Red Epic Dragon and Pag PL96e Battery
The Red Epic Dragon and Angenieux zoom taking a break from shooting. Powered by the Pag PL96e

Different cameras are often argued over which is 'the best'. No matter which camera systems you like or dislike, they all require one thing to function: batteries. So which battery is best?

UPDATE: This post is no longer updated and is now out of date; some of the data in the tables are no longer accurate. I now have a dedicated page here that I can continually update and add more batteries to. I have also conducted a battery test to see how they perform in the real world.

Whilst perhaps not quite as alluring as a fancy new lens, batteries are an essential part of any camera system and as such, should be given just as much rigour, research and investigation into which battery is going to be most suitable prior to purchase. In this article I'll be comparing V-Mount (sometimes called V-Lock) batteries from some of the leading brands.

Many would claim that Anton Bauer's own mount (AB, Gold or Stud mount) is superior from a mechanical perspective, however outside of the US at least, the V-Mount design dominates the market and it is therefore far easier to find V-Mount batteries, plates and accessories in Europe and Asia, hence the focus on V-Mount batteries here. Many (though not all) of the batteries listed below are available in AB-Mount however and so many of the same conclusions can be drawn.

With the advent of many smaller form factor cinema cameras in the last few years such as the Arri Alexa Mini, the RED DSMC2 ecosystem (Weapon, Epic-W, Scarlet-W and Raven) and the Sony F5/F55, battery manufacturers have responded by producing shorter batteries, matching the height of the camera bodies they're mounted to for a more streamlined profile and ease of use. I'll be focusing on these batteries particularly for this comparison; traditional V-Mount batteries are much taller and incidentally, often have a much lower maximum discharge current typically suited for broadcast and ENG work. The batteries below are designed for cinema cameras - not just in shape, but they're also designed to power lots of accessories such as monitors, wireless follow focus units and wireless video transmitters simultaneously. So they're smaller and more powerful... what's the catch? They're more expensive!

To objectively compare the different offerings, I've calculated the Wh per GBP, kilogram and centimetre cubed. These rows are in yellow. This makes it easy to see which batteries have the highest capacity for their price, weight and size - the higher the number, the better. I've highlighted the best scoring value in orange. Note that the price is the going rate at the time of writing (and is subject to change), and the dimensions may or may not include any protrusions, depending on how the manufacturers decided to measure them and therefore the dimensions are simply indicative of the space they might occupy and not the exact volume.

I'll first compare flight-safe V-Mount batteries. These are batteries with a capacity less than 100 watt hours (Wh) and an unlimited number can be taken on flights. They're from left to right in no particular order.

Flight safe batteries
  IDX Blueshape Pag CoreSWX Anton Bauer RED
  IPL 98 Granite Mini 95 PL96T Hypercore Mini 9 Cine 90 VM Redvolt V
Capacity (Wh) 95 95 96 98 90 43
Maximum discharge current (A) 10 12 8 12 12  
Weight (kg) 0.73 0.87 0.73 0.64 1.04 0.37
Height (cm) 11.8 11.6 13.3 11.81 11.86 10.9
Width (cm) 8.8 9.5 8.4 8.99 9.75 9.0
Depth (cm) 7.0 5.8 5.0 4.83 10.19 3.0
Price ex VAT (£)   270 308.33 307.01 310 196.67
Wh per £   0.35 0.31 0.32 0.29 0.22
Wh per kg 130 109 132 153 87 116
Wh per cm3 0.13 0.15 0.17 0.19 0.08 0.15
D-Tap 2 2 0 1 1 0
USB 1 0 0 1 0 0
Stackable Yes No Yes No No No
Fuel Gauge LEDs LEDs Numeric display LCD screen & LEDs Numeric display LEDs
Chargeable via D-Tap Yes Yes No Yes No No
Notes/
Additional features
LED light for mounting
14A max draw when stacked
Pre-release specs
Waterproof (IP54)
Shockproof
Wifi enabled
12A max draw when stacked     Price is 3 pack divided by 3

I was surprised at some of the findings, what do you make of them? How does your favourite brand stack up against your expectations and its competitors?! Many of these flight-safe batteries have larger capacity counterparts which often are only slightly bigger, and in some cases are exactly the same size, so I thought it would be just as eye opening to compare the ~150Wh V-Mount batteries available.

