Shooting a roundhouse in deepest, darkest Wales with a SmallRig mini V-mount battery powering my gear

Shooting a roundhouse in deepest, darkest Wales with a SmallRig mini V-mount battery powering my gear

ZDNET/Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

You can buy a power bank for a few dollars. And it can work. If you’re lucky.

You can then buy a decent power bank from companies like Anchor or Zendure and get a product that will cost you more money but you know will work, work well and give you years of service.

If I need a power bank for my off-grid activities, then I turn to something more professional. V-shaped batteries.

They are rechargeable batteries that have a specific mount for connecting to photographic and video equipment.

The name comes from the shape of the locking plate used to secure this battery to devices or racks. It is V-shaped.

The "V-shaped assembly" which gives V-mount batteries their name

“V-mount” which gives the name to V-mount batteries

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

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.

Well, many pros started using the V-mount because something they owned needed it. It was a reliable way to power devices when no mains power was available.

Nowadays, V-mount is chosen by photographers and videographers as a way to power their cameras, monitors and other devices. One V-mount battery can power multiple devices, so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of multiple batteries, replacing them when they run out, and keeping them all charged. You only have one battery to take care of.

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.

SmallRig V-plate

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

SmallRig V-plate attached to the battery

SmallRig V-plate attached to the battery

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

SmallRig mini V-clamp

SmallRig mini V-clamp

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

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).

D-Tap port

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

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.

Lots of ports

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

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!

The SmallRig VB99's OLED display offers a good overview of what's going on

The SmallRig VB99’s OLED display offers a good overview of what’s going on.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

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.

SmallRig VB99 Mini V-mount Battery Specifications

SmallRig VB99 Mini V-mount Battery Specifications

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

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.

Nice touches.

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.

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