These are not just batteries, this is a battery system.
When I first saw them, yes, I liked the idea and the design, plus they are made in the UK. So a good start. But what I didn’t really realise was just how good the whole PAGLink system is.
The headline feature is the ability to stack up to 8 batteries together to produce what is in effect a single much higher capacity battery. This isn’t a unique feature, but it’s clever none the less.
But here’s the thing, not only can you stack the batteries together to use them, you can also stack them together to charge them. This means that if you have a dual channel charger you can conceivably place 16 batteries on it to charge. Of course it takes longer to charge 4 batteries than 2, but it does mean that you could place 4 or even up to 8 batteries on the charger to charge all of them over night without having to get up in the middle of the night to swap over batteries.
As my regular readers will know I travel a lot. So I’m a big fan of anything that can cut down the bulk of the kit that I travel with. PAG have a really compact travel charger for the PAGLink system. It’s just a small “wall wart” plug in charger with an adapter that attaches to the battery. Again because of the ability to stack multiple batteries together I can use a single charger to charge several batteries at once.
I find that I can normally charge 3 completely flat batteries overnight this way, 4 if I have a decent overnight break. In practice this means that I can carry 4 batteries and a charger in my carry on luggage alongside my camera body and a lens.
Talking of carry-on luggage. Currently you are not allowed to put Lithium Ion batteries of the kind we use to power our cameras in the holds of aircraft. So this means you MUST hand carry your batteries. Even then there are many additional restrictions such as an upper capacity limit of 2 batteries up to 150Wh. Up to 100Wh you can carry as many as reasonable for personal use. But any batteries taken on a plane must have passed a UN test. The UN tests ensures the battery is safe to transport. Poorly constructed Li-Ion batteries can burst in to flames without warning and the subsequent fire is very difficult to contain, not a good thing to have happen on an aircraft and there have already been aircraft brought down by Li-Ion battery fires and several cases of fires on the ground. A BBC crew were recently fined a lot of money for knowingly allowing Li-Ion camera batteries to go in the hold of a passenger flight.
Each PAG battery comes with a copy of it’s UN test certificate along with a copy of the latest transportation regulations. In addition each battery has a sticker declaring it’s conformance with these regulations. Although the sticker has no formal legal standing it really does help smooth the way at security check points at airports and the paperwork can be essential in some countries (I’ve been asked for it in Dubai, India, USA and South Africa). When I tried to get a copy of the UN test certificate for a well known brand of Chinese made batteries I could not obtain one, despite discussions with the head office. One issue that has been brought to my attention is that many batteries with a D-Tap connector on them cannot be certified as the connector is unprotected against short circuits in most cases and this presents a possible safety hazard.
The PAGLink batteries do not have D-Tap outputs, but you can attach a rather clever device called a power hub. The Power Hub provides up to 4 user configurable power outlets. Each outlet can be removed and replaced with different options so you can have a mixture of say Hirose and D-Tap outlets. In addition there is a USB connector that provides a 5V power supply suitable for 5V accessories or for charging your mobile phone…… very handy! The power hub doesn’t need to go on the last battery in a stack, it can go in the middle as further batteries can be added to the Power Hub. This makes it possible to create a hot swap battery system that can give you continuous uninterrupted power not just to the camera but also for any accessories.
The batteries themselves have a nice and clear display that indicates the amount of power remaining. The “T” type time batteries will calculate the remaining run time and give you both a percentage capacity reading plus a run time in minutes on the LED display on the battery. On a Sony camera the V-Mount versions will also give you a time remaining indication in the cameras viewfinder. The 96Wh capacity batteries are great for medium power applications and on most modern camcorders that means a 2 to 3 hours of non-stop operation. Even on my PMW-F5 with the R5 raw recorder I get in excess of 2 hours from a single battery, but very often I will stack 2 together to power not just the camera but also monitors and other accessories from D-Taps on the Power Hub.
Sure these are a little more expensive than many of the Chinese made batteries available today. But they are so much nicer to use. They are remarkably small for the power they pack. They have great built in safety features including over current and high temperature protection. but this is more than just a set of nice batteries, it’s a well thought out system that includes the ability to charge lots of batteries from a range of compact chargers. The batteries are available with V-Mount or Anton Bauer mounts.
I highly recommend the PAG PAGLink battery system.