Review: Powerex 2700 mAh NiMh AA Rechargeable Batteries
6 March 2014

The Actual Battery   |   The Numbers   |   In The Field   |   Further Tests   |   The Charger   |   Conclusion

 

When I received my new Lumopro 180 (review on that coming soon), I knew my existing batteries weren’t going to cut it. I had been rocking some Beecroft 2800s for some time, which had served me well for my Canon 430EXII and Yongnou 460IIs, but with the extra power of the LP180 I knew I needed better battery life and a faster recycle time so I could pop my flash more frequently. The fact that my Beecroft 2800s always required charging the day of / day before a shoot, or else they would not last through the shoot, meant it was time to investigate new batteries.

I asked around a few people. There were a few recommendations for Eneloops, which are potentially the most common and well known AA rechargeable battery, especially by photographers, and I had always heard good things. But then another recommendation came in which was hard to ignore…

Maha Powerex 2700 mAh NiMh AA rechargeable batteries are rapidly gaining traction as the go-to battery for photographers. When I heard Joe McNally uses Powerex exclusively, I paid attention. When I found out that Australian photographer Gavin Blue, another of my idols, also uses Powerex batteries, I was really intrigued. Then I discovered that within Australia, one by one, each state’s forensics teams had switched over to the Powerex 2700 mAh NiMh AA batteries, well, you know there is no reason to look any further.

I got in touch with the great team from PROtog, the national distributors for Powerex, and before long I had an order of batteries and a new charger on its way to VOTogs HQ.


 
The Actual Battery

Powerex 2700mAh NiMh AA Rechargeable Batteries

Powerex 2700mAh NiMh AA Rechargeable Batteries

Now, I could just launch straight into how the battery performs, but I want to take a moment to touch on the actual, physical battery. These batteries feel good. I am not quite sure what it is, but in the hand, especially compared to my Beecroft rechargeable batteries and standard AA lithium batteries I had in my bag for emergencies, they feel solid and well made. This may seem like a trivial point, but they don’t feel like plastic and the casing/label does not feel like it will peel away from the main battery (like my Beecrofts have done). The container they come in is also well-made and won’t be breaking any time soon.

One thing I will express MINOR disappointment in is that all Powerex batteries, from what I can tell, anyway, look exactly the same. One thing I do like about Eneloops is there are packs with multiple colours, allowing you to build easily identifiable ‘sets’ of batteries, so you can keep the same four batteries together to use in a flash. Granted, this is easily remedied by drawing an “X” on the battery with a permanent marker, but the availability of different colours would be great.

Overall, the batteries look and feel like quality. Onwards! There are numbers to look at!


 
The Numbers

These batteries came with big expectations. I was told these batteries would only lose 10% of their charge after 7 days and 15% after 30 days. They were to hold charge for long periods of non-use, have fast recycle time between flashes in my speedlight, and generally perform well. I was sceptical.

[Admittedly, I am comparing these to three year old Beecroft 2800mAh rechargeable batteries that have gone through multiple refresh cycles in the charger (noted below). This may be an unfair comparison, but I do make note of a fellow professional photographer’s personal comparison with Eneloops below.]

Upon receiving my package from the mailman, I charged both sets of Powerex batteries with a “Break-In” charge over the next 4 days. One set I used the day after charging completed for an engagement shoot; the other set I left sit in the plastic case for 7 days.

The batteries I left for 7 days I then recharged to see how much charge they had lost. They required the following top up charge:

Battery 1 Battery 2 Battery 3 Battery 4
157mAh 155mAh 159mAh 164mAh

These numbers are impressive. To explain: the four batteries, over the course of a week, lost only between 5.7% and 6% of the potential 2700mAh charge. This is better than the claimed performance. It is also very important to note that the four individual batteries had very low variance in charge lost. This impressed me.

Compared to my refreshed Beecroft 2800mAh batteries that, after 7 days, required the following top up charge:

Battery 1 Battery 2 Battery 3 Battery 4
256mAh 269mAh 453mAh 321mAh

That is a loss of between 9% and 16.1% of the potential 2800mAh charge. They are older batteries, so a greater loss of charge is to be expected. But the high variance between charge-loss is of concern, considering, in a set of four, the weakest battery determines the performance of the charge.

