I bought the Black Magic Video Assist 5" recorder some time ago when we were asked to produce our first TV commercial and our camera at that time didn't have the necessary recording format.
However as well as the recording capabilities I was also extremely impressed with the quality of the monitor and have continued to use it ever since just as a camera-top monitor.
My only gripe with it was the battery life which for a monitor of that calibre is particularly poor. The recorder takes 2 x LP-E6 batteries which were only giving me approximately 90 minutes. I was amazed to find that nobody seems to make a high capacity version of the LP-E6
As a lot of our work involves filming live shows and performances this just wasn't enough. Even on corporate stuff it was a real nuisance having to keep a constant eye on the battery level.
Of course one way around the problem is to simply plug the unit into the mains, but this simply isn't always possible or practical.
In desperation I contacted Black Magic who were very helpful. They told me about an adapter which allows the unit to be powered via Sony NP batteries which come in a variety of capacities. Whilst these adapters are not certified by Black Magic they told me a lot of people have had success with them.
They also told me about the facility to power the device from an external V-lock battery but as we don't currently use V-lock batteries this would have been an expensive way forward. Also using these adapters means no cable connections are needed.
Apparently if you know what you're doing when it comes to batteries and soldering etc you can make these adapters yourself quite easily. You can see how to do it here:
However if like me you are not up to that or can’t be bothered you can simply buy them online from America here: http://www.starvingartist101.com
The cost is $42.50 each including postage, so I was able to buy two for just over £60.00. As we already had several Sony NP batteries lying around this was the only cost.
I have to say I would not usually have dreamed of buying something from a website that looked so basic, but having been recommended by Black Magic I decided to take a punt and I'm extremely glad I did.
These units are solid and very well made. You simply plug them into the battery connectors on the back of the recorder and then plug the Sony batteries into the adapters.
I haven't measured the battery life I get, but since I started using them with NP-970 batteries I have never had to replace or recharge a battery on a day's shoot. This is such a relief as it means one thing less to worry about.
The only downside is it makes the unit quite a bit heavier, which if you're working on the tripod this is not a problem. However because the battery life is so good to save weight I only need to put one battery on at a time.
I’ve also solved a similar problem with our Panasonic GH5 the same way but that’s another story!
I hope this helps.
Producer, Brian David Films