Project Borneo Comes Alive

DEC 2016

I’m Kevin Babey, a UK-based freelance cameraman, from Salisbury. I sometimes work independently, and sometimes with other professionals, to offer a full range of video production services. These include end-to-end video production in 4.6K, 4K and 1080p, video editing and event photography. I have worked in many fields, including broadcast, corporate video, charity and natural history. My work includes web promo, multi-camera event coverage, location-based editing, interviews, interactive and looped video installations and short or long-form documentaries.

Back in October 2016 I embarked on a month long trip to Borneo, filming in the coastal jungles with the aim of capturing the endemic wildlife and producing a series of natural history films. The client was the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort & Spa in Kota Kinabalu. I was using a brand new Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini that has a 4.6K sensor, and two Fujinon 35mm cinema lenses, the Cabrio 19 to 90 and the 85 to 300. PAG provided the power behind the project. Everything we used in the jungle: cameras, lighting, field monitors and even our mobile phones, were powered by PAGlink V-Mount batteries.

Shooting natural history often means working in challenging environments, such as extreme heat, cold or wet. In the tropical rainforest we faced temperatures of up to 40°C and humidity from 75% to 99%. We had Camrade backpacks and rain jackets to protect the equipment.

I had chosen 8 PAGlink PL96 batteries, a PL16 2-position charger, a PAGlink PowerHub and a PAGlight LED camera top-light. Everything performed brilliantly in the humid conditions. I found the PAG batteries held their voltage more consistently at high temperatures than some of the other batteries I’ve used before. I have used batteries from a variety of well known manufacturers. Everyone should be aware of the features that set PAGlink batteries apart from the others on the market.

The PAGs are without doubt smaller and lighter than other battery brands, but the most obvious difference is the ability to link them, on the camera as well as the charger. I was using a lightweight camera with very heavy lenses, and being able to piggyback 2 or 3 batteries to balance out the front-end of the camera was incredibly useful. This also meant that I had a huge amount of camera-on time before my power ran low, and I was able to avoid changing the battery mid-shoot.

The PowerHub gave me the flexibility of being able to power multiple accessories from its D-Tap and USB outputs, such as the monitors and our phones. I believe there are other connector types available, such as Hirose and Lemo that you can just swap with the DTaps, should you need them.

When I was finished for the day, I stacked the batteries I had used on the small 2-channel charger and just left them to charge overnight. In the morning they were all fully-charged again, without me having to be involved in the process.

A final, but very important detail about PAG batteries is the sticker on the underside showing that they are aircraft cabin compatible. PAG has been leading the way on this for some years now and other manufacturers are just starting to join them. However, any cameraman who has worked around the world will know the difficulties you face when arriving at baggage check-in with a large number of Li-Ion batteries that you wish to take with you. The PAG sticker shows the UN test number, proving that the battery is compliant with the IATA Air Transport regulations. The quantity allowance, based on battery capacity, is also included on the label. There is more information about this on the PAG website. I found it very reassuring having something to show the Malaysia Airlines ground crew at baggage check-in to prove that the batteries were legal and perfectly safe to take onboard. PAG even provided copies of the batteries’ UN Test certificates for me to send to the airline, in advance of my trip.

After working with these batteries for some time, I’ve come to a simple conclusion: if you’re looking for reliability in extreme conditions, a lightweight universal design for maximum camera power-up time, which also takes away the hassle at baggage check-in when working abroad, look no further - PAG has the perfect solution for all your power needs.

Kevin Babey, Freelance Cameraman

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