I had the opportunity to work with the Anton/Bauer Titon Base Battery Kit for the Blackmagic Pocket 4K and 6K cameras and jumped at the chance. The Titon Base battery has a QR (Quick Release) plate that allows you to mount your camera on it for a tight shooting package with extended run time. I’m accustomed to using external batteries, since I started with Aaton and ARRI SR film cameras, as well as ENG cameras and their battery bricks, before moving on to more modern camcorders, as well as those small internal batteries for DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Of course, with internal batteries, whenever you change your camera, you often have to adopt a new set of batteries and chargers. That is bad enough, but those internal batteries are limited in run time, and while great for the occasional compact run-and-gun shoot, or for being as inconspicuous as possible, the thought of building up a store of dedicated batteries and chargers just to get me through the shoot day makes me shudder.
Why the Titon Base External Battery Kit Is a Good Idea for DSLR/Mirrorless Users
I loved my original Blackmagic Pocket Camera, but what I didn’t like about it was the ridiculously short run time with the internal battery as well as how hot the battery would get. While the Blackmagic Pocket 4K and 6K cameras are now a bit better, with larger batteries that slide into the camera, still, having to swap out an internal battery, especially once the camera is mounted on a rig or built into a studio configuration, can be a pain. And again, having to buy enough batteries and chargers to get through a shoot day, and lug all that around, well after picking up a second internal battery and charger, means battery management starts to take more of my budget and time than I want to commit.
The Blackmagic Pocket 4K ships with a 14.8 Wh battery, which will power the camera for about an hour, probably less, while the Titon Base battery has a 68 Wh capacity, which will get you about 3 hours of run time. This is why an external battery solution is such a good idea. The extended run times and not having to stop shooting to swap out a battery are strong points of the system, even before considering the ease of powering accessories, as well as the ease of migrating the external battery to other camera systems.
The Titon Base battery is roughly the same size as the Titon SL 90, though it has significant differences. With the Base battery, Anton/Bauer has removed the Gold- or V-mount and added two additional PowerTaps (P-Taps), a USB Type-A Power Port, three integrated 1/4"-20 mounting holes on the bottom of the battery, and a quick-release baseplate system for mounting your camera onto the battery. This has created a lightweight external battery system that will run your BMPCC 4K for over 3 hours on a single charge, plus provide you with accessory power outlets. Additionally, as the camera mounts on the battery system, as opposed to adding the battery to the rods, the Titon Base battery has little effect on balancing your gear on a tripod.
Putting the Titon Base Kit to the Test
I borrowed a BMPCC 4K and built it up with rod supports, a follow focus, a studio-size 4 x 5.65" matte box, and a 5.5" on-camera monitor and, just for fun, added an onboard LED light. I wasn’t recording with the camera, so when I first started to use it the battery showed over 5 hours of run time when fully charged.
Powering the camera is simple. The kit comes with both an LP-E6 dummy battery and a 2-pin Weipu power connector for the side of the camera. I preferred using the 2-pin connector on the side to power the camera, because with the dummy battery, to close the door you must remove the battery compartment door as there is no notch that allows the power cable to escape. Although it is easy enough to remove the door (the Pocket’s owner’s manual shows you how to do it), I’d rather not, so instead I went with the 2-pin cable to the side of the camera and didn’t look back, although I did test it, and the dummy battery powered the camera just fine.
I took advantage of the P-Tap ports to power not only the camera, but also my on-camera monitor. Granted the monitor has its own built-in battery plate, but I wanted to cut the weight of the rig down. It is worth noting that adding the monitor cut the Titon Base battery run time in half, as compared to only powering the camera. I also added an on-camera LED light to the rig. This one used the USB port on the Base battery and only dropped the run time by about 10 minutes.
You can pop the whole rig off your tripod easily enough: Just attach your tripod’s QR plate to the bottom of the battery, and off you go with everything in one piece. I wanted to try something a little different, so I pulled out an old rod clamp I had and used that to mount the battery directly to the rods, like a shoulder support. This allowed me some support with the camera pushed forward, so I could operate using the on-camera monitor. An EVF attachment would have been better, and I wouldn’t have had to reconfigure the battery position, but it is nice to see how flexible the system is. The 1/4"-20 mounting holes can also be used to mount this on a variety of available Anton/Bauer cheeseplates and rod clamps.
The Titon Base battery comes with a P-Tap charger/small AC power adapter, which plugs into any one of the P-Taps to charge the battery. I was able to charge it from 22% to 100% in less than 3 hours, which isn’t bad. If you are running with only two of these batteries, you can charge one while using the other.
The QR system is sturdy, even though it is made from plastic. I did notice a small amount of flex on the battery attachment when grabbing my rig before releasing it from the battery, but there was no flex when tilting or panning. I even attached a baby pin directly to the 1/4"-20 mounting screw of the plate and tried to pull the plate out of the battery (don’t try this at home), but it held securely. As powerful as the Titon Base battery is compared to internal batteries, we are dealing with the real world, so you are going to want to pick up an extra Titon Base battery or two, in addition to the kit for the BMPCC 4K/6K, especially when running accessories off the battery. One of the extra benefits of building a collection of Titon Base batteries is the ridiculously large number of P-Tap cables available for powering almost any camera out there, so even if you switch cameras, all you need is to pick up a new cable, and your battery investment is secure.
The Titon Base battery provides multiple mounting options that enable it to fit easily into your shooting style easily, while also powering your camera for far longer than low-capacity internal batteries and providing the option to power accessories. I also like the instant and accurate remaining run time display much better than a four LED gauge. All this makes the Titon Base Battery Kit an excellent power solution for the Blackmagic Design 4K or 6K.
Please share your experiences with the Titon Base battery and kit with us below, and if you have any questions about the Titon system, please feel free to ask them in the Comments section, below.