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Gear & Now: Battery Power for Cameras, Lights, HDDs, and More
Posted Oct 27, 2006 Print Version     Page 1of 1

Hands up, all those with a battery strapped to your hand! I'll admit I hadn't heard of it, but when first told about the Handex battery that attaches to a camera's handstrap, the simple idea started growing on me.
     It acts as a bit of a counterweight, balancing against the load of the camera on one side of the strap and canceling itself out on the other. It has its own integrated, standard-sized accessory shoe which, when used to mount a microphone, can reduce handling noise considerably. When using two lights, one mounted on the camera, the other on the Handex battery, the arrangement creates a nice, portable, shadow-removing portrait-lighting setup.
     Products in the lineup include a neat little 15 W light head with a defused 45-degree light output: the DSM 20-30 Pro Handex Lithium-ion Lighting Kit, which weighs just 250g and can be used to power a lamp for up to 75 minutes. It accepts 20 W, 25 W, 30 W and 50 W halogen reflector and LED lamps. The kit also features swing-in/swing-out dichroic daylight and defused glass filters.

Other Lightweight Light-Kit Batteries
The DSM Ultimate, with its integral accessory shoe and power cable, also has a spare DC socket for powering a second light. A Li-ion battery-powered SBX 2Pin D-plug cable for direct connection to Anton/Bauer Gold Mounts, IDX, Rhino, V-Lock mounts, and Sony light sockets is also available.

figure 1Another handy portable power solution for nice location lighting is Litepanels' Li-ion battery for its 1x1 LED light (left). Litepanels' slim production light uses LED technology for cool, even lighting at defined temperatures.

The new battery installs on to the back of the light, adding less than two pounds in weight but up to three hours runtime. The battery is not very thick (2.54 cm, or about an inch), and it measures 3.5"x11" (10.2 cm x 27.9 cm) overall, so the handy light with power source can still be positioned just about anywhere. The battery also works with the Ringlite Mini. List price is $795.

Litepanels also has a DV battery adapter plate for the Mini, so it can run off a pair of standard Panasonic, Canon, or Sony DV camera batteries (there are three versions of the plate itself). It's rated up to eight hours. The adapter is also compatible with the company's Infrared lighting system. Anton/Bauer's new ElipZ System is shipping with a 75 Wh Li-ion battery, rated at 10,500 mA at 7.2 V. Cable adapters are available for several DV and HDV camcorders, providing up to seven hours' runtime with a 10 W load. LEDs give a quick read on battery state and constant indication whether the battery has usable capacity (blue) or requires charging (yellow).

Constructed of high-impact polycarbonate, the Elipz 10K's under-camera mounting design enables shooters to mount and release batteries with one hand. A quick-release shoe attaches to the camera, and the battery attaches securely to the shoe. The Elipz camera light (which also runs on the battery's power) is expected soon.

figure 1More Power to the Camera

New HDV cameras and camcorders need more light, and they draw more power, and that combination can put event videographers in a battery bind. Full-size cameras such as the Sony F900 HDCAM and the Panasonic VariCam models draw approximately 40 W, compared to a Sony DSR-500 at 23 W, for example. They use twice as much current, getting half the runtime per battery, as a result.

HDV cameras like the JVC GY-HD100 series draw upwards of 17 W; the small-capacity 7.2 V batteries that are usually supplied with the cameras simply do not power the camera for any serious shooting (and the inevitable standby) time. A new battery for the HD100 is rated at up to three hours. It fits to the back of the camera the same way the supplied BN-V428 or 438 does, and so requires no extra mounting bracket. It also matches with and can be charged on the JVC-supplied AC adapter.

The DSM J7472 battery (left) extends off the rear of the camera by just 25 mm, about the same distance as the supplied battery, and its light, 325 g weight is nicely matched for the camera in handheld or confined shooting applications. The housing is a ABS-polycarbonate plastic alloy, and the cells inside are from Panasonic, according to DSM.

DSM's three-hour battery for JVC HD100-110 cameras—and its 7800 mAh battery for Sony's PD170 and HVR-Z1—is now available in Europe (DSM is based in the UK). Empire Scientific N.Y. will distribute the batteries in the U.S.; a Canadian distributor has yet to be announced. The J7472 is priced around $240.

