Last week I wrote about the Switronix Powerbase 70 and how useful it was on my trip to Hong Kong. One of the really handy aspects to this way of powering your camera is that it effectively gives you a unified solution to powering your accessories. If you’re a run and gun, audio into the camera, no lights, no monitor kind of shooter then you won’t care. If you’re like me and have all of that going on then this is a post for you.

The Switronix comes with two additional DTap connections meaning you can power a couple of other 12v devices from the same battery. This is so useful. I hate swapping out a battery halfway through doing a series of takes as everyone loses focus. When you’ve got three or four separate devices all with their own battery systems then this starts to happen rather a lot. I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to wrap for the night, plug in one battery, leave it overnight and know I just plug it in first thing and it’ll power me all day. Dtap 12v cables are pretty easy to get hold of and they come in all sorts of different flavours depending on the device you have. Not the cheapest (around $35) but they’ll last a good long time.

Hawkwoods distribution box

Sometimes the two additional Dtap connections aren’t enough and if that’s the case then Hawkwoods might have the solution for you. They offer a battery system featuring a Lithium Ion brick v-lok fitted to a power distribution box with 5 d-tap sockets which ought to be more than enough to power the parts you need. The Switronix system is built around a v-lok battery so you ought to be able to purchase the distribution box on its own and simply add that to your system. One of the d-tap sockets will be used to power the camera and for this you’ll need one of Hawkwoods’ dummy battery adaptors. This probably sounds like a lot of extra bits to buy and it would be. The distribution box comes in two flavours, nominal voltage and regulated 12v. I would also go for the regulated supply but that will set you back £160 ($260) with the nominal coming in at half the price, £80 ($130). The dummy adaptor will set you back £80 ($130)which does seem like a lot. You don’t have to buy the distributor box to use the Hawkwoods system but the Switronix offering just has more going for it with the additional d-taps and the quick release plate if you’re just going for a simpler setup.

Switronix powerbase with quick release plate

Finally, what about powering the Zoom H4N? This is one bit of info I wish I’d put more effort into researching before I left for Hong Kong as the Zoom takes a 5V input rather than a 12v one. Switronix now offer a Powertap Zoom converter cable which will take care of this for you. It’s a little clumsy but it’ll remove one of the most irritating battery replacement devices in the whole setup. I was having to change batteries every 1’45” out in Hong Kong. Not cool. That cable retails at $89.95 and can be found in a few shops online, B&H, Zacuto and Evs amongst others. As a limey brit getting cables shipped over from the States isn’t ideal so I pinged Hawkwoods an email to see if they had a solution for this and it turns out they do. That retails at £55 ($89) and will do exactly the same job. Drop Daniel Wiseman an email and tell him what you need and they’ll make up the cable to the length you need. Top banana.

Powertap Zoom H4N cable

So, now you’re powering everything off the v-lok battery and you’re feeling pretty smug just remember one problem you’ve created for yourself: cables. Never go into battle without cable ties and, whatever you do, don’t forget to charge up that Powerbase!

Hawkwoods 'simple' system

Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • Daniel A. Crippa

    Just what i was looking for! thanks!