Included in some of the recent new announcements about portable power supplies for pro videographers is talk about the “high current demands of HD cameras.” You will also hear phrases describing “the convergence of 24V film and 14V video” gear.
As high definition and high-end cameras such as those from RED Digital Cinema, Arri, and Sony become more popular among feature filmmakers and wedding videographers alike, we need more power for location shooting of almost any kind, but particularly for long-form HD production—and the manufacturers are responding.
Even without “HD power demands,” the need to drive not just the camera but also accessories such as wireless mics, outboard monitors, on-camera lights, and so on makes us all want to do more with less. For wedding and event videographers who endure lengthy shoots, often at multiple locations in the same day, that usually means trying to get more power with less weight.
Coco Converter Adapts to Situation
Adding new functions to old tools can be a handy idea when the situation demands, so the folks at Bebob Broadcast Engineering have unveiled a new power adapter that powers the camera as well as a camera light and a wireless lavaliere off a single high-capacity L Series battery, such as an NP-F970. The estimated runtime is just over an hour with a 15W, 12V light and a wireless system during recording.
The Coco I-DVL DC power converter (designed for Sony L Series camcorders from 7.2V to 12V) also boasts external power taps, including one Anton/Bauer dual-angle tap for 12V up to 35W and one 4-pin 7.2V output port. For those shooting with the PMW-EX1 with the new BP-U60 batteries, there’s the Coco-EX, which acts as an adapter between the battery and the camera and its accessories. The adapter is attached to the camera in place of the battery, with the battery itself then mounted on the Coco-EX. It includes two 4-pin connectors and an Anton/Bauer Twist D-Tap, each with 14.4V outputs for the BP-U60 battery to supply a camera light or external LCD monitor. The matching plug is a regular D-Tap that can be mounted in both directions with the cable facing either up or down for convenience. The I-DVL is priced around $275; the EX sells for roughly $335.
Dolgin Doubles Up on Power
Another way to get more from the gear you already have is to extend the runtime of common 7.2V batteries, such as those from Panasonic, Sony, and Canon. By doubling up, you can use the same power source to drive outboard accessories.
Dolgin’s vDoubler (Figure 1, left) can produce 14.4V DC output to power 14.4V cameras, as well as portable monitors or any other 12V–16V accessories. It accepts two Sony L, Panasonic CGR, or Canon BP batteries in a relatively lightweight unit (the adapter itself weighs about 14 oz.; two batteries more than double the weight, with two added 5400mAh batteries and an adapter weighing in at 31 oz.).
The unit has LED voltage monitors and an XLR 4-pin output, and it is described by Dolgin as “Anton Bauer Gold/V-Mount ready.” Dolgin reports that the unit can power a BT-LH80W Panasonic monitor for 4–6 hours using 5400mAh batteries. Monitors or cameras rated at 12W can be powered for up to 9 hours with a pair of 7800mAh batteries, according to Dolgin.
Anton/Bauer Ups the Voltage
Anton/Bauer, Inc., addressing the higher demands of the HD shooter, expanded its line of power products with the new CINE-VCLX and CINE-VCLX/2 batteries (Figure 2, left), offering dual simultaneous output voltages. Based on the company’s NiMH technology and HyTRON video batteries, the new products can push out up to 32 amps of total power, 12 amps from the regulated 28V channel and 20 amps from the 14V channel.
According to Anton/Bauer, the CINE-VCLX offers 560Wh and the CINE-VCLX/2 delivers 280Wh. Both batteries feature the RealTime capacity display and a visual LED battery change warning so you can track the time yourself.
Anton/Bauer’s ElipZ 10k battery system is more for the DV or HDV shooter, especially those who shoot hand-held and regularly use an on-camera light. The ElipZ delivers as much as 9 hours of runtime to the most popular hand-held camera models, including the Sony HVR-Z1U, the Canon GL2, and Panasonic’s AG-DVX100 and AG-HVX200. The battery alone is street priced at less than $200.
