Batteries Have Come a Long Way, Baby
When professional portable video began in the 1970’s, most batteries were nickel-cadmium and usually ran a camera less than 20 minutes. A cameraman—already lugging a 30-pound plus camera on his back (minus video recorder)—often had to carry a bag of batteries weighing more than the camera itself.
For the very well heeled, Anton-Bauer sold a brick battery called the Silver Cell. It cost about $1300 and had to sit topside up, or otherwise it might self-destruct! For those who took the care and paid the price, two of these batteries could run an RCA TK-76 camera all day.
Today, batteries and their charging systems are so much better. For small camcorders, inexpensive lithium ion batteries are convenient and long lasting. On the other hand, high-end batteries for digital production cameras have gotten far more reliable, yet are now incredibly sophisticated.
For the ultra high-end, Anton-Bauer, still a leader in the video battery industry, has introduced the CINE-VCLX and new VCLX/2. These batteries offer dual simultaneous output voltages and a performance level that is more than equal to the demands of the equipment and the environments of digital cinema production.
Employing NiMH technology ported from the company’s Hytron video batteries, the CINE-VCLX and VCLX/2 are not subject to transportation restrictions of lithium ion or the disposal burdens of lead acid batteries. They can deliver up to 32 amps total power—12 amps from the regulated 28-volt channel and 20 amps from the 14-volt channel.
Both batteries feature a real time capacity display, calibrated for the higher loads of cinema equipment, along with a visual LED battery change warning. Specialized InterActive chargers for each of these batteries cuts charge time from older lead acid types to about seven hours for the VCLX and to a rapid three hours for the VCLX/2.
These batteries can power the ARRI D-20, Sony F23/F35; Phantom HD, Panavision Genesis and Sony F900s cameras. The high-power 28-volt output will address up to 250-watt HMI lights and lighting panels from various manufacturers.
Frezzi Energy Systems, another early veteran of video powering and lighting systems, recently introduced the HD-150, a new 150 watt-hour camera battery. Also available is a mini-sized HD-60, a 60 watt-hour brick. The HD-150 can handle high discharge rates up to 200 watts while providing an excellent cycle life. Neither has travel restrictions. Backed by a four-year warranty, these batteries connect to Anton-Bayer’s Snap-On camera bracket.
IDX’s Endura line of camera batteries feature lithium ion power cartridges that are travel-ready and field replaceable. Units range from 68 to 136 watt-hours and are compatible with IDX V-mount chargers. The top-of-the-line Endura Elite features a 10-step power indicator that displays power usage in 10 percent increments.
PAG has a new 110 watt-hour lithium ion battery—the L110—that works with three major mounting systems: V-Mount, PAGlok, and Anton-Bauer’s Snap-on. All L110 models incorporate PAG’s Power & Time Display, which provides a prediction of equipment run-time on-load that counts down in one-minute increments. It also displays capacity in ampere-hours and percentage.
Two L110 can be combined to provide higher current draw capability and longer run-times. L110 batteries are restricted to two units per person, carried as hand luggage, in accordance with IATA regulations. Two batteries, the company said, is enough for days of shooting.