Batteries Charge Ahead

Higher Capacity is good news for digital camera owners



Upping the capacity of AA cells was the name of the game again this year at the big PMA show in Vegas. This race, fueled by the increased power demands of mainly digital cameras, has battery manufacturers scrambling to out-charge each other. Traditionally, alkaline AAs have been pegged at about 1500 milliampere-hours (mAh), but several vendors showed AAs rated at 1900 to 2100 mAh, with 2300 mAh cells promised very soon. This is up from last yearÕs 1700 mAh offerings. With mAh, more is better. These ratings are specified at the industry-standard C10 currents, one-tenth of the mAh rating. We test at one ampere-five or more times the current manufacturers' rating tests because that figure is closer to the requirements of real-world electronic flash units.

Samsung unveiled its rechargeable Digimax Li-ion CR-V3 package. The Digimax battery fits in all two-cell digital cameras that currently accept a CR-3V lithium battery. The charger will operate from 100 to 240 volts, using the AC adapter. Charging time, two hours; battery capacity, 1100 mAh.

Excell Battery USA has added another button cell to its line of replacements for hard-to-find originals used in vintage cameras: the A825PX, an alkaline cell. Check out for the complete line and a list of retailers in your area.

Lenmar's Mach 1 Gamma one-hour charger purportedly keeps batteries cool during charging and charges more fully than others on the market. Lenmar also demonstrated its online search engine. On this site, you can search for a specific battery or enter your camera model to find compatible batteries. You can also get hard-to-find batteries for older gear like VHS camcorders. The search engine can be accessed through various on-line photo dealers such as

Quest, Sony, Uniross, NEXcell, and Rayovac showed 2100 mAh NiMH AAs. Both Rayovac and Uniross expect 2300 mAh AA cells to be available by the time you read this. Uniross, a major supplier of rechargeable batteries in Europe, is now entering the U.S. market. Sony also introduced its new oxy-nickel AAs, which are said to give superior performance over alkaline cells in digital cameras.

Rayovac had the most unusual battery system at the show. Its new NiMH AAs will charge in only 15 minutes! The system puts the charge control in each cell, and this is said to ensure that individual cells get a full charge and no overcharge. The charger itself is thus less complex and less costly.

Energizer featured its titanium-technology alkalines, the e2 line, which, the company claims, have been tweaked for improved performance in digital cameras.

Duracell introduced an entirely new size of lithium battery, the CP1. It's a three-volt model based on the same chemistry as the more familiar DL123, and it will sell for about the same price (approx. street: $4). The rectangular package, only 1/4-inch thick, is the same size and shape as the rechargeable lithium ion battery used in many smaller digital cameras. The CP1 is not, however, directly interchangeable with the Li-ion battery in existing cameras which are designed around the 3.7 volts produced by Li-ion batteries. Several camera manufacturers are looking into incorporating the new battery into upcoming models.