Anton/Bauer has been supplying DC power to cameras and other devices since the early 1970s. My first experience with their batteries was in the late 70s and I’ve always depended on their name and high-quality products. Their new line of batteries, the Anton/ Bauer Digital Battery Series is keeping that reputation alive with lithium ion technology being offered in a new package. This series is available in Gold and V-Mount, to fit a large number of cameras now in use.
The Anton/Bauer Digital Battery in use on a shoot We needed a dependable portable power source for our Blackmagic Design Production Camera 4K, and contacted Anton/Bauer about evaluating their Digital Battery line. Our testing proved their batteries and the Blackmagic camera to be a winning combination, as Anton/Bauer’s two-and-a-half pound G90 model really doesn’t add much weight to the relatively lightweight camera, yet as our tests showed, it provides plenty of power to keep the camera happy.
The Anton/Bauer Gold Mount series includes the G90, the G150, and the G190 (the number directly after the G signifies approximately the number of Watt hours the battery can deliver (the G90 is rated at 89 Wh; the G150, 156 Wh, and the G190, 194 Wh). The sleeker design of the Digital line is radically different from the older, square bricks, and includes an LCD screen on one side of the case that shows the battery’s current state of charge. The opposite side of the battery contains a covered port for a two-pin connection, and the back sports the usual three-mounting pins for the camera’s plate.
Anton/Bauer boasts that their Digital Series of batteries contains a “proprietary digital filter” that enables longer use of the battery and allows it to deliver more charge cycles. Lithium ion technology allows periodic charging and discharging without battery “memory” effects and to deliver a more sustained flow of power to the load.
The LCD screen incorporated into these “smarter” batteries uses the display to indicate a percentage of capacity remaining when not connected to a camera, and the display shows run time remaining in hours and minutes once the unit is placed under load.
There are several chargers available from Anton/Bauer that can charge two or four batteries simultaneously. We were supplied with the Quad 2702 which can accommodate two of the Digital 90 batteries we tested and bring them to full charge in approximately three hours. This high tech charger displays and tests the parameters of each battery, with an indication of a fully charged battery delivered to the user via an LED indicator—it goes from red to green when the charging process is completed. And if all this were not enough, Anton/ Bauer batteries come with a two-year or 1,000 charging cycle warranty.
The process of selecting the appropriate battery for your own particular application has also been streamlined. It’s simply a matter of going to the company’s battery product information website at http://video.antonbauer.com/howtochoose. There you will be asked about the type and model of the camera, monitor or VCR you’ll be using. The website will then provide information on your item’s power consumption; the name of the mounting bracket needed, approximate battery run time you can expect (depending on the battery selected), as well as any recommendation about using a particular product.
I, like a lot of battery users, didn’t really think that battery technology had changed all that much over the years since I started shooting with a battery-powered portable video camera, but it really has, and for the better. If you were a user of the older nickel cadmium (NiCad) technology batteries as I once was, you found out fairly soon that those batteries had a “memory” and would lose operating capacity over time if they were not fully discharged before recharging took place. It’s a pleasure to work with modern batteries— such as the Anton/Bauer Digital 90 lithium ion model—which are immune to that particular malady.
For my testing, I received two new batteries from Anton/Bauer and as indicated on the display, both carried a 64-percent level of charge. They were immediately placed on the charger and in less than an hour, indicators on both batteries were reading a 100-percent charge.
Mounting a Digital 90 on the Blackmagic camera we were using was a bit awkward, as I found that there was no place to mount the bracket on the camera. The workaround was to attach the battery to its Gold Mount camera plate and then plug the DC adapter cable into the side of the camera. Luckily, the cable was long enough to allow placing the battery next to the tripod. (I’m going to look for a camera-mounting rail that will accommodate this battery and other attachments to make things easier when using the camera.)
I found that the Anton/Bauer Digital 90 was much more “aerodynamically” designed and lightweight than most of the older batteries I’m familiar with. I also took an informal poll among several older, more mature users in my group here at the school and found that they also favored the new look and the battery’s weight distribution.
After establishing a power connection between the Digital 90 and our Blackmagic Design Production Camera 4K, the LCD display changed from showing a percentage of charge display to run time— in this case it indicated that three hours and 52 minutes of operation were remaining. When the camera was turned on and its load sensed, the reading dropped to three hours and 10 minutes.
These batteries tested were brand new and after I connected one of them, I used the camera for three solid hours of shooting and playing back footage. And after the three hours of fairly steady use, the LCD indicator showed 15 minutes of run time left—12 percent of full capacity when the battery was disconnected.
In this first test, the battery’s display system was very accurate in computing run time remaining. (The battery indicator on the camera showed 50 percent of the battery charge remaining throughout the shoot, but I believe that indicator may only be displaying status of the camera’s internal battery. Looking at our external battery’s readings on the LCD screen was much faster, and there was never a question as to how much run time remainded.)
The charge time for the Digital 90 batteries is listed as three hours. As only one of our batteries was drained during the shoot, it resumed its 100 percent of charge reading in slightly over two hours after being placed on the charger—again, very close to Anton/Bauer’s estimate.
I don’t see that there’s any real downside associated with these batteries. Sure, you can purchase less-expensive units, but you are not getting Anton/Bauer’s name, dependability and level of support. As these batteries come with a two-year or 1,000 charge/discharge cycle warranty, I believe that they will power gear for a long, long time. Also, sometimes with inexpensive batteries, safety isn’t foremost. Anton/Bauer batteries are designed with safety in mind, so you can handle them with confidence. Further, one of the greatest advancements with these Digital batteries is that older Anton/Bauer chargers may be used to charge them; in our testing we used an Anton/Bauer Nicad charger to quickly charge the new units.
If you’re not convinced about the advantages of the space-age lithium ion technology associated with these batteries, then their very accurate LCD readout should be enough to win you over.
Chuck Gloman is an associate professor and chair of the TV/film department at DeSales University. He may be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anywhere battery power is required.
A display that shows percentage of power available/operating time remaining, mounts available for most all devices, a charger that handles multiple batteries
(All MSRP) Gold Mount Digital G90 Battery, $379; QRC-BMD Gold Mount camera plate, $235; Dual Performance charger, $900
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Chuck Gloman is Associate Professor with the TV/Film Department at DeSales University.