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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Understanding batter power for hotshoe flashes
Michael Stevens, Photographer, Assistant
Glendale | AZ | USA | Posted: 3:58 PM on 01.29.15
->> I'm looking at some battery power for a couple hotshoe flashes, 550EX in this case but this will apply to any of them, but I don't know which route is the best way to go.

1. Canon CP-E4 with 8 AA NiMh batteries.
2. Other stand alone option like a Quantum Turbo or the like.

I can't seem to find a lot of data on the Quantums as far as how much power they pack other than a rough estimate of the number of flashes so I don't know how to compare it's battery to 8 2400 MA. Nor do I even know if you want more amps or more volts.

Price is definitely an issue, thus the reason I've never pulled the plug on a Quantum and I have a Canon CP-E4 already.

Anyone got Flash Battery 101 thoughts?
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Paul DiSalvo, Photographer
Highlands Ranch | CO | United States of America | Posted: 5:55 PM on 01.29.15
->> Check out the Cheetah Lithium from CheetahStand https://www.cheetahstand.com/category-s/1923.htm

There are several companies rebranding this battery but I think Cheetah is selling at lowest price. AND they have excellent customer service. I used this to power two speed lights for strobing high school football. Even down to below 20 degrees, it worked great.

I encountered a little RF interference with the cables and my PW Flex's but I wrapped the cables with AC5 RF Shields and no problems after that.

The Quantums are the best there is but these are about 1/3 the price.
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David Minton, Photographer
Denton | TX | USA | Posted: 6:09 PM on 01.29.15
->> I use a pair of beat-up, indestructible Quantum Turbos almost daily in my portrait/small arena lightning kit. What I personally like about the Quantums over the Canon/Nikon packs is the ability to take the power cord off. This helps a great deal when constantly packing and unpacking things. The battery pack is just a big rectangle and you can stash the cords somewhere else where they won't get smashed up. The cords don't last too long though. I've been averaging about two years until the rubber insulation starts cracking and breaking off. That said I had a Canon TTL cord that split after 3 years. Another thing I like is that the Quantums have strap lugs and a belt clip so there are several ways to strap it to or hang it off of something. I run a S-shaped carabiner through the belt clip and hang that off the jaw of a Super Clamp for basketball.

If you can find a dead Quantum Turbo for dirt cheap, the batteries are only about $30. I got mine at Batteries+. They may even change it for you so you don't even have to open it up yourself.
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Michael Stevens, Photographer, Assistant
Glendale | AZ | USA | Posted: 7:38 PM on 01.29.15
->> Thanks for the Cheetah link. They look like a decent option as well. But, my original question still kinda stands from the technical standpoint. I wasn't so much looking for alternatives, although I'm happy to get more options besides what I can find on Amazon or Ebay, as much as I was looking for an explanation as to what the batteries' numbers mean.

Are 8, AA, 2400 mAh batteries better than that Cheetah 4500 mAh pack? Is one maybe going to charge the strobe faster and maybe the other will last for more flashes?

I don't know enough about the numbers to know what they mean. 8, 2400 mAh batteries together is 19200 mAh so it must be better than the 4500 mAh Cheetah in some respect?
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 8:39 PM on 01.29.15
->> Mike -

IMO ... you already have the solution using the Canon CP-E4. If cost is your issue then why are you considering anything else?

The Canon CP-E4 has many advantages:

1. It's weather sealed.
2. Has a built in strap to attach to light stand, monopod, etc.
3. You can purchase a spare magazine and hot swap magazines when needed.
4. Ability to use whatever AA cells you want. Alkaline, lithium (not to be used in the flash heads however), and various rechargeables of your choice based on your needs.
5. Small and light weight. Easy to pack in your camera bag and attach to your belt or waist bag.
6. Don't have to spend an extra $45 for a cable to connect your battery.
7. Cord is easy to store and secure using the Velcro strap.

Personally, I you are overthinking the technical aspects. What many professional photographers use as far as AA rechargeables is well documented here on SS and multiple web sites. Why not just accept their expertise based on mountains of experience and be done with it.

For speed and recycling:
http://www.thomasdistributing.com/-MAHA-POWEREX-Four-2700-mAh-AA-NIMH-Recha...

For low power discharge retention:
http://www.thomasdistributing.com/20-NEWEST-VERSION-Panasonic-SANYO-ENELOOP...

