It was not that long ago that professional photographers were recommending against using rechargeable batteries in cameras. They recommended against NiCad and NiMH batteries, instead telling colleagues and amateurs to stick with single-use batteries. Things have since changed.
Lithium-ion batteries represent a dramatic improvement over NiCad and NiMH batteries. As such, they have become the battery of choice among photographers. When offered as USB rechargeable batteries, lithium-ion cells are even better. Here are five reasons they are ideal for cameras:
1. High Energy Density
Despite being rechargeable, one of the downsides of NiCad and NiMH batteries is their lower energy density compared to disposables. Photographers recommended against them because they didn’t last as long. Moreover, their discharge rate was unreliable. Disposable batteries offered a higher density and greater reliability.
Lithium-ion batteries offer a higher energy density than all three of the other formats. That is why they are lighter than disposable and NiCad/NiMH rechargeables. Their higher density means they pack more power in the same package. That makes them ideal for devices that need a lot of power, like digital cameras.
2. Fast Recharging
Another issue with NiCad and NiMH batteries is the amount of time it takes to recharge them. You need to have a special charger and be prepared to charge for 8 to 12 hours. That is too long for professional photographers constantly on the go.
Lithium-ion USB rechargeable batteries, like those sold by Pale Blue Earth, recharge in a fraction of the time. Best of all, no special charger is required. You only need a USB cable. A photographer can even carry a USB battery pack and recharge his/her lithium-ion batteries on the go.
3. Smart Battery Technology
A modern lithium-ion battery is essentially a smart battery. For example, Pale Blue Earth USB rechargeable batteries are equipped with embedded chips that automatically regulate charge and discharge rates. Unlike NiCad and NiMH batteries, you do not have to worry so much about overcharging. You can also let a lithium-ion battery discharge below 20% without drastically reducing its life.
4. Less Affected by Cold
Photographers who spend a lot of time outdoors know that cold temperatures can hamper battery performance. Lithium-ion batteries can freeze at around -40° C, but how often are photographers subject to such extremes? Under normal circumstances, lithium-ion batteries will remain largely unaffected by the cold.
On the flip side, lithium-ion doesn’t do well in heat. That’s why you should never leave lithium-ion batteries in your car or plugged into a charger for the day. They can overheat and explode. That is a concern for photographers, albeit a minor one. Keep lithium-ion batteries in a closed case and out of direct sunlight and there shouldn’t be a problem.
5. Saving Money
Finally, USB rechargeable lithium-ion batteries save photographers money over the long run. Of course, this is assuming they use disposable batteries instead of NiCad or NiMH batteries. Disposable batteries cost a small fortune when compared to their lithium-ion counterparts.
A 4-pack of lithium-ion batteries at $30 gives you a per unit price of $7.50. A 4-pack of disposable batteries at $5.00 gives you a unit price of $1.25. Lithium-ion batteries are clearly more expensive per unit. But that is only half the story.
A disposable battery is tossed in the trash when fully discharged. A rechargeable battery can be charged time and again. If your lithium-ion battery lasts for 1,000 charges, you will have spent just $7.50. Meanwhile, 1,000 disposable batteries would have cost you $1,250.
It is clear that lithium-ion batteries are superior technology. They are ideal for digital cameras, that’s for sure.