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05-16-2011, 05:16 AM   #1
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Lithium batteries in on-camera flash = BAD idea

Got a new flash. Tried my eneloops and then tried energizer lithium batteries, and the lithiums recharged the flash a full second sooner than the eneloops, so I left them in the flash.

Well, started shooting a lot, and very quickly the flash recycle got VERY long. Pulled the batteries out and burned myself on them! Those lithiums were HOT. Had to drop them on the floor and leave them there. Swapped out for the eneloops and got WAY more shots from the flash, and the eneloops never got hot.

So, highly recommend that you don't use lithium batteries in your on-camera flash. (This was a Sigma 610 fyi)

Charles.

05-16-2011, 08:03 AM   #2
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Right, back to the flash manual - firstly it will say to let the flash cool off if you take more than 10 shots in relatively quick succession - both the batteries and flash system will overheat with high current drain conditions, such as 10 shots in quick succession.

Are the Lithiums prone to overheating - not that I've heard so far. Will the Eneloops run cooler - yes they will because they are taking longer to charge the flash - this means that the current output is a bit lower as is the voltage of the batteries - they take longer to charge the flash capacitor. But they will get warm if you do what did with the Lithiums.

Will the Lithiums last longer? You betcha but use them as a backup for when your Eneloops suddenly run out of juice - the Lithiums will sit in your bag for up to 7 years without a problem, the Eneloops will be discharged below usable level within 9 months.
05-16-2011, 02:34 PM   #3
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I may have gotten 20 shots total with the lithium batteries. Eneloops lasted the whole day, and didn't overheat.

Charles.
05-16-2011, 03:33 PM   #4
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Eneloops have a low internal resistance and will flow current easily compared to some other batteries. I don't know what Lithium batteries are like in a flash, I've never used them in a flash. It sounds like they increase resistance in high drain usage, hence the slow recycle times you saw. Simple solution, use Eneloops in your flash. I wonder if the Lithium batteries recovered after sitting a while, did you test them afterward?

05-16-2011, 03:46 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jlaubza Quote
Right, back to the flash manual - firstly it will say to let the flash cool off if you take more than 10 shots in relatively quick succession - both the batteries and flash system will overheat with high current drain conditions, such as 10 shots in quick succession.

Are the Lithiums prone to overheating - not that I've heard so far. Will the Eneloops run cooler - yes they will because they are taking longer to charge the flash - this means that the current output is a bit lower as is the voltage of the batteries - they take longer to charge the flash capacitor. But they will get warm if you do what did with the Lithiums.

Will the Lithiums last longer? You betcha but use them as a backup for when your Eneloops suddenly run out of juice - the Lithiums will sit in your bag for up to 7 years without a problem, the Eneloops will be discharged below usable level within 9 months.
Have you heard the results of Syl Arena's torture test of AA batteries in speedlites? In fact he found the same thing as the OP'er, that lithiums can overheat to such an extent that they can even melt the plastic in battery compartment of the flash. He found LD-NiMH the best for flashes, NiMH second, alkaline third, and recommends against using lithiums in flashes at all unless you have no other options.
05-16-2011, 03:52 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChopperCharles Quote
I may have gotten 20 shots total with the lithium batteries. Eneloops lasted the whole day, and didn't overheat.

Charles.
I use energizer lithium's in AF280T and AF-540FGZ with no problems.
They do get warm under heavy use but never hot. Also have eneloops, they just cycle little slower.

Edit: Just read the above. I must not use the flashes heavy enough.

Last edited by Ex Finn.; 05-16-2011 at 04:31 PM.
05-17-2011, 02:31 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by twitch Quote
Have you heard the results of Syl Arena's torture test of AA batteries in speedlites? In fact he found the same thing as the OP'er, that lithiums can overheat to such an extent that they can even melt the plastic in battery compartment of the flash. He found LD-NiMH the best for flashes, NiMH second, alkaline third, and recommends against using lithiums in flashes at all unless you have no other options.
thanks, it's nice to know I'm not crazy

Charles.
05-22-2011, 09:40 AM   #8
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It's not just Lithium you might want to be careful with - I've shot entire evening events with Alkaline batteries (Duracell, EverReady, and others) and in a couple of instances made the batteries hot I've had to drop them as I couldn't hold on to them. I'm sure this would eventually cook the flash internals.

It's a basic principle of rate of energy drain versus heat generated and without a way to vent some of this internal heat, there isn't much you can do about it except slow down your shooting.

05-24-2011, 06:32 AM   #9
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There is always the risk that certain batteries may charge the flash faster that it can actually endure in the long run, resulting in heat build-up leading to increased internal resistance, leading to more heat......

For example, my manual (Metz 44 AF-1) says:

After a series of flashes with full power
and short intervals, a pause of at least
3 minutes must be observed after each
series of 20 flashes!

As always, do read the manual.......



Last edited by Stone G.; 05-24-2011 at 06:33 AM. Reason: typo correction
05-29-2011, 10:41 PM   #10
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Some flashes don't like lithium batteries. They have higher voltage than alkaline batteries. If the manual doesn't mention them I wouldn't use them. The first lithiums were worse (they fried one of my 280T flashes during first use). Anyway, if the manual doesn't say it is ok I am cautious.
06-01-2011, 07:18 PM   #11
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So far, my Metz 50 AF-1 flash has been used with alkaline batteries only, and the batteries did get very hot (though not quite hot enough to cause burns immediately on contact, prolonged contact could lead to a low-temperature burn). I'm planning to get a set of eneloop batteries when I get a chance.

As a further note, the manual for this flash unit indicates that a 10-minute cool-down is required after 15 full discharges in quick succession.
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