Reviews |SmallRig VB99 mini V Mount Battery

SmallRig VB99 mini V Mount Battery Review

SmallRig VB99 review
Review

Price when reviewed

£276

$279
Check current price

Our Verdict

It’s strange how something as simple as a battery pack can transform your gear. The Canon EOS R5 C is a fantastic camera; however, start to film anything, and you’ll see the low battery warning flashing after about 20 minutes, even with Canon’s higher-capacity battery.

The SmallRig VB99 mini V Mount Battery 3580 features a standard V-Mount connector but adds USB type-A and C, an 8v and 12v output. Any camera that supports an external power supply can plug straight in, helping to massively extend recording times.

One charge of the SmallRig VB99 mini V Mount Battery 3580 is roughly equivalent to 6 and a half charges of the LP-E6NH. At £114/$114 per LP-E6NH for seven batteries, that’s roughly £800/$800, while the SmallRig VB99 mini V Mount Battery 3580 will set you back £275/$275.
It does, of course, add bulk and weight, but then it’s also far more convenient.

For

  • Compact
  • Lightweight for capacity
  • Well priced

Against

  • Nothing

What is the SmallRig VB99 mini V Mount Battery 3580?

The SmallRig VB99 mini V Mount Battery 3580 is simply a battery pack that utilises the broadcast industry standard of V-Mount. The battery style is widely used on all sorts of devices and most production crews will have boxloads of the things to keep everything running.

While V-Mount batteries have been around for many years, recently, we’ve seen the format start to evolve, with additional outputs such as USB and 12v so that you can directly connect the packs to equipment without the need for additional adapters.

The SmallRig VB99 mini V Mount Battery 3580 takes things a step further by offering the standard V-Mount connector, USB Type-A and USB Type-C but also provides a stylish built in the screen so that you can see the remaining capacity as well as other information about the pack.

SmallRig VB99 review

While all these features are nice for something that is essentially a battery pack, what stands out is the SmallRig has managed to make the pack look extremely attractive; who would have thought?

Specification

  • Battery type: V-Mount
  • Additional outputs : USB Type-A and C, 8v and 12v
  • Capacity : 14.8v, 6.7Ah, 99Wh
  • Info screen : LCD
  • Dimensions: 107 0 × 73 0 × 53 0 mm
  • Weight : 550g

Performance

This battery arrived for testing at exactly the right moment, the door bell rang and a package was handed over just as I was headed out the door to a shoot. Packaging stripped off, a small whoop of joy at the 46% and the SmallRig VB99 was plugged into the Bluetti AC200 to charge while I headed off to the day’s shoot. The shoot itself was relatively small but did require a couple of constant lights. So fresh out of the packaging, the SmallRig VB99 mini V Mount Battery 3580 was put straight to work.

The first thing to note was that by the end of the 45-minute drive from house to location, the SmallRig VB99 had fully charged, utilising the full 65w charge input through the USB-C port. This is exceptionally quick, and what I like is that by pushing the power button on the side, you can quickly check the battery power status.
For this first shoot I used the battery to power a Rotolight Anova 2, this is a 72w LED lamp and ideal for location work. The SmallRig VB99 V-Mount battery clicked directly into place on the back of the unit. This lamp was the main lighting source with the SmallRig RC 120D for the Spot lighting. I’ve found that these two lights complement each other well.

Throughout the filming, the light was on full power to create the ambient lighting in the room and lasted the full duration of the shoot which was about 45 minutes of actual running time, although the shoot was longer I made sure to switch the light off when not in use. After completing the shoot the battery showed the power level had dropped to 40% showing I had a good 30 minutes or so at this power to go.

SmallRig VB99 review

This length of time is roughly what I would expect for the 99W capacity. Still, I really liked that I could check the actual percentage of the battery capacity on the small screen rather than having to roughly guess between 25% increments as I have to do with my other V-Mount batteries.

In the second part of the test, aside from using the remaining 40% charge to give my phone and headphones a power boost, I once again fully charged the pack to 100%, again through USB Type-C in around an hour and a half from close but not quite 0%.

This time I connected a USB Type-C cable to the Canon EOS R5 C for PD power. This worked exactly as you would hope, with the power going directly to the Canon R5 C and all systems working exactly as they should. What’s really nice to see, aside from the ability to film for more than 30 minutes in any one go, is that the V-Mount battery shows the power used on the small LCD screen.

The display shows the camera connected to the USB Type-C port, with the power at 9v, it also shows the power remaining.

As you would expect, the use is simple: plug it in, and that’s it; it just works. What elevates this over other V-Mount batteries are those additional connection options.

SmallRig VB99 review

At this point, it is worth pointing out that as soon as you start to go down the V-Mount battery route the way you use your camera will instantly and forever change. Be that the Canon EOS R5 C, Sony FX30 or whatever; a V-Mount will give you more time to shoot. The only thing is, unlike your standard camera battery, it will not fit in your camera.

So before you rush out and buy this power solution, look at the different mounting options you’ll need. Usually, a SmallRig cage with a V-Mount adapter will do the job. Once you’ve added the cage and rig and your camera no longer looks like any camera you’ve ever seen, you’ll be ready to film.

Final Thoughts

There’s a point when however good an idea the Canon R5 C and Sony FX30 are; you need to expand their function with a few accessories. The issue is shooting video and adding monitors all require additional power and quite often the small internal batteries are just not enough. That’s when you realise that you need a V-Mount.

V-Mounts are extremely useful and have been around for years, along with Sony NP-F and Canon LP-E6 batteries. You’ll rarely find a professional who doesn’t have a stack of them, covered with food packaging labels to ensure that they don’t get lost or borrowed long-term by colleagues.

While one V-Mount battery is usually much the same as another the SmallRig stands out. The screen, for starters, enables you to see exactly how much shooting time you have left. Then there’s the ability to use the other power outputs, the standard V-Mount for lighting, then the 8v and 12v for any devices that call for that type of connector.

SmallRig VB99 review

At the end of the test, what stood out was how handy this battery was. At 99Wh, the physical dimensions and weight are considerably less than the far more expensive Rotolight 95W I usually use. This size makes it a far better fit for use alongside the next generation of hybrid cameras, such as the EOS R5 C or FX30.

Regarding the EOS R5 C, the usual 30 minutes of average power supplied by the LP-E6NH battery is quite short; however, with this battery, you’re instantly looking at 3 hours and 15 minutes if not more, a considerable boost.

Adding a V-Mount battery to a rig that surrounds your camera won’t be for everyone, but with the film and stills camera landscape transforming so rapidly at the moment, you need to be adaptable, and the SmallRig VB99 mini V Mount Battery 3580 certainly enables you to do that.

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