Normally, I like to do reviews of sweet, expensive, desirable, amazing, and powerful pieces of gear. Not today. Yes, today I want to talk about an often-overlooked pair of gadgets that every photographer should look into!
I’m sure it’s only happened to me, and no one else out there…but I’ll give you the scenario: I charge all of my batteries before a shoot. Then, I put a Canon 580 EX flash on my 5D III, and power it on…and the crazy flash doesn’t work. So then, I start to get frustrated. I check that the batteries are installed correctly. Then, I look around to see if anyone’s watching, as I untuck my shirt, and use the shirt-tail to clean the contacts on the camera and flash. If nothing improves, then I head back to my camera bag for either a backup flash, or a different set of AA batteries.
Enter the battery tester! It was quite inexpensive, and it has changed the way I prepare for shoots. I end up less frustrated, and my shirts have a better chance of staying tucked in! Over months and sometimes years of usage, certain batteries just don’t hold a charge, or have much capacity. So even if the other 3 (of a set of 4) batteries are fine, then the lame one is like a bad apple…and makes it such that the device is no longer effective. It’s the “weakest link” principle. So, I charged up all of my AA’s, and removed the weakest links!
It’s a great idea to test all of your batteries, and make sure there aren’t any lame ducks!
**Note: the honest truth is that rechargeable AA batteries are a decent choice for photographers just because they’re reusable. However, their performance normally leaves something to be desired. A brand new, charged (rechargeable) AA does not have as much power as a high-end (non-rechargeable) lithium AA battery.
I also (normally) love my Pocketwizard Mini TT1 flash transmitter. They are great units, powered by a 3v lithium battery; roughly the size of a trio of quarters all glued together. However, on countless shoots, I’ve changed out the battery (thinking it was defective) only to realize later that I’d thrown the old battery in with all of my new ones. After a while I had a stack of 7 “dubious” batteries. I did a bit of research (and some borrowing from my terrific Father-in-Law) and found that a voltmeter is just the thing for testing those! After some trial and error, I was able to test the CR2450 batteries that power the Mini TT1!
I’m using the metal contacts: the red one on (+) and black on (-). Once they’re both making contact, then a reading should show up!