I use my clinical camera almost every day that I'm in clinical practice or working in the lab. Like many clinicians, the camera system I use is Canon. Having the camera, flash (and any other items I might need like mirrors or retractors) ready to go is important for me to be able to photograph as much as I can without creating a big disruption in my workflow.
I want to be able to pick up my camera and shoot, minimizing any thinking or fussing. Nothing drives me crazier than picking up my camera and finding I don't have fully charged batteries. Implementing dental photography means dealing with batteries. While the camera takes specific rechargeable battery, the flash systems we use don't. Rather, flash systems use universal batteries, usually AA or AAA.
These batteries can be either rechargeable or disposable. Rechargeable batteries cost a little more up front and require a charger, but they can be re-used hundreds of times.
My favorite rechargeable batteries are Eneloop. These nickel-metal hydride batteries are nice because they won't lose their charge while they are sitting in the camera bag or drawer. This allows me to have an extra set of batteries that should always be charged up and ready to go.
And yet, somehow I still manage to find myself without a charged set of rechargeable batteries from time to time. In those cases I used to reach for a disposable battery, and frequently I would look for lithium batteries. I found these batteries were nice in a flash because they don't lose power gradually, potentially causing exposure problems. Rather, they either work or they don't. Especially in the way that I use the camera clinically (shoot, pause and recompose, shoot again, etc.).
Additionally, the disposable lithium batteries had a pretty rapid recycle time. This solution seemed reasonable until I stumbled upon this relatively new (December, 2014) service advisory from Canon that advises against using lithium batteries in virtually all Canon Speedlites. According to the advisory, the lithium batteries may become excessively hot when used in Canon flashes, potentially damaging the equipment or even worse, hurting someone. Not good.
Based on this advisory, I'll be changing my strategy for dealing with batteries for my clinical flash. First, I'm buying another set of rechargeables. Second, for those times that I need to use disposable batteries, I'll be choosing a conventional alkaline battery like Duracell Coppertop. These batteries are fairly inexpensive and readily available.
Canon users, I hope you find this article helpful. How do you manage the batteries that power your camera flash? Have a favorite battery? We'd love to hear about it either in the comment section below or over on the Spear community message board, Spear Talk.
See the full text of the canon advisory here.
See a full list of Canon EOS product advisories here.
Darin Dichter, D.M.D., Spear Faculty and Contributing Author
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