Are there rechargeable batteries that retain their charge over several days?
March 29, 2010 8:13 AM   Subscribe

What types of rechargeable batteries will hold their charge over several days of non-use in a digital camera?

I have an old Canon Powershot that uses standard AA batteries. Understanding that each cell I threw away would kill a seal, I bought some Powerex batteries on the advice of several digital camera websites (these).

They've never run out of juice while we were shooting, but they don't hold their charge over several days. Which is fine for taking the camera on day trips, but a pain in the ass for taking the impromptu kitten pictures that are my new obligation.

Are there rechargeable batteries that will hold their charge for more than a few days while sitting in the camera and not being used?
posted by burnfirewalls to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have been using PowerEX batteries for at least 5 years and have not experienced a major loss of charge over just a few days. I suspect that your camera is using a lot of power when off or in standby mode.

However, there is another option for you - MAHA makes batteries called IMEDION that address your situation. Some more info and pricing here:

The batteries apparently hold 85% of their charge after one year.
posted by SNACKeR at 8:23 AM on March 29, 2010

I've had incredibly good luck w/ the bunch of plain ol' Energizer rechargeables I grabbed at the local evil big box store. No idea if all Energizers are the same but these last me a good 3-4 days. Could be a fluke though.

*heh, apparently I like to hedge my recommendations*
posted by kanata at 8:24 AM on March 29, 2010

Have a look at the NiZn rechargables. More shots, and no nasty chemicals. "PowerGenix" brand. Important: do not use in a charger not designed for them.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:31 AM on March 29, 2010

We've used Eneloop batteries for years in our Canon camera for just this reason, and they have been great. We tried other rechargeable batteries earlier, with much disappointment, but I can definitely recommend the Eneloops.
posted by amtho at 8:34 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Forgot to mention - we've left the Eneloops in the camera for weeks with good results. Seriously.
posted by amtho at 8:35 AM on March 29, 2010

To follow up on SNACKeR's answer, I have a bunch of those Imedion batteries and they do appear to work as advertised. I've left them sitting in camera flashes for months sometimes, and they're still at nearly full charge.

Self-discharge in a few days is unusual for any AA rechargeable though. I mean are we talking about less than a week? If so, do they do this even when not left in the camera?

Batteries that self-discharge that quickly out in the open are probably worn out or defective. But if they only do that when left in the camera, no special battery will help since it's just the camera drawing power even when it's nominally "off".
posted by FishBike at 8:37 AM on March 29, 2010

You best best is Low Self-Discharge (LSD) NiMH batteries. The best of these are made by Sanyo in Japan. Most other brands selling Japanese made LSD NiMH batteries are in fact re-branded Eneloops. For example, the made in Japan version of the Duracell DX1500 "pre-charged" NiMH batteries are in fact re-branded Eneloops. Usually "pre-charged" is a marketing word indicating Low Self-Discharge, so that they will hold their charge for a long period of non-use. So just look for any made in Japan "pre-charged" AA.
posted by Diplodocus at 8:41 AM on March 29, 2010

amtho is absolutely right. Eneloop is the way to go. I would mention that we have left Eneloops in cameras for MONTHS in our Powershots and they're still good.
posted by sandra_s at 8:42 AM on March 29, 2010

Sorry, to clarify. The Sanyo LSD cells are the Eneloops (Sanyo Eneloops). They'll hold their charge for months.
posted by Diplodocus at 8:43 AM on March 29, 2010

I use Eneloops that I leave in my camera equipment (flashes & other things) for weeks at a time. I also charge extra Eneloop batteries and leave them in a bag for weeks at a time before I use them. They hold the charge beautifully. I really, really recommend Eneloop batteries.

I also recommend a LaCrosse battery charger, which will charge them at a slower rate of speed, which extends the life of the battery.
posted by aabbbiee at 8:44 AM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

SNACKer - do you know what might be making our camera eat up power even if it's off? I believe that it's a Canon Powershot A510, but it's not in front of me right now. I'd like to make sure that wouldn't be an issue, since that would kill the low-discharge batteries as well.