Large capacity batteries
  IDX Blueshape Pag CoreSWX Anton Bauer RED
  IPL 150 Granite Mini 140 PL150T Hypercore 150 Cine 150 VM Red Brick
Capacity (Wh) 143 143 150 150 150 153
Maximum discharge current (A) 14 12 10 10 12  
Weight (kg) 0.95 0.89 0.77 1.09 1.25 1.04
Height (cm) 11.8 11.6 13.3 14.91 11.86 16.6
Width (cm) 8.8 9.5 8.4 9.65 9.75 9.0
Depth (cm) 8.5 5.8 5.0 6.2 10.19 5.2
Price ex VAT (£)   396 388 429.81 410 395
Wh per £   0.36 0.39 0.35 0.37 0.39
Wh per kg 151 161 195 138 120 147
Wh per cm3 0.16 0.22 0.27 0.17 0.13 0.20
D-Tap 2 2 0 1 1 0
USB 1 0 0 1 0 0
Stackable Yes No Yes No No No
Fuel Gauge LEDs LEDs Numeric display LCD screen & LEDs Numeric display LEDs
Chargeable via D-Tap Yes Yes No Yes No No
Notes/
Additional features
LED light for mounting
Pre-release specs
Waterproof (IP54)
Shockproof
Wifi enabled
12A max draw when stacked     Price is 3 pack divided by 3

IDX
The IPL batteries are brand new from IDX. So new in fact that they're not out yet and as such, not only do they not have a price, but all specifications are tentative and therefore subject to change. Special thanks to Robert at IDX who weighed and measured them for me for this article as they have yet to be officially specified.

Whilst coming in slightly below average in both the weight and size comparisons, I'm still rather impressed by the IPLs. They are the only battery to have both two D-Taps and a USB port. One of the D-Taps is a so-called 'Advanced D-Tap' which can be used to actually charge the battery - perfect for lightweight travel or charging in a hotel for instance, saving the need for carrying a complete charger with you all the time. The other huge advantage of the IPLs is that they're stackable, resulting in both massively extended runtimes and uninterrupted power when swapping batteries. The IPL 150 is also the only battery to boast a 14 amp maximum draw. Whilst the IPL 98 has a typical 10 amp draw, when stacked it too can provide up to 14 amps of power for the most power-hungry of camera builds.

Finally, whilst a completely subjective judging criteria, for something as exciting as a battery, they do look rather sexy! Whilst not waterproof or shockproof like the Blueshape batteries, they certainly appear rugged and I'm sure would stand up to years of use.

Blueshape
The new Granite Mini batteries are, at least on paper, very impressive. They're possibly the best value for money batteries; the Granite Mini 95 gives the highest capacity versus price in the flight-safe line up, and both the 95 and the 140 are packed with features not found on any of the others. Wifi enabled, you can monitor the performance of the batteries via your smart phone, plus they're waterproof and shockproof, a big advantage for those with a propensity to shoot outdoors and in all weathers. Remarkably, both the 95 and the 140 are the same size, and along with the IPLs, are the only batteries that sport two D-Taps, both of which can be used to charge the battery.

Pag
Pag produce two variants of the PL96 and PL150 - a 'T' version and an 'e' version. The 'T' versions feature a seven segment numeric display that can show the voltage, runtime and a host of other data. The 'e' versions instead use LEDs to indicate remaining charge. The two models are otherwise identical, albeit the 'T' version is slightly more costly. I have compared the 'T' version here.

On paper at least, the Pags are curious. The PL96T is relatively uninspiring; whilst it has good price, weight and size 'scores', it lacks a lot of other functionality that some of its competitors feature. It has no auxiliary power ports whatsoever - not even a single D-Tap. Pag's answer to this criticism I'm sure would be that also available from them is what's called the PowerHub - a distribution plate that can be mounted between the battery and the camera which offers a plethora of interchangeable outputs. Whilst this more than addresses the shortcomings of the PL98T's lack of ports, it could also be argued that one shouldn't have to buy an additional product to provide what all the other batteries come with as standard.

The PL98T also has the lowest maximum discharge current at only 8 amps. Again, Pag's answer to this would be - and is in actual fact on of their greatest selling points and best features - is that they're stackable. With two or more clipped together, the PL98T provides 12 amps of juice for your accessories. Similar to the IDX IPL batteries above, stacking batteries offers fantastic advantages.

For the PL98T's lacklustre spec, its bigger brother the PL150T more than makes up for. It has a 10 amp draw (again, 12A when stacked), but more importantly, Pag have squeezed more than 150% capacity into the same space - and in the process, score the highest not only for volume but in all three direct comparisons! The Pag PL150T boasts the highest capacity versus price, size and weight - confirming their claim that it is "the smallest and lightest 150Wh V-Mount Li-Ion battery brought to market, with the highest energy density."