Returning to the Powerex batteries, after charging the batteries for a wedding nineteen (19) days earlier, and only requiring one set, the others remaining in their plastic case, I thought it would be a good idea to further test the charge loss. While not 30 days, I thought the numbers were still interesting.

After 19 days, the top up charge required in each Powerex battery:

Battery 1 Battery 2 Battery 3 Battery 4
186mAh 188mAh 199mAh 193mAh

This is a loss of between 6.8% and 7.3% of total charge. As expected, most of the initial charge is lost in the first week; only a further 1-1.6% charge was lost over the following 12 days. Again, there was a very low variance in charge loss, and the batteries were holding charge well beyond my expectation.


 
In The Field

Powerex 2700mAh AA Rechargeable Batteries

Powerex 2700mAh AA Rechargeable Batteries.

Okay, so, the numbers are great… if you plan on leaving them in your bag. But how do the batteries perform on a shoot?

I shot a lovely wedding in mid-February. Those who know my style and work would know that I am very much in favour of off-camera flash. My LP180 was used quite a lot throughout the day, before, during and after the wedding ceremony. It was used as the bride got ready. The ceremony was shot natural light. Then during location photos the flash came out, being used at high power to help overpower the sun. After two hours of location photos, we went to the reception. All the table shots were shot with off-camera flash, as was the cutting of the cake, the first dance, and general dance floor photos.

Throughout the day, I took, well, let’s say A LOT of photos. At a guess, I would say over half of these used off-camera flash, often at 1/16 to 1/2 power. This was all performed with the same, single set of four batteries, without a misfire (not caused by a dead set of triggers).

The recycle time was even more impressive. Even when shooting at 1/2 power, the flash was ready to pop again during continuous fire group shots.

These batteries made my second shooter take note. She was impressed by the fast recycle time compared to her Eneloops and was even more surprised that I had not changed the batteries throughout the entire day. When I spoke to her about them in reference to them for this review, she also noted that they never slowed down, the recycle time for my flash was consistent throughout the whole day. While she did not use flash, thus I don’t have a direct comparison to Eneloops, I will say that at previous weddings, using my Beecrofts, I have had to change batteries half way through the day.

Simply: these batteries perform.


 
Further Tests

Powerex Recycling During Continuous Shooting

Powerex Recycling During Continuous Shooting

I like pushing things as far as they can go.

That same set of batteries used for 12 hours of heavy use during a wedding? I did not bother charging them. I also used them the week after the wedding for two test shoots for my VOTogs 52 Selfie.

Then I cracked them out again 19 days after their last charge to perform some continuous shot tests.

The image to the right is what happened when I set my camera to high-speed continuous fire at 1/200 with the flash at 1/8 power.

As you can see, that is 9 consecutive shots, taken within 1.5 seconds, before the flash failed to recycle in time to fire again.

Almost three weeks after the batteries were charged, after HEAVY use during a wedding, after a couple more experimentations with flash since, and set to high-speed continuous fire, the flash still popped 9 times in a row. It did this three times in a row.

I then put the batteries on the charger. They required the following top up charge:

Battery 1 Battery 2 Battery 3 Battery 4
1845mAh 1873mAh 1932mAh 1941mAh

After all that use, even popping 1/8 power for some 30 odd shots almost 3 weeks after their last charge, these batteries had used 68.1%-71.8% charge of their potential 2700mAh. Still plenty of charge to be used for, easily, another portrait shoot, or at least to be used in a pinch if my niece or nephew got up to something. Again, it should be noted the low variance in charge usage, even over more prolonged time and heavy use.

As a side note, I also performed the same high-speed continuous fire test on a freshly charged set of batteries of Powerex and freshly charged set of Beecroft 2800mAh batteries.

The Powerex, when freshly charged, took 12 shots before missing a beat.

The Beecrofts, despite having a higher mAh rating (thus, theoretically, a faster recycle time), only fired 7 times before misfiring. The last shot of with the Beecroft batteries was also very underexposed, presumably because the flash did not fire at true 1/8 power.

I also put freshly charged Powerex and freshly charged Beecroft batteries in my Yongnou 460II flash units and powered them up simultaneously (and swapped the batteries to the opposite unit and reperformed the same test). The Powerex was ready to fire 1/64 within 2-3 seconds; the Beecrofts I stopped counting after 15 seconds…

Popping my LP180 at full power with fully charged Powerex batteries, I was finding them to have less than two second recycle time. This is extremely impressive from my experiences.


