Which AA Rechargeable Battery Is Best After One Year of Abuse?

Photographers need the best batteries in their gear to stay ahead when it comes to making killer work. It's for this reason that it's crucial you know the strengths and weaknesses of the many battery brands out there.

Without batteries, most photographers would quite literally be left in the dark when it came to taking pictures. Which brand you choose can be somewhat of a minefield, as there are so many to pick from. If that wasn't enough, having to wade through the many fabricated product reviews on places like Amazon and eBay can muddy the waters and add to the confusion even more so. This is why I love to see independent methodical tests done by third parties whose only goal is to find the best products out there. Thankfully for us, Project Farm over on YouTube is one of these testers who has just published his results on which rechargeable AA battery is best after one year of use.

Photographers' favorites like Duracell, Amazon Basics, Panasonic Eneloop, and IKEA LADDA all feature in the test, and a few more obscure brands are also thrown in for good measure. The video tests both batteries which have been used daily and some that have just been stored for a year. These same batteries were also tested for internal resistance, which is important for us photographers who usually rely more on spikes of power in things like our speedlights.

Todd over on Project Farm is very methodical with his approach, and each product he tests gets the same fair treatment. His videos are clear and concise, and it's great to see the results graphed out for easy comparison. I have to admit that I have stuck with the same brand of battery for many years, although after seeing the video, I am tempted to explore some of the other options out there. If you are in the market for some AA batteries or just want to check how well your particular go-to brand is stacking up, this video is for you.

Lead image by Денис Марчук used under Creative Commons.

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52 Comments
Eric Salas's picture

Eneloop batteries.

Hands down best power, cycling, and best recharge. I won’t use anything else.

Nick Viton's picture

Did you watch the video? Apparently there are better batteries out there.

Eric Salas's picture

According to their video yes but that’s where personal experience comes into play and why I choose to use the eneloops.

Nate Reese's picture

sure, why not ... btw, Ikea is basically rebranded Eneloop Pro .. so should be slightly better for flashes. I`m using both Eneloop (not Pro) and LADDA and I due to irregular usage I cant really tell which is better but given the price and performance I think I go to Ikea when buying next couple of them .. they are certainly not worse ..

Eric Salas's picture

All I know is that my eneloop pros are amazing and I never question if my flashes will fire or recycle in time for a photo so I stick to them.

Most people on here haven’t used batteries in flashes at multiple weddings. If we’re talking about really testing performance of batteries, I don’t see any other place more fitting.

Nick Viton's picture

If that's what it takes, then I'd suggest trying out a set of IKEA Laddas and an open mind at your next wedding to see for yourself. A set of 4 Ladda AAs is only 6.99. As Nate mentioned the IKEA Ladda is literally the same battery as the Eneloop Pro. If you know that your "Eneloop Pros are amazing" then by extension you already know that the IKEA Laddas are amazing too. You don't have to take our word for it...

Yin Ze's picture

Not taking the bait of being pound foolish on something as big as a wedding to test the laddas. I tried the RAV power batteries for Sony as I wanted multiple sets of backups stashed in different places. On paper they looked great and were much cheaper than Sony. They worked well for about a month and had weird reactions to the chargers. Then a firmware update basically bricked them. I still have Eneloops I bought years ago that work well with Lacrosse charger.

Nick Viton's picture

Yin, no one's talking about RAV batteries. Have you tried the LADDA batteries (aka Eneloop Pro)?
https://petapixel.com/2018/02/16/eneloop-pro-20-batteries-ikea-ladda-5-b...

Yin Ze's picture

As I said, I am not entrusting a valuable assignment on something that does not have a proven track record like eneloops. Used them since the 2008. I have about 70 Eneloop AA and AAA. I learned the hard/expensive way that every time I try to go cheap I pay double or miss a photo because the equipment somehow malfunctioned. I guess this article highlights an important point. You save $ because you get a 1/4 of the recharge cycles.

