Wednesday, May 18th 2011

Testing my flash batteries

After having received my Canon Speedlite 580EX II I decided to go through all my flash batteries to see which are actually any good. I found five sets of four rechargable Ni-MH AA batteries in my extra camera stuff drawer.

My little investigation gave some pretty interesting results.

I charged the batteries one set at a time and put them first in my old 420EX flash. I let the flash charge up and then pressed the pilot button, measuring the amount of time for the flash to fully charge again. I then did the same test in the new 580EX II (set to manual mode and full power).

The recycle times are shown in the table below.

Battery 420EX 580EX II Difference
GP 1800mAh 11.4 sec 9.2 sec 19%
GP 1800mAh 10.0 sec 7.8 sec 22%
Xpower 2200mAh 6.8 sec 4.4 sec 35%
Panasonic 1500mAh 5.1 2.9 44%
Panasonic 1500mAh 5.1 2.7 48%
Hähnel Synergy 2500 mAh 4.3 2.7 37%

This leads to two interesting conclusions.

  1. The difference in recycle times between different batteries can be huge. You should test yours too!
  2. Canon’s claim of 20% faster recycle times for the 580EX II is a worst case scenario. The better the batteries, the larger the advantage for the new flash. This is probably true for the 430EX II as well – I believe they use the same technology.

The speed of the 580EX II is even more impressive if you consider that it charges with ~80% more power than the 420EX.

It is ironic that the Panasonic batteries turned out to be the fastest. I found them in a box of old left-over batteries at the shop I used to work in, at least five–six years ago.

Edit: I have now ordered, received and tested the Hähnel Synergy 2500 mAh in my flashes. I have added the results to the table.

Comments are closed.