Anton/Bauer Dionic HCX
With all the accessories you may need to operate from your camera's power source, higher capacity batteries are ideal, particularly if they also comply with air travel regulations. Anton/Bauer's new Dionic HCX lithium-ion batteries have enough capacity to power a typical camcorder and small lighting fixture for nearly four hours.
At a glance, the HCX batteries look like slightly pudgy Dionic 90s. However, the Dionic HCXs use military-grade power cells which can handle sudden high current draws, plus a sustained 10 Amp draw as would be needed for camera operation, lighting, monitors, wireless receivers and the like. At 2.4 pounds, the HCX weighs only slightly more than the popular 2-pound Dionic 90. The 120 Watt Dionic HCX improves on the 90's capacity by at least 33 percent, impressive for such a compact (4x5.5x3-inch) battery.
The HCX also features a "RealTime fuel gauge" that detects and calculates the battery's projected runtime, based on the current load level. This factors in with the total sustained load created by the camera and accessories, and is expressed in hours and minutes (15 minute intervals) on an LCD readout.
A special HCX feature also stretches the battery's capacity if it should go unused for a time. A motion detection sensor detects lack of battery movement, and puts the HCX into a "deep sleep" mode if it's been idle for a week or more. In this state, the self-discharge rate drops to virtually zero. Thus, if not moved, the capacity should remain where it was after the last use. All that's needed for a wakeup call is some physical movement of the battery.
My sample Dionic HCX arrived two-thirds charged and as part of this evaluation, I decided to wait a few weeks before trying it out. Sure enough, it kept its arrival charge level.
Before I put it to the test, I decided to top off the charge to 100 percent with Anton's Tandem 70 charger.
For this review, I used the HCX to power a Canon XL H1 pro 7.2 Volt camcorder, using Anton/Bauer's FGM-C Flex Gold Mount Canon adapter/inverter to drop the battery's 14.4 Volt output to 7.2. Unfortunately, there was no simple way to secure the FGM-C directly to a Canon camera, so I placed it and the HCX into a small pouch which I strapped to my waist and fed power via Zip cord. However, this constrained my mobility and forced me to rely on the onboard camera battery whenever I needed to move out in a hurry. Either some methodology for mounting the adapter and battery directly on the XL H1 or a longer Zip cord would have been a better way to go.
However, the payoff for this slight operational inconvenience was in at last having enough battery capacity to be liberated from "power paranoia," that chronic obsession associated with always having to conserve battery power to ensure it's enough to last the duration of the shoot. With a single Dionic HCX, I had 120 Watt/hours to run a camera that draws less than 10 Watts. According to the Anton/Bauer website, the HCX can power the XLH1 for more than 13 hours (which exceeds the maximum fuel gauge display by four hours and is quite sufficient for a long day's shoot).
This really liberated me, allowing me to keep the XL H1 in standby mode, and ready to shoot at all times, as opposed to the "must get" shots that I was limited to previously. As a result, I was able to get many shots that I would have missed while waiting for the camera to power up from scratch.
I soon discovered that a fully-charged HCX could more than sustain me for two full days of shooting without any recharging. In fact, I typically ended a shooting day with the fuel gauge indicating six to seven hours of capacity remaining. If I'd operated a camera light from the same HCX, the depletion rate would have been greater, but still not enough to fully deplete it within a day's shooting. The HCX's fuel gauge meant that I always knew exactly how much charge was left "in the tank" at any given stage of a day's shoot. Had my power consumption been much greater, this information would have proved invaluable. If I had run into a recharge situation, a regular 7.2 Volt camcorder battery would have provided enough shooting time to let me recharge the HCX.
Anton Bauer's new Dionic HCX battery combines high capacity with compactness and integrates easily into the Anton/Bauer product line. It delivers substantially more operating time than their popular Dionic 90 and the "sleep mode" can extend the battery's reserve capacity for months, leaving it ready to handle loads whenever you need it for any application involving a broadcast camera or a DSLR.
Carl Mrozek operates Eagle Eye Media, based in Buffalo, N.Y., which specializes in wildlife and outdoor subjects. His work regularly appears on the Discovery Channel, The Weather Channel, CBS, PBS and other networks. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.