"Eneloops are rechargeable up to 2100 times while the new Ikea Ladda only accept up to 500 charges. This may explain the difference in price. Or it may not, as some people who tested the batteries say that they’re rebranded Eneloops Pro. Eneloop Pro batteries have a capacity of 2550mAh, are rechargeable up to 500 times and each pack of 4 costs $36.10."

https://www.provideocoalition.com/ikea-batteries-eneloops-disguise/

Eric Salas's picture

I would never “test” batteries at a wedding. No respectable photographer would test equipment in that environment.

Nick Viton's picture

You're right, let me rephrase so the point isn't missed; LADDAs are every bit as good as Eneloop Pros. They would (and have) performed perfectly at weddings. If I could, I would buy you a set so that you to test freely yourself anywhere and as much you'd like. And just so you know, I'm an Eneloop user too!

Eric Salas's picture

If I hadn’t already invested in the pros I’d be looking around but I bought 24 of those damn things three years ago and haven’t even thought twice about it since.

I’m all about saving money on gear if I can (I shoot all Godox lighting just as an example).

Yin Ze's picture

"Eneloops are rechargeable up to 2100 times while the new Ikea Ladda only accept up to 500 charges. This may explain the difference in price. Or it may not, as some people who tested the batteries say that they’re rebranded Eneloops Pro. Eneloop Pro batteries have a capacity of 2550mAh, are rechargeable up to 500 times and each pack of 4 costs $36.10."

https://www.provideocoalition.com/ikea-batteries-eneloops-disguise/

Brian Elings's picture

Panasonic Eneloop 2500 mAh - using them for years now, best there is. I have 36 sets for powering my Speedlights, sometimes set-up of 5. After intensive use they will die on you, but that takes years and I use them a lot. I check them regularly with the Ansmann energy checker. Just to cover every eventuality I always carry a few packs of Industrial Duracell alkaline batteries with me. Can't gve you better advice than this :-)

michaeljinphoto's picture

I used to use Eneloop and now I just use AmazonBasics. For most uses, I don't notice enough of a difference to warrant the extra money, but then again I'm not using them for a speedlight so there's that consideration...

Fritz Asuro's picture

IKEA LADDA!

Yin Ze's picture

"Eneloops are rechargeable up to 2100 times while the new Ikea Ladda only accept up to 500 charges. This may explain the difference in price. Or it may not, as some people who tested the batteries say that they’re rebranded Eneloops Pro. Eneloop Pro batteries have a capacity of 2550mAh, are rechargeable up to 500 times and each pack of 4 costs $36.10."

https://www.provideocoalition.com/ikea-batteries-eneloops-disguise/

VINICIUS YUZO ZUCARELI's picture

I used to use common Duracell or Sony batteries.

Then I found eneloop. It lasts a lot and circles super fast. Never going back, even though it costs like 4 times more.

Nick Viton's picture

I used to swear by Eneloop and Eneloop Pros. Then I discovered the IKEA Ladda.

Jon The Baptist's picture

WHICH AA IS BEST? LETS FIND OUT!

/shout mode off

I love Project Farm, one of my favorites on youtube

Jim Woltjen's picture

AA's...what are they? All kidding aside, since Godox/Flashpoint and lithium-ion batteries, I almost never use AA's. Well I do use them in my TV remote.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

If you use their triggers you'll always use AA's. :P

Jim Woltjen's picture

Yes, but I find those triggers work best with alkaline AA's. And I use not only the X2 triggers, but the flash itself (860ii on camera) as a trigger.

Jacques Cornell's picture

I use AAs in my Godox TT350s because the low power requirements when using them on-camera for fill or low-ceiling bounce balanced with ambient at high ISOs yields near-instantaneous recycle, so I don't really need the V350's li-ions. My off-camera speed lights (V860IIs), though, used closer to full power to light larger spaces or distant stages, benefit from the recycle and capacity of li-ion.

Rob Mynard's picture

I was under the impression that the Eneloop 2500ma and the Ikea batteries were the same battery (out of the same factory) just packaged differently.

Russell Jones's picture

Rob, you are correct. The Eneloop PRO (which wasn't tested here), is the same as the IKEA LADDA battery. Which is why the IKEA rates so very, very well. The Eneloop Pro has a shorter number of lifetime recycles but was designed mainly for flash. It had far better flash recycle times (lower resistance, as shown by the IKEA win in that category). And, of course, it had the higher capacity, which meant that it was less likely to get hot under heavy flash loads.