OR
http://www.thomasdistributing.com/20-Maha-Imedion-AA-2400mAh-Rechargeable-B...


Chargers:
http://www.thomasdistributing.com/-MAHA-MH-C800S-AA--AAA-8-CELL-BATTERY-CHA...


Unless you have a specific need for something more than you already have, stay put.
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Paul DiSalvo, Photographer
Highlands Ranch | CO | United States of America | Posted: 8:57 PM on 01.29.15
->> Can't speak to the CP-E4 as I dwell in the Dark Side but I did replace my Nikon equivalent with the Cheetah. According MFG specs; the Cheetah, Quantum and AA packs all have the same recycle times. But since the Cheetah and Quantum are dual cells, It's like having the equivalent of two AA type packs. Weight wise, the Cheetah is lighter than two AA packs combined.
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Colin Hackley, Photographer
Tallahassee | FL | USA | Posted: 8:58 PM on 01.29.15
->> A quantum turbo in good operating condition has much more capacity than a CP-E4 so it will give you many more flashes than a CP-E4 with Ni-mh batteries in it. A turbo will also recycle the 550 EX from a full power flash a very tiny bit sooner.

mAh means milli Amp hour and it is the measurement of how many milli amps a battery can deliver in an hour so in very general terms the higher the number of mAh the larger the capacity of the battery.

All that said, I'd much rather carry a CP-E4 all day than a turbo (and I've carried both). The CP-E4 is smaller and much lighter and in a pinch you can buy AA batteries almost anywhere to feed it. However, when a turbo is dead you have to plug it in for a long time.

The only time a turbo might be better is when it is hanging on a light stand and you were going be shooting full power flash all day long and wouldn't have time to put a fresh tray of batteries in the CP-E4.
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 1:39 PM on 01.30.15
->> http://www.goodboystudio.com/speedlight/flash-battery-pack/godox-propac-pb9...

It's the same thing from Chetah, but it's $150, free shipping from Hong Kong and it COMES WITH 2 CABLES. Most places charge $20-30 extra for the cables.

I use the 2->1 adapter on mine when shooting basketball. At 1/8+2/3 power I can shoot until a buffer fills up, but I'd never do that at a game. On 1/4+2/3 I get 2-3 shots, at 1/2 I get 1 shot. They are great packs in the fact that I'll shoot 400-500 photos @ a high school game and I won't have to charge the packs until after about 8 games. Even then there is still 1 or 2 dots of power left on them.

The thing I don't like about the Canon CP-E4, NiMH batteries or even plain old duracells/energizers don't work in the same way a Lithium battery does.

Lithium will keep going just as fast until it's completely drained, where as a standard battery or NiMH will slow down as it begins to drain so your recycling time will start to suffer. I've used every one of the AA battery packs out there and all of them either crapped out on me or were too slow and too much of a pain in the as# having to charge 32 AA's every night after a game. Now I charge once a week and I don't worry about it.

I have 5 of those Godox packs and haven't had a single issue yet. I bought 4 and a 5th came with the 360w/s bare bulb light they make. Great packs and well worth the cheap investment!
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Francis Specker, Photographer
Riverside | CA | USA | Posted: 7:04 PM on 01.30.15
->> Another alternative is to use a flash that has built-in Li-Ion battery inside the flash, negating the use for an external pack. This Neewer flash also has a built-in radio set-up for remote flash.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J53347E/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&...
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 2:25 AM on 01.31.15
->> @Francis-

That is a Godox (Original MFG) While nice, unless you connect them to PocketWizards and SpeedCycle their refresh rate is crap, I own 4 of them and would only use them if I need to shoot less than 4fps or I'm using them with a pocketwizard and using the SpeedCycler mode with them.

It's a great concept, but the capacitors in them suck.
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Michael Stevens, Photographer, Assistant
Glendale | AZ | USA | Posted: 11:50 PM on 02.01.15
->> Kevin, I haven't "accepted" the expertise of those on the board because I haven't found it. That's why I asked.

I do like the CP-E4 and will continue to use one regardless of anything else because it's small and lightweight, fits perfectly in my ThinkTank strobe pouch, and for much of the work I do it provides more power than I'd use in 3 or 4 assignments. I actually use those 2400 MAHA Imedion batteries and that same charger.

