Most DSLRs these days are capable of recording Full HD video, and thanks to clever hackers such as the Magic Lantern project, their capabilities are often equal to expensive dedicated cinema cameras. Which is why Canon DSLRs in particular are often used in independent productions, but also by hobby videographers. On the downside, video recording can quickly drain your battery’s juice. Luckily, there is an easy hack that’ll give a serious boost to your camera’s battery life.
Unhappy with the amount of video shooting time he got out of his Canon EOS Rebel T4i DSLR (a camera that has since been discontinued, replaced by the T5i), YouTuber Chris Winter devised a way to hook up a 10,000 mAh external battery pack to his camera, using little more than some velcro tape, a special hot shoe mounting plate, and a DC coupler, i.e., a “dummy battery” that connects the battery pack to the camera. By using these readily available and affordable items, he managed to boost his camera’s battery life to nine hours of video shooting!
But with all things awesome, there are a couple of downsides to this. For one, you’ll need to do a bit of tinkering yourself. In order to get the battery pack hot-shoe mountable, you’ll have to somehow get it attached to a hot shoe mounting plate that has the right size, which Chris managed to do with velcro tape. When the external battery is in place and powering your camera, you’ll unfortunately have no hot shoe left for mounting, say, an external microphone or a video light. (That is, unless you attach additional cold shoes to your battery pack – again using velcro tape, of course.)
And finally, the cable that goes from the battery pack to the “dummy battery” DC coupler that sits in your camera’s battery compartment might become a bit of a nuisance when operating the camera, considering it’ll be hanging loose over the exact region where all the buttons and dials are located on the camera’s back. But then again, when you’re out shooting a video, you may not want to have to change batteries every hour, so we definitely see how this could improve your video shooting experience.
If you’re not a Canon DSLR user, fear not: DC couplers of the kind that Chris used for his hack are also available for other camera brands, including Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, and Sony. You’ll just have to do a bit of searching through all the various models until you find the correct one for your camera.