When shooting on location, portable power is very important. Whether it’s recharging batteries in the middle of nowhere or directly powering cameras and other photography devices, you need power. Bringing a lot of extra batteries may be helpful, but sometimes you crave for a more effective power option because if you use all of them, you end up needing to charge all of them once you get home. Here are some of the portable power options to get if you’re a professional photographer:
Power options for camera
The camera is the main and most important gear for any photographer. Power and battery life is highly important, so here are your viable options:
If the locations are indoors, power options are straightforward. Camera manufacturers offer their own AC adapters so you can plug in your camera to the wall. Depending on the model of your camera, they either plug in straight to the side of the camera or connect to a power supply connector.
If you’re out shooting on locations, V-mount batteries last longer than in-camera batteries. It’s typically found on larger cinema cameras, but there are V-mount batteries compatible with your typical DSLR. V-mount batteries for larger cameras offer around 90Wh and can go up to 160Wh or more.
For ordinary DSLR cameras, V-mount batteries with D-tap socket are appropriate. The socket provides various voltages depending on what type of device you’re plugging into it. For most DSLRs, it’s 7.4 volts.
There are several, good V-mount batteries to choose from.
- IDX Endura Cue battery – 91 Wh, with D-tap output and lithium-ion battery
- PAGlink HC-PL150T Time Battery – 150 Wh, for Sony and Panasonic cameras
- Anton Bauer CINE 90 – 90 Wh, with D-tap output, easy-to-read LCD
- BlueShape Granite Mini – 95 Wh, two D-taps, Wi-Fi enabled
Here are some great D-tap cable choices:
- Alvin’s Cables Lanparte LP E6 Dummy Battery to D-Tap Cable
- GyroVu High Power (4.5A) D-Tap to Dummy Battery
- Alvin’s Cables Anton Bauer D-Tap to DMW-DCC12 DC Coupler Coiled Cable Dummy Battery Adapter
Sometimes you just need a quick charge for your batteries and even your V-mount battery.
- IndiPRO Micro-Series 98Wh V-Mount Li-Ion Battery Kit for Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K/4K with 15mm Rod, D-Tap Pro Battery Charger
- Tether Tools Case Relay Camera Power System – This can power up your cameras and other devices and is compatible with most Nikon, Canon, Sony and Panasonic cameras
- Anker PowerCore Speed 20000 – Promising a quick charge, this power bank can deliver the fastest possible charge to any USB device.
Power stations are gas-free generators that use larger, deep-cycle batteries to give you power for days. It doesn’t only charge cameras – it’s an all-around charger that’s why it’s called a power station. It can also provide energy for appliances, too. Because of the size and price, these are only practical for those staying at a place with no electricity or a base camp. It’s perfect for outdoor photographers who will shoot for long periods of time and doesn’t want to bring a lot of batteries on top of their other gear.
Power stations to be featured here are all from Goal Zero, and all these are generators that serve as a pure-sine wave inverter, providing clean power needed for running sensitive devices.
This generator offers 3075-watt hours in a lithium battery pack that is replaceable. The inverter feature of this power station is rated for 1500 watts continuous power and 3000-watt surge. It has AC inverter, USB, USB-C, USB-PD outputs, and 12 V ports.
This one provides 1425 Wh and has Wi-Fi connectivity so you can control it through your smartphone via the Yeti app. Like the Yeti 3000, this model is rated at 1500 watts continuous power and 3000-watt surge. It has AC inverter, USB, USB-C, USB-PD outputs, and 12 V ports.
The Yeti 1250 has 1250 Wh and can power up to 10 devices at a time. It offers a continuous 1200 watts power and 15000-watt surge. It’s chainable with other 100Ah lead-acid batteries for longer runtimes. It offers USB, AC, and 12 V ports, plus an Anderson power pole output.
If you’re trying to find new and efficient portable power kits, solar kits are a great option for those outdoor photographers. If you’re taking pictures in nature, having a solar power kit that can charge while you’re out in the sun can be a great investment.
