Top Tips for Getting to Know Your Batteries
I reckon that the way you can tell a professional photographer from an enthusiast is the way they organise their batteries. (Ok I kid). But I did get an email from a photographer a few weeks ago that turned into a conversation about batteries. How do you organise them so that whilst on a assignment you know which are needing recharged? and which are fully charged?
I am common sense kinda guy and here is my little system for knowing which batteries are duds and which are alive and kicking. If you check out the picture below you will see 2 sets of 4 batteries. The set on the right have 2 batteries with positive facing up and 2 batteries with negative facing up or positive facing down, take your pick!
These are the “good to go” set because usually when you put batteries into any speedlight, lets say the Nikon SB900 for example. The batteries are already in a configuration of 2 up and 2 down. Ah! you see where I am coming from now. Makes sense!
The other set on the left of the picture are the ones that are needing recharged and as you can see, they are all positive up. This is because these are now ready to be placed into a charger and are configured as such. I told you this was common sense stuff.
The other thing is location. Fully charged batteries are kept in a pocket in my flash bag on one side and then once used they are moved to another pocket on the other side of the bag. This is just a little fail safe so that nothing gets mixed up. But even if the batteries are put in the same place then you know just by looking which ones are which.
I currently have around 24 sets of 4 batteries and I keep my batteries in sets of 2, 3, 4 and also groups of 8. These are used for different things depending on what I need them for and they are all NiMh 2600 and memory free.
Why? Well they are low voltage, recycle faster for flash use and also charge quicker. All the batteries are grouped together and never mixed. So all the 2’s get charged as 2’s and all the 4’s as a little unit of 4’s.
I never mix sets up if it can be helped and I even know of some photographers who reference their batteries by a start date. If a set is started on 01/01/10 then that is written on the side of each battery in the group with a Sharpie marker pen and they are kept together.
Why do this? Well it prolongs the life of a little AA battery if you use and charge them in groups. So they get the same charge and discharge life. Simple as that!
Once final bit of advice about NiMh batteries. They lose their charge just by hanging around doing nothing. Some say… Roughly 10% power loss per week! Dunno if that is true or not, but its a good rule of thumb. So only charge the sets you need for an assignment the day before you are going to use them.
David Hobby AKA Strobist has some interesting posts on batteries and where to get them over at Strobist.com. You should check it out.