My own tests on the Eneloop, Eneloop Pro, Amazon Basics, EBL and IKEA LADDA had very similar results as the (much more thorough) testing done in this video.

IKEA LADDA for flash use - identical results to my Eneloop Pro's over the years, it just that (locally) the IKEA LADDA were considerably less expensive. The regular Eneloops performed well, but couldn't compete with the Eneloop Pros. Amazon Basics were very good values, they just couldn't match my Eneloop Pros / IKEA LADDAs for flash use. My EBLs started off somewhat good (but not quite as strong as advertised), but deteriorated in every way, fairly quickly (matching the test results here).

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Was surprised by Duracell, IKEA, and Black Amazon. Not really the brands that come to mind when thinking about rechargeable batteries.

Dafydd Owen's picture

The video and comments mention "Made in Japan"
Well - when I was researching batteries to use - I discovered that there is actually only 1 battery factory in Japan - so they're all made in the same place.
Whether they are the exact same item or seconds / previous year models of more expensive batteries (eneloops) is regularly discussed.

Deleted Account's picture

I tend not to abuse my material if I can help
It.
IKEA cells here for me and a Powerex charger. I had a load of Sanyo Eneloop that lasted about 5 years before giving problems.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Been using the original white Eneloops for 6+ years. I don't think I've had a single failure in that time, and they're all still going strong. I've got about 50 of them now, mostly in my kids' toys. OTOH, I've had some drugstore NiMH AAs die after less than a year. I've got something that works, and I'm sticking with it. Not even looking at the Eneloop Pros.

Peter Mueller's picture

I did my research a couple of years ago when building/outfitting my speedlight kit; purchased about 60% Duracell and the rest Eneloops. (If there were an Ikea within 30m I would have added some of theirs... there wasn't). I have been absolutely satisfied with their performance. Real-life experience thoroughly matches what the testing and reports had indicated.

Nick Sanyal's picture

I doubt that you'll notice a real world difference in service from any of the top rated batteries; just avoid the Made in China brands.
And, I wonder if the dude can speak a bit faster . . .

Lee Christiansen's picture

I did once read a a very detailed and technical report comparing the Ikea and Eneloop batteries, which did find they were both excellent but seemed to conclude there weren't actually the same battery, (so no rebranding).

I spend the extra pennies on Eneloop because I feel more sure that the chemistry will remain the same every time I buy. With Ikea, I'm not as sure what their priorities are, (given their less demanding market) and fear things could change unexpectedly.

And seriously... how much do we really need to save on things like this?

Nick Viton's picture

reference?

Lee Christiansen's picture

I wish I could find it because it was informative and well structured.

I do remember that as well as capacity tests and the like, it also dealt with the voltage curves as batteries discharged and if memory serves, this was in part what may have shown Ikea batts may not be Eneloops. (Of course there can always be differences in sample cells).

It did find that the Ikea batts were certainly very good in the tests.

But let's face it, Ikea isn't going to tell us and neither will Panasonic.

If I'm passing by Ikea, I may well pick up a couple of packs just for the fun of it.

Russell Jones's picture

I am sorry Lee, but I did a fairly exhaustive online search and of the many, various tests, none that I could find back you up on that. There WAS a (mistaken) comparison between the LADDA and the Eneloop which ARE different batteries, but the tests comparing the LADDA and Eneloop Pros indicate it's the same battery.

The Gizmodo article (based on original research by Matthew Eargle) really broke the story. With the exhaustive comparison of groups of 8 batteries where the performance, discharge curves, etc, were all within .05% of each other. All the various measured curves were virtually indistinguishable from each other.

For the record, the LADDA group was the group that was technically 0.05% better, but that's obviously just the luck of the mix of the 8 batteries selected for each brand.

By the way, no one has ever disputed the fact they come from the same Fujitsu battery plant line, the question has always been whether they were made to exactly the same standard?

Lee Christiansen's picture

I had a quick search too but couldn't find it. Surprised I couldn't find anything in my bookmarks.

