Batteries Part 1 – Alkalines

Green Frog Wastebin

Green Frog Wastebin in Kent

Ok so starting a post on batteries with a photo may seem irrelevant but hey I promised to post some of my favourite pictures as we went along and the point of batteries is that they’re like computer backups – absolutely essential.

It’s when you need them and don’t have them that the going really gets tough.

And these days. If you have no juice, you get no photos.

It’s as simple as that.

Anyhow this picture is in response to a request I got about selection – that is creating new photo-composites by cutting out parts of a photo and using them with other foreground or background objects.

Like most photographers I’ve had several tries at getting this right and there are lots of different approaches.

Still for this picture I used the pen tool and I’m convinced it’s worth the learning curve.

And so to batteries… Yes they may not be sexy but they’re so essential. Even though I use a DSLR and a compact that have special dedicated batteries there’s still a need for AA and AAA size cells.

A quick trawl through by gadget back and studio show at least these:

  • 6 AA cells for the battery grip for my Canon 350D – some people like the grip just from the balance point of view but I’ve got pretty small hands so prefer to shoot without. Still I try to make sure it’s ready in case I need it and of course some sort of battery of this size can be obtained almost anywhere
  • 4 AA cells for my Canon Speedlite 430EX flashgun
  • 2 AAA cells for my radio controlled flash trigger

And that’s just a quick trawl.

So batteries this size are easy enough to find but there’s a bewildering array of non-rechargeable and rechargeable cells around.

Battery technology has changed lot in my time so I’ve been trying to update my knowledge as I go along.

Now I personally don’t use non-rechargeable batteries much and I’ve never tried the current Lithium cells so when I do use a non-rechargeable I’ll choose an Alkaline Cell:

Alkaline Cells

Alkaline cells have some good and bad points:


  • They’re readily available even in quite obscure locations
    The have a good shelf life, so they’re usually in good condition and have full power
    They deliver the full 1.5 voltage
    They’re quite cheap for a one use battery
    They don’t need chargers


  • They don’t always provide the right kind of power – i.e flashgun ready times can be quite long
    They don’t last very long in heavy duty conditions
    They are very, very expensive if you use them often


Most of all for me they are an environmental disaster as they all have to be thrown away somewhere

So, my recommendation is: Only use alkalines if there’s no other choice


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Stock photography by John Rocha at Alamy

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