Is there a problem with number of pictures that you can take in a session with the low-discharge batteries, or would that be pretty negligible? I'm talking maybe a dozen or two dozen photos per session. I have the batteries with no shelf-life for anything more intense!
posted by burnfirewalls at 8:44 AM on March 29, 2010

FishBike - definitely less than a week of charge. Maybe four days of charge if I'm lucky. I haven't abused them, I've followed all of the charging instructions, and bought the charger that was recommended by the same sites that recommended the batteries. They shouldn't be worn out for the small amount of time that I've actually spent using or charging them. I've also tried the refresh cycle. Could be defective, but I decided to go ahead and try to find batteries made for my situation.
posted by burnfirewalls at 8:47 AM on March 29, 2010

Either Eneloops or Ansmann pre-charged (available via Horizon Battery). Both of these have lasted months between charges for me.
posted by scruss at 9:06 AM on March 29, 2010

Most rechargeable batteries just lose charge over time -- a significant amount of charge -- without even being in a device. In other words, it's not the camera's fault, and there's nothing you can do about it except get better batteries.

I've been able to take a whole lot of photos per charge - over 50, for sure, although I don't remember the exact number (might be hundreds). Of course, I never use flash, and that could be an issue. In any case I think the performance here is comparable to other batteries.
posted by amtho at 9:21 AM on March 29, 2010

Nthing Eneloops, to the point were I was wondering what in the world you were doing that caused them to last LESS than several months.
posted by jwells at 10:28 AM on March 29, 2010

... definitely less than a week of charge. Maybe four days of charge if I'm lucky.

I'll come back to what I think the key test is then: do they still discharge this quickly if you don't keep them installed in the camera? That'll tell you for sure if it's the camera discharging them, or if they're self-discharging at a much higher than expected rate. Once you know that, you'll know if this is a battery issue or a camera issue.

A normal set of NiMH cells (not the low-self-discharge ones we've been talking about) should have at least 50% of their capacity remaining after sitting around for a month. Less if they are stored in a hot environment. But if yours are relatively new and are dead after less than a week, that isn't normal.

Also, if you charge them up and use them right away, do you get the expected amount of use out of them (e.g. hundreds of pictures)? It sounds like you do from your description ("never run out while we're shooting"), but if they're not actually being fully charged for some reason, that could also explain this.
posted by FishBike at 10:41 AM on March 29, 2010

I think this is a problem with the Canon Powershot cameras. I bought three A570 IS cameras (one for me and two for my kids) and two have this problem. The third is not as bad, but not great. I tried various battery brands, and regularly formatted the SD cards with no improvement. I was told by a camera technician that it is a fairly common flaw in the Canon electronics. I would like to get some sort of rebate to fix it, but I think the cameras are too old now. I didn't act sooner because, like you, I thought the problem was with the batteries. Let me know if you find out anything more in this regard.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:26 AM on March 29, 2010

Another believer that it's a problem with Canon Powershots. I have the same issue - the only way mine works is with just-charged high capacity rechargeables. Canon fixed mine once, but the fix didn't last long, and I don't feel like paying them to fix it again. Canon's only suggestion to me was wiping off the contacts. I'll try the Eneloops, but am getting more and more tempted to just pitch the Canon and buy a Sony.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 12:40 PM on March 29, 2010

Since everyone else is talking about Powershots, I'll throw in my 2ยข: I have a Powershot A610, and it gets phenomenal battery life. I use ordinary, no-name brand NiMH rechargeables (it uses 4 AAs) and have had them last for months with little or no noticeable loss in charge. So if there's a problem with Canon's electronics, it's by no means universal.
posted by teraflop at 2:05 PM on March 29, 2010

I 2nd (or 3rd) the Eneloops - they hold a charge for months!
posted by Aztekker at 5:33 PM on March 29, 2010

Huh. This all sounds pretty strange. I have a Canon A710 with regular Energizer 2500 mAh NiMH batteries and I have no issues with batteries draining too quickly. Mine sit in my camera for quite a while with no problem, and they're about 3 years old.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:06 PM on March 29, 2010

As a datapoint: Canon powershot A590 (2xAAs); absolutely crap battery life, alkaline or rechargeable. It's apparently a known issue with the A590's especially.
posted by nonspecialist at 7:07 PM on March 29, 2010

Eneloops again, my girlfriend and I love them!
posted by Brian Puccio at 1:08 PM on March 30, 2010

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