Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A New Personal Edict

So I need my first flashlight since moving to the new house and it didn't work. Nothing! No light. This is an LED flashlight that is new and barely used. I do use it at my desk but not often and not for long.

But, no problems. The batteries are dead. This happens. I unscrew the cap off the flashlight and there it is!! Another leaked battery. And, lo and behold, its a Duracell battery. Not only is it a Duracell but obviously its not very old its good till 2023.


This flashlight came with this battery.

This flashlight is a fairly high end CREE light that is very bright. But having said that it led me to thinking that perhaps there may be fake Duracell's out there. So I did a little research and found out that there are a TON of fake Duracell's out there. So much so that there are many warnings posted on the web:

https://thecounterfeitreport.com/product/106/

In the link above you can see many various fake Duracell's. Doing more research you find that many of the fakes are 'identical' and they cannot be differentiated from the real Duracell's. There is talk of fake Duracell's being sold in common large brand department stores.


So, with no way of knowing real from fake, and with even real one's seeming to have leaking problems; I've decided to not only never purchase Duracell's again, but if I get Duracell Batteries with a product I purchase, I will replace them with Energizer batteries.

Another issue I have is this; here on Amazon there appears to be some fake Duracell's:

http://www.amazon.com/Duracell-Coppertop-Duralock-Batteries-Count/product-reviews/B0096MHJU2

If these were actually fake, one phone call from an on staff Lawyer at Duracell would have those removed from the Amazon store. So either, they are real, or Duracell doesn't care in protecting consumers from these crappy batteries. Perhaps they are thinking as long as people are buying "Duracell's", any Duracell, real or fake, it is better than having them purchase the competitions batteries.

A Note on fakes and other Languages: If you look on the battery in the photo you'll see some Chinese writing on it. Some people think anything with Arabic, Chinese, Japanese (there must be other languages) must be fake. Duracell makes batteries for sale in all these different countries including Belgium and thus has those languages on it. I could not find a source stating what are all the countries that make real Duracell's ie where are all the Duracell Factories but I did find this about American Made Duracell's.

http://americanmanufacturing.org/blog/duracell-batteries-made-usa

I also found that the made in China Duracell's apparently get into the U.S. market via way of Canada. Apparently these batteries also have the French on them. I'm thinking perhaps those are for the African market but that's just a guess.

For now what I will do is this;

1)  I will no longer buy Duracell's except in the event of an Emergency where no other brands are available. And even then I may not.

2)  I will further investigate Canadian Duracell's and will try to find the source of Canadian Duracell's. I will purchase several packs from large retail stores and see if I can find differences and will report further.

3)  I will write a letter to Procter & Gamble (parent company) and will ask for clarification on Fake Batteries, where they have factories (other countries) and why they do not put an end to fakes on Amazon.com and other Retailers.

If I get a response I will post it here also.

© 2014 Francois Cleroux

Version 1.00 - September  2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

Not All Batteries are Created Equal!

I've been using Energizer Batteries. and nothing but Energizer Batteries for so many years now I had forgotten why I only used that brand. Until recently that is.

Years ago (mid to late 80's) before I retired from photography I used portable flashes all the time. Although the cost of the batteries was a concern, having batteries that lasted a long time was ultimately more important. I ran many tests on many batteries back then and decided that the best bang for the buck was the Energizer Batteries. Later, something else confirmed that those were the batteries I should be using.

I know battery technology has come a long way since then, but I've never changed from my "stick with Energizer" mantra I have always spoken. Some of you may know that I have just moved in the last week. a week before the move however, a clock on the wall had stopped working. So I decided to change the batteries. I took the clock off the wall and it contained two Duracell batteries. They had leaked!! I haven't had a set of batteries leak in over 25 years. I didn't think much about it and cleaned the contacts and put some new Energizer Batteries in and the clock started again.


Shot with my iPhone

While packing my photography gear getting ready for the move, I grabbed my LED Video Light which uses 6 AA batteries. Some of the batteries had leaked. They were Duracell batteries. This annoyed me and remembering the clock batteries I wondered why I even had Duracell batteries. Then I remembered we need some when we were in the U.S. and all they had at Costco was Duracell and their own house brand batteries. So I had opted for the better ones. I carefully cleaned it all up and used some water and then let it dry properly. Again I replaced the batteries with Energizer Batteries. I remembered however other than a quick ON and OFF I had never used the batteries at all. The clock batteries had been drained, these should of been brand new. I also noted the dates on them, they should have been good for many more years. I wondered if that "batch" of batteries were bad.

The very next day I delivered a high end Logitech cordless mouse to a clients office. When I opened up the package it contained two Duracell Batteries. They were in a plastic wrapped two pack. They had leaked!! And not only had they leaked but when I picked up the still sealed package, some fairly wet liquid got onto my hands?? Not sure what is was, but I disposed of them and washed my hands. Obviously not a bad batch.

Then I remembered! That was why I stopped using Duracell batteries in the 80's. They used to always leak. Well, nothing has changed. If you find you have had batteries leak on you, please tell me. What brand were they? Duracell, Energizer or some cheap brand? Let me know.

In the meantime I do recommend the Energizer Batteries. If you need longer lasting and lightweight, try the Energizer Lithium Batteries!

© 2014 Francois Cleroux

Version 1.10 - August 2014



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Noise vs. Grain

In the same forum (Fine Art Photographers) someone said they liked Noise as it gave them that grainy look of film. My reply. 
On the grainy look….
 
OK lets get this clear, digital noise is NOT grain. It doesn’t even approximate grain.
 
In traditional B&W film grain is caused by the size of the silver crystals in the film itself. It is what creates the image in the form of black on the negative. These almost invisibly small crystals take on the look of grain when enlarged. This ‘grain’ is prized by many photographers even to this day and it still plays a large role in the Fine Art photography world of collectors.
 
B&W grain is uniform based on the film type. Different films had different grains, some finer, some larger but generally always uniform throughout the entire picture in the whites, mid tones and blacks (but not in the blown out areas).
 
Photographers usually likes a specific film for the grain (or lack thereof) and often shot all their work (or sometime specific projects) with a specific film. The reason for this is because of consistency. They could get very consistent repetitive results if they used the same film and the same processes. This is important when creating a project or body of work.
 
Digital noise on the other hand varies greatly from picture to picture based on not just the ISO setting used but on the scene itself, the amount of light and dark areas, whether the scene is back lit or not and even on if the exposure is perfect or not. Add to the fact the longer exposures change the whole equation as does temperature. The hotter it is you usually end up with more noise.
 
Another issue with noise is that it varies not just from picture to picture but within a picture itself. Each area light/dark will have differing amounts of noise. And this noise is not shaped and randomized like ‘silver crystals’ but takes on blotchy areas and worse (or better if that’s what you want) takes on colours.
 
It is this lack of consistency that can make your image not work well together as a unified body of work. Typically fine art photographers work hard at capturing the perfect images they require with the least amount of noise possible. Then, they will remove any noise present and finally they will add grain either in programs like Photoshop or they will use a program or plugin like NIK Silver Efex Pro. Using this process, you can have complete control (and repeatable control) over the look, feel and size of the grain and you can make it consistent within all your images.
 
On the other hand if you like the look of ‘noise’ then by all means go for it! It has its own unique qualities that may work with your images. Just remember that’s it not grain.


© 2014 Francois Cleroux
Version 1.00 - February 2014