Putting out the big juice is Anton/Bauer’s SPS-150 150W power supply, with a 15V output for 150W of power with a 10-amp max via two 4-pin XLR connectors. In addition, this hefty unit (almost 3 lbs.) is compatible with an AC input range of 100V to 240V, accommodating 50 Hz and 60 Hz systems, for great shooting location flexibility.
The SPS-150 mounts to any Anton/Bauer Gold Mount, and power is automatically supplied to the camera, so there’s no on/off switch.
Batteries Give Camera Support
Last year, Sachtler introduced its FSB CELL (Figure 3, left), designed for DV and HDV shooters.
Following some tweaks and adjustments to the product, it’s now shipping and is available in camera support packages (with a tripod head and legs) or as a stand-alone product.
The 7.2V lithium-ion FSB CELL’s underside is actually fashioned like a camera plate, so it fastens onto a compatible fluid head such as the FSB 2 and the FSB 6, adding about 1.5 lbs. of weight but bringing some extra stability as well. Shooters can still execute smooth tilts and pans with the battery attached.
Depending on the camera the FSB CELL is powering, Sachtler guarantees an operating time of up to 8 hours. The battery will also power additional equipment, such as Sachtler’s own on-camera LED light. The FSB CELL has a maximum capacity of 75Wh.
In a kit with the FSB-2 fluid head, 75 CF Speed Lock tripod, spreader, and accessories, the FSB Cell is street priced at $1,548.
IDX Ups Its ENDURA Line
IDX System Technology, Inc. is now shipping the AC-100HD, its new multifunction power adapter designed to meet the high demands of current HD cameras. It’s compatible with SD cameras as well. It offers up to 100W DC to power a camera and associated equipment. Regulated DC outputs are provided on two Hirose 12V outputs and one XLR 14.5V output for gear such as LCD monitors, camera lights, and audio accessories.
The compact, rugged AC-100HD accepts a “universal” input range of 100V–240V AC 50/60Hz. With its new Power Base mode, two of the company’s ENDURA batteries (with PowerLink) provide portable power independent of the main supply, ensuring continuous operation.
First introduced in 2000, the ENDURA line now includes a high-powered ELITE battery for next-gen HD EFP cameras with a 136Wh capacity. ENDURA lithium-ion batteries and charging systems are reasonably street-priced: An EC-7SP kit sells for $450, while the EC-1 single channel portable charger costs $170.
The latter has a quick-charge current of 1.6A, good for about 90% of the battery’s native capacity, and the input voltage AC 100V–240V 50/60 Hz is widely compatible. It’s about the size of a deck of cards, and it weighs about half a pound, which means it’s well-suited for a quick, single recharge in the field.
Green for Green’s Sake
Mentioned here before, Jadoo Power’s specialty products meet the needs of a variety of applications with power requirements between 50W and 1 kW. It will work with broadcast cameras, but the company is also focused now on military applications and providing power to soldiers in the field. As such, long, continuous, and predictable runtimes are crucial.
The company says its specialty products outperform traditional batteries every time, with more than 11 hours of runtime from one N-Stor cartridge. Wedding videographers can certainly appreciate that kind of endurance, although they may be less happy with the costs.
The company’s fuel cartridges alone, offering 130Wh and 360Wh of runtime, are priced at $449 and $849, respectively. The units feature “state-of-fill” displays, so the user can quickly see how much power is available.
Another great attraction for Jadoo Power is environmental. The only byproducts of hydrogen fuel cell power generation are heat and water in the form of electricity and water vapor. No pollutants are discharged into the atmosphere, and there are zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Because of their construction and fuel-to-power process, these units have what can only be called a remarkable shelf life. The batteries can actually remain in standby for years, so they are handy for both feature filmmakers, who are used to standing around on set for ages, and for wedding videographers—dare we say, used to waiting for the bridal party?
Lee Rickwood (lrickwood at goodmedia.com) is a freelance writer and media consultant.