A Bluffers Guide to Batteries


Mike Colyer TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online

The Christmas decorations are down; the family have all headed home – and the New Year’s festivities have drawn to a close. I put my hand up to it – I’m a little drained. As such, I figured I’d start the new year with a Bluffer’s Guide to Batteries. With the cold weather setting in, it can be a nightmare to pick the right disposable batteries for small kit – and maintain rechargeable batteries in larger items. This article will take an overview of which batteries will last longer under certain usage conditions – and how to achieve the cell’s maximum potential.

Firstly, let’s take a quick glance at disposable batteries, assuming your device is using AAA / AA / C / D / PP3 cells. Disposables are not always the first choice for use in the field as ongoing costs can become expensive – but there are two distinct advantages: ‘starting’ voltage and (arguably) roll off. Disposable batteries such as the aforementioned (with the exception of PP3) come charged with 1.5V of power, unlike their same-sized rechargeable counterparts which tend to (once you have charged them) start their lives at 1.2V.

Another factor is “roll off” – the way the voltage drops over time during use.

Alkaline cells tend to have a gradual roll off in voltage over time if used in a consistent fashion, which can be useful if your equipment can give hints the battery is running low. Rechargeable cells tend to hold a constant voltage longer (which in its own right is an advantage) – but tend to then drop below a useful voltage quicker than an alkaline cell.

Of course, certain equipment does not give the luxury of allowing the user to pick what battery to use and instead comes with a specialist rechargeable battery. Speaking generally, there a few very popular types that are used, be it; NiCd (Nickel Cadmium), Ni-MH (Nickel Metal Hydride), SLA / LA ((Sealed) Lead Acid) & Li-ion (Lithium Ion) to name but a few.

There are a few things to consider to ensure not only a long cycle time for each battery, but a long overall lifetime.

Firstly, if your battery is NiCd, NiMH or Lead Acid – it may suffer from the ‘Memory Effect’. This is when, if a battery is not fully depleted before charging, it may no longer be able to hold a full charge, thus meaning less functioning operational hours. As a general rule of thumb, each of the aforementioned cells should be completely flattened and then completed charged once every couple of months. The same is true for any device that has a battery gauge of some description (be that your laptop or even your iPhone!). If you want to keep that gauge accurate and reduce premature shut-offs (“Hey! You said I had 5% left!”) – then it is worth flattening and fully charging the device at least once every couple of months.

Lithium – Ion cells are particularly popular in cameras. Two notes here: If you won’t be using a battery for a long amount of time, don’t leave it on the shelf fully charged. The magic number here is around 40% charged, then charge it fully before full use. If you find yourself in a situation where a Li-Ion battery needs to be stored fully charged ready for use, the trick is to keep it cool (around 15C). If you are working in a hot climate – these batteries will start to ‘leak’ charge at a higher rate if stored at temperatures above 25C.

And with that – my closing tip: Batteries, like most middle-aged cameramen / women, don’t like sudden changes in temperature. If you are looking to get the longest life out of your battery (and cameraman / woman) – ensure that a constant environment is maintained for your cell. Ideally, this is around room temperature. Also ensure all ‘shocks’ are (i.e. leaving the warm of the truck for the cold of the football ground) are properly managed, providing insulation for the battery and maybe your camera staff if the budget permits.


Tags: iss129 | batteries | alkaline | ni-mh | li-ion | lithium | Mike Colyer
Contributing Author Mike Colyer

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • PAG Batteries at NAB 2014

    PAG Batteries at NAB 2014

  • New Imicro Range of Batteries and accessories from IDX at IBC 2019

    New Imicro Range of Batteries and accessories from IDX at IBC 2019

  • Bebob V-Mount Batteries at NAB 2019

    Bebob V-Mount Batteries at NAB 2019

  • PAG talk about flying with batteries at IBC 2014

    PAG talk about flying with batteries at IBC 2014

  • Blueshape Batteries at IBC 2013

    Blueshape Batteries at IBC 2013

  • IDX at IBC 2016

    IDX at IBC 2016

  • AntonBauer at BVE 2015

    AntonBauer at BVE 2015

  • KITPLUS rig setup at IBC 2014

    KITPLUS rig setup at IBC 2014

  • Polecam talk accessories on BroadcastShow LIVE 2013

    Polecam talk accessories on BroadcastShow LIVE 2013

  • Anton Bauer at NAB 2012

    Anton Bauer at NAB 2012

  • PAG at IBC2011

    PAG at IBC2011

  • Anton Bauer at IBC2011

    Anton Bauer at IBC2011


Articles
CVP Helps Productions Choose the Right Lens for the Job
Sam Measure CVP Technical Specialist, Sam Measure, on how the company’s free online Lens Coverage and Camera Comparison tool is giving something back to the filmmaking community.
Tags: iss141 | cvp | lens tool | arri | fuji | red | alexa lf | venuce | monstro | full frame | super 35 | hawks | vantage | david fincher | Sam Measure
Contributing Author Sam Measure Click to read or download PDF
Eye Contact in Documentaries
Sybil Ah-Mane Eye contact filming (where the interview subject speaks directly into the lens) is now more common in documentaries. But it hasn’t always been possible or acceptable for filmmakers to do. When I studied Screen Documentary in 1998, I was taught that the subject should look to the left or right of the screen. As an interviewer, I sat close to the camera so the person being filmed looked at me whilst talking. I encouraged them to ignore the camera and focus on me during our conversation.
Tags: iss141 | magic video box | direct to camera | shooting | Sybil Ah-Mane
Contributing Author Sybil Ah-Mane Click to read or download PDF
CLASS - Software Workflows
Bruce Devlin - new NAB is approaching. Apart from deciding on whether to come for a bike ride with myself and the KitPlus Team, you should also be thinking about what information you want to get from the vendors and the thought leaders that will stay relevant long enough be deployed.
Tags: iss141 | class | dpp | dpp tech leader | cots | smpte | nab2020 | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation - The chances of anything coming from Mars
Dick Hobbs - new We were much less worldly-wise in 1938, you may say. But the autumn of 2019 in the UK saw an election campaign which was marked – many would argue dominated – by fake news, by carefully placed stories which were not what they seemed to be. Politicians set the agenda, inventing facts where necessary.
Tags: iss141 | orson welles | cbs | fakeapp | fake news | ai | codec | ibc innovation | gblabs | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
A Focus on the Feels
Simon Jones

Founded in London in the early 70s, Densitron was – as many companies are in the beginning - a small, specialist provider of an emerging range of thoughtfully assembled display technology products.

But that was 45 years ago. Although still London-based, it is no longer accurate to refer to Densitron as ‘small’. Consistent growth through the decades - coupled with recently becoming part of Quixant, the global gaming and broadcast technology group - has seen Densitron expand as part of a much larger, publicly traded company with offices in Europe, Asia, and America comprised of more than 200 employees generating annual turnover in excess of $100m.

Tags: iss141 | denistron | quixant | ids | human-machine | Simon Jones
Contributing Author Simon Jones Click to read or download PDF