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Old Sep 12, 2005, 3:13 PM   #1
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I am new to the digital camera world and will be purchasing one very soon. I have been doing my fair share of research but the one question I still don't have an answer to is should I get a camera that I can use AA batteries for or a camera that I can recharge? I will be going on a 6 month backpacking trip where the first 6 weeks I will be in Africa camping out most nights. The second 6 weeks I will be in asia and feel I will have access to an outlet but am skeptical about aftrica. Does anyone have any thoughts? The last thing I want to have happen is I am in the congo, see the most beautiful animal or waterfall and I don't have any battery life left. Also, while doing my research it seems the most cameras do not offer the options of AA batteries, only sony. Am I right about this?

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Old Sep 13, 2005, 10:04 PM   #2
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li ion batteries hold a charge a long time and most of the better cameras use them. they can be charged with ac adapters as well as a 12 volt dc source such as car or truck battery w/ cigarett lighter accessory.

AA powerd cameras tend to be on the lower end of the quality spectrum for digitals, though someone may point out a good choice in this catagory. Of course AA batteries are probubly available worldwide. they also dont last long, my daughters AA powered HP camera only gets about 20 pics to a set of new duracells. though it can put out 100 or so with nimh aa rechagables. you still end up needing a charger.

if u can recharge. id go with a better camera and bring a few extra charged packs with you. most of these cameras using Li ion technology can shoot a couple hundred pics on a charge. add a couple spare charged packs and you will probubly run out of memory / cf cards whatever to keep the pics on. not to mention theres dc charge cords available.
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Old Sep 16, 2005, 3:05 PM   #3
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There are loads of good cameras that use AA batteries. I have liked the Canon A series (currently at A510, A520, A95, and the soon-to-be-released A410, A610 and A620)

This site is an easy way to look for cameras by battery type or other feature.


I don't have the URL handy, but if you google "dave's digicams" you can find a link to an excellent site to help you pick a camera based on all sorts of preferences.

NiMH batteries take lots of photos, but have a short shelf-life, and are not a great choice for Africa. Ordinary alkaline batteries have an indefinite shelf life, and you can pack a lot of them, or buy them most anywhere. Cameras vary a lot, but I took more than 1000 photos over a 2 week vacation in Japan and I don't think I went through more than 3 sets of them in my Canon A80. LiIon batteries can take more total pictures than Alkalines, but have a shelf life intermediate between NiMH and Alkalines.

Batteries discharge when you use them, and also over time. The shelf life refers to the discharge over time, which would be an issue for you if you are away from a power source.

I saw a reference somewhere to a brand-name disposable LiIon AA battery with a 10 year shelf life that someone took some enormous number of photos with, so you might want to look into those, too. Never seen one, myself.
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Old Sep 19, 2005, 10:31 AM   #4
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PuzzleGal wrote:
I saw a reference somewhere to a brand-name disposable LiIon AA battery with a 10 year shelf life that someone took some enormous number of photos with, so you might want to look into those, too. Never seen one, myself.
That'll be the Energizer e2 Lithium cells - details here:

They are not Lithium Ion but Lithium Iron Disulphide - a subtle difference.

There are other brands too - often cheaper

In 2001 I went on a 4-week trek in Nepal - well away from mains electricity. I took with me some NiMh rechargable AAs and a small solar charger. This turned out to be quite heavy, I had to carry the delicate solar charger on the top of my sack and it didn't charge very quickly. Interestingly, all the westerners kept asking me what it was whereas all the local kids shouted 'solar' at me immediately!

When I returned in 2003, I took some Energizer e2 Lithiums instead. They were much lighter and one set lasted nearly the whole 3 weeks. I'm definately going to use them next time.

For trips away from electricity I'd always recommend finding a camera that takes standard AAs. Who wants to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with some proprietary battery that you can't charge.

