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Old March 30th, 2011, 11:25 AM   #1
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Recharging 5D batteries in remote areas.

Hi all,

I may have an assignment coming up in April which will require me to spend several days filming in a remote forest regions just north of the equator. Has anyone had any success with solar charging devices when recharging Canon 5D batteries that they would care to share?

I expect to be away from power sources for about 5 days and have 6 batteries at the moment. I may get more. I will be travelling with translator but will need to travel light as I'll be carrying rations and sleeping gear too. I was thinking about one of those roll-out solar mats you sometimes see with camping gear but am not sure they will do.

Will also need a reliable, light-weight and energy-efficient GPS locator too.

Cheers,

Jus.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 04:22 PM   #2
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Re: Recharging 5D batteries in remote areas.

The Solar mat will help if you have plenty of sunshine. The soft-solar-mat can be draped over your rucksack while trekking. The mini-solar hand units are OK for emergency. (I prefer the bigger case-type solar units which fold closed, and open up like a large briefcase when charging from the sun, but are too bulky for carrying long journeys).
I also use the extra battery grip; which fits two Canon lithium batteries, plus I carry plenty of extras. The plastic AA battery insert for the grip is very useful for a backup. Use AA Lithiums in the battery insert, because they are both lighter and last a lot longer than any other type of AA battery (costs more but worth it if you are travelling light). AA batteries are also easier to buy in remote villages compared to trying to locate a Canon battery.
I also have adapters so that I can charge from a vehicle cig-lighter connection just in case I'm able to access a car but not a wall connection. I also carry a manual winding device which converts energy as you wind a handle to charge the battteries of phones or other batteries, but is only worthwhile as a last resort when all your batteries are dead and it is pouring down with rain or night-time, when of course the Solar units are innactive.
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Old March 31st, 2011, 12:50 AM   #3
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Re: Recharging 5D batteries in remote areas.

Not from the OP but thanks Tony that was an excellent and very comprehensive response.
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Old March 31st, 2011, 11:07 AM   #4
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Re: Recharging 5D batteries in remote areas.

Hi Tony,

Thanks for the advice. There should be plenty of sunshine - great for recharging, less so for hiking for days with film kit, tent and gear. I have thought about using the hand grip and your point is well taken about availability though I am told I really will be going into a forest for days on end. It occurs to me that AA batteries may be easier to charge, and i have some of those around but perhaps that's just fanciful thinking. My concern with rechargeable AA batteries is that often the voltage provision usually slopes off and is not as 'stiff' and near nominal voltage points as a Procell, meaning that operation can be uncertain well before the battery indicates that it is spent. For an H4N this might not be an issue but for a 5D, this may cause problems. I'd better experiment and find out. I have car adapters as part of my Litepanels kit which may suit - must check.

I get a car and protection/oversight to the 'border' and then I'm on my own on foot for several days with just a translator so I will need to carry everything I need.

Thanks.
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Old March 31st, 2011, 12:47 PM   #5
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Re: Recharging 5D batteries in remote areas.

Best bet is to buy batteries. Solar chargers are slow, and you become pre-occupied on charging all the time when you should focus on your project. Batteries are the lightest option too.

I usually take 10-12 with me, and have film some high altitude climbs where I have been away from power from 5-7 days.
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Old March 31st, 2011, 04:07 PM   #6
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Re: Recharging 5D batteries in remote areas.

I did not mean rechargeable AA batteries, but normal Lithium AA non-rechargeable batteries.

Regarding Michael's advice of only taking 10-12 AA batteries for 7-days & nights of filming...this would never be enough for my filming expeditions into wild locations! :)

Regarding Solar chargers, these are mainly for back-up when your batteries are running low and not as the main source of energy from day one (Your pre-charged extra Canon Lithium packs and AA battteries will be your main source over the first few days, and the depleted batteries are re-charged during that period, so there is no need to wait around for batteries to be charged and you always have freshly charged batteries in your pack at the start of each day).
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Old March 31st, 2011, 06:02 PM   #7
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Re: Recharging 5D batteries in remote areas.

I can pretty much shoot about 2 hours of recorded footage, and about 2-3 hour of running time-lapse on two batteries a day. I go into conservation mode, turning the camera off once I've stopped with my shots. I also tend also to think my shots out more when I away from power, and less run and gun. I can see where you need to be ready and rolling all the time not to miss the action. Amazing carp pictures BTW. I often film either African wildlife documentaries or remote erupting volcanos. I think on average, something that takes 7 days, I shoot mainly on five days and as I'm hiking out I do limited work over the other two.

I've never used the AA before. Do you get long life from them?
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Old March 31st, 2011, 06:03 PM   #8
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Re: Recharging 5D batteries in remote areas.

OH, sorry I was talking 10-12 canon original batteries for 5d! Newer batteries in conservative mode can last about 3-4 hours.
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Old April 1st, 2011, 06:46 AM   #9
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Re: Recharging 5D batteries in remote areas.

Thanks all - it's all moot now as NGO says it's to dangerous to go in given developments in the recent 24 hours (Côte d'Ivoire/Liberia border). Sitreps I was getting looked, how can we say, a little 'lively'. I hope to be able to do the gig if things calm down a little. Looks like there is a final push to move Gbagbo out and away from the levers of power but anything could happen at this point. Anything I can do to help some of those displaced children get their story out would be an honour to capture and convey.

Getting a feel for battery use is a tricky one, not least because climate conditions and temperature all have an impact on battery performance. Always hard to judge. On thinking about it I'm not keen on taking lots of single use cells if I can possibly avoid it and would prefer to invest in a more expensive, more capable flexible panel if possible both for use now and in the future. But if they don't get the job done, I guess that would be moot too. The ones I had in mind are made by Brunton.

Justin.
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Last edited by Justin Benn; April 1st, 2011 at 06:49 AM. Reason: I made a mistake. So I corrected it!
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Old April 4th, 2011, 01:18 PM   #10
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Re: Recharging 5D batteries in remote areas.

Thanks all!
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Old April 5th, 2011, 08:40 PM   #11
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Re: Recharging 5D batteries in remote areas.

Just saw this thread. On another about someone shooting on an Africa trip I posted this...

I was just at Costco (of all places) and they were having one of their roadshows and there was a display of solar charging technology by a company called GoalZero (GOALZERO.com) and they had one of the more impressive arrays of solar battery charging technology I've seen lately. Prices ranged from below $50 up to larger "run the camp" solutions at around $1000 with tiered solutions in between.

I liked the fact that their warrantees were in the range of 5-7 YEARS - a measure of comfort in the rush of new technology.

May be worth checking out.
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