Difference between Li-ion and NiMH Rechargeable Batteries - Digital Camera Buying Guide

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Green Batteries

Making the transaction from regular batteries to rechargeable batteries can be daunting. However, in times of economic struggle and worry, this cheaper (and greener) alternative to buying batteries can prove justified. Albeit, rechargeable batteries do not have the best reputation, with users questioning their life spans and usability. Therefore, this guide will explain what the best rechargeable batteries out there are and where to get them.

There are two main different types of rechargeable batteries available for your digital camera. These are named Li-ion batteries and NiMH batteries and the following will describe both in detail.

Li-ion Batteries

Li-ion Batteries (or Lithium-ion Batteries) are viewed as the ‘best’ of all rechargeable batteries. This is because their density (the amount of energy that is stored within the battery) is higher than most other rechargeables. If you want to get really technical, they also operate at much higher voltages than other batteries. This reduces the amount of cells being used and adds to the over-all effectiveness of Li-ions. They also, depending on how you choose to store them, maintain most of, if not all, of their original power after a charge. Most rechargeables, such as NiCds, lose between 1-5% of their charge a day!

However, there is unfortunately a downside to these batteries. They are known for being the most expensive types of batteries around (due to the complexity of their manufacturing). They also do not become in ‘conventional’ battery sizes, such as AA. This is because of the dangers involved by placing a Li-ion battery into the wrong charger. Li-ion batteries require their own unique chargers (another downside) and different chargers need to be purchased for different types of batteries to prevent ignition.

Li-ion rechargeable batteries can be purchased here.

Li-ion chargers can be found here.

NiMH Batteries

Nickel-metal Hydride batteries are a great replacement for your non-rechargeable batteries. Alkaline batteries can be costly and can run out fast when being used on your digital cameras. This means that if you find running your digital camera to be a little on the expensive side, NiMH batteries may be a worthy investment. They are cheaper than their Li-ion counterparts, however due to their sophisticated design, the NiMH chargers actually cost the same as Li-ion chargers do. Discharge time (how fast a battery loses power when it is not being used) is fairy fast for a NiMH battery. On average, 40% of their battery life will be lost when left sitting for a month. However, if stored in a cooler place (perhaps your fridge) then this will be reduced. Li-ion Batteries will still have a longer ‘shelf life’, but this is to be expected with the differences in price.

There are also several downsides to NiMH batteries. They work at a lower voltage than both Li-ion and most alkaline batteries, meaning they produce very little power in comparison; alkaline batteries normally start their lives with a maximum power of 1.5 volts, whereas NiMH batteries average 1.2 volts. They also may suffer from a memory effect. In short, this is a fear of batteries losing potential power, however an occasional complete discharge should prevent this from happening.

NiMH rechargeable batteries can be purchased here.

NiMH chargers can be found here.


If you are willing to spend a little extra on your batteries then Li-ion batteries are a recommended investment due to their long lifespan. However, if you are looking for a AA, C or D type battery then NiMH batteries are the way forward. They also cost a lot less and are perfect for a soft-core battery user. Therefore, technology aside, your choice comes down to personal needs. Pick wisely!