When you invest in a new camera, the camera itself is just a part of the equation. With more and more camera accessories that require power, like a wireless follow focus or a monitor, there is something that we tend to under-estimate: batteries and power distribution. But how do you power a Canon C200 or C300 Mark II – they both use the same Canon batteries and Lemo power connectors – with a V-Mount or Anton Bauer battery? Let’s take a look.
When you buy a Canon C200, amongst the other accessories, it comes with the original battery charger, the AC adapter, and one Canon BP-A30. While the battery life is decent, around 2 to 3 hours per battery, I bought a second one, just in case. A month later, I realized that two batteries were not enough for a full 12 hours shoot day.
Then, I remembered how painful it was to spend nearly $250 for a single Canon BP-A30 battery. Don’t get me wrong; Canon BP-A batteries are excellent when you need your setup to be as compact and lightweight as possible. I love them for gimbal setups or when I’m shooting run’n’gun. The thing is that these batteries are not cheap, and there are no 3rd party manufacturers (yet) for Canon BP-A batteries.
Of course, you can also buy the Canon BP-A60, the larger version of the BP-A30 that last 4 to 5 hours, but I don’t like the fact that it “protrudes” at the back of the camera. And let’s be honest, it’s even more expensive than the BP-A30 at nearly $430.
With that in mind, I started to look at other powering options. I have quite a few V-Mount batteries at the office that I mainly use to power LED lights. So I decided to take a look and see how I could power the Canon C200 with a V-Mount.
Disclaimer: I use V-Mount batteries because that’s what I invested in, Anton Bauer Gold Mount batteries are excellent too, and everything that is mentioned here also applies to Gold Mount batteries.
The goal of this article is not to tell you all of the benefits to go the V-Mount way. To sum it up, I decided to power my camera with an external battery for these reasons:
- Economy: for the price of one Canon BP-A30 battery, I can buy a V-Mount battery that will run the camera much longer
- V-Mount batteries are future-proof: if I decide to change my camera in one year, I can still use them to power anything from a DSLR to a full Cinema Camera, they are not proprietary like the Canon ones
- Easy to rent: if you have a gig at the other side of the world and can’t bring enough 98Wh batteries, or need something bigger, you can always rent an extra battery for cheap
- Ease of use: you can use a V-Mount battery to power an entire camera system with a battery power distribution box or plate via the D-Tap ports. You can power external monitors, wireless follow focus, wireless microphones, wireless video transmitters and even charge your phone with only one battery. When you run out of juice, you only have to swap that one battery and you’re ready to go
- Versatility: you can also use a V-Mount battery to power LED lights, your sound bag, your laptop…etc
Of course, there are some drawbacks in using V-Mount batteries — for example, the weight, the initial cost when you start investing in these because you also need to buy a battery charger, and the fact that you are “limited” when traveling by plane. Nothing is perfect.
V-Mount Power Distribution
Most of the V-Mount batteries have one built-in D-Tap port, but it’s usually not enough.
To power a camera – and more specifically the Canon C200 / C300 Mark II – you need a V-Mount battery power distribution box. This type of box or plates converts one battery into multiple D-Taps ports.
For a Canon C200 and/or C300 Mark II camera, you have to use the Lemo connection at the bottom of the camera to get power from an external source. You’ll need to use one of the D-Tap port from the distribution box (or the battery) to power the camera using a dedicated D-Tap to Lemo cable.
Also, you can mount a distribution box to a cheese plate so you can install everything – the distribution box and the battery – onto your camera rig using 15/19mm rods.
Searching for the right plate that fits my needs and at the right price was a challenge, so here are my foundings.
Bebob Coco-15V III
The Bebob Coco-15V III is a beast of a power distribution box. It features:
- 2 Twist-D-Tap 12V (unregulated) 2,5 A ports. These D-Tap ports are amazing because they are reversible. It means that you can plug your cable in any direction you want and you avoid frying your expensive gear by putting you D-Tap cable in the wrong direction. It happened to me once on set, and it’s not fun at all
- 2 USB 5V 1A ports. Useful for smartphones or accessories that gets power through USB
- 3 Hirose 4p 5V /7,6 od. 8,4/12V (unregulated) 2A. The industry standard
- 1 Lemo
It weighs 400 grams and it’s made of aluminum. A 15mm rod clamp (re-positionable) is included. I also like the fact that there is an On/Off switch. You can switch off the entire plate when not in use to avoid accessories draining power from the battery.
To power a C200/C300 MkII camera you’ll need a special Hirose to Lemo cable, that is available at Bebob for $130.
At over $500 for the plate only (at B&H), or just over €400 (at CVP), plus the price of the cable, it’s not the cheapest solution, but the build quality and the numerous ports look like a one in a lifetime investment.
This plate was my initial go-to. Unfortunately, it was out of stock, and I needed a solution for an upcoming shoot.
Wooden Camera WC Pro V-Mount for Canon C200, C200B, C300 MkII
This plate looks like a robust alternative. Made by Wooden Camera in conjunction with Anton Bauer, the WC Pro V-Mount plate features 3 D-Tap ports and an integrated 12″ length Lemo cable. I like the fact that there is a red light indicating power and also a digital fuse, in case you plugged your D-Tap cable in the wrong direction.
With this type of plate, you’ll need a cheese plate if you want to mount it on your 15mm rig. Wooden Camera sells it’s own, but you can easily find cheaper options online. For example, I had one laying around from Lanparte.
What I don’t like about this plate is the fact that the cable is at the bottom of the plate and is facing down. I think it’s a design flaw, as you can easily damage the cable. This plate is camera specific and is not cheap too at $350 for the plate at B&H alone (€300 at CVP).
Wooden Camera WC V-Mount Plate for Canon C200, C200B, C300 MkII
The Wooden Camera WC V-Mount is a little bit cheaper than the “Pro” version. I think that this plate is entirely made by IDX and just sold by Wooden Camera, but the original IDX plate is not available anymore.
It features 2 D-Tap ports for accessory power and an integrated 12″ length Lemo cable. Like the previous plate, you’ll need a cheese plate to mount it to your rig. It’s available for $225 at B&H.
Core SWX V-Mount Battery Plate for Canon C300 Mark II
Also compatible with the Canon C200, the Core SWX V-Mount battery plate was initially designed for the Canon C300 Mark II. Regarding features, it’s equivalent at the WC V-Mount plate: 2 D-Tap ports and an integrated cable.
It’s a pretty cheap alternative at only $166.
Shape V-Mount Plate for Canon C200, C300 Mark II
The Shape V-Mount plate for C200/C300 Mark II cameras is pretty similar to the WC/Core SWX options, but with only one just D-Tap port.
After hours of research, I discovered the Hedbox Unix-1B4. It looked like the perfect fit for my needs, but it was the first time I came across Hedbox products, so I was a bit skeptical. But even if Hedbox is “new” to the market, the team behind it is not, because Hedbox is formerly known as RedPro.
This plate features 3 D-Tap ports, capable of delivering up to 12V ~ 16.8V / 10A / 148W (Max) unregulated. On top of the plate, there is a USB port (5V – 2.1A). Finally, on the right side, you’ll find an integrated Lemo cable.
This plate is top-notch quality, with a V-Lock release system made of aluminum. The plastic doesn’t feel cheap at all, and the cable integration feels robust.
They also manufacture a lot of other plates for BM, Sony, Canon LP-E6 cameras and so on.
For $150, it’s the best bang for your bucks deal out there in my opinion. It’s unfortunately not on B&H or CVP, but you can buy it here directly.
Do you use V-Mount batteries to power your camera and accessories? What is your go-to solution? Let us know in the comments down below!