I wondered what the advantages are to having AA batteries vs. a battery pack, especially when traveling overseas. –Barbara
First off, whether you are in the States or traveling abroad, you still need to recharge your batteries somewhere. As long as you have the appropriate converter, it doesn’t matter what kind of batteries you are charging up.
Personally, I believe the advantage is to the battery pack. From my experience, AA batteries do not last as long as a battery pack and are not nearly as efficient. My AA batteries last for about 1 hour of shooting and take 4 hours of recharging. A battery pack on the other hand, lasts for 4 hours of shooting and only takes 1 hour to recharge.
However, if you have a camera that takes AA batteries, make sure to buy some good rechargeable ones. I have three sets of 4 rechargeable batteries for my two flash units. I will probably end up buying more. Having an extra set of batteries handy assures that I have plenty of juice when I’m shooting a large event like a conference or wedding.
As for what kind of charger to get, I highly recommend NOT getting a Quick Charger. Get a Ni-MH. I have a Sony CycleEnergy, easily (and cheaply) purchased from Amazon. It’s not the best in the world, and some folks complain about it, but I have not had any trouble with it from day one. It takes a few hours to recharge (unlike my battery pack for the camera), but it saves the life of your batteries by a long shot.
In closing, never leave your batteries on the charger for more than a few hours longer than it takes to recharge them. I haven’t had a set of AA go bad yet.
A timeless image of my brother and sister-in-law with Elisabeth Elliot,
a photo taken late in the day of the wedding and thus only possible due to a few extra sets of AA batteries for my speedlite.