In a previous article, I wrote about why I sometimes use V-mount batteries as they allow me to run multiple devices shooting 4K and sometimes even 4K RAW for an entire day on two or three batteries. I decided to go with two different models from CORESWX.
As a video shooter, I have needs and one of the big ones is power. Shooting 4K video and RAW video requires a LOT of juice and very often I am powering more than just a camera. I could have microphones that are pulling power from the camera battery. I could also have external monitors, recorders and lights.
Charging batteries is a pain in the backside. I remember when I used to shoot events with four Nikon SB-900 speedlights with SD-9 packs attached to each of them. That was 96 AA batteries I had to charge up the night before every event. Boy am I glad that more and more lights are switching to Lithium Ion now. Fewer batteries, and more pops per charge.
But even today, I still have a lot of batteries and devices to charge. There’s a dozen Nikon EN-EL15, another dozen Nikon EN-EL14, three tablets, three phones, Godox PB960 packs, the Godox A1, several USB power banks, gimbal batteries, drone batteries and a bunch of other stuff I haven’t listed. The trick is to get organised, and in this video from the folks over at FStoppers, we see how they organise their charging.
It might’ve escaped your notice, but it’s Christmas. Yesterday was Christmas day, in fact, and lots of people received all kinds of shiny new photography and video related gifts powered by LiPo batteries. You might have even received one yourself, or already own one. Drones, portable strobes, speedlights and all kinds of creative gadgets are powered by LiPo batteries these days, even the phones in our pockets.
You might remember Samsung’s somewhat public battery failure with the Galaxy Note 7, leading to the invention of batteries with built-in fire extinguishers. But most people still aren’t aware of the kind of dangers LiPo batteries can pose. In the real world, exploding LiPo batteries are rare, but when they do, it’s in grand fashion. But there are ways to minimise the risks.
If you enjoy traveling with photo gear, you know how annoying it is to manage all the chargers, cables and batteries. Even the cameras from the same manufacturer have different batteries and chargers, not to mention other electronics like smartphones, laptops and so on. This is why photographer David Bergman gives you a couple of great tips for managing these gear elements when you’re on the road. This is one of the most frustrating parts of packing for me as well, so I’ll also jump in with a couple of tips of my own.
Keeping track of batteries is a pain. We have to change them so much more often in our cameras now. Especially since the advent of live view LCDs and video. So, most of us keep a well stocked supply of spares, particularly with small juice suckers like action cameras. But when you go out to shoot, how do you keep track of which are charged and which are depleted?
One option is to keep separate sections of a bag, or even separate bags for each. But things can often get mixed up easily. You could just write numbers on them and just use them sequentially, but that’s easy to lose track of. Here’s a solution from Knoptop that’s simple and pretty effective, just using some small rubber bands.
Lithium based batteries power a lot of stuff these days. Phones, cameras, laptops, and even vehicles. There’s a lot of “best practise” advice out there when dealing with Li-Ion and Li-Po batteries, but it’s not common knowledge. Most consumers don’t know how to look after their batteries. Or that there even are suggested ways to use, store and charge batteries. They just assume technology will take care of it all for them. Many times it will, unless you get unlucky with cheap or counterfeit batteries.
Problems aren’t always the consumer’s fault, though. Sometimes manufacturers screw up. Given the issues with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, it’s clear that Li-Ion and LiPo batteries aren’t perfect. Now, we’re a step closer to getting a little more perfection out of them. Or, at least make them a little less explosive. Researchers at Stanford University have developed a solution for Li-ion batteries to self-extinguish in the event of thermal runaway.
If you are shooting with a Sony camera, you know that they eat and spit batteries faster than I eat M&Ms. One trivial options is carry another set of batteries (though originals are about $45 each). What I am doing is using off the shelf power banks to run the Sony for much longer than its original battery.
Now this is an idea I think we can all get behind. Anything that keeps us charged faster and for longer while out shooting can’t be bad. So, imagine being able to go out and shoot as much as you want for as long as you want without having to worry about your battery life at all. And if it does run out, you can recharge it in just a few seconds.
Such batteries are the vision of scientists at the Univercity of Central Florida, using supercapacitors. Supercapacitors store more energy and can be recharged more than 30,000 times without degrading. Using phones a a comparison, most phone batteries tend to last only around 1,500 charges before severe degradation kicks in. This is why your 3 year old iPhone barely lasts til lunch despite charging overnight.
One thing that really irritates me is the price that camera makers put on their batteries. I mean an original battery for a sony A7II costs about $53, the same battery from a third party costs about $13, that’s quite a difference isn’t it? For the price of one original battery, you can get four after market ones.
And it’s not just Sony, Canon’s popular LP-E6N are $62 vs $15 and the same goes for Nikon. It gets worse as the batteries get bigger. Sony’s original NPF970 is $128 vs, a $16 off brand. And the list goes on….
Now, why is getting a good battery crucial? Because batteries explode if they are bad.