|A Creative COW Product Review
New York, USA
©Copyright 2004 Jim Harvey and Creativecow.net. All Rights Reserved
In this article, CreativeCOW.net contributing editor Jim Harvey reviews the Switronix Pro-X Battery System and with great enthusiasm reveals, "These are awesome batteries! Short of a lens, the battery system on our cameras is probably the single biggest expense that we have. With professional battery systems costing a couple of thousand dollars we need to be able to maximize our run time while minimizing our cash outlay... For the past year or so, I have been using a battery that I am absolutely sold on. Not to be too anthropomorphic, but I'd venture to say that I 'LOVE' these batteries. They are made by a company called SWITRONIX.
Switronix Pro-X Battery System
Shooting with professional cameras is a lot more complicated than we think, especially if we've been doing it for any length of time. We tend to take for granted all the little odds and ends that we have to carry along with us simply to insure that our cameras will work when we need them to. Cables, Filters, Matte Boxes, On camera lights, off camera lights, Tripods, Batteries...Oh did I say batteries? Yes, the single most important thing that we need to have in our kit is our batteries (and charger/s). Without power, all the bells and whistles amount to excess baggage. If the camera won't turn on or goes dead in the middle of a shoot, nothing else much matters.
Short of a lens, the battery system on our cameras is probably the single biggest expense that we have. With professional battery systems costing a couple of thousand dollars we need to be able to maximize our run time while minimizing our cash outlay. The brick style battery that we all know is really the only option that we have short of plugging the camera into the wall (which for most of us isn't an option).
Once we make our battery investment, it becomes clear to us that we need a way to monitor our battery reserve while in the process of shooting. To this end, the manufacturers have come up with all sorts of little ideas to help us figure out how long the battery hanging on the back of our camera is going to last. Our cameras have in viewfinder voltage readouts, and we can set our alarms to warn us when we are getting dangerously low on power. The batteries themselves have LED power lights that light up sequentially to show us the power level of the brick, 'fuel gauges' on the battery attempt to let us in on the electron drain that's occurring inside the brick. All of this is well and good, but it all somehow falls a little short in actual practice.
I've seen camera displays that tell you you're fully charged blink out suddenly when the battery shuts down due to being depleted, no warning, just :::BLINK::: and out. I've had LED bars tell me that I've got a full charge and have the battery power the camera for 15 minutes before 'going dark'. All of us at one time or another have experienced this and because of that, we all tend to carry spares with us just so we don't get caught in a 'powerless' situation.
I've used every brand name battery you can buy over the years. Some are industry standard that you'll see on the back of almost every professional camera in the field, some have been no names when I was struggling to put a kit together, and most of them performed either 'good enough' or 'just fine' except for those moments that I just described.
For the past year or so, I have been using a battery that I am absolutely sold on. Not to be too anthropomorphic, but I'd venture to say that I 'LOVE' these batteries. They are made by a company called SWITRONIX and are some of the most advanced power sources that you can buy today. They are simply the best batteries that I've ever used. The run times are exceptional (they offer battery capacities from 90W to 130W). The capacity notwithstanding, the best and most innovative thing about these batteries is their Intellicom display.
Pro-X 90w Intellicom Battery
Not satisfied to simply put a bar meter, LED display or fuel gauge on their battery, SWITRONIX has incorporated a microprocessor into each battery that offers the operator a full range of battery function available to them at all times.
The Intellicom display shows Normal Run time in a backlit LCD display that is visible in any light. The operator can view Normal run time, Remaining Run time and remaining charge time in hours and minutes. The normal run time is calculated based on a default 30W draw. The remaining run time display is calculated from the actual draw of the camera sampled at 5 second intervals. The remaining charge time is calculated when connected to the smart charger that SWITRONIX makes for their batteries.
In the viewfinder, the display shows remaining capacity as a percentage in the lower right corner of compatible cameras. Most new 12v cameras are compatible; JVC 5000, PAN 200, All new Sony DSRs, etc. (JVC 500 Doesn't.) You can tell by removing the V-mount or AB plate, and behind you will find the standard AMP DC connector. If a camera has a second smaller 2-pin connector, than it supports the data passthrough.
When charging, the runtime display will vary due to the pulsing properties of the charger itself. When the battery is on the camera, however, the display is rock solid. The accuracy of the display is right on the money. In the field I have never had to guess how much time I have left on any particular brick. The display tells me how many hours and minutes I have until empty, and it's right on the money.
The batteries store vital information pertaining to charge cycles, voltage, temperature, chemistry type, serial number, date of manufacture and current draw in the microprocessor and this information can be accessed at any time when the battery is on the charger. The nice thing about the chargers are that they are built upon VERSAchem multichemistry charging technology, so they are fully compatible with the most widely used battery chemistries. All the PRO-X chargers will charge multiple batteries simultaneously (which, if you've ever used a sequential charger, you'll understand how important simultaneous charging really is). They continuously communicate with the battery in order to provide the optimal charging rate for the particular chemistry.
Pro-X Dual Charger System w/Camera Power Supply (4 bay charger also available)
The chargers also do double duty as a camera power supply, so if you are in an area where you can plug in, you can power the camera directly from the charger.
The batteries are available in standard V type mount as well as the Gold mount. A great feature is the case material that is High Impact Plastic that feels as if it is a rubberized case. Even in extremely cold weather, this case is non slip and impact resistant.
Switronix also has a new V-mount plate with a 7.2v adapter and pt plug so you can run a light and PD-170 with a 90wh brick battery (it should be up on their website soon along with all other new V-mount adapters and gadgets).
Pro-X GP-TS Dual Mount Adapter mounts 2 batteries for extended run times.
The nice part of all this is the price. The 90W package (2 batteries and a 2 bay digital charger) is about $1500.00, while the killer 130W package (2 batteries and a 2 bay digital charger) runs about $1700.00. To give you a good idea of the run times, I've used the 90W battery on a JVC DV5000 to shoot an entire day at the Javits Center in Manhattan. 3 hours of tape with 5 1/2 hours of intermittent use on one battery! Using a Sachtler Reporter with a 35W lamp continuously would give almost 2 hours run time! THAT'S Power to spare! SWITRONIX also has the best warranty in the business at 1 1/2 years (on Lithium batteries), and 3 years on the chargers.
For More Information visit www.switronix.com
Or Phone: 1-800-613-7948
©Copyright 2004 Jim Harvey | Creative Cow
All Rights Reserved