External Battery Packs

Started May 8, 2013 | Discussions
Marek07
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External Battery Packs
May 8, 2013

I have a Canon 600ex-rt which eats through double AA's, I am looking for an external power pack, Please can you recommend any?

A friend mentioned a Brand called Bolt but I don't really have any info or recommendations of this.

Thank You!

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NYCphotoman
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Re: External Battery Packs
In reply to Marek07, May 8, 2013

You will want the ORIGINAL Quantum Turbo Battery.  These can be found reconditioned on Quantum's website or on Ebay.  I would only get the latest Turbos they produced which are the ones with 4 green circles on the top (the earlier ones had 3 greens and a red).  I would also only get ones where the writing/logos on the front can be clearly seen.  Here is a good example:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Quantum-Turbo-Battery-Pack-/181136395325?pt=Camera_Flash_Accessories&hash=item2a2c920c3d

Actually, the above pack is perfect and at a great price.

The reason why you want to get the Original battery is because its powered by a lead gel cell which is easily replaced with a screwdriver in 5-10 minutes.  The gel cell costs $20 on Amazon...a Powersonic PS-832.  This gel cell has the same power as 10 AA batteries.

Why get the turbo and not Canons power pack with 8 AA batteries?  The Turbo will recycle that speedlight in 1 second whereas the AAs will do it in 1.5 seconds from a full power blast.  The Turbo itself is very durable and able to keep up with the active photographer.  You can drop it from 3-5 feet and it will still be good.

Why not get the other Quantum packs?  They are simply not as easy to service like the original turbo.  In photography, equipment usually goes out at the wrong time.  If your Turbo SC or 2x2 goes out then its going to take days to weeks to get it re-celled.  The original battery is a lead gel cell which can be found in certain stores around here or you can have it overnighted to you.  Then you slip in the cell yourself....all for about $20+shipping.

Absolutely do not get a lithium battery pack.  You cant take it on an airplane and if that pack gets stuffed away in some heat like a lot of photo gear tends to do it might explode.  Lithium is very volatile and there are news stories of lithium packs exploding or catching fire.  Quantum publicly states they will not use lithium because its too volatile and not safe for photographers.  Would you want to risk putting something which is potentially explosive by your gear?   I would not get the Bolt pack for this reason.  Also the Bolt pack cant be serviced as easily as the original Quantum turbo.  Remember, your battery pack usually goes out right before the wedding...

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Dougs_Photo
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Re: External Battery Packs
In reply to Marek07, May 8, 2013

I use 600EX RT flashes and have a Canon CP-E4 battery pack and just bought the Bolt equivalent. The Canon pack uses 8 AA batteries and gets me through any event that I work. The Bolt pack can use 4 or 8 AA batteries and seems to work OK but the cord and connector is not as nice as the Canon one. I wish I had bought another Canon pack instead.  The recycle time with ether pack is quite fast though.

If you are going to hang the pack from a light stand a Turbo is OK but way to heavy to wear all day for an on camera flash.

Doug

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Marek07
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Re: External Battery Packs
In reply to Dougs_Photo, May 8, 2013

Brill thanks for the advice! Am UK based so thinking about getting the Bolt delivered from the US as I can't find it over here!

Will look into the Canon too.

Thanks again..

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NYCphotoman
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Re: External Battery Packs
In reply to Marek07, May 8, 2013

I just looked at the Bolt online and it says its NIMH and recycles at 1 second.  If I am guessing correctly, they probably use 8 4/5 sub-cs in the Bolt power pack.  They will be good for about 500-1000 recharges.  The original Quantum Turbo does 500 full power charges.

I would stay away from both NIMH (not easily serviced by end user) and Lithium (too volatile).  Lead gel cell is the way to go in packs.

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Marek07
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Re: External Battery Packs
In reply to NYCphotoman, May 8, 2013

Thanks for the advice, You Definitely know your Battery Packs! am looking at the Turbo now, Do you know if it is a standard cable from the battery pack to the speedlite?

Thanks again!

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Dougs_Photo
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Re: External Battery Packs
In reply to Marek07, May 8, 2013

The disadvantage with the Turbo is if you run it down you will need a complete  extra pack as it will have to charge for hours before using again, the event will be over by then. Both the Canon and the Bolt use AA batteries, alkaline, lithium, or NMH rechargeables it does not matter, and can be changed in seconds. These are same batteries you need for the flash anyway.

