Monthly Archives: June 2011

No-name eBay Batteries – Too Good to be True? Probably.

I recently gave a batch of batteries a punt on eBay. They were labelled as 3000mAh, and cost about €25 including shipping for 50. Now I realise that with current technology, it’s practically impossible to push the capacity of an AA form factor beyond 2500 mAh, but even if they came close to that, they’d still be pretty good value at 50c each. Even the deals in Aldi and Lidl usually work out at about €1 per cell.

Anyway, a couple of weeks after purchasing on eBay, they duly arrived.


The first thing that I noticed that they were far lighter than the 2300 mAh cells I normally use, which was not a good sign. Especially if they were actually NiMH, the same technology as I’m used to, they should be heaver if their capacity is greater. Anyway, I stuck on a dozen to charge. They charged quite quickly, another bad sign. If the cell charges quickly, then the charger has managed to put less energy into the cell. And the chargers I use are smart chargers, with deep-cycle, refresh, bad cell indicator, etc.

With all these bad signs, I decided to discharge the cells and measure the voltage at regular intervals. A 500mA load over a few hours sounded like a reasonable test to me, so I got me a 2.4 volt, 0.5A bulb from and old torch I had lying around and hooked it up to two of the cells under test. Then I did something quite geeky. Over the next several hours I set a timer to go off every 15 minutes so I could measure the voltage across the terminals. This is the result, and the difference is quite startling.


So, the 2300 mAh labelled battery versus the 3000 mAh labelled battery. Which is which?

Well, the cheap eBay battery (labelled 3000 mAh) lasted just over an hour, at which stage the voltage took a nose-dive towards zero.

The Aldi “Activ” brand battery, which was labelled 2300 mAh kept going, and going and going. 4 hours later the graph started dipping, and when it hit 1.99 volts I gave up. I had the data I needed, and the graph says it all. If the Aldi battery is really 2300 mAh, and not some kind of 12000 mAh super-battery, then all I can assume after that is that the labelling on the  eBay battery is a mistake. Or maybe just downright dishonest. I suspect the latter.

From the above graph, it looks like the eBay battery is actually 1/4 of the 2300 mAh batteries capacity, or approximately 600mAh, which is only 20% of the labelled capacity. NOT EVEN CLOSE to the labelled capacity.

I’m wondering what the eBay seller who sold me these pieces of crap will say when I ask for my money back. Probably nothing. They’re probably used to that question.


My new catch-phrase should be: “You can learn from my mistakes!”


I’ve had a few e-mails with the seller. I initially said to the seller that the items were not as described, then I pointed them at the graph above.

They offered to refund $10 (€7) of the price to compensate me for my trouble.

I said that I would not be happy with anything less than a full refund.

They then asked that I return the items to China. I pointed out to them that the cost of returning the 50 batteries from Ireland would cost more than the original item including shipping from China. I offered two choices

  1. They can refund me the full price, at which time I will consider giving positive feedback.
  2. They don’t refund me, and I will leave negative feedback and open a case with eBay.

The next mail agreed to the first option. And I can tell you that the feedback will be marked as positive, but only because they refunded me. The comment will contain information that the 3000mAh cells were measured at 600mAh.

So, I’m getting my money back. So all ends well. Now I’ve got to decide whether to actually put the batteries to use in something like remote controls, or just dump them. At about 600 mAh they’re really only good for recycling. Ya. In the trash they go.

“You can learn from my mistakes!”


Posted in Photography Tagged , , |

Fanore Beach Outing

The weather in Ireland is so unpredictable. I live in the mid west of Ireland about an hours drive from the coast of Clare. So when I decide to drive to the coast to do some landscape photography, it’s always a gamble. It’s even more of a gamble when I head off to a place that’s an hour-and-a-half or more. So, the other evening, myself and a regular photographic partner of mine, John Hickey, decided we’d head off to Fanore beach at about 8pm, which would get us to the coast with about an hour to sunset. As we drove, I had a good feeling about the weather. That doesn’t count for much, I’ve had good feelings before, only for the sun dive down behind a thick layer of misty clouds leaving the sky with as much colour as an old black-and-while TV.


When we arrived, the sky looked good. It looked very good. John and myself headed off in seperate directions. After taking a few initial shots, what was was coming up on the preview screen on the back of my camera looked reasonable. If I got one keeper out of a trip to the coast, I’d be happy. Normally, one trip meant one keeper, and on rare occasions two.


We kept shooting until about 40 minutes after sunset, and the time flew. Each direction I looked gave a new possibility. Fanore beach has a rich variety of foregrounds, from ripples in the sand, to lonely rocks, to green, lichen-covered slabs.


