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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old August 1st, 2010, 01:38 PM   #1
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Need opinion on back-up batteries

I have a Canon GL2 it is three years old and has been through 20-25 weddings each of those years. I have the original battery (8 hour) that came with it. It occurred to me the other day that I really should have another battery on hand for the dreaded day that the original decides to no longer hold a charge.

The place I bought it no longer carries the GL2 but they do have a battery in stock for $159.00 Now I'm not in the market to buy a new camera set up but I am aware that I may be working with a dinosaur and will eventually need to upgrade...maybe another year?

Do you think I should get the battery (before it's gone) or do you think the GL2 is more likely to go on me first thereby making the battery purchase redundant?

I guess the real question is...which is more likely to die on me first the GL2 or the battery? lol!
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Old August 1st, 2010, 02:23 PM   #2
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You've covered weddings for three years with only one battery! You must have nerves of steel.
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Old August 1st, 2010, 03:05 PM   #3
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Ha! So I guess your vote would be to buy the battery!
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Old August 1st, 2010, 05:59 PM   #4
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Kelsey I am right there with you, but DVXs not the GL. Mine are as old as yours, but don't have the use yours do. Mine sat in a closet most of the first 2.5 years. The batteries are originals and are holding up so far just fine. Like you, thinking I should have a spare for each, like you, "just in case".

The Panny OEM are about the same price as what yours are, and no way am I dropping that for a spare pair. Because of the age of the DVXs, the knock offs are dirt cheap now as sellers unload them. Ebay has basically two different knock offs being sold by just about everyone. One has Japanese cells and can be had for a low of around $26, and one is "just dirt cheap who knows what they are" for as low as $14 delivered.

For my spares, I am going with knock offs. When the OEMs die, at that point I will know what life knock offs have, and make the decision on my main battery at that time.
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 03:36 AM   #5
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I only ever did this once but I was using batteries about 12 months old and filming the groom's speech ..all was going well and tape was rolling fine so I sneaked across the dance floor for some cutaways with the B-Camera and after the groom's speech was just about to finish, I put down the B-Cam and the main camera had already stopped!!! We lost half of his speech too!!

That should help you decide about how long to keep batteries?????? That was quite a while ago and ever since then I change batteries when they are about 50% used, put in a new battery and then re-charge the other right then and there!!!

Don't replace them..replace them TWICE at least 2 new ones per camera!!! so you have a spare!! and change them every year!!!

Chris
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 05:47 AM   #6
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Hey G'day Chip and Chris .. how about running into you two guys :) the 3 battery powered amigos. lol.

That's right Chris, losing a clients footage could cost you the client, a new OEM is cheaper.

After 18 months an Impact BP-970 replacement battery for my Canon A1/s is dying. It won't hold much charge and it's indication is all over the place.

This is the 2nd .. and last replacement, it's not worth it.
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 06:20 AM   #7
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Hi Allan

I've seen a few posts from you around here so I knew you were around...besides anyone with trustee status have been here quite a while. DV is my favorite forum and the obvious place to go if you need a quick answer!!

I was actually using a "generic" battery when the big mistake happened!! It was freshly charged unit which should have run for at least 3 times longer than the speeches...it didn't of course!! Then again buy a 2200mah lithium from China for $20 (including shipping!!!) and you should have alarm bells ringing???

Chip actually bought some AA rechargeables from China at a tiny price and then woefully told me that they died pretty quickly (I did warn him but wasn't heartless enough to send a "told you so" email!!!)

My HMC batteries give a time left on the display and are amazingly accurate too...I ran one to limits during a non-critical property shoot and it was still going strong with "5 minutes left"..My OEM Panny's are only 2450mah but they will run my cams for 115 minutes ...(and I've proved 110 minutes!!!)
Expensive but well worth the peace of mind!! By all means grab a few $20 units for emergencies but you do need a genuine OEM spare at least!!!

Chris
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 02:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
......Chip actually bought some AA rechargeables from China at a tiny price and then woefully told me that they died pretty quickly (I did warn him but wasn't heartless enough to send a "told you so" email!!!).......Chris
I can attest to the fact Chris DID NOT send me an "I told you so" email.

He WAITED until he could do it right here in front of GOD and everybody instead !!!!!! :-) :-) :-)

I am compelled now to give the Cheap Chinese AA Rechargeable story in order to restore my reputation of frugality !!!!!

I bought a 160 LED Cam light on Ebay for $51. delivered to Green Bay, WI. It takes various cam batteries or AAs. Reviews I have read about them, cam batteries are too weighty for the cheap hot shoe bracket and cause the light to flop around.

I researched Brand Name rechargeable AAs and found those will cost me between $3 and $4 a piece. The Brand Names are most often made in China. The light takes 6 to run. Common sense tells me I need at least 12, six and six backups.

I found a seller on Ebay from Hong Kong who sold me 12 cheap rechargeable AA batteries delivered to Green Bay, WI, halfway around the world, for 65 cents each. They are guaranteed, but if they fail I have to just throw them away because it will cost me more than 65 cents each for the postage to mail them back !!!!

After 30 minutes of continuous use of the light on full brightness, the batteries do run down to the point the light is not being beneficial. The lumen output from the diminished capacity is too low to make a positive difference. It takes another 30 minutes of this continual diminishing capacity to completely run the batteries out.

