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Doug Clifford from Ace Camera Index

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  Can't Find The Battery
Your Camera Needs?


There's a reason. It is now illegal to manufacture or sell batteries containing mercury in the United States. Why? Because spent batteries end up in landfills where they eventually erode and contaminate the surrounding soil. Anticipating this ban, about two years ago the battery companies decided to voluntarily stop manufacturing mercury photo batteries for US consumption.

Overcoming the Mercury Battery Ban

Millions of perfectly functioning older cameras and light meters have been affected by the mercury battery ban in the United States. More than 100 cameras and meters made by famous names such as Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Minolta, Gossen and Sekonic depended on the 1.35 volt PX-13 / PX-625 mercury battery.
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Camera manufacturers didn't protest this ban nor have they offered any solutions for the owners. Instead they see this as a windfall opportunity to sell millions of new cameras.
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Major battery manufacturers haven't been much help either. The alkaline batteries offered as replacements for the PX-13 / PX-625 are poor substitutes for the reliably consistent voltage supplied by mercury photo batteries.
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For example, Duracell's new 1.5 volt PX-625 alkaline battery yields inaccurate light meter readings and underexposed pictures. In the first place, it's the wrong voltage. If the 1.5 volts were consistent it would be relatively easy to manually compensate for this, but alkaline batteries (unlike mercury cells) decline in voltage during their lifespan making it near impossible to accurately adjust the meter reading. Varta also makes an alkaline substitute.
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Cameras and meters using the alkaline substitute have been reported to be inaccurate by as much as 1.5 stops. This is a total disaster for photographers who shoot slide film. Even a one-half stop exposure mistake with transparency film can mean the difference between a perfect slide and garbage, especially in contrasty lighting situations.
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If you shoot only color print and b/w film, are willing to manually overexpose every image (you'll have to determine by how much through trial-and-error) and you're willing to discard and replace the alkaline battery well before it expires (another guessing game) then the Duracell substitute is a marginal solution.
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Once you understand the pitfalls and limitations associated with using the alkaline substitute battery, you'll want to examine other more desirable solutions to keep your old camera in perfect working order.

Continued: Some Solutions Are Better Than Others

Share your thoughts!


Doug Clifford

(Doug Clifford is the webmaster for the ACE Indexes, an annotated directory of North American photo commerce web sites, expanding soon to include Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia.)




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