DV101: Battery Basics
Portable power can be a much more complex issue than just charging up some NiCads.
By Jay Holben
Batteries are something we take for granted until they run out of juice or stop working altogether. I’ll never forget the music video I was working as a gaffer when we neglected to charge the batteries for the Sun Gun portable HMI fixture that turned out to be the key light the director wanted to use. I was hot wiring camera batteries to get the shots and cursing myself for not remembering to put the batteries on charge when the day started.
Although they’re ubiquitous in our lives – in many forms – battery technology is advancing along with the rest of our digital society. Recently, engineers at the University of Illinois devised a new internal structure to nickel-metal Hydride (NiMH) and lithium-treated manganese dioxide batteries that is capable of recharging to 70 percent capacity in one minute and 90 percent capacity in two minutes. Although this technology is only in the laboratory now, it is mass-producible and something we could see changing the battery world very quickly.
Battery woes are a considerable concern. For anyone who is shooting HD with DSLRs, you know how quickly their standard factory batteries can be drained. For my Canon EOS 7D, I purchased the battery hand-grip that holds two LP-E6 batteries and I can get about 5 hours of shooting from two batteries:
With four LP-E6 batteries in my kit, I can get a full day’s shooting without concern. Anton/Bauer also has solutions for HDSLR cameras with their QR-DSLR adapter that allows you to use standard Anton/Bauer Gold-Mount batteries to power your DSLR. With an Anton/Bauer Diaonic 90 battery, I can get 9 1/2 hours of shooting on one battery with my 7D. Anton/Bauer also offers their new ElipZ battery system, specifically designed for use with smaller cameras.
Two years ago at NAB I was quite astounded when Anton/Bauer showed me their Tandem 150 charger and the Solar Panel that can go with it. That’s right – a foldable solar blanket that can connect to your Tandem 150 charger and charge Anton/Bauer batteries directly from the sun – no outlet necessary! Folded up the blanket is only 11” x 9.5”; slightly larger than a sheet of paper. Unfolded, it’s 59” x 43” and weighs less than a quarter of a pound. For remote outdoor locations, this is an incredibly powerful tool.
Cameras aren’t the only thing that need batteries. Especially in the day and age of tapeless acqusition, laptops are an essential tool. Mac laptops have superb battery life, but on remote locations, it’s never enough. Anton/Bauer has a solution to that, now, too. The QRC-MBPA Gold Mount for Apple MacBooks:
This adapter connects via Apple’s MagSafe Airline Adapter and allows MacBook users to connect directly to their Anton/Bauer Gold Mount batteries to power their laptops on location. Even better, if you start powered with the Anton/Bauer battery, when that battery is depleted, the power shifts seamlessly to the laptop’s internal power without any loss of operation or data.
With a Dionic 160 battery, you can power a MacBook running Final Cut Pro for up to five hours.
Curious about which batteries are right for you? Anton/Bauer has an extraordinary online wizard to help, check out www.antonbauer.com/HowToChoose.