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Early in my professional wedding photography career, I realized that rechargeable batteries are a must. I use flash often throughout the whole day, and buying AA's can quickly become a hole in the pocket. To bring reliable service to my brides, I needed the best rechargeable batteries for my camera flash and flash triggers.
But, the question arises, "which rechargeable batteries should I invest in?" With a plethora of different options, some cheap with others seeming almost exorbitantly expensive, choosing the best rechargeable batteries for speedlights and other photography gear can be a trial and error task.
So, I've set out to make it a little easier on you, the Reader. Here, you'll learn a little from my attempts to find the best rechargeable batteries for wedding photography--my failed attempts, my mediocre attempts, and the true cream of the crop when it's all said and done.
Pick the Best, Buy a Lot at a Time, and Buy It Over and Over Again (Don't Mix and Flash)
One of the "regrets" I have with trying out various AAs is that I now have a hodge-podge collection of various batteries. This has created a little bit of extra work for me now because I have to match batteries when I charge and when I put them into my speedlights.
When I first began using rechargeable batteries, I didn't realize you couldn't mix batteries of differing mAh. I kid you not, I literally had a speedlight explode. It was amazing, terrifying, sad, and several other emotions when that happened. Lesson learned. Having all the same batteries prevents all such hassle and worry.
Also, I now have batteries with varying degrees of life. Certain batteries will die before others and no longer charge. If I had (and believe me now, in the future I will) buy the maximum amount that I need at any time, then I could, in theory, replace my batches en toto, keeping everything more organized and consistent.
Solution: buy the best, buy all that you need at a time, buy those over and over.
Memory Drain: Hold-Charge vs Lose-Charge Rechargeable Batteries
One of the first things I noticed when testing rechargeable batteries was that some held a charge much longer than others. Some batteries were notoriously bad for losing charge, so much so that I would need to charge them the night before or they would already be somewhat run down by the day I needed them.
Others, such as the Eneloop Pros would hold charge for long periods of time, even months, with no problem.
There is a scientific explanation (that I'm not going to get into) for this phenomenon. It's also one of the reasons why you'll pay more for a battery that holds its charge longer.
Battery Capacity: How Important Is It Really?
When I first got into buying rechargeable AA's it was all about the mAh--"this one is 2800 mAh, and it's cheaper than that 2000 mAh, so it must be a deal!". Right? Wrong.
I found that the most reliable rechargeable battery and ultimately the most useful one is one that is a decent mAh for my flashes. The batteries which have the Memory Drain reduction technology on average tend to have a little lower max capacity than some of the one's that do no have such technology.
But, I find that some of the batteries that retain their charge also last longer in normal use. Again, max capacity mAh can be a bit deceptive.
The Best AA Rechargeable Batteries for Wedding Photography
So, in order of which rechargeble batteries I prefer, here's my list!
I originally was told to get Eneloop Pros because you'll go through all the rest, spend a bunch of money on "deals" and then eventually end up buying Eneloops. I rejected that suggestion and decided to stubbornly try out the other options. In the end, I found Eneloop Pros to be my favorite due to their ability to hold a charge and to provide cool, reliable power to my flashes.
Coming in second, the Duracell's garnered my confidence due to holding their charge and providing power for a decent amount of time.
3 . Energizer Rechargeable AAs
I found these to be "ok". They hold their charge, but the won't last as long as the Eneloop Pros or even the Duracells.
Coming in a tie with the Energizer Rechargeables are the Amazon Basics High Capacity Rechargeable AAs. Rumors are that these puppies are rebranded Eneloops, which I believe at best to be true in that they are regular (non-pro version) Eneloops, or at worst to be false due to their performance.
Rechargeable Batteries I Do Not Recommend
I had really high hopes for these. They're high capacity and they're cheap. Well, they're also just not that great compared to the other options. They lose their charge quickly and they just do not last like other options I've listed above.
Other Batteries to Avoid
Although I can't even find the listing for Sunlabz on Amazon any longer, I'd recommend staying away. They are cheap and have "good capacity", but they're just not worth it.
Final Remarks On the Best Rechargeable AA for Wedding Photographers
Though it's tempting to go cheap and grab "good deals" on rechargeable AA batteries for your speedlights, you may end up paying for it in the end. So, invest in some good batteries like the Eneloop Pros or one of the others that also perform pretty well.
You just might thank yourself later!
If you found this article helpful, let us know! Leave us a comment and let us know if you've tested out some batteries and what you're thoughts are!