I guess I was never too worried given how cheap AA batteries are anyway, and that I'm always wary of re-badged products... not because they are re-badged, but because I can never be quite sure if subsequent purchases will have the same contents.

Happy to accept your findings - mine were never exhaustive for my reasons above.

Eneloop obviously have a specific reputation to maintain. Ikea just need to keep a more general populous happy with good prices. Would they change their source of cells if a better deal came along?

Your comment about building to the same standard is a very valid one. Again, I tend to trust these sort of standards more when the original company or origin has its name stamped on the side.

One thing I like about the lower capacity white Eneloops is the much higher number of recycles than the pros. (2000 vs 500 if memory serves). I rarely need the extra capacity because I'm using flash in low light / high ISO situations and the extra capacity won't get me 3 flashes / sec anyway. So I've got white Eneloops still happily on service many many years on.

Lee Christiansen's picture

I have to say that after watching this video, (phew... I'm exhausted...) I was impressed by the Ikea batteries.

I don't get as many recharges as with my white Eneloops I suspect, but the price is attractive enough to allow more frequent purchases. Unlike my beloved Eneloops I think I would keep an eye on purchasing reviews before each batch of battery buys.

Now all I need to do is to manage to go to Ikea without leaving with a whole load of furniture I don't need... :)

Russell Jones's picture

Don't forget to do 3 full cycles to get them up to full speed after you first buy them (true for all of the batteries on this list). These batteries don't have a "memory" but the battery chemicals do need to become fully activated. Using my tester, I found that 3 times seems to be the magic number to reach full capacity (the first time around is WAY less).

Lee Christiansen's picture

Useful to know.

Here's a fun fact about the NiCad "memory effect..."

Technically it almost never happens and reduced performance is usually more likely imbalances between cells or cell chemistry needing a bit of a "shock" to the system.

Memory Effect first came about when NASA was using rechargeable NiCads on its satellites. These would of course get a very regular and precise charge period, due to a precise orbit pattern. And the discharge was usually very precise as well. Combined, these two charge / discharge patterns created a memory effect - but this effect would be disrupted with varying patterns (like we have with our more random everyday use of batteries).

So when we got reduced performance in our NiCad batteries it became commonly known as "memory effect."

The source of this little bit of info came from an old Anton Bauer document that I found some 20 years ago when I was researching which battery brand to buy into. (Before the days of internet and alas I don't have copies). I must have spent a lot of time researching before dropping a few thousand £££ and committing to a 20+ year loyalty to a now trusted and friendly bunch at PAG.

I ended up with PAG (a UK brand), and interestingly their solution to revitalising batteries was with a shock system in the charging cycle. Somehow they'd worked out a rather clever way of pulsing the charge to re-activate "sleeping" chemistry areas of cells and had also worked out patterns in multi-cell balances to bring each cell level to the others. (Broadcast batteries would often have 10-12 cells in a single pack)

It turned out that in those days, cell choices were somewhat simpler because many manufacturers just used Sanyo. The biggest differences were in the charging technologies and approaches, which were quite varied to say the least. It was almost a black-art in those days.

I was never a fan of NiCads. Those big ol' broadcast batteries weighed a ton and needed a bit of TLC to keep them optimised, (or you could invest in expensive charging systems to keep them healthy automatically). My charger even had facility to plug in to a PC and give print outs of charge / discharge performances.

The newer breeds of AA rechargeables are great. I remember the days when a batt would lose charge in just a week or two. Certainly my Eneloops seem to keep going for years, and it's great to just charge things up and have them ready to go in my bag weeks / months later. (Doesn't stop me doing a big charge session before an important gig though...) And it doesn't stop me treating myself to a few new sets every now and then... just in case... So now I have more batteries than I can possibly use in a day or two of heavy shooting.

m k's picture

when did kermit started doing reviews?

Rick Dunnahoo's picture

Great article - I've been using Duracell's for a number of years and have been pleased with their performance. But I went to buy some more today and all the ones at the stores I visited are now made in China so these test results may not be accurate. Will be trying the Eneloop pro's.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Quick question...

Comparing the white Eneloops with the Eneloop Pros or Ikea batts, what sort of differences are we talking about with speed light recycle times?