Doug

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NYCphotoman
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Re: External Battery Packs
In reply to Marek07, May 8, 2013

The cord which goes from the pack to the flash I believe is a special one (expensive one) made by Quantum.  I no longer use Canon Speedlites so I sold my cords at $30 per cord on Ebay.  New they go for more.

If you get any pack which uses AAs, then it will be a slower recycling time of 1.5 seconds.  If you get any closed NIMH battery pack, like the Bolt or the Turbo 2x2 or the Turbo 3 pack, you will find it very hard to replace the cells inside once its worn out.  To achieve the 1 second recycle time, the pack manufacturers use either 4/5 Sub-Cs or the Lead Gel Cell.  The Bolt pack probably uses the 4/5 sub-cs I am guessing.

Since you are in the UK, photo gear like a battery pack would be very expensive and very difficult go get re-celled.

I actually have 8 Quantum Turbo Batteries.  Some are over 10 years old and still going strong.  I did replace the lead cells in them.

One more note...if you replace a lead gel cell never mix the polarity.  I did that once and the pack was toast.  Otherwise its easy to change.

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NYCphotoman
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Re: External Battery Packs
In reply to Dougs_Photo, May 8, 2013

Any one of those packs will last the entire job.  400 full power blasts means probably at least a 1000 flashes.  In all likelihood the flash will be used at an eighth to quarter power.

I know some Canon users have both the AA battery pack and the much faster Turbo/Bolt pack.  The faster packs are better for events when you need to recycle faster, but just in case they go down they resort to the AA battery pack.

In terms of all out reliability when the SHTF I would go with the AA battery pack, but the faster packs are the ones which are sealed up.

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Dougs_Photo
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Re: External Battery Packs
In reply to NYCphotoman, May 8, 2013

If all you are using is 1/8 to 1/4 power the recycle time will be much less than 1 second with any of these packs. I have no problem catching the entire bouquet toss at a wedding at 6 frames per second with a 5D3 and 600EX flash.

Doug

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John Deerfield
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Re: External Battery Packs
In reply to Marek07, May 8, 2013

The original Quantum Battery is OK because it does allow you to replace the battery. Every other Quantum battery is waaaay overpriced. I wasn't going to send my SC back to be repacked so I took it apart myself to discover 8 AA batteries in a $450 battery pack. In any event, for another battery choice, I would suggest looking at the Godox. You can find them on eBay, but you want the more expensive 4500mAh version:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/PB960-GODOX-External-Flash-Power-Battery-Pack-4500mAh-for-Canon-Camera-Cable-/321076513381?pt=Camera_Flash_Accessories&hash=item4ac1a6ca65

I have been using one for about 6-weeks now and it's been great. It is a tad smaller than the original Turbo and a tad larger than the SC. As far as it being a lithium battery, I will take my chances. For starters: my laptop, iPhone and iPad all use lithium batteries. Knock on wood, I haven't had any issues, nor do I see news reports on CNN about how unreliable lithium is. Next, most of the battery packs I have ever used don't seem to last more than a couple of years anyway. The AA battery packs seem to quit working (loose connection I imagine); my SC lasted 3-years (and the $450 pack is now a paperweight); etc. May as well enjoy the power of lithium with a user replaceable battery with more power than a Turbo and new!

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Pat1954
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Re: External Battery Packs
In reply to Marek07, May 8, 2013

I have an alternative, especially if you are a bit handy. I use 5 or more speedlights with modifiers for my portrait and product photos. These chew double A's pretty fast so I made my own battery packs.

1 4.5 AHr 12 volt sealed lead acid battery or 12 volt gel cell - $6.50

4 feet of lamp cord - $1.00

1 Tamiya connector pair - $1.00

1 12 volt step-down converter - $3.00

1 12 volt led - $0.50

1 two pole rocker switch - $0.50

2 spade connectors - $0.50

2 dummy wood dowel batteries with contacts - $0.50

a bit of solder - $0.10

a small piece of plastic as a panel - $0.50

1 rubber wire grommet - $0.10

a small p&s dollar store camera bag - $2.00

Cost: $16.20 and a bit of time. Just as good as any $200 quantum.

You could even add an LED voltage indicator to monitor battery charge for a couple of bucks.

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shooter2
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Cheetah battery
In reply to Pat1954, May 9, 2013

I have 4 original turbos. Only two are currently working. QTM wants a decade and a fortune to check them out. New cells are not helping, as they know me well at batteries plus for the PS-832. They give me a nice discount. I also have a Sunpak TR2000. It is lighter and Batteries Plus has re-celled those too for about the same price as a PS-832. These both work about the same for me with Nikon flashes.

