Some of the most important gear that we have that is quite often overlooked are batteries and chargers. You never really think about them until they are dead, and that is why we are doing this Powerex review. This review is based on our experience with Maha Energy and their Powerex line of batteries and charger. This review comes from more than two years of experience of real world shooting using this system, so lets dive in.
Equipment used –
2 – 600EX-RT Canon Speedlite
1 – Canon ST‑E3‑RT
1 – Powerex MH-C9000 Charger
22 – Powerex AA 2700mAh Batteries
This powerex review gets started with the main reason we invested into the Maha Energy brand, the charger. The charger is chalked full of features to help manage your batteries. The modes are as follows.
- Charge – Good ol’ run of the mill charging
- Refresh & Analyze – This mode charges, discharges then recharges the batteries. This mode is meant to be used for batteries that have been stored more than 2 weeks but less than a few months that are displaying poor performance. It resets the batteries to operate correctly. It also shows the voltage of each battery at the end of the cycle so that you can match them up.
- Break in – This mode is meant for new batteries or used ones that have been stored for longer than 3 months. This mode takes a very long time. Over 30 hours, I am not completely certain because it is usually complete when I am asleep.
- Discharge mode – This mode just pulls the rest of the juice off the batteries and can be used to analyze the charge in the battery.
- Cycle – This mode does a charge/discharge for up to 12 times with discharge capacity shown in memory to see if your batteries are capable of the full charge amount.
The charger has some other nifty features such as user selected charge/discharge rates and battery matching to make sure all of your batteries are firing the same voltage. There is also a cigarette lighter adapter so that you can use this on the road.
The charger itself did a great job of keeping my batteries topped off. Although the charger did need to be replaced after a year of use. It started to flicker and then it wouldn’t turn on at all. The unit comes with a three year warranty so there was no issue in getting a replacement. The process was relatively straight forward. I sent the unit to southern California and within a few days I got my replacement. The fact that I had to get it replaced is not reassuring, although the rep did sound like this was a rare incident. I guess time will tell with my replacement.
When charging my batteries I insert 4 batteries into the charger, as I put them into it the charger knows a new battery has been inserted and I am prompted to set the charging rate. It is recommended that you charger your batteries at half the rate the maximum capacity. In other words my batteries are all 2700mah so I set the charge rate at 1300mah. Next step is to keep an eye on the charger because some batteries will have more charge than others and will be done sooner. Once an individual battery has fully charged, it reads “done” at the bottom and I am able to take it off the charger and place a drained battery in its place. I once again set the charge rate and get back to writing blogs. I like this because I can be quick about getting all the batteries charged up. I just dump all of my dead batteries into one pile, and keep cycling the dead ones in as the others get charged. I do not need to wait for all 4 to be charged before I begin the next one.
I do have a one issue with the charger. I find the charger a bit complicated to understand and not enough on screen ques to know if I was doing it correctly even after reading the instruction manual several times cover to cover. The layout could use a refresh to make it more user friendly, with more prompts and an explanation about what is required and what I should expect. The manual was several pages and there is no way I am going to remember all of it.
I chose these batteries because of their high 2700mah capacity since I use them with speedlites. I need to be able to squeeze as many flash pops as I can out of them. However the batteries seem to be operating rather oddly. My biggest problem follows this scenario. I get into the studio and setup my flash units, turn everything on and get ready to start work, I pull the shutter and no flash pops. I check the speedlites and see they are in the “on” position but the screen is off, indicating dead batteries. Ok, thats fine, this is bound to happen. I open my reserve batteries up and put them into my speedlites, go back to my camera, hit the shutter and no flash pops. I check the speedlites and they also have been powered down, indicating dead batteries. The reserve batteries may only be sitting in my bag for less than 2 months and are dead? And at the same time as the ones already in my speedlite? Something seems wrong about this idea. I cant quite figure this out, but have had this happen several times where my reserves are completely dead as well. Luckily I have not been on location while this has happened but it most certainly does not instill any confidence in my batteries. Powerex website states that the model that I have are a “slow discharge rate of 1% per day” But even if that is true after just 2 months in storage they are dead and according to their site they should have 40% life left. So in my experience storage of the batteries are not that great, in fact I have considered investing in something that is a smaller maximum capacity to ensure they last longer. Maha energy has their Imedion line which are supposed to retain 85% after one year, but at a maximum capacity sacrifice. Its not terrible, it drops from 2700mah to 2400mah, and 2400mah is better than no charge left after a few months. I hope to be getting these into my worflow soon and will update this review once I do.
When the batteries are charged they work very well. They recycle well enough for most of my needs. However, I can not give them a high rating because of the issues I have had with them being dead while stored for short periods of time.
With that said I rate the above items as follows
Charger – 4 out of 5
The charger is great, although it is complicated and not intuitive enough. There are several times I have been unsure as to whether or not my batteries were actually charged all the way. A new layout of the LCD might be helpful with this. Also, I wish there was a way to mount this onto a wall, much like you do with a surge strip. I have figured out just enough to get my charges done successfully and am happy to have all the extra data even if it is not intuitive. One of these days I am sure it will all click and I will understand it.
Batteries – 2.5 out of 5
Dead batteries are simply not tolerable. They do not hold the charge very long and therefore are not reliable. There is no way to check the batteries to see if I should top them off before a job with unreliable batteries in your pack you are asking for trouble. It is a hassle to dump all my batteries out and put them one by one into the charger just to make sure they are not completely dead after only 6 weeks. But once they are charged they are great and deliver good recycle rates for flash photography. I hope to try the companies Imedion line which is supposed to offer a much longer storage life.
Overall my Powerex review is a mixed bag. I really like the charger but the batteries will need to be swapped out for something that stores better than the ones I currently have. Thank you for checking out our Powerex review and be sure to check out some of our other reviews like the one for the Qnap network attached storage by clicking this link. http://backflipphoto.com/blog/ts-453-pro/