This particular use would be for some off camera work on a mountain bike course (or really anything) where it's anywhere between dusk/dawn to complete darkness. It won't need a TON of power for each shot because it's so dark but I'll be sitting out there for a long time so how many 1/8 power shots I get needs to be maximized. I'll be capturing images with the athletes headlamp/handlbar lamps streaking in the backgound with a second curtain sync pop from a stobe on the side. Weight isn't really an issue as it will be hanging from a stand.

I've been using my Alien Bees for situations like this but they are obviously larger and more cumbersome. The Vagabond Mini I use with them isn't exactly cheap, either.

That's what got me thinking about putting these old flashes to work. They haven't been used since I got my 580.

Colin, I knew what the mAh meant but don't get why a 4500 mAh Godox would be better than 8 2400 mAh AAs. Not knowing squat about electonics I'm guessing they must be run so that it's still only a 2400 mAh power pack but the eight cells are able to push the power into the flash faster. But, you get a faster recycle AND more power so that can't be exactly true.
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Colin Hackley, Photographer
Tallahassee | FL | USA | Posted: 10:29 AM on 02.02.15
->> Michael, I'm not an electronics expert and others here can explain the math on this better than I, but in general a 4500 mAh battery will have more capacity (a bigger gas tank if you will, so it can go further/give more flashes on one charge).

For the application you describe, the Canon battery pack is perfect. It is small, light and will give you a ton of 1/8th power flashes. I definitely wouldn't want to be stomping around in the woods with a big strobe and battery pack unless I absolutely needed it, and it doesn't sound like you need it.
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Michael Stevens, Photographer, Assistant
Glendale | AZ | USA | Posted: 11:59 AM on 02.02.15
->> That's kinda my thought as well, Colin. I've got this anal retentiveness about me that even though I know an answer I still wanna know why! My googling didn't really give me much help so I haven't found the right search string that talks about big battery vs small batteries in parallel/series...
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 8:04 PM on 02.02.15
->> If you are using NiMH batteries you should be using an analyzer with them as well to break them in and refresh them from time to time.

Reason? OK, you say the batteries are rated at 2400 mAh, an Analyzer will tell you exactly how many mAh each cell is because they will all be different. Some will be 2300 some will be 2460, some will be 2100 (they can vary a lot depending on age.)

Reason this matters? You should use AA batteries that are rated within 5% of each other. The weakness to any battery pack is the lowest rated mAh battery. If you put 7, 2400mAh batteries in the pack and 1 that is only charged to 1200mAh, you will only get as much as the 1200mAh can put out.

Also, the Godox are not much heavier than the CP-E4 because it's using NiMH and the Godox is using Lithium. The main advantage to the Godox is if you need 2 stationary flashes close to each other, you can use a single battery pack and I find it much easier to charge a single battery than 8-16-24, etc depending on the number of packs you use.
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Ken Shelton, Photographer
Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 12:26 PM on 02.03.15
->> Have been using these for several years to power Canon and Vivitar flash units. Al will make up the proper cable/adapter for the appropriate flash.

http://www.aljacobs.com/products-services-ordering/the-black-box-specificat...
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 3:30 PM on 02.03.15
->> Someone on that page doesn't know what they are talking about, SERIOUSLY giving out bad info.

They say, "these are 4.5 AMP Hours, Not milliamp."

Guess what? 4.5 Amp hours = 4500 mAH. Don't believe me, here is the calculator:

http://www.rapidtables.com/convert/charge/mah-to-ah.htm

I hate people that put information out there that don't understand what they are talking about. Also that AJ Power pack is 2.7lbs. A godox battery pack? 1lb 2oz.

I'm not trying to be the Godox power pack fan boy, but putting out disinformation to people that don't research things is just bad business.
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Michael Stevens, Photographer, Assistant
Glendale | AZ | USA | Posted: 7:29 PM on 02.03.15
->> I did know some of what you speak, Jim. I always use the same 4 batteries for the flash and the same 8 for the CP-E4. And each PocketWizard has it's own set of AAs, too. Actually have two complete sets for everything. But, I didn't know each battery is so variable...
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 4:27 PM on 02.04.15
->> That's why a good analyzer is so important to have when you are using rechargeable batteries. Like I said, one bad battery can kill your pack prematurely.

