Gear & Now: HDV Accessories, Part Two--Batteries, Supports, and More
Posted Jun 1, 2007

New Lithium-ion battery systems for DV and HDV camcorders are promising more power output, greater charging options, and new form factors for professional video use. Along with new lights, camera supports, and handy "gadget bag" filler items, the accessory market for wedding and event videographers is booming—and turning a shade of green!

Series 7 DV Power System
Series 7 has introduced a new DV power system with universal mounting adapters so one system can power many camcorder models. The SL-50 Lithium-ion batteries are rated at a full 7A/50W capacity, and can power most camcorders in use today. The Series 7 mounting adapter is available for Canon (GL and XLs right now, not XH series), JVC (DV and HD models), Panasonic (CGR types), and Sony L-Series camcorders.

It snaps into the existing battery well, and has an indented locking mechanism for secure mounting. For Sony users, the SL-50 is equipped with a compatible Infolithium protocol that displays the remaining operating time. A four-LED power gauge allows "at a glance" checking of remaining power with the push of a button.

The charging system offers two "fast charge" options (single and double position). The BCL-1 single position charger by Series 7 is a microprocessor-based battery charging unit, charging a single Series 7 SL-50 battery to full capacity in about three hours. The convenient 12 V DC input allows the BCL-1 to be powered from numerous power sources.

A double-position charger is in the works, the company reports. Pricing for the battery pack is around $100.

figure 1IDX Dual Cartridge Battery System
IDX is introducing its replaceable cartridge battery power system, the Endura Elite, a Lithium-ion system rated at a powerful 142 WH. The V-Mount battery system (there is a gold mount adapter available) uses the IDX Power Cartridge system, a new twin-power cartridge design that effectively doubles its shooting capability for continuous operation for up to 3.5 hours using a 40W Hi-Def ENG/EFP camera.

Self-protection circuits against temperature, in-rush, load, and voltage issues are built into the battery, and two types of serial interface connections allow the videographer to see battery levels in the camera’s electronic viewfinder.

For videographers who do a lot of air travel, IDX says the batteries comply with all aircraft security regulations, including both IATA and UN A45 regulations, and can be brought right on board (check specific airline practices, just to be sure). The batteries are fairly compact (3.9" x 6.6" x 2.8") and weigh only 2.75 lbs.

For videographers attuned to environment matters, IDX reports that its batteries comply with European RoHS (Reduction Of Hazardous Substances) regulations that set maximum concentration limits on environmentally unfriendly materials used in electrical and electronic equipment (e.g., lead, mercury, cadmium, et al.).

U.S. pricing had yet to be determined at press time, although European dealers were quoting system kit prices (two batteries with a dual charger) at around $2,200.

figure 1Giotto’s "Green" Lens Cleaning
It’s hard not to be "clean and green" these days, and some equipment manufacturers have made products with environmental protection concessions and considerations. One can see where battery makers and consumables producers have such issues to face—but lens cleaner manufacturers? Well, Giotto’s says so. It makes a line of lens-cleaning accessories for digital cameras, lenses, viewfinders, and even computer screens and keyboards (the company also manufactures tripods, monopods, and other accessories for video and digital still cameras).

Giotto’s Retractable Cleaning Brush, for example, is made from all-natural soft goat hair, Giotto’s reports, just one of the natural and environmentally friendly materials used in its cleaning kits.

Whether they include a multi-optical cleaning solution, micro-fiber cloth, retractable natural hair brushes, or cotton swabs, the kits are suitable for all DV cameras and optics, as well as other consumer electronics accessories.

Using pH 6.5 (acidity rating) medical grade ingredients, the alcohol and ammonia-free cleaning solution is good for grease, fingerprints, dust, and smudges, and is safe for optical surfaces.

figure 1Petrol Monitor Bag
While not necessarily environmental, the new lightweight shoulder bag from Petrol is at least ergonomic.

For example, the 9" LCD Monitor Bag, designed for the Panasonic LH-900 but suitable for similarly sized portable LCD location camera monitors, opens via a flap on the top into a sturdy four-sided hood, with vents at the top that let cables run easily from the pocket to the bag’s interior as well as aiding in venting, shading, and viewing the monitor.

Conveniently, the bag also features separate hood sections that can be configured with hook and loop material to allow easy access to the monitor’s front panel, which is protected by a clear vinyl shield. A zippered top vent in the main compartment accommodates a wireless system antenna. On the rear panel, there’s a handy exterior storage pocket, and the back section opens up to reveal a detachable auxiliary pouch ideal for stashing other accessories.

Petrol’s ingenious design includes a convenient bottom docking slot with zippers and an adjustable safety strap to allow easy mounting of the monitor on camera while still cradled within the bag itself. Additional features include external front and rear accessory pockets, an adjustable ergonomic padded shoulder strap, and dual directional easy-glide zippers. The exterior is made from heavy-duty blue and black cordura. The suggested U.S. list price is $179.

figure 1Zacuto HD Handgrip System
On the topic of ergonomic considerations for pro videographers, Zacuto is introducing the final bits in its support system for HD video camcorders and video accessories.

The ZGrip camera handgrips, for example, let you use both hands outstretched in front of you to support and steady an over-the-shoulder camera mounting system—one that also accommodates just about every add-on or accessory you can imagine (or would want to carry). Monitors, power supplies, matte boxes, focus gears, hard drive recording devices, wireless audio gear, and more can be mounted to either hand-held or tripod-mounted cameras.

All the gear added up together will certainly weigh quite a bit, but it is all within arm’s reach and easy view. The system’s adjustable arm lengths, arm angles, and fully articulated grips let you get your hands into the most comfortable position for handheld shooting, still with solid support and good balance. The system works with just about any video camera, all the way up to the Varicam/F900 sizes.

The handgrips (priced around $750) are just one piece of the entire Zacuto support system, including camera plates, support rods, quick-release and Z-release mounts, padded shoulder rests, articulated arms, and other mounting accessories and system configurations, available at various prices from $50 to $215.

Lee Rickwood is a media consultant and freelance writer.