At home, where I can recharge them in under 30 minutes, I use NiMhs. I've seen chargers that take only 15 minutes whereas 2-3 hours is more normal for a Li-Ion. For me, it's a no-brainer so I'll never buy a camera that doesn't use AAs.
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Old Sep 26, 2005, 10:22 PM   #5
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I prefer "AA" powered cameras, especially if I am using a flash attachment that also uses "AA". I hate to have to carry two completely different kinds of batteries and chargers on a vacation trip. However, as someone else in this thread pointed out, the AA digicams are mostly the "lower end" models, with the better, more feature-rich cameras having proprietary battery packs. The bottom line is that you need to consider "ALL" of the features that you want in your camera, giving weight to those that you need most. The primary considerations that you should examine include: 1. Resolution. How much do you need? 2. Form factor. Do you need the maximum quality and capabilities of a D-SLR, or will a compact or pro-sumer model be adequate? 3. Features. Do you need to have the most possible color-correction capabilites?; if so, better buy a camera that can shoot RAW. Need lots of manual control? extreme macro? lots of zoom range? 28 mm wide angle? If so, look at cameras that have those features. The type of flash card comes into the buying equation too. For example, if you already owned several 1 to 4 gigabyte Compact Flash cards, you would probably shy away from a new camera that uses SD/MMC or xD cards unless there were other features on that camera that you just HAVE to have. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to find any one digital camera that's got 100% of the features you want, especially now that most of the new compact and prosumer models that used to take Compact Flash are switching to SD/MMC. It was also noted in another post in this thread that NIMH cells, like the older nickel-cadmiums, tend to lose charge much faster that Li-Ion packs, and I agree with that. A set of 4 fully-charged 2400mAH "AA" Nimh cells in my Minolta 7I can shoot maybe 250 JPEGS (outdoors without flash) if they have just come off the charger, but if 2 weeks have gone by since they were charged, they will probably shoot only half that many.
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Old Sep 27, 2005, 5:06 AM   #6
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I was amazed that the first answer Katie got about AA batteries stated that: AA powered cameras are the lower quality cameras, alkalines are poor (we knew that), and with AA rechargeables you need a charger. Of course you do, and you also do with Li ion batteries.

Fortunately many have since offered opinions & advice on this issue.

As to the "Lower" quality AA cameras, how about the very many excellent Olympus, Canon, & Fuji cameras that use AA's. In particular the recently released Fuji S9000, 9mp, 10x optical zoom, high ISO, etc.. & AA batteries.. Hardly lower quality.
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Old Sep 30, 2005, 11:27 AM   #7
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To me AA powered cameras have the folowing advantages:

1. Spare sets are much cheaper to purchase

2. In emergency, disposable cells can be used

3. Good NiMH chargers allow for better battery management

4. The cells can be used for other things (flash etc)

5. The battery can be recharged faster

6. NiMH cells will have longer service life (unless repeatedly overcharged)

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Old Oct 6, 2005, 8:20 AM   #8
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Do'nt forget that AA (or AAA) batteries never gets obsolete, they continue to improve and mature in time. 5 years ago, we can only get about 1000 mAH, now 2500 mAH are common.

Proprietary battery packs will be hard to find in 2 to 3 years because of the new models coming. This is one of the disdavantage when you own a device powered by a special battery pack.
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Old Oct 14, 2005, 10:55 AM   #9
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I like AA batteries. I just don't like the idea that my $1000 camera will be rendered useless only because the camera manufacturers and battery suppliers quit making batteries so they can sell me a new camera. A camera that uses AA's will have some value untill AA's are no longer produced, which will be a long, long time. Even though my camera will technically be obsolete I may be able to give it to someone who otherwise would have nothing or leave it in my truck just so I always have something available. I have been thru this with laptops which is even worse.
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Old Oct 14, 2005, 1:03 PM   #10
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koconn08 wrote:
should I get a camera that I can use AA batteries for or a camera that I can recharge?
I agonised over this issue.I have been strongly prejudiced in favour of AAs until recently. They offer flexibility of charging in any of many different chargers of varying degrees of sophistication, powered from mains electricity of differing voltages, or 12V dc from a vehicle battery. If all else fails you can buy disposable AA Mn-alkaline cells almost anywhere, and they'll last quite well. I've owned two AA-powered cameras myself, and still have charge of three within the family.


my first step into Li-ion was with my camcorders. My last two second-hand Sony Hi-8 camcorders gave me outstanding value for money, but have to be charged on-camera from a mains-powered transformer. To do this while away from base I had to buy an inverter, which gave me a 240V ac supply (with socket) powered from my campervan 12V dc sockets.

I've just bought the still camera of my dreams (Casio EX-Z750). It does almost everything I've wanted for the last 46 years, in a size that fits in a breast pocket.Butit doesn't have enough space to fit a couple of AAs in its casing, so it's Li-ion powered. Looking at its power requirements, it's clear to me that 2xAAs would power it perfectly, but they wouldn't fit inside the camera body.

So it's the power DENSITY, (amp-hours per millilitre) not the total Ah capacity that's become important. If I were doing your trip, I'd have to buy a couple more Li-ion spare batteries, and carry them fully charged. They hold their charge, or so I'm told (unlike Ni-MH). It's the future, so we're stuck with it.

Good luck & have a good trip,

Alan T

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