Lemons-smallHave you ever bought a lemon? Not the yellow citrus variety that have a myriad of uses around the home besides popping in cocktail drinks.

No, I am referring here to gadgets that cause you grief, you know, shiny must have objects, that we adorn our lives with these days.

I must be going through some oppositional transit with the planets as things just seem to be failing, apparently more regularly than in the past.

But what interests me is the response you get from the manufacturer or retailer of that product. The old adage of the customer is always right seems to have been displaced by the customer is a raving unreasonable lunatic obsessed with conspiracy theories and stuff.There is nothing wrong with our stuff, no-one except YOU has ever had a complaint so it must be YOU, YOUR HOUSE or YOUR CAR. Get an electrician to check your power outlets as you must be creating product destroying spikes when you turn on your air conditioning. Ha, Ha, your fault for living in Queensland.

But, I say, I tried it at a friend’s house and it still didn’t work. Plugged it into his computer and still no go.

Oh no, you have heard it before. And they promised me that it was only me.

Now it always gets more complicated if the final product you bought is comprised of components from different manufacturers…a turn key solution they call it…the irony being that when you turn the key, so to speak, it doesn’t perform. Do I hear lawyers telling me it is not fit for purpose, the consumer watchdog buzzword of the 21st century. Settle down and hear me out.

Syl Arena, an American photographer, blogger and  author of excellent material on Canon Speedlites wrote a chapter in his book Speedliter’s Handbook (Learning to craft light with Canon Speedlites) called Keeping the Energy UP. He tested many types of AA batteries (Lithium, Alkaline and rechargeable NiMH) to try to discover the best value for money and power output on the market. Along the way he recommended two devices which I bought on his recommendation.  The MAHA C801D eight cell charger and the ZTS Pulse Load Multi-Battery Tester™ Both mouthfuls to begin with, but apparently well worth the investment of about $110 each approximately.

Pulse Load Multi Battery Tester

Pulse Load Multi Battery Tester


The ZTS was not available in Australia but I sourced it painlessly from EBay. It just works, which is comforting and very valuable. Like most photographers I use lots of not only AA batteries but also CR123 in my Sekonic Meter and the coin cell CR2450 in my Pocket Wizard Mini TT.





However the expensive Maha battery charger has been a disappointment. I sourced it from ProTog, a Melbourne retailer. For the first 9 months it appeared to be working as expected until I noticed that my Eneloops were only charging up to a maximum 80% and then over some months this dropped off even more. There are two “recovery” modes, Soft and Hard recharging. I tried both of these following instructions each time. Eventually zero…gone altogether. Into the waste bin went about 12 Eneloops at about $5 each. Plus now I am constantly checking the others that I have. Maybe it’s the Eneloops. So I did some checking. My original source seems to have folded so I tried another local one where I had bought some. I queried them about counterfeit eneloops that flooded the market at one time. They had no knowledge of them and were confident that there’s were ridgy-didge. I can only accept their word for that for now.

So eventually I started to think that the Maha may be faulty, albeit now out of warranty. I spoke to ProTog. They gave me the pre-stated story from above. Never happened to anyone else etc etc. Finally they agreed to look at it after I explained that I had been able to fully recover some poor performing batteries by using an older Uniross charger that I nearly gave to LifeLine a while back!! I sent them back two of my batteries as samples of the batch of the now 60%ers.

Disappointingly they staunchly defended their position, said my batteries were stuffed and there was nothing wrong with my charger. They suggested that I purchase some of the Powerex batteries as they were superior to the Eneloop. Why not and as show of weakness good faith, they threw in 4 of the high powered Powerexes as local photographers in Melbourne swore by them.

C801 Battery Charger

C801 Battery Charger

First up, I put my two duds into the Uniross. Guess what, 100% for both of them. But they insisted that their super duper battery tester, as used by CSIRO I suppose, had failed them both. So as you might imagine, I’m not happy, Jan.

The boss of Protog rang me to explain their testing and otherwise convince me that it was me, Queensland or the planetary alignments as previously discussed that were responsible.

So the bottom line is, no replacement. The Uniross is doing a great job, albeit only 4 batteries at a time. I use the Maha now as a dubious backup when I need to recycle a lot of batteries for multi-day event shooting or the like.

I have always been a subscriber to the adage that you get what you pay for. In this case I got surprisingly poor customer service from the premium product supplier.


Oh, and as for the Powerex batteries. Yes they seem good, especially when recharged on the Uniross!!

Now that I have stopped whinging, karma has struck back quickly with one of my Bowens studio lights toppling over in a clumsy furniture moving exercise. It has suffered a smashed buttock

Smashed rear plate on my Bowens light

Smashed rear plate on my Bowens light


It happened many years ago to a friend so I know that replacement parts were available. I spoke to the distributor today, C.R. Kennedy and they are looking in to it .