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Faster Than A Speedlight Bullet

Since I started shooting for 405 Magazine, I have found myself using my Nikon SB-800 Speedlights more and more. We shoot portraits on almost every shoot. Some shoots also require on-location product shots. I have never even considered bringing out my big studio lights, choosing instead to utilize the speedlights. Let's face it -- for portability and ease of use, they can't be beat. But that portability and ease of use comes with a price -- most speedlights are powered by AA batteries, and mine are no different.

The difference is that while most speedlights use 4 AA batteries, my SB-800 units have an option to use 5. Since I relish the faster recycle time and slower power drain, I take advantage of being able to use 5 AA batteries in each. There was a time when I would buy AA alkaline batteries for each job, but to save the expense of having to buy those very expensive batteries all the time, I have, like so many others, chosen to go the rechargeable Nickel hydride (NiMH) route. Toward this end, I use Panasonic Enloops.

I have always believed in the theory of having a backup for everything, and batteries are no different. While I've never had to replace batteries in a speedlight in the field, that is always a possibility. Additionally, there have been several occasions when jobs came so close together that I didn't have time to go back to the office, and load up on fresh batteries. That means I have to have spares with me at all times.

The question that comes to mind then, is how to transport those extra batteries, and how to tell at a glance which batteries are charged, and which have been used and are in need of recharging. Enter the little gadget you see above -- a plastic rifle ammo box. These cases are currently $7.75 on Amazon, but they should be available at any well stocked sporting & outdoor store. It holds 50 rounds . . . err . . . batteries . . . perfectly. And to keep track of which batteries are fresh and which need to be recharged, I came up with the idea of simply putting used batteries back in the case button side down. (Yes, I know the label says "new," because I started all this when I was still wasting money buying AA alkalines.)

To be perfectly clear (transparent?), I didn't think this up on my own. I am sorry to say that I don't remember where I first saw this idea, but it struck me as an absolutely perfect way of transporting and sorting AA batteries. I hope it helps you.

PS: Yes, that's a MagMod MagGrip on the SB-800. There are times when nothing works quite as well as a MagMod MagSphere. Hence, all of my speedlights have MagGrips.

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