A few weeks ago, David Hobby aka Strobist published a post about using rechargeable batteries for strobes. It was a pleasant surprise for me to find Energizer rechargeable batteries in Cape Town and even the local retailer Pickn' Pay stocks rechargeable batteries now.
I followed the advice to hit for batteries with at least 2500 mAh. I have been using the batteries for a couple of weeks now and am happy and don't see any reason, why I should buy normal batteries ever again.
To get the longest life span out of the batteries, I opted for a slow charger. First, I prepared myself for a complicated life and then experienced that it is much easier than expected. The batteries don't use their charge as quickly as I anticipated and though I charge on a regular basis, I don't have to do it as often as expected. As a precaution and for busy days, I bought a second set of batteries for my strobes and a second charger. Charger are almost thrown in for free in some special offers, so it's worth looking out for these offers.
So what about performance? I used to work with a 5 battery setup on my SB 800 strobes. Rechargeable batteries have a higher life expectancy when they are charged together. Most chargers allow 2 to 4 batteries to be charged at the same time. So, I gave it a try to work only with 4 batteries. Works great, without any noticeable loss in recycle time. So far the batteries worked fantastic. No problems whatsoever.
When the batteries of my wireless keyboard and mouse died, I replaced them with rechargeable batteries as well. My expectation was that I would have to recharge every week to keep things going. That was about 3 or 4 weeks ago. Our household is moving towards 100% use of rechargeable batteries. It is not cheap, talking from a South Africa perspective, but pays off long term.
It is the same story as with energy saving lamps. At the beginning you are hesitant to pay so much money (and it is not that much anymore) for them, but now it is second nature, if one of them actually breaks to go with the energy saving version. At least, I assume you do so as well.
Before I forget: My second charger connects also to my car, so if I am desperate, I can charge batteries on my way to a photo shoot...