 
The Charger
With quality batteries, you need a quality charger. The Powerex MH-C9000 WizardOne AA/AAA Battery Charger / Analyser does everything I thought a charger was meant to do, and then some.

Previously, my battery charger was simple. Put batteries in. Jam it into the wall. Flick switch. Lights were red. When batteries were charged, the lights went green. Done.

The Powerex Charger / Analyser

The Powerex Charger / Analyser

This charger gives many more options than just ‘charge’. Following the instructions and some guidance from Jeff from PROtog, the first time I charged my Powerex batteries I used the “Break In” mode. Doing this, the batteries receive a SLOW full charge, are rested, receive a slow discharge, rested, and then, again, receive a slow charge. The process taking between 40 and 45 hours. The result is a battery that holds its charge better. As seen by the numbers above, this is very much the case.

I also used the charger in an attempt to breathe some life into my old Beecroft batteries. With the aid of the charger, I discovered that in one set, one battery was failing to charge properly, and in the other set three batteries were failing. This would explain why they were struggling to perform. I identified the problem batteries, created a ‘new’ set of four that were working properly, and performed a refresh charge on them. A few charges later, and the batteries were performing better than they have for some time (but, as seen above, a long way behind the performance of the Powerex).

On top of this, with any charge, the charger tells you how much charge has been needed by each individual battery, allowing you to identify if any batteries are performing poorly, losing charge outside of acceptable parameters, and, overall, whether the set of batteries is holding its charge or requiring refreshing. Very useful.

It should be noted that these batteries and this charger are not a fast charging process. When I charged the batteries after the wedding and further tests, they took about three hours to charge back to full charge. I do not see this as a problem, considering if you charge them once, the batteries will have enough charge for use for quite some time anyway.

I never knew a quality battery charger was so useful and important.


 
Conclusion

I love these batteries. Would they have the LONG life staying power of an Eneloop, which claim to only lose 15% of their charge over 12 months? Maybe, maybe not, but my batteries are used too often to test this. But they do have a long life, regardless, both in regards to holding their charge when not being used and the amount of heavy use that one can inflict on these batteries. They also have a great recycle time.

If you are after new batteries for your flash/speedlites, look no further. Powerex perform well beyond expectation. Also, have you ever had a decent, grown-up charger for your rechargeable batteries? Well, Powerex provide a great option.

 
Buy Powerex products from PROtog.

 

Peter Bower Bio PicPeter Bower is a mixed bag of tricks. He is a professional photographer, published writer, English academic, award winning poet, hater of soup, website manager, social media guy, ginger, and creature of the night. He is the Founder of VOTogs. When he’s not working, he is a semi-serious competitive gamer and lover of live music, bad movies and action novels. You can find more of his work at his website and ‘like’ him on Facebook. You can also say hello to him on Twitter @OeterB.

 


2 thoughts on “Review: Powerex 2700 mAh NiMh AA Rechargeable Batteries

  1. I purchased 16 Powerex batteries, charged them up using the C801D charger and turned up for a shoot the next day. Only just into the shoot and my flashes started to fail, did not know what was wrong as I had new batteries, anyway a disaster. A number of the batteries went flat overnight. Checked the batteries when I got home and found a number of them would not hold charge. The supplier acknowledged that there was a problem and replaced them in a couple of weeks when he had a new batch. Had them a couple of years now and only about 4 are OK. Heaps of problems with them self-discharging over that time. Changed to Eneloop and no more problems, only used the Powerex as backups.

    • G’day Stephen,

      Sorry to hear about your experience with these batteries. I guess, like all things, there are different experiences for different people. For me, personally, my batteries are still going great guns. Whether they’ve improved since you bought them (you did say they were a couple of years old, so I have much newer ones than you), but even now, I’ve not charged my batteries for about 3 months (I’ve not been shooting much), and using them on and off during this time, and I still have half charge in them. So, really, I have no problems with them.

      For me, I find the Powerex batteries much better than my Enloops. Faster refresh time, hold more charge for longer. But, again, that’s me personally.

      I can still strongly recommend the batteries without any hesitation. But, I do completely sympathise with your experience! Hope you have a better experience if you try them again.

      — Peter

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