This was one of the rare occasions I got multiple keepers. I’m showing a selection here, but I guarantee you there’ll be more shots processed out of that evenings collection of RAW images.


There’s something about that kind of sky, and that kind of light, combined with the kind of place that you can only get in The Burren which only comes together once in a blue moon. And that evening it did come together. It was Magic.

–edit– here’s a couple more –edit–





Posted in Photography

Tri-Flash Update

I just thought I’d post a quick update on my tri-flash setup, since I just took delivery of three high-voltage battery packs for the three 540EZ strobes I use in the setup. So, using a bit of duct-tape (or duck-tape, depending on where you’re from), I strapped ’em onto the light stand and hooked ’em up.


Of course, that needs a lot of batteries, so I sourced some bulk 3000 mAh NiMh batteries from eBay for about €25:


So, that now gives me about 400Ws of power when the three strobes are set to full power, and a recycle time of about 2.5 seconds. And when I drop the power to 1/8 on each strobe, they can keep up with continuous shooting mode of 3.9 frames/sec on my 5D MkII. Kewl, eh? 😉



The eBay batteries turned out to be total garbage. Compared them to some Aldi 2300 mAh. Aldi batteries were able to drive a 1.2W bulb at 500mA for over 3 hours. The “3000” mAh eBay batteries lasted just over an hour. So the 3000 mAh rating is a deception. They’re waaaaay down on that, closer to 800mAh! I’ll be in contact with the eBay seller as soon as I’ve got the graphs done of comparisons against a couple of brands of 2300 mAh batteries. Yes, I’m a nerd.

Posted in Photography Tagged , , , |

Facebook Image Tag Spam

In the last few months I’ve decided to put some of my images up on Facebook, even though I don’t fully agree with their terms and conditions with regards to them using my images as they see fit. Anyway, it’s a great way to get your name out there to people, and to keep people up to date with your latest photographical goings-on.
However, I’ve recently been hit (annoyed) with a new type of spam that’s becoming more and more commonplace on Facebook. And it’s all down to the way the photo back-end of Facebook works.
If I post up an image, then a notification will appear on all my friends news feeds. However, if I tag 30 of my friends in that image, then all their friends will also get a notification, multiplying the number of people that get notified about that image by many times. Say each of those 30 friends had 100 friends, then instantly the number of people notitified goes up to 3000!
Many of my friends happen to “like” a particular page that indulges in this dubious practice to sell their products. I would urge everyone to “unlike” any pages like this to keep the replication of this spam to a minimum.

So, if you’re the victim of Facebook image-tag spam, you can do one of the following, assuming that you’ve already “un-liked” the page yourself:

  • ask any of your friends that “like” the page to “unlike” it
  • “de-friend” any of your friends that “likes” the page
  • Report the page to Facebook for Spam, although I’d say this has limited effect.
  • wait for Facebook to implement a mechanism that allows you to block relevant notifications in your news feed, or some other fix.

Bear in mind that you do not necessarily need to like the page yourself to get this spam, it’s caused by your friends liking a page who’s tagging them in their photos, even though those friends are not actually in the photo. it’s purely a method of marketing that should be frowned upon. I can’t use the word “scam” as it’s not a scam, it’s a perfectly legal, but in my view it’s a dubious practice, as it’s akin to unsolicited email. Facebook provide the mechanism to do this, but do not provide a mechanism for the users on the receiving end to switch it off (yet).

So, if you receive a request to “unlike” a page that you’re subscribed to (by “liking” it), this is probably why. Have a look at some of that page, and if you see dozens of tags on an image where they’re obviously not all in it, then please “unlike” the page. It’ll do us all a favor.



Note: If you’re looking to “like” something on Facebook that won’t spam-tag you, you could do worse than “liking” my photography page at 😉


Posted in Computer Stuff

Limerick Camera Club Photographer of the Year Award

I just received official word that I’ve won the Photographer of the Year award at Limerick Camera Club for the 2010/2011 season.

Here’s a selection of images that placed throughout the year and all added to the tally of points.

In the Open Colour section:

Lought Talt at Sunrise
Autumn Fox

In the Open Monochrome section:
Plassey Wreck

Ross Bay Rocks

Lough Derg Pier

But it was the challenge subjects that I did particularly well in. I was quite pleased with this, as I had put a lot of thought into each month’s challenge subject, and managed to place in all seven challenge competitions. The challenge subject is shown above each image.




“Shadows / Reflections”



“Macro / Close-up”

City Reflection



"I'm not sure about this magic stuff..."


“Digital Art”

The Star Fairy


“Self Portrait”

Stressed Out





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