CoreSWX
Formerly Switronix, CoreSWX have come to market with a very small and light flight-safe battery, the Hypercore Mini 9. In fact, it is the smallest and lightest battery per watt hour of all the sub 100Wh batteries! It is also the only battery with a full LCD screen for all the runtime data, in addition to the usual charge status LEDs.

Unfortunately CoreSWX do not yet make a large capacity 'mini' battery, so I have included one of their normal Hypercore 150Wh batteries. It doesn't score particularly highly on any of the three key comparisons and has a 10 amp draw compared to the Hypercore Mini 9's impressive 12 amps. As this isn't a 'mini' battery it isn't necessarily a fair comparison however though on balance I believed it worth inclusion, if for no other reason than to show how good the Hypercore Mini 9 really is and indeed many of the new 'mini-cine' batteries from the various brands. Let's hope that CoreSWX are working on a high capacity Hypercore Mini.

Anton Bauer
Anton Bauer, as mentioned before, have their own battery mount. Despite this, they do make their batteries in V-Mount and are therefore worth taking a look at. Like IDX, Anton Bauer are one of the oldest, best known and most trusted of battery brands. Their cine battery is available in both 90 and 150Wh capacities, both in the same body. They have a 7 segment display for runtime and only one D-Tap. Given that they're in the same body, the Cine 90 VM suffers from being too big. This is one of the main reasons I decide to have a look at the larger capacity batteries too, believing that the Cine 150 VM might fare better. Unfortunately this wasn't the case. Whilst it of course does offer more watt hours versus size and weight compared with the flight-safe version, it is still rather poor compared with the other brands.

However, both offer an impressive 12 amp maximum discharge capacity and as I will elaborate on below, its on paper specs are not the be-all and end-all of what constitutes a good or bad battery but in fact this can only really be ascertained from real world tests. I'm sure that with a reputation and legacy of Anton Bauers, these batteries are no doubt good performers, even if they are on the larger and heavy side.

RED
I have decided to include RED in the comparison simply because I can. Recently they unveiled the Redvolt V, the smallest and lightest V-Mount battery in the world. Ideal for ultra lightweight applications such as gimbal and drone use, I thought it would be interesting to see how it stacks up against typical cine batteries. Being smaller, it of course doesn't offer the same feature set as many of the others - it has no auxillary ports for instance. I could also not find any information regarding its maximum draw, though I doubt it is very much at all as powering lots of accessories is not its intended use. Do note that the Redvolt V is no longer available individually and so the price is simply the cost of a three-pack divided by three.

For the larger capacity comparison I included the Red Brick. Whilst definitely not a 'mini-cine' battery (it's a brick!), again I figured it worth inclusion simply as many shooters are already familiar with them, plus it highlights just how impressive many of the mini batteries are in regards to their size and density. Again, I could find no conclusive information regarding it's maximum draw; the older 140Wh Red Brick was 9A so I would hope that this newer 150Wh Red Brick is 10A or more though this is purely speculation on my part.


Whilst certainly important and I'm sure for some, crucial, my three key comparisons in the yellow rows aren't everything when it comes to nailing down what 'the best' battery is. There are lots of considerations to be made and no doubt different users will have different priorities when it comes to picking their ideal battery. These specifications and comparisons are therefore not conclusive, though I hope eye-opening and informative if nothing else.

Real world use is the most important test of all - despite their advertised capacity, different batteries will provide differing runtimes to the same camera system under the same conditions. I hope to be able to undertake some real world testing soon (perhaps when the IPLs are released) as it would reveal how these batteries actually perform and and yet another factor to consider when deciding which battery is 'the best'. Let's see if the Hawk-Woods perform as well in the real world as they do on paper!

2 Comments

  • Alex, this is EXACTLY what I was looking for. You’ve done a terrific job.

    I’m personally only interested in batteries under 100 WH.

    I’m hoping the IDX IPL batteries end up a little more compact, as they seem like the real winner here for CAMERA batteries. The ability to stack batteries on the back to help counterbalance the front goes back to when you needed to decide how large of a film magazine you wanted.

    For lights, I think the Hawk Woods are the way to go. However, while they say they are adding a D-Tap to the 98, that could mean the dimensions and weight change.

    One thing I’d like to request you adding to this list is wither or not the batteries communicate with the camera. For example, the IDX IPL batteries don’t have a rear display, but they communicate with the camera- so the rear display is not as important. The same can’t be said for all the others that don’t have a rear LCD, I’m sure.

    • Hi Gregory,
      I’m glad this comparison is of use! Whilst the specs are still not final, I do not expect the IDX IPL’s size or weight to change. AFAIK, when Hawk-Woods add the D-Tap to the 98, the dimensions won’t change and any weight change would be negligible.
      Good idea about the battery communication. I’ll look into it.

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