Rechargeable Batteries & mAh: What a Higher mAh Means For Your Digital Camera

Sanyo Eneloop AA Rechargeable BatteriesWhen researching rechargeable batteries, the term “mAh” gets bandied about quite often. Read about how a higher mAh can have a tremendous impact on the performance of electronics like digital cameras.

Anyone who owns a digital camera — particularly one that takes AA batteries as its power supply — knows that they have the capacity to suck battery power like a vampire. It is not uncommon for a digital camera to completely drain its batteries after just an hour of heavy use, which often comes at the most inopportune times, leaving you with no digital camera when you need it the most.

If you rely on AA rechargeable batteries for your digital cameras, then the most important consideration is investing in rechargeable batteries with the right mAh. Of course, if you have no idea what mAh is, then it might be a bit confusing to determine what level of mAh you need for digital camera, and why.

Rechargeable Batteries and mAh

“mAh” stands for “milliampere-hour.” But if that definition is somewhat lost on you, then think of it another way: mAh is all about battery capacity — kind of like the size of the petrol tank on your AA rechargeable batteries. So, it is easy to imagine that the higher the mAh on your AA rechargeable batteries, the higher performance for your digital camera.

Vapex Instant AA 2500mAh NIMH Rechargeable Batteries

However, it can be particularly helpful in understanding the battery draw of your digital camera when you go shopping for rechargeable batteries, and determining if you’ve got the capacity you need for the kind of camera and picture taking you normally engage in.

What Components on a Digital Camera Use the Most Power?

Simply put, there is no set answer to this question, since digital camera features vary from model to model, and depending on the performance level of the digital camera, you’ll need to take that into consideration when shopping for rechargeable batteries. The good news is that, for the vast majority of digital cameras, they draw very little power when simply turned on — most cameras have idle currents of 1 mA.

However, it is all the “bells and whistles” on a digital camera that start to push the levels of power that drain rechargeable batteries. Actions like encoding a JPEG, manipulating sensor data, driving the LCD screen, or charging the flash, all draw high currents. And considering that these are commonplace operations on all digital cameras, you can begin to imagine why your rechargeable batteries drain so easily.

rechargeable batteries in a digital cameraHow Much Juice Does a Digital Camera Need?

Let’s go back to the definition of “mAh,” and hot it relates to your digital camera’s performance. Think of it this way: if the rating of your rechargeable batteries is 2500 mAh, then you can draw 100 milliamps for 25 hours, or 50 milliamps for 50 hours etc. When you think of your digital camera “idling,” then you’d imagine that you could get a lot of endurance out of rechargeable batteries rated at 2500 mAh. However, this would only be when a camera is  in standby mode. When you’re running all of your camera’s components, it is more realistic to pull about 200 mAh, and when you take a picture, it can draw anywhere between 1.2 and 2A!

The best approach is to invest in the highest mAh possible for your digital camera’s rechargeable batteries. Vapex’s 2500 mAh instant rechargeable batteries are a great value, and come pre-charged. Sanyo Eneloop‘s pre-charged AA rechargeable batteries are rated a bit lower at 2300 mAh and priced a bit higher, but their production quality can make up for the slightly lower rating, with Sanyo Eneloop claiming their AA’s can take up to 500 photos.

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