You can buy a power bank for a few dollars. And it can work. If you’re lucky.
If I need a power bank for my off-grid activities, then I turn to something more professional. V-shaped batteries.
Originally developed by Sony, V-mount has become a standard now found on all types of non-Sony equipment powering cameras, lighting, displays, microphones and other devices.
But there were a few drawbacks to the V-Stand. Specifically, they were big and heavy, and you needed a special charger to recharge them, which meant that unless you were a pro willing to drop a lot of cash, getting into them was prohibitively expensive. For example:
Evolution of V-shaped batteries
Over the past year, I’ve noticed that V-mount batteries have evolved into multi-purpose power banks that not only have the output power you’d expect from a V-mount battery, but also added USB-A and USB-C.
The addition of a USB-C port means you not only have a high-powered port, but also a way to quickly recharge the V-mount battery without needing a custom charger.
This not only makes them truly versatile, but also reduces the cost of using them.
Older V-mount batteries were also heavy and large, so you really don’t want to carry too many of them around.
Modern V-mount batteries change that.
SmallRig VB50 and VB99 Mini V-Batteries
Enter the SmallRig VB50 and VB99 mini V-mount batteries. They have 50Wh capacity/50W maximum power and 99Wh capacity/99W maximum power respectively.
There is also an upcoming VB155 with 155Wh/155W max power, but I haven’t had a chance to test that battery yet.
They’re called “mini” because they’re about 30% smaller than standard V-mount batteries, yet retain all the features professionals expect from a V-mount and come with extra features.
You can attach any V-mount plates and adapters.
There are 8V and 12V DC output jacks which have a wide range of applications when working with photo, video and audio equipment. There is a D-Tap output which again is used to power a whole range of devices (I use D-Tap to power my Sony A7IV mirrorless camera when used for video along with Atomos Ninja V external monitor).
There are also USB-A and USB-C ports. This USB-C port is super convenient not only for charging devices, but it’s also a quick and convenient way to charge the V-mount battery without the need for a dedicated charger.
There is an OLED display on the front that shows battery information. It’s not bright, but that’s by design because the last thing you want on video or photo sets is a light panel adding random lighting!
Why the SmallRig VB50/VB99 are great for the modern photographer and drone operator
There are a few features I like about these SmallRig V-mount batteries.
First, V-mount batteries are designed to deliver power through multiple outlets. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen a power bank that’s full of ports, but as soon as you try to use more than one, the power output becomes erratic.
Such things are simply useless.
These SmallRig V-mount batteries deliver the power when I need it. This is a top priority.
Then there is the build quality.
These batteries are robust and designed to be used by people who are not that careful with things. The exterior is flame-resistant polycarbonate that takes quite a bit of impact, and the ports are covered with rubber protectors to keep out dirt and dust (note, though, that they’re not waterproof). They have an operating temperature range of -10°C- 45°C (14°F – 113°F), giving them great outdoor flexibility.
Then there’s the fact that they do what they claim to do. I spend a lot of time making sure the manufacturers are honest.
There are no exaggerated powers and fictional powers here.
You get exactly what you pay for.
The “mini” nature of these batteries is also much appreciated. Modern drones and cameras need a lot of power, and batteries can become a large part of the load I carry.
I also like the attention to small details. There are screw threads built into the V-plate to offer more attachment flexibility, the rubber doors over the ports fit well and don’t feel like they’re going to break, and there are also holes for a strap to run through. pushed the battery.
It’s not cheap, but it’s worth the money
These batteries are not cheap – The SmallRig VB50 is $179while VB99 is $279 (VB155 will be $379). The VB50 and VB99 are currently available for pre-order and will be out soon, while the VB155 is slated for release in October.