The power rating and battery voltage, 52 Wh (7.2 Ah) 7.4 V, is conveniently displayed in the viewfinder. There's a safety circuit for over-voltage, under-voltage, over-current, and short-circuit, and there's a fitted temperature sensor to guard against overheating.

Optional DSM CJ1 single and CJ2 chargers with cell balancing are available; twin, simultaneous, fully automatic, and fast, the CJ2 charger safely charges the battery to over 90% in 3.5 hours, and has "life enhancing cell balancing" that takes 2 or more hours to fully balance the cells.

The CJ1 charger has all the plugs going directly in to the battery's Charge in/DC Power out jack socket. The DC jack socket can power a small video light or—via the optional UU74-12 7.4-12 V DC voltage upper—a FireStore DDR or other 12V equipment at the same as powering the camera (an optional FS4 mount fits to the camera using the rear accessory mounting holes).

figure 1Batteries4broadcast also has an adapter for the JVC HD100/110 (left, slated for late-fall availability), which will be available for around $150. The V-style adapter is in final testing, as is a 90 Wh battery with internal charger. It should be out by the time you read this article; note that it is described as weighing only 1.5 lb., while other older "bricks" can weigh over 5 lb.!

With the 90 Wh battery, available in V-style or three stud mounts, record times of close to five hours are promised, with the added benefit of a little more weight on the back to balance out the full size lens in the front.

The new GY-HD250U ProHD camcorder draws even more power: 12 V and some 20 W, so a battery mount is built in to open up a wide range of power products and solutions.

Batteries 4broadcast offers "Sony-style" NP batteries with 4 Ah/60 Wh capacity for $130; V-style batteries from 6 Ah/90 Wh capacity for $215, and 10 Ah/150 Wh for $325. Its 6 Ah/90 Wh Anton/Bauer-style Li-Ions are priced around $215. A 10Ah/150Wh version runs about $325.

The PAGlok Power Adaptor (Model 9522/75) has been developed to vastly extend the runtime of the JVC GY-HD100 by enabling the use of 12-14.8 V professional PAGlok batteries. The unit incorporates a built-in DC Adapter with a regulated 7.2 V output to the camcorder.

The PAG L95 Li-Ion battery is a 14.8 V, 6.5 Ah, 95 Wh power source for five hours' runtime with the JVC GY-HD100. The built-in Power & Time display shows remaining runtime counting down in one-minute increments, and battery capacity in both Ah and percentage.

figure 1Series 7 has a universal direct-mount battery solution for DV camcorders, its SL-50 system, with 7 A, 50 W capacity. Its adapter plate slips into a camera's battery cavity and is compatible with Sony, Panasonic, Canon, and JVC models. Series 7's SL-50 battery lists for $150; adapter plates are street priced between $23 and $30, depending on the model. Single- and double-bay chargers are available.

Anton/Bauer also announced a gold plate mount for the JVC HD100, featuring a PowerTap for powering camera-mounted fill lights, wireless receivers, DDRs, and more.

Pushing the Limits of Power?
You've heard it before: there is no perfect battery, and every type has some sort of trade-off, be it chemistry characteristics, charging and usages cycles, individual shooting style, camera gear, or accessories.

The one underlying consideration is the increased need for power; in some scenarios, this need extends beyond the capacity of known physical or chemical boundaries.

For its upcoming HDR-FX7 camcorder, Sony is promising up to eight hours of continuous recording (a 30-35% increase) using the upgraded InfoLithium L Series batteries with what's called "Stamina technology" (used in conjunction with the optional largest-capacity battery, the NP970).

New battery efficiency and capacity developments can come from either chemical or physical enhancements, such as thinner insulation between the interior cell plates.

Some say the infamous batteries made for a popular PC-maker had insulation between the + and - plates that was only eight microns thick—not thick enough. No one is saying that camcorder batteries will follow the same smoky trail as the laptop variety, but some do say they never use the latest, highest-capacity battery cells with just that scenario in mind.

Lee Rickwood (www.goodmedia.com) is a media consultant and freelance writer.

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