Here are a couple of solar kits that work great as portable power stations:
This portable solar power kit comes with a 20 watt, 10 watts or 5-watt option, but this one comes in 10 watts. It comes with a solar panel, LED lighting strip and a carrying bag. This can take your camera power cord and plug it into an inverter, which is connected to the solar panel.
This portable kit comes with a 100 Wh power pack, 20-watt solar panel and Sherpa inverter. It has two smart USB ports for phones, 12 V ports for lights, a detachable AC inverter for DSLR cameras and an innovative port for laptops.
Power options for flash and lighting
A professional photographer doesn’t work with a camera alone. Lighting is a big factor when it comes to creating the perfect photos, so they either work with a shoe-mount, bracket-mount or studio flashes. These flashes also need a power source to produce enough light, especially when shooting in an outdoor location. Here are your options:
Cluster packs (For shoe mounts)
Cluster packs are the most basic option for external power for shoe-mount flashes. The external battery pack works with the flash unit’s internal batteries. This charges the capacitor and drives light output to ensure reliable flash operation.
This requires eight AA batteries and it’s weather-sealed. It’s compatible with Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX, Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX, Speedlites 580EX/EX II and 600EX-RT, and other models.
This battery pack operates on either four of our eight AA lithium, alkaline, or Ni-MH batteries. It’s compatible with Nikon SB-910, SB-900, and SB-5000 Speedlights flashes.
It uses eight AA batteries and is available in two versions: one compatible with Canon Speedlite and Nikon Speedlights.
This power pack needs a total of four to eight AA batteries and has a built-in thermal protection switch. It is compatible with Canon, Nikon or Sony.
This battery pack uses six AA batteries and is compatible with Sony external flashes such as HVL-F60M, HVL-F58AM, and HVL-F56AM.
Monolight battery packs
Photographers who utilize larger and more demanding studio strobes while shooting on location have often relied on gas-powered generators. But if you don’t want to deal with it, there are other power options for both AC/DC monolights and power pack systems.
Here are some great battery pack systems to choose from:
This has a hot-swap battery feature, wherein you can simply unclip the control panel unit from the depleted battery and then clip-on a fully charged battery. This can support up to two Bowens Gemini monolights. It can provide power of up to 3000 Ws, and up to750 shots on a single charge.
This supports the Genesis 300 B flash unit or moonlight. It has a removable 12V DC battery, AC car charger, and a DC car charger adapter. This has a swappable Ni-MH battery with low-voltage protection alarm.
It’s not just a power source. This light kit includes a 400Ws Quadra Hybrid RX Pack, a lead-gel battery, multi-voltage charger, sync cable, flash head cable and an ELS transmitter speed for remote triggering of the flash.
This battery pack is meant to be used with Flashpoint DG Series Monolights. It’s equipped with a swappable Ni-MH battery and offers 200 full power flashes from a 300 WS head.
This is a lightweight power pack with a swappable Li-Ion battery. It’s compatible with a TritonFlash strobe head and some Nikon and Canon flashes. It has dual sockets and is rated at 300 WS with a guide number of 185 to 750 full power flashes on a single charge.
Pure sine wave inverter
A pure sine wave inverter takes battery power and converts it into a household AC current. It acts as an Ac outlet away from home, so you can plug in an AC adapter, AC moonlight or power pack, or any device that doesn’t exceed the specified wattage limitations of the inverter. When using this type of inverter, there are limitations on how many watt seconds you can run off an inverter. This applies especially when you’re using more than one flash head or power pack. So, the higher the watt-seconds, or the greater the number of attached monolights, the fewer pops delivered per head.
A note of caution: Make sure you’ll use only a pure sine wave inverter – not a modified sine wave inverter or any other kind of inverter. Plugging in two powerful strobes or one flash with fast recycling in other inverters may damage the inverter in the long run, unless the inverter is specified to handle such heavy loads. Always make sure it’s a “pure sine wave inverter” and check if it will work properly with your monolights or power packs.
Here’s a couple of trusty pure sine wave inverters out there:
This has a Li-Ion battery and is lightweight and compact, and comes with two AC outlets and a USB port.
This has a sealed lead acid battery with tow AC outlets that work with up to 4 Profoto D1 monolights, 2 ProfotoComPactmonolights or one Profoto Acute 2 generator.