For those of you on the never ending quest for batteries to power your photo equipment, there are really two brands of rechargeables out which are widely recognized; eneloop & PowerGenix. I went the PowerGenix route due to their higher voltage but have started having issues using them several months in. I originally went through several chargers from the manufacturer which the company replaced at no charge. After several months of use I am finding that I am burning through a set only after a handful of flash firings (right off of the charger). The cycle time has also been slow after the first couple of shots (over a minute). This has bit me in the rear twice while shooting a large event.
Out of concern, today I tested each AA cell with a multimeter and believe I found the issue. One or more of the cells (AA) in my sets read very low power levels (under .5 volt) while the other cells in the set were much higher (up to 1.8 volts). I regrouped all of my AA cells based on their current power level. From there ran a set of 4 AA PowerGenix through a charge cycle and then tested the voltage. The resulting reading showed that all 4 cells were at 1.8 volts. Next I had to put them to the test. For this, I used a Canon 550EX speedlite. The speedlite was not connected to a camera and the pilot button was used for firing. The flash fired as designed by Canon and cycled very quickly (3 seconds between bursts). This result held constant to the point where I was concerned about the flash unit overheating. As a note, the fact that when functioning properly, the PowerGenix batteries will cycle a flash so quickly that you can run the risk of frying it.
In the end, it appears that I will have to monitor the cells before and after charging to ensure they are ready to go when needed. It’s an inconvenience, but the extra step will be worth it to ensure my gear will function as I need it, when I need it. I’ll also be monitoring the ability of the PowerGenix batteries to retain a charge while being stored, so watch for a follow-up article.
For further information on either brand: