For practice, let’s see how we can build a battery system for the Canon EOS C300.
We know that the Canon C300 needs 11.7 Watts, so for every hour we’ll need to supply the camera body with 11.7 Wh of juice.
I like my battery to have 4 hours worth of juice, remember? So I’m looking at a battery with capacity of 46.8, or roughly 50 Wh (about 5,500 mAh).
Now, I want to use the following devices with my camera:
- AJA Ki Pro Mini Recorder
- Marantz PMD661 Portable SD Recorder
- Marshall 9″ V-LCD90MD Monitor
- Cineroid Pro EVF4RVW
- Sennheisser ME66/K6 Shotgun microphone
- Senneheisser G3 Wireless lavalier Kit
For simplicity’s sake, I’m neglecting the power drawn by the lens for Image Stabilization and Autofocus, etc.
This rig of mine is lightweight but of professional quality. On the field I use the viewfinder on the camera, a 20″ Panasonic monitor and record to the internal 50 Mbps 4:2:2 codec. But let’s complicate matters a bit.
I have a major choice to make – separate batteries for each component or one universal system?
I have already told you how I’m a big supporter of the battery being able to support the rig with its weight and placement, but there is one caveat:
Only opt for heavier battery systems if it simplifies your power needs. If separate batteries are good enough, don’t get a heavy system just to balance out a rig.
Rationale? A heavy battery is just dead weight anyway in this particular case, so why spend money for an expensive dead weight when you can just buy weights!
Let’s tackle the problem of our battery system now. I’ll show you my way. Here’s a chart showing these components with their power draw, voltage and connector type (Click to enlarge):
I have also listed the battery option listed with each device. For the monitor and EVF, I’ve listed the Canon LP-E6 battery since it’s common between the two, so I’ll only have to get one charger if I’m going that route. The ‘better’ option is the BP-911 or BP-915.
The C300 has four battery options, of which I’ve listed two options. The best option is the BP-970G, which gives about 5.8 (5 hours and 48 minutes) hours.
The first thing I look for are the things I can’t control. The Ki Pro mini has no option for batteries, so it’ll need an external battery system supplying power to it through its 4-pin XLR port. If I’m forced to use a brick, I might as well power the camera with it, too.
Both the Marshall monitor and the Cineroid EVF has the same option, of being connected to the brick, so why bother with the LP-E6 or any other battery system?
It becomes pretty obvious that all the four devices can be powered by one brick, and that would be the most convenient option, as long as the budget doesn’t play spoilsport.
What about audio?
The Marrantz will provide phantom power to the shotgun mic, so that’s covered. The G3 can only take AA batteries, and is connected to the Marrantz via a 3.5mm jack. The recorder itself has a DC jack with a voltage rating different from every other component already on the brick.
For this reason, I decide that the audio solutions will have its own power. I’ll get 5 hours with AA batteries anyway, and I’m covered. I can always go to the nearest store and get more AA batteries if I’m in trouble.
For audio options, I decide to use rechargeable AA batteries. I’ll still carry a bunch of alkaline spares just in case.
Putting together the system
So, we’re set. The total power on the rig is 47.6 W, or about 50 Watts. With a 50 Wh brick I’ll get one hour. For 4 hours I’ll need a 200 Wh brick.
Oops. Anton Bauer makes a line of high capacity batteries called the Cine Series, but that’s overkill, not to mention huge for my particular rig. The best option I have is the HCX with 124 Wh. I’ll get 2 hours with it.
One way to improve this is to run the monitor on its own battery. I could use a BP-970G, which will give me 4 hours. The same battery will also power the C300 if necessary. If I go this route, what’s the improvement I get? Another hour, on average. Is that worth the trouble of juggling two battery systems?
Not for me. I’m already paying for the Anton Bauer, so why not stick to it?
So, 2 hours it is. To reliably run this system, I’ll need at least 6 Dionic HCX bricks (12 hours worth).
That’s about $3,500 at the time of this writing. To charge these bricks, I’ll need a dual charger, the Anton Bauer Dual 2722 Charger. It will also give me 70 Watts of supply when connected to the mains.
The compatible gold mount plate for the C300 is the Anton Bauer QRC-CA940:
To connect to the monitor, I use the free Marshall Power tap to XLR adapter. For the recorder, I opt for the Power tap to XLR adapter from Anton Bauer. The length depends on the rig, but usually I go for 3 feet (the maximum). This gives me the greatest flexibility if I want to place my monitor, recorder or EVF further away for some reason.
The Cineroid comes with a free D-tap to mini-XLR adapter so I don’t need to buy anything extra.
Here’s the final list:
- 6x Dionic HCX bricks – $3,500
- 1x Dual 2722 Charger – $1,200
- QRC-CA940 Gold Mount – $330
- 2x Power Tap to XLR adapters – $130
- 1x Power Tap to mini-XLR adapter – $75
I have two additional adapters just in case the ones provided by the manufacturer fails.
Total? $5,235, or about one-third the price of my camera body. Is it expensive? Of course. Is it worth it? You bet it is.
Let’s consider another possibility: What if we eliminate the Ki Pro Mini?
The Marshall monitor is compatible with a Canon BP-970G, which is 7,200 mAh at 7.2 V. This same battery can power the C300 for 6 hours almost, and only costs $145 per brick.
One battery at full charge will power both camera and monitor for 1.75 hours (1 hour and 45 minutes). That’s similar performance to the HCX! Not bad, Canon. What did I tell you about lower power draws being the future, eh?
So, I could buy 8 of these for only $1,160, and a couple of Pearstone Compact Chargers for $60. To power the Cineroid, I could use the same charger or the Dekcell Camcorder Battery Charger to use BP-911 batteries, since that mount comes for free with the EVF package.
I could put together a fully functional battery system without any cables for less than $1,500.
$1,500 or $5,000? You decide:
How much are you earning from your productions?
Are you changing rigs often?
Do you own many cameras and types of gear?
Are you often working under tough conditions with a minimal crew?
Are you comfortable juggling many batteries and keeping tabs on charging them?
Is luggage weight a concern? Do you have to trek for hours?
What do I use when I rent the C300? The Canon batteries of course. I don’t need the Anton Bauer setup for my workflow.
I hope this example has given you ideas on how to assemble the right battery system for your production.
Let’s get to the business end of this guide, shall we?