I tend to use speed lights in low light conditions where my ISO is higher anyway at maybe ISO1600-3200, (so ambient is about a stop under exposed and the flash isn't working too hard). I set my 5D3 usually for about 3 frames / sec with its silent mode. I can shoot an entire event and perhaps not change batteries.

At the moment my white Eneloops don't keep up with 3 frames / sec with the above. Would the Pros/Ikea batts manage?

Nick Viton's picture

They seem to all have comparable recycle times, from my experience. I shoot a bit differently. Every weekend I do nightclub work, with very low light conditions as you'd imagine. And the walls are black. Every weekend I depend on these batteries to power my SB-910 for the night. A single set of 4 Eneloops, Eneloop Pros, or IKEA Ladda AAs lasts me an entire evening, getting hundreds of frames. I have my ISO at about 400, with my flash set to rear-curtain. I'm selective with my shots (helps to streamline my culling process) and I don't often shoot 3 frames/sec. However, I have noticed that with any of the batteries, I sometimes have to wait a moment for the flash to recycle if I try to bang out consecutive frames.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Thanks for the info. I've ordered a few sets of the Laddas to experiment with. I'll try and post findings with respect to recycle ability.

Otherwise the extra capacity is nice, but I am always happy to swap out a set of batteries halfway through a day rather than wait until things go black and I'll guess the 1900mAh capacity of the white Eneloops will do me for some time. (Sooo many batteries I don't really need extras).

I may treat myself to the new MaHa charger which gives capacity readings on its revitalise programme. The £50 for the charger may pay for itself if I can avoid buying new batteries not needed, (and who doesn't need an extra charger...ha)

Nick Viton's picture

Lovely. Looking forward to your results!

Lee Christiansen's picture

Did some tests with Eneloops (1900 and 2500 types) and Ikea Ladda 2450's. Used a Canon 430EX Mk2 and my 5D3 set to 3 frames/sec (I never shoot with a faster fps).

To be honest, no differences in the real world with recycle times. I maxed out at reaching 3 fps with the flash set to exactly 1/2 power. 1/3 stop over that and all battery types got me the first 2 flashes but not the 3rd. So there's no advantage in recycle time where it really counts (shooting in bursts).

Interestingly my 6 year old white Eneloops are still performing well within spec. They don't get a particularly hard life, but I was surprised. Seems I didn't need to buy all those replacements after all.

I'd bought some new, white 1900 Eneloops, and each one gave me a minimum of the advertised spec after a single re-condition charge / capacity test on my MaHa C960 charger, gotta love this thing). But interestingly I found about 1 in 7 of the Ladda batteries would give a little under the advertised 2450mAh after an initial recondition/capacity test, and needed a second round to bring them up to spec.

I did also find that the Ladda batteries don't fit some newly acquired Malamute battery cases, whereas my other batteries do. Haven't had chance to accurately measure the diameter of the batteries but it does seem Laddas are a fraction bigger than Eneloops.

Of course it is interesting that if the Laddas are Eneloops in disguise, why are they rated at 2450 and the Eneloop Pros are rated at 2500. I've found that many of my Laddas will have excess of 2450 (perhaps 2500 in some cases), but my Eneloop Pro 2500's will often read 2550 - 2600

I'm still suspecting that whilst the Laddas are excellent batteries, my simple findings are that they may not actually be Eneloops repackaged. But if I get great results and reliably so, then I'll be happy.

But best thing from all this was the purchase of a MaHa C960 charger. I can now test the capacity of my batteries and save myself from needlessly buying new batteries just because some are old. I suspect this thing will pay for itself with that feature alone.

Fun thing - one of my Ikea Laddas was not measuring so well - so I called Ikea. Instead of sending me just one replacement battery or pack of 4, they resent me the whole order of 8 packs. Result...! :)

Nick Viton's picture

Interesting findings Lee! I was surprised to learn about size differences between batteries. I'm having trouble looking up the MaHa C960 charger. Could you post a link?

Dafydd Owen's picture

Do Canon SPeedlights have the little attachment that allows you to add a 5th battery ?
I've heard this can really help recycle time.
[Nikon Speedlights used to come with it]

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