Cameras seem to get smaller as time goes on, with more technology stuffed into every square millimeter than ever before. Batteries haven’t really kept up with that trend, with some cameras only lasting a half hour or 45 minutes on a full battery charge. The original Powerbase sought to address that problem in an affordable way. However, cameras shrunk further, to the point that the PB70 outsized, occasionally comically, some of the cameras with which it could be used (“Exhibit A” would be the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera). In the recent refreshing of its battery lines, Core SWX introduced the Powerbase EDGE, a smaller, sleeker, and more modernized Powerbase for today’s modern camera-scape.
My current go-to camera, the Sony a7S II, uses the much-maligned NP-FW50 batteries. They’re small, with a battery life to match. The use of such batteries is great for keeping overall camera size down, if you don’t mind replacing batteries every hour or so. Such small batteries end up being an inconvenience, especially if you shoot long-form events like concerts and such.
I was excited to get my hands on the Powerbase EDGE, because battery life is one of my sticking points with my camera system. The version Core SWX sent included an NP-FW50 dummy battery attached to a short cable with a right-angle barrel connector. Different dummy batteries are available for most common mirrorless cameras, DSLRs, and even camcorders, so you can use this with many kinds of cameras. Unlike the original Powerbase, there’s a regulator built into the battery itself, so no need to bulk up the power solution. Like the original Powerbase, the V-mount on the EDGE is fully functional, so it can be charged on V-mount chargers and used like a conventional, albeit small, V-mount battery to power pro cameras and equipment.
Charging the Powerbase EDGE was easy. The included D-Tap charger plugged right in and the display updated to indicate remaining charge time with great accuracy. A full charge of the nearly empty battery took approximately 3.5 hours.
The mounting solution used by the Powerbase EDGE is the same as the one on the original powerbase. It uses a quick-release plate with a ¼"-20 thread that attaches to the bottom of your camera, and secures it to the battery with a firm click. I didn’t have any problems with this system—camera attachment and release is simple and easy.
Something to be aware of, when using the included dummy battery, is that the cable on the dummy battery is very short, maybe about 6" long. While this avoids having any excess cable around while your camera is right on top of the battery, as intended, it takes away from some of the more creative opportunities for positioning the battery around your rig. For example, like in the photos below, I wanted to have the battery mounted on the side of my camera cage—but the cable is just too short for that to be possible. In this writer’s opinion, a slightly longer, and, if possible, thinner cable would improve the ergonomic aspects of this battery. But hey, it works fine with the intended camera positioning, so I can’t complain there.
At the top of the battery, there are quite a few outputs for powering various devices. This is probably the most noticeable improvement over the original Powerbase. There are two D-Tap ports, one of which is a SmartTap that can communicate with connected compatible devices, and two USB ports. One of the more interesting, and possibly underappreciated features of the a7S II is its ability to run on USB power. Unfortunately, the a7S II thinks the Powerbase is a computer and tries to connect with it, to no avail. Though the USB solution didn’t hold up, D-Tap dummy batteries are available for many cameras, so getting a longer cable is not really a problem. Just make sure to get one that’s properly voltage-regulated. Unlike the barrel connection on the Powerbase EDGE, the D-Taps are unregulated, meaning the voltage can fry internal electronics that weren’t meant to handle the full output of the Powerbase. The dummy battery I have (shown below) is from Movcam, and I like it because of its short coiled cable. Core SWX makes its own dummy battery with a longer coiled cable than the one found on the Movcam.
Considering its size, compared to the NP-FW50, I wasn’t surprised with the battery life of the Powerbase. While recording, the meter claimed more than 8.5 hours, and 10 hours when the camera was idle. I would run out of space on my 128GB SD card twice over before depleting the Powerbase EDGE during an event, and I’ve never had to deal with an event of that length, so the Powerbase EDGE could be a solution to my battery woes that doesn’t require a rig.
In conclusion, the Powerbase EDGE is great for anyone who needs long camera run times without access to an outlet. Oftentimes, I must set up cameras in hard-to-reach positions, and while I can control them wirelessly, with my phone, I can’t power them wirelessly from an outlet. Having the Powerbase for that purpose alone, setting it up on a tripod beneath a camera, is valuable. The same goes for interviews. No one likes it when their B camera goes off in the middle of an important moment because of a dead battery. Plus, with additional cables, you can put the battery creatively on your rig for comfortable handholding, as I did using the D-Tap dummy battery. If you rig it up, you can also power rig accessories like monitors, recorders, and lights easily without having to deal with more batteries.
For mirrorless camera or DSLR users that shoot events and interviews, having a large battery like the Powerbase EDGE that can power your camera for hours on end without breaking a sweat can really save your shoots and a lot of frustration in the heat of a shoot. I’d recommend this to anyone who needs an expanded power solution for their mirrorless or DSLR camera.