Back to Batteries Part 2

redflowers close up
Red flowers close up

Again I’m going to start with a photo and it’s clearly a macro shot. And the reason is that I’m getting ready to respond to a comment sent in by Tony.

I did give him a quick reply to answer his immediate queries but it seems to me that they are of wider interest.

Lots and lots of photographers are interested in macro photography and realize that it’s a rather specialized and sometimes quite difficult area to deal with.

Right then let’s get straight back to the question of batteries.

And this time, let’s look at Nickel Cadmium cells.

Sealed nickel-cadmium cells

Nickel Cadmium cells are still very widely available.

They are eminently usable and they have the most important characteristic from my point of view, that they are rechargeable.

They represent the earliest technology of rechargeable cells that is currently conveniently available and they have a number of plus points.

The best point for me is that they are excellent for certain purposes for example in flashguns, where they will recycle quite quickly.

Other advantages stem from being rechargeable – you can use them many many times saving both money and the environment.

In a way I’m just as excited about Nickel Cadmium cells as I was when they first came out – and as early versions were invented in Sweden in 1899 they’ve been around a long time.

However, they’re not the best choice of battery today.

One obvious problem is that they can suffer from memory effects. That is that every time you recharge them you can’t recharge them fully because they retain the memory of the previous charge.

There are ways around this – for example using chargers which discharge them completely first, but nevertheless it’s a problem to be clear about.

Another problem is that after being charged, they quite quickly lose their charge somewhat so that you can try to use batteries that you charged some time ago and find that a lot of the power has gone.

One final problem inherent in this kind of battery is that the voltage is 1.2 rather than 1.5 which can cause problems with some equipment. If you use 4 cells for example you will have 4.8 rather than 6 volts.

So my advice is that if you live in a part of the world where Nickel Cadmium cells are widely available at a good price and there are no obvious alternatives, then give them a go.

And if you already have cells in good condition, they may go on working. For myself I tend you use them in low priority equipment such as clocks rather than cameras.

The obvious problems is that modern cameras are completely battery dependent and are simply useless bit of metal and plastic junk without batteries.

So to sign off, Nickel Cadmium cells are worth looking at but there are better, more modern alternatives available and we’ll go to them another time.

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Stock photography by John Rocha at Alamy

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