In a previous post about the motion control system I’m using, I mentioned that I use Bescor SLA batteries to power my motion control equipment. I’m still very happy with the design and quality of the bescors, but I’ve found something new that works quite a lot better for location timelapse photography in my case.
Anker makes tech solutions for a world on the go. The external batteries they bring us are designed mostly for keeping your tablets, laptops, and smartphones charged when wall outlets aren’t available. Their products are well engineered, beautifully designed, and made with quality and durability in mind.
I stumbled across these amazing batteries at the 2013 NAB Show in Las Vegas. Brian Burling, the creator of Emotimo, was using these handy devices to power his motion control products at their booth. Amazed with what I’d seen, I ordered one right away.
Since Anker is aiming most of their products directly at the smartphone/tablet market, most of their batteries work mainly for those types of devices. They do have two fantastic products, however, that are brilliant at powering a vast array of other electronic devices – including many motion control systems.
The two options are this:
The 10,000mAh Astro3
The 20,000mAh Astro Pro2
Here is a comparison chart I’ve made to help us start to get an idea how how great these batteries are in comparison with each other and the Bescor battery I was previously using, as well as options from Emotimo and Dynamic Perception. All of these options will work with Chronos, Emotimo, and Dynamic Perception products.
As seen in the comparison chart, The Ankers absolutely hold their own on paper. The one time I would want to use one of the big heavy SLA batteries like the Bescor and the Emotimo option would be if I were shooting in sub-freezing temperatures. Lithium batteries suffer from a major reduction in overall performance in extreme cold. But, if you wanted, you could just put the Lithium battery of choice in a small cooler or pelican case with some handwarmers and be alright. Be careful not to add too many handwarmers, though, to prevent overheating the battery. You only need to keep the compartment the battery is in closer to room temperature than freezing.
Having handled all of these batteries in person, I can tell you that they all work well for our purposes under normal use. The Anker batteries, however, are in a league of their own in regards to value, features, and capacity, aesthetic quality, and warranty.
As always, questions are welcome.Happy trails and keep creating
It has been bought to my attention that some people are not finding the Anker Astro3 to have a full capacity of 10,000mAh as stated by Anker. I cannot confirm or deny this yet as I don’t have a feasible means of accurately testing the capacity. I do still maintain, though, that these batteries are the best I’ve seen for the price based on features and apparent build quality. My Astro3 does provide more than ample capacity for my needs so far.
Also, it is a given that there may be better still options on the market if money is less of an object. I have tried to center this comparison around the more affordable options that still have a good reputation for quality.
I ended up buying another of the offerings from Anker, the Anker Astro Pro 14,400mAh (updated version).
This battery indeed does seems to have significantly higher capacity than the 10,000mAh version I originally bought. It also appears to have the same great build quality as all of the other Anker batteries I’ve come into contact with. The battery comes supplied with the necessary 2.1mm x 5.5mm jack for Arduino and Raspberry Pi controllers. As with both of the previously mentioned Anker batteries, you can even use it to keep your smartphone/tablet charged in the vast outdoors. The only drawback is a minor one, which is that it is about 30% bigger and heavier than the 10,000mAh version.
On another side note, I hear great things about Anker’s customer service. Based on what I’m hearing, in the event that one of these batteries goes bad on you within the generous 18 month warranty period, It’s a pretty good bet that Anker will hold their end of the bargain and replace the product without hassle. The longer I have this battery, the better it gets!