I have the MAHA, it only does 4 batteries at a time and only AAA and AA, due to the fact it takes upwards of 4 days to break in or "refresh" a set of batteries I have 2 of them so I can do a set of 16 somewhat faster.

Thomas has them on sale now for $52, usually $70. Unless I missed it there are none that do 8 cells.

http://www.thomasdistributing.com/Maha-MH-C9000-Advanced-Battery-Charger_p_...

what I do is initially number the batteries before I break them in. So 1-16, I analyze, mark down the mAh ratings for each then break them down in order of how many I need in a group (4 for a flash, 2 for a transmitter, etc) and then label each battery in a set A1 for set 1, A2 for set 2, etc. Every 6 months or after basketball is over (where my biggest use of flash occurs) I'll go and do a refresh. Sometimes batteries will have a dramatic change after a season. Sometimes not.
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Tom Ewart, Photographer
Bentonville | AR | USA | Posted: 11:42 PM on 02.04.15
->> Jim, you may check the

Charger MAHA MH-C801D AA - AAA Battery it can handle 8 batteries at a time..
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:08 AM on 02.05.15
->> Tom:

The MH-C801D does not perform the analysis that Jim is referring to. As he pointed out, knowing the actual mAh from each battery will allow you to "battery match" so that you can use cells with like power.


MH-C801D Five modes of operation:

•Charge: Recharges the battery at the selected rate.
-- Suitable for batteries used frequently

•Refresh & Analyze: Charges the battery, rest for one hour, discharge, rest again, then recharges it. Selectable charging and discharging rate. Suitable for batteries stored for more than two weeks but less than 3 month or those showing poor performance

•Break-In: Also known as IEC capacity measurement and "Battery Forming". Charges battery at 0.1C for 16 hours, rest for one hour, discharges battery at 0.2C, then recharges again at 0.1C for 16 hours.
-- Suitable for new batteries and those stored for more than 3 month.

•Discharge: Discharges the battery at the selected rate.

•Cycle: Performs charge-discharge cycle for up to 12 times with discharge capacity stored in memory. Recharges battery after final cycle.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:09 AM on 02.05.15
->> Sorry ----

The MH-C9000 Five Modes of Operation: (not MHC801D)
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 12:32 PM on 02.05.15
->> Exactly what Kevin said.

For every day charging the C810D is just fine, but for Analysis to get the hard mAh rating for each battery you need the C9000, there are no 8 cell analyzers out there at this time, I've looked everywhere.

Also, if you look at the link to Thomas, they will also explain all the modes and also talk about the +/-5% matching of batteries towards the bottom I believe.
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Michael Stevens, Photographer, Assistant
Glendale | AZ | USA | Posted: 4:45 PM on 02.14.15
->> So, a question on the C9000...

Would you need to use that charger ALL the time? Seems to me an analyzer would only be something you'd need maybe nce or twice a year to make sure you are using batteries in like groups.

Put 'em in the analyzer and mark them for use together. Then charge in the 8 cell charger like normal for 6-12 months. Then recheck.

That's something I wouldn't mind getting because I have to charge 12 cells for a set (8 cells for the battery pack and 4 for the flash itself) so it would work out perfectly. And it charges the 4 in an hour just like the bigger version so I wouldn't be waiting any longer.

Do I have that right?
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 5:17 AM on 02.15.15
->> Yes, you have that right. I use mine once a year.

What I have discovered over many years is that once a battery tests 25% lower than spec, I just replace it. All the conditioning in the world won't bring them back to their youthful life and they will only get worse faster.
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 2:48 PM on 02.15.15
->> On a set of new batteries, I break them in, then will re-analyze them in about 3 months after purchase just to make sure none are bad cells. After that, pretty much every season I'll analyze since I really only use a ton of AA during basketball.
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Michael Stevens, Photographer, Assistant
Glendale | AZ | USA | Posted: 9:28 AM on 02.24.15
->> So I got the 9000 last night. I'm reading through it and under the section "Choosing the right charging and discharging rate" it doesn't tell what the answer is.

Slower charging is better. < 3c and > 1c not recommended.
Don't go above 1c discharging.

That's not a whole lotta help.

What do you pick for your rates? I'm using the 2400 Imedion enelops and I've also got a bunch of Powerex 2700 NiMHs I plan on refreshing to see if they are any good any longer.
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Thread Title: Understanding batter power for hotshoe flashes
Thread Started By: Michael Stevens
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