I have this problem when covered this year’s Ozine Fest 2018; it is also a problem that I’ve been having in the past when I was active covering events. I always run out of batteries. Back then I can still use the plugs in the venue to charge one of my cells then swap when mines are running out. I don’t have that luxury anymore now that I am running solo in covering events. Plus, who would take care of my stuff while I am gone?
That’s why I need to find a solution. Back a few years ago, I’ve heard of photographers using DC-couplers, where they have these fake batteries that are either hooked to the mains or some DC power source of some kind to power their cameras for long periods of time. Mainly for doing time-lapse videos. The problem then was that they use a particular type of battery bank then that provides more than the usual 5 volts to power their devices. DSLR’s voltage rating is around 7-9 volts estimates, and most power-banks are designed to charge smartphones.
But fortunately today, someone manages to solve that by making USB step up power converters that convert the USB 5V to the usual 7 – 9 volts. This makes your power bank a valid battery source for your DSLR camera. To put it in context, if you have a 20,000mAH battery bank, with some computation (here), you’ll get around 10,277mAH of power out of the 20K I mentioned. If your standard battery is rated at 1120mAH (I use a Canon D700), I now have a capacity equivalent of 9.17 cells. Since I do video, I get something around 1.3 hours of recording on a good day. I get almost 12 hours of continuous recording. Plenty enough to cover most events. The only problem I have to deal with in another time. Having the memory but no power is not.
I order this from Amazon since Lazada doesn’t have this specific kind of model. Since it came from China, I could just order it directly there using eBay. But I’m risking of having it lost through Customs or Post aside also from the very long wait time to get it here. I need it now so that I can cover an event this coming few weeks, so yeah. As for the item, it didn’t come with a box. It is just wrapped in an anti-static plastic and a paper with the instructions on how to use it. I order their E-8 model since my DSLR is using an E8 canon battery.
The most important part of the item is the USB step-up cable. If you look above, you can see that it requires either a 2-4A and it outputs a variety of voltages ranging from 7.4 – 9.0v. This means that you can just buy any DC-coupler batteries and you are set to go. I could not find the exact size of the socket they use to connect the coupler to the source, but I have confidence that they are all in the same size.
If you look at the cables, you will notice two USB-A adapters. This is set to provide a stable current for the converter to deliver the required power to the device. Typically, you only need one to plug the device into your power bank. But if experience any issues, like it randomly shuts down or fails to open. It could be that your source is not able to provide the power with your camera is needing. After all, not all power banks are created equal. Particularly those cheap ones you get at a random street vendor in the corner. To solve this, you either plug the other one into another socket in your power bank. Or get another power bank and connect the other USB-A port there to provide another power. But seriously, if you ever needed to do that, you may want to buy a more decent power bank. Those who are of quality can be purchased less than 1,000 pesos, and they’re of quality.
Now that we are done with the tour of the device let me show you how to use it. It is pretty simple. Just make sure your power bank (my power bank as being used, so I use the mains for the picture) is of quality. Connect the step-up convert to the DC-coupler. Insert the dumb batter into the camera, align the cable to the hole at the side of the camera (maybe different depending on your model), then power it on. To your camera, it is just another battery. But in actual it is ten batteries compact in one. I have around 9000 pesos worth of E-8 batteries with only at the cost of one (my battery pack around 800 pesos). If that’s not a steal, I don’t know that is.
Now, of course, this setup has some small caveats. Mainly the having a cable strapped to a massive battery. Fortunately, the cable is long enough around a meter and a half that you can store the power cell in your sling bag or your shirt pocket if you have one. If you got that solved, then you are set to go.
To disclose, I have not used this product extensively. I did a few tests to make sure it works, and it sure did. My actual use of it will be in the first week of June at an event. I will report back on later to tell you what I think about it. I’ll be recording a lot of videos there, so I hope it gets there.
Author Note: I have not bought the product on eBay, so I can not attest to the reliability of the shipment nor quality of the product. I just put it there for anyone wanted to buy directly from China.