Charge It

Charge it

Those of you who got into digital photography during the first two or three years of its existence—say, around 1995—know how frustrating it was to operate an energy-hungry camera on AA alkaline batteries. Some cameras lasted for only a few shots on a fresh set of batteries. That’s when the benefit of NiMH (nickel metal hydride) rechargeable batteries became abundantly apparent.

Battery technology has improved significantly over the past 15 years. The capacity of high performance NiMH, rated in milliamp hours (mAh), has grown to 2900; more than double what the average cell was back in the day. And cameras have become more efficient, too. Still, most digital cameras these days use some form of rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, and merrily click along for hundreds of shots before demanding nourishment.

Some cameras, however, the likeable Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8 and ber-affordable Canon Powershot A590 IS for instance, use AA size batteries. So do most electronic flash units, some LED flashlights and a few other items photographers use on a frequent basis. Not to mention the scads of kids toys you may find underfoot (it seems that every toy my daughter owns has an Energy-STARved rating instead of Energy Star).

In any case, if you ever have a need to charge AA or AAA NiMH batteries, buy an Energizer 15 minute charger. I used to be an advocate of slower (2 to 4 hour) chargers, and for good reasons. With certain chargers, speed-charging creates excessive heat. Rapidly hammering energy into a hot battery causes the chemistry to breakdown and shortens the battery’s overall lifespan. But the Energizer 15 minute charger has a built in cooling fan that (by actual measurement) leaves cells cooler at the end of the charge cycle than my 240 minute charger.

Besides, even if the batteries could be charged only 300 times instead of the normal 500, what’s the big deal? That’s two years of heavy use, and a replacement set of four costs only $12. That’s good economy in exchange for the convenience of a 15 minute recharge time.

Plus, the Energizer 15 minute charger comes with a 12V automobile (car lighter) adapter, so I can recharge my batteries on my way to or from a shoot. And it’s compact and light, so it’s easy to pack for travel (although the “wall wart” style AC power adapter is a tad bigger than I’d imagined).

One negative point—the package includes with two AA and two AAA cells. Personally, I’d rather get four of the more useful AA size cells. But I did finally find a Mini Maglite to harbor the tiny AAA batteries.

The Energizer 15 minute charger costs about thirty bucks (MSRP is $32.99) and it will charge one to four AA or AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries simultaneously in 15 minutes. As someone who never has enough energy, I recommend it highly.