I have just under $60 invested in a light and cheap batteries, instead of $87 or $99 for the light and Brand Name batteries. As a side note, last Sat. night we used the light and it functioned fine for when we used it, on just the first set of cheap batteries.

The biggest difference between Chris, Allen and probably Kelsey and me is our shooting schedules and the demand on our gear. I don't shoot anywhere near as much as any of them. If that changes, as I told Chris, I can always upgrade to Brand Name, but for now "I am in the game" !!! Right now I need another light for the other DVX, so I will probably spend the extra money I didn't spend for the Brand Names plus some, on the light and some more cheap batteries !!!!

That's that, now on to battery failures. I too have had a couple on the last two shoots on my GS500s. One was an older cheapie generic at a manned cam and when the battery level showed it almost dead at 1.5 hours instead of 4, I changed it out, fired back up and was going again. The other was an older OEM that died on the C cam at 51 minutes instead of the almost 2 hours it should have been good for. I lost the final 10 minutes of cutaway footage and audio from that cam. From my experiences, I see age as the factor, not the manufacturer, as the biggest culprit of failure. BUT, I am not grinding on my batteries week in and week out either.
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 11:20 PM   #9
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I have to agree with Chip on the age of the batteries being a large part of the equation. Coming from the IT world, I've done a lot of reading on laptop batteries and to determine the mean time to failure for my clients so we can recommend what replacement laptop batts for the company to buy...

From my research, Litium batteries have a time limited life and begin to degrade from the time that they are manufactured. Meaning the battery is generally going to have the same life span wheter it is being used or if it is sitting on a shelf somewhere. This explains why most laptop batteries have a 12 month warranty from the date of manufacture, not from the date of purchase. I've seen many laptops where the battery is toast within 6 months, but the battery is out of warranty becuase Dell or HP let it sit on the shelf too long at the warehouse.

The second way I see for batteries to have a good long life or short painful one is how you treat them... they must be kept at the proper tempuatures and must be cycled (drained and re-charged) at regular intervals. Litium is an unstable battery and is sensitive to temp differences... wide temp differences can shorten battery life. (Side note on how unstable litium batteries are, about two or three years ago now... I cant remember, my memory is getting foggy on the subject :) one of the largest laptop battery factories burnt to the ground causing a battery shortage.... I went from paying $79 for a Dell battery to over $400 for the same battery)

So even with a limited life span, if taken care of, you will get a good long usage from your batteries but with a bit of abuse, they will not last as long.
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Old August 4th, 2010, 03:07 AM   #10
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Thanks Ralph. In the heat of battle it's hard to baby the batteries. I started out carrying the spares around in a small temp stable food container, wonder what happened to that.

At $326 a pop I'll have to start again.
Cheers.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 01:53 PM   #11
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Yeah, I think we are all guilty at one point or another of leaving our gear in a too hot or too cold car. Perhaps there is often no better solution, but good to know the consequences and to at least try to take precautions (such as with an insulated container for your batteries) I had never thought of that before... great idea.
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Old August 5th, 2010, 03:41 PM   #12
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When I used fullsized cameras I carried about 10 NP1s, then when I updated cameras I also went to Anton Bauer batteries. I carried 3 Hytron 100s/120s and then 4 Dionic90s. Now using the smaller cameras (some fullsize were mixed in) I can't leave the house with less than 5 970s in my 2 bags. 2 for my B cam and 3 for my A cam. While using these batteries I very rarely if ever have to use more 2 in my A cam and never more than 1 in my B cam. For the big cameras using the Hytons I would go thru 3 batteries at a wedding and with the Dionics 3 to 4. Forget the NP1s. :-)

All batteries will have a finite life and cells will go out and you'll never know it until it's too late. I've have about 4 Sony 970s lose a cell and that will absolutely cut your time in half or less. Even one of my Hytrons blew a cell as did one of my Dionics. It happens.

If you take the chance of going with less than 3 batteries (rotate use) I think you're living on the edge and must consider youself lucky nothing bad hads happened yet.

Remember there are only 2 kinds of videographers. Those that it has happened to and those that it will happen to. It can be anything from a camera going bonkers in the middle of a shot to batteries dying.

Some years ago in the middle of the post ceremony photo session my A cam (a PD170) went out. One of the chip's died (I could see the problem in the lcd) which was a known issue at the time. Luckily I was able to go to my other bag and grab my 150 and finish the job. Point is, you just never know and anything you can do to lessen the chance of something going wrong do it is a smart thing to do.
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Old August 6th, 2010, 05:19 PM   #13
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Update!

I took all of the advice here and now possess TWO GL2s (my original & a second hand I just purchased) and 4 batteries between them. Now hopefully my "lucky streak" continues :)
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Old August 6th, 2010, 05:53 PM   #14
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thats very risky to shoot weddings without backup batteries... haha

I used to have GL2 and now Xh-A1. I'm reselling these batteries and using them myself too. been using them for 4 years and still holding charge. i will never pay $100 to buy another canon battery.

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Old August 6th, 2010, 06:11 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Kelsey Emuss View Post
Update!

I took all of the advice here and now possess TWO GL2s (my original & a second hand I just purchased) and 4 batteries between them. Now hopefully my "lucky streak" continues :)
As long as two of those 4 batteries aren't the 65 cent Chinese AAs I was referring to, you probably have a shot at it continuing. :-)
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