This charger is the photo accessory of the year for me so far. I’ve been using disposable Energizer Lithium batteries for my flashguns for several years. Brilliant batteries, but they cost a lot of money and are probably terrible for the environment. I tend to get through one or two sets each time I photograph a wedding, so that’s costing about £5.00 to £10.00 a time.
I haven’t tried a rechargeable battery set for some time, they used to be a bit flaky, underpowered and, with ni-cads, had the ‘memory’ problem, where you needed to completely discharge them each time to get maximum use out of them. The new sets all seem to be Ni-Mh, perform much better and can be recharged at any point without causing damage.
I went for the Powerex MH-C9000 WizardOne charger after reading some very good reviews. It’s one of the most expensive models, selling for about £50.00, and has every feature you could want and more. In addition to charging batteries it will also break in new sets, analyse the condition, discharge and refresh them. You can set charge and discharge rates to optimise the life for each cell.
I bought two types of battery, a couple of sets each of 2700mah AA Powerex and 2000mah AA Eneloops. The Powerex batteries are, in theory, a bit more powerful and should recycle a flash in a shorter time than the Eneloops, in practice I can’t really notice the difference. The Eneloops have the advantage of coming partially charged and ready for use, they also hold a charge better than the Powerex. Once charged up they will stay that way for months, whereas the Powerex will lose a percentage of their charge each day. Each type has its fans, but they both seem to work extremely well. On Saturday I photographed an eight hour wedding and used one set of Eneloops, they were still working at the end of the day. They are supposed to take up to 1000 charges so, at roughly £10.00 per set, should save me a lot of money and reduce my contribution to toxic landfill.
I bought all this at Tantronics, an online battery specialist. The prices were good so I gave them a ring to get some information. I ended up speaking to Janet, who was very helpful and really knew her stuff. She guided me through all the different products, described several different chargers and batteries, explaining that I didn’t necessarily need to spend £50.00 on a charger unless I wanted to. She warned me that the Powerex charger was quite complicated and liable to keep me up all night reading the manual. When it arrived it didn’t seem too difficult (I’ve read software manuals and lived) and does a really good job. Anyway, in my experience, you can never have too many buttons on a gadget.
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