries, but when purchasing batteries, the packaging may call them “pre-charged”, “hybrid”, or “ready to use”. Depending on the the brand and technology generation, an LSD battery may retain 85% of its charge after a full year, or more. This makes the batteries much more practical for low-drain devices like remotes and flash triggers, where the batteries might be in use for several months at a time, but they’re also great if you don’t want to deal with charging all of your batteries directly before a shoot. As such, all of the batteries that I recommend below are low self-discharge.
Don’t Buy Eneloops Just Yet…
When it comes to reliability and performance, Sanyo/Panasonic ENELOOPs have been the leaders for years. Eneloops are now packaged under a couple of different brand names that cost significantly less.
Amazon.com sells AmazonBasics branded AA Pre-Charged NiMH batteries (originally with a black jacket, then white, now black or white). These are made in Japan rather than China and they are most likely rebranded standard Eneloops, and they cost less. They may be previous generation Eneloops, rating at only 1800 charges rather than 2100, but you’re still more likely to lose them or have them stolen before they die.
AmazonBasics are also available as AA Pre-Charged High Capacity NiMH batteries, with a black jacket and 2400 mAh capacity. These ones are rebranded Eneloop Pro (XX) batteries, and again, they cost quite a bit less… about half the cost for a pack of eight!
Fujitsu batteries are made in the original (and now updated) Sanyo Eneloop Twicell factory in Japan. After the Panasonic takeover, they started making some Eneloops in China, and the batteries made at the Twicell factory were sold as Fujitsu. Compared withe the Chinese Eneloops, the Japanese Fujitsu batteries perform slightly better in flashes after the first 20 charges, according to some tests. So, Fujitsu’s are good… maybe even better than Eneloops.
That said, all of the batteries listed in the table below are quality batteries, and you should feel comfortable buying any of them if you run across a good deal.
It’s worth noting that a good charger can prolong the life of your batteries and provide better charges; some of them give you the ability to “refresh” old batteries, helping to restore a battery to like-new performance. We recommend the OPUS BT-C2000 or the La Crosse BC1000 or BC700, .
|mAh Rating||Charges||Power Retained (1 Year)|
|Eneloop||2000||2100||75% after 5 years|
|Fujitsu||2000||2100||70% after 5 years|