Today we have a chance to be the first website in the world (as far as we know) to review the all new Hawk Wood’s Mini V mount batteries – the smallest V-mount type batteries in the world at the time of this review.
This will also be our first V-mount battery review and since we normally do not use V-mount batteries for our cameras, but only for lighting, we asked our colleague Yossi Cohen for some help. Yossi has been a professional video photographer for well over 30 years, he works with large pro cameras that use V-mount batteries and has over a dozen V-mount batteries from different brands which he uses on a daily basis.
We will start with an outside look at the two batteries: The VL-M150 is the larger of the two batteries. It is very well built and measures just under 10cm/4 inch long and 7cm/3 inch wide with a depth of 6cm or 2.5 inches. It has a top button which shows the charge level using 4 LED lights and a D-tap connector. The battery is also fairly light, weighing in at just over 700 grams or a bit over 1.5lbs.
The smaller VL-M100 has the same physical dimensions except for the depth which is only 4.5cm or just over 1.5 inch and weighs under 0.5kg or a bit over 1 pound. This is really tiny for a V-mount battery which are usually almost twice the size and weight. Just for comparison – these batteries are a little bit bigger than two NP-F style F-750 batteries which is quite remarkable. The M100 that we got has a top charge level meter but has no D-tap due to internal size limitations (we do know that Hawk Woods are hard at work solving this limitation).
How small can you make a (usable) V-mount battery?
We gave Yossi the batteries to test for a few weeks and he was very impressed by what he got from them. According to his tests (he actually used the batteries for several paid jobs with his old beast of a camera – the Sony PXW-X320 which is a real power hog) and he discovered that the larger M150 can allow for anywhere between 4-6 full hours of recording time – similar to a full-size brand new, quality, V-mount battery of the same capacity, and the smaller M100 battery is good for about 2-4 hours depending on his specific setup.
What Yossi found to be especially useful is the V-lock mini hot swap plate that we also got from Hawk Woods for testing. What is great about it is that it can take two M150s or M100s or a combination of both and you can hot swap them so you are not only going to get the power of two V-mount batteries but if you have several of them, you can basically go as long as you want without stopping for even a few seconds, which can be invaluable.
Do note that you can’t use this plate to charge the batteries (sadly) or use it with two full size V-mount batteries (or even one small and one normal size – we tried).
D-tap on the larger M150 (the next gen M100/M50 might also have one)
Our testing was a bit different and a bit more exact. We used our Ledgo LG-D600 60W light (see our review here) which comes with a V-mount power option. We used the M150 and at full power, we got 2 hours and 38 min (which is even a bit better than what we expected from a 150Wh battery with this light). We ran the same test with the M100 battery and got one hour and fifty minutes at full power.
That means that for what it is worth, using the plate and these two batteries with this specific light you can expect almost 4 and half hours of full power – very impressive for this size.
In conclusion, the Hawk Woods mini V-mount batteries are an impressive feat of miniaturization technology. They seem to truly have the same capacity as conventional, high quality, large and heavy V-mount batteries of the same rating, but in a much smaller and lighter form factor. Using them with the dual mini battery plate will also allow users to hot swap them, which can be a game changer for some users, especially with these small batteries which are also flight-safe by the way.
There are a few things to consider though. The smaller battery doesn’t have a D-tap and gives only 8 amp of max draw compared to the larger M150 which has both 10 amp and a built-in D-tap, although as we mentioned it is possible that the next generation M100 will have a D-tap as well.
Lots of power – small form factor
One other point which we learned in the process of making this review – V-mount chargers are typically extremely bulky and pretty expensive. If you are just taking one or two small V-mount batteries on the road with you, especially if you are flying, being forced to take a huge expensive charger with them is a pain. We were able to secure a basic small D-tap/V-mount charger from Swit which did the job and as far as we know it is the smallest one currently available on the market. However, we are really waiting for Hawk Woods to release their own smart mini charger, which is going to be a game changer for on the go V-mount users.
Finally, pricing. As you probably guessed, these technological marvels aren’t cheap. They are made in the U.K. and are the first of their kind, so that is probably to be expected, but be ready to pay $340 for the M100 and just under $500 for the M150 with the plate selling for around $340 as well. Despite the cost – if you are a working professional and you travel with your batteries a lot and value your space and weight, these little babies can be truly invaluable.
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