The problem is the Sunpak does not power my T2 Quantum flashes that I use occasionally. The best I can figure is the voltage is too low. In my research, the lithium Cheetah 4500mah battery is in my sights. About $220.00 and the owner is pretty nice guy. And, a US based distributor. A snap in additional cell is around $100.00.  I will slowly phase those turbos out when a new cell quits fixing them.

My Nikon batteries are lithium and they go on planes all the time. Same with cell phones. I agree with other poster that I will pay my money and take my chances. The Bolt battery at B&H can be bought for much less elsewhere. But it is Nimh and does not have voltage to fire T2s. I just wont be flying on a Boeing Dreamliner with those Cheetahs

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NYCphotoman
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Re: Cheetah battery
In reply to shooter2, May 10, 2013

Lithium batteries are hazardous and more volatile (explosive) then NIMH.  Here is a good article which explains my point:

http://gizmodo.com/5985410/why-smartphone-laptop-and-airplane-batteries-explode

Some people may make the case that since a lithium battery is in their Iphone then Lithium is safe to use in a large battery pack.  However, those lithium batteries in your Iphone are made according to rigid standards and supervised by Apple.  Those lithium batteries are different then they kind produced by a lower budget unknown operation supervised by no one in particular.

If you google "lithium battery explosion" a lot comes up.  The NIMH batteries do not explode on the other hand.  Some of us do put our equipment through a lot and so its important that the battery pack can go through a lot.  A fire or explosion taking out our equipment (and maybe the event venue as well) isnt a good thing and can ruin our career.

Quantum has publicly stated they will not use Lithium because its too volatile.  Quantum is a professional company around for decades and well known.  They would use lithium if they thought it was safe for their pro level photographer customers.  They do not believe its safe.

As for the battery packs being expensive, let me welcome you to the photography world.  Even the lens cap on my camera costs way way too much.  Thats just how it is.

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UKphotographers
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Re: External Battery Packs
In reply to NYCphotoman, May 10, 2013

NYCphotoman wrote:

Why not get the other Quantum packs?  They are simply not as easy to service like the original turbo.  In photography, equipment usually goes out at the wrong time.  If your Turbo SC or 2x2 goes out then its going to take days to weeks to get it re-celled.  The original battery is a lead gel cell which can be found in certain stores around here or you can have it overnighted to you.  Then you slip in the cell yourself....all for about $20+shipping.

Quite true...

Unless you REALLY need the lighter weight, or smaller size or longer duration that more modern up to date battery packs provide then the 'old' turbo is pretty hard to beat. I have a Turbo SC that conveniently fits in my camera bag, barely noticed, that I use to power a Trio, also in the bag. But my main battery sources of this type are Quantum Turbos.

They are larger, heavier - maybe made of cardboard(?) - but they just work. I've never bought a new one (they're ONLY batteries after all), and I've never been disappointed with the ones I've bought for ridiculously low cost - used.

Replacing a battery in these is so cheap that it really does compete with rechargeable AA's making it a consumable rather than a capital expense. In the UK  a replacement battery is around £12. A complete Quantum overhaul (if you send one to them for a battery replacement) is around £80. Even so, they're still cost effective even at this price and you benefit from receiving back a brand new Turbo in the same cardboard box casing.. Quids in!

Although I take two Turbos for every flash on each assignment, I rarely need more than one. Often, I'll need to use a turbo in addition to an SC, so maybe the Ah of the SC's are not so great and maybe what the new Turbo 3's improved on?

If you are REALLY doing long duration work then the Lumedyne VHX or VHF type 'Megacyclers' are just as good. For size comparison the duration would be about the same for factory fitted batteries, but by adding higher Ah batteries to the 'mini' batter chamber of the Lumedynes you can easily increase the duration without very much increase in size. Because the batteries can be swapped out, larger batteries can be fitted - obviously making the whole package that much larger - but at least you can choose what you want to add or what you need. Size isn't always a limiting factor. The largest battery that Lumedyne supply is a 7.5Ah battery. Like the Quantum's these can easily be user replaced at minimal cost since they're Lead Acid Gel cells.

Interestingly, the Lumedyne megacyclers can fit to a car battery giving you around 35Ah of duration. Maybe thats too much information for what you really need 

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Theres only one sun. Why do I need more than one light to get a natural result?

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