Today we look at an interesting product that can help you extend the battery life of your camera in a very versatile way – the IndiPRO Tools POWER POD.
Last year we looked at the PowerAdd Pilot Pro 32000mAh Battery which can power almost any type of USB powered accessory (including external recorders, some wireless mics and of course smartphones and tablets) plus most of the existing laptops on the market. What this unit could not do is power most cameras (except some of the new Sony models that can actually be powered using USB – Kudos to Sony for that by the way).
So we continued to search for solutions. One of the most recent ones we covered is the Tether Tools Case Relay which can help you power your camera via USB power pack for countless hours (a unit that we are hoping to test later this year). However, if you have a lot of camera batteries and would like a lower cost solution that will let you use them to power your camera for long shoots without stopping in the middle to replace the battery, U.S. manufacturer IndiPRO Tools has an interesting solution (more accurately “solutions” as we are not talking about a single model but rather on a family of products with the same basic functionality).
POWER POD – extra power for your camera
The IndiPRO Tools POWER POD is a very simple unit which is made from two main parts (you can buy these parts separately or as a kit – which is how we got them).
The main part is the Power POD which is a metal housing which fits a bunch of electronics (made in the U.S.) with two (or four) battery bays on the sides. There are different versions which fit different Canon, Sony and Nikon batteries (our unit uses two EN-EL15 batteries).
The POWER POD has no bottoms or switches just the two/four bays and a single blue light indicating that power is being transferred (in our case you will need both batteries for the light to turn on but the number changes for each specific kit of batteries/camera).
The second part is a dummy battery and a cable which connects to the POWER POD. We got a unit which uses a Nikon EN-EL15 dummy battery with a POWER POD that hosts two of the same batteries but the real beauty of this system is that you can get a unit that uses Sony batteries and Nikon Dummy battery or the other way around and the same goes with Canon – how cool is that?
Even better – if you change cameras or you have more than one brand of cameras that you would like to use the unit with, you can. Just buy an extra dummy battery for your second camera and you are set to go.
Just two quick notes:
- The form factor of the unit is a bit strange (two or four batteries on each side makes for a small but pretty have unit). We created a DIY quick release mount on the side of our cage – it isn’t attractive but it does the trick and holds the unit in place. You can also connect a 1/4″ 20 screw with a handle (see here) plus a Velcro strap with a chain to attach the unit to your tripod.
- Dummy batteries are a bit annoying – almost all cameras has a tiny hole that let’s you get the wire of the dummy battery out but at least on Nikon cameras it is never too convenient and the battery door likes to fall quite a bit when you are trying to close the unit if the cable isn’t sitting 100% inside (this isn’t IndiPRO Tools fault as much as Nikon’s…).
The IndiPRO Tools dummy battery
Nikon’s EN-EL15 batteries are pretty solid performers and can last for quite a long time even when shooting video. Having twice the power made us stop worrying about power all together (so far at least we actually never been able to completely drain them both on a single shoot).
We see the POWER POD as a good solution for shooting with a rig – either a cage or a shoulder mount or something similar where you have enough room to place the POWER POD.
For Nikon users – you need to keep in mind that the 2 bay version (the one we are using) is not hot-swappable, so you will get a much longer battery life but you won’t be able to swap batteries on the go (something that should be possible with the 4 bay version). If you are going to use a different camera/batteries you better check with the manufacturer or the store before you buy if your combination is or is not hot swappable, if this feature is important to you.
At the end of the day the POWER POD worked just as advertised – doubling the power of our original battery using a relatively small external unit and utilizing our existing set of batteries.
The IndiPRO Tools POWER POD is on the one hand a super simple device (just plug and play really) but on the other hand it is extremely versatile – allowing you to power with the same set of batteries different types of cameras for a very long time.
Recording video and especially 4K video, is very power demanding, and while there are other solutions on the market that can give you a long run time for your camera, most of them are pretty expensive (and many are also not hot swappable). The IndiPRO Tools POWER POD on the other hand is pretty inexpensive (around $100-$120 depending on the specific configuration for most models) plus for most setups it is also how swappable.
There are not a lot of drawbacks for such a simple straightforward unit. It would have been nice if there was a power status for each battery telling you how much power you still have (as the indicator on the camera doesn’t seem to change at all and is pretty useless when using the unit). Two other suggestions we have for IndiPRO Tools – make a version where you can swap the battery plates yourself (and thus mix and match batteries and cameras on your own) and allow the unit to connect to AC (and sell a kit with an AC connector) so that users can use the same system for when they are near an AC or on the go, using batteries.
One connector one light – just plug and play
- Good build quality.
- Super simple to use (plug and play).
- Can be adapted to work with different cameras (Canon/Nikon/Sony by replacing the dummy battery).
- Hot swappable (on most models – our 2 bay Nikon EN-EL15 isn’t).
What we liked less
- No battery level meter on the unit itself.
- No on/off switch (you need to physically remove the batteries).
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