This is a post long time coming. One that I’m happy to describe as a celebratory event to announce the launch of my new look website. So here is the part where I tell you how busy I’ve been, as a justification of what some would describe as slackness. Well according to my endearing German web developer anyway. This one is for you Marcel. How anyone finds the time to blog & still claim they are working endlessly completely eludes me. My time has been consumed by running a business, shooting, cutting & producing paid content, which leaves me very little time to write anything measurable, unless something is too good to ignore, in this case, PAG.
Which brings me to this new entry which has been on the boil for some time now. As I said in my last review of the Zeiss Milvus lenses, “quick & dirty” is not a proper evaluation, hence I won’t publish anything until I’ve abused the crap out of it. Ok enough with the rhetoric, lets check out these batteries?
I’ve been looking for a reliable V-lock solution for the longest time and came across the PAG system a couple years back at NAB. While the Gold Mount is more common in North America, the V-lock is a staple piece of kit here in Australia for both film & broadcast. PAG are a company based in the UK who have been designing and manufacturing production and post-production equipment for the film industry since 1968. They are best known for providing batteries, chargers and on-board camera lighting.
My transition into PAGLink was a necessary one. I had been using a brand championed by a local Chinese retailer, but with regret & disastrous results. It even went as far as one these batteries blowing up while on set. Sorry people, you’re playing with fire if your intention is to save some coin and use inferior & non-compliant batteries. More so, its alarming how many local broadcast cameraman are buying batteries from them.
With PAGLink, the first thing you’ll notice is the price tag. Yes its hefty but completely & utterly justifiable in my opinion. When you consider the protection & security measures, coupled with its technology, unique design & robust quality, you are paying for what you get. Now I’m not going to bore you with all the tech specs, you can check out their website for all the implemented safety standards.
I acquired 6 batteries (2 x PL96T, 4 x PL96e), a Micro Charger, a power hub & the PL16 Charger for personal use. The first thing that struck me was the build quality & how well constructed these things are. Trust me, I’ve had these for awhile, and they’ve taken a severe beating.
The difference between the PL96T & PL96e is that the former is a numeric display while the latter is a LED indicator. Both are 96Wh, with an output rating of 14.8V with a 12A discharge. Both have the same dimensions and weigh 0.73kg.
The battery stacking or piggyback system is simply pure genius. While other brands may offer a similar function, the PAGLink system is incredibly feature rich and quite unique.
Firstly, more than 2 batteries can be linked for discharge (or charge), with a limit of 8 batteries in total. From my experience with a brand like IDX for example, it’s only 2.
PAGs can also be in any state of charge when you link them and you can connect a fully-charged battery to one that is almost flat. You can’t do this with other more common brands. Another drawcard on the PAG system that completely sealed the deal for me is how the batteries can be hot-swapped for continuous power. When you consider how crucial yet simple this feature inclusion is, efficiency & productivity inevitably increases on set.
Gone also are the days of having to buy individual batteries at a higher watt hour rating. Each PAGLink battery is rated to an aircraft friendly 96Wh, and if you need more juice, simply stack them. This also keeps the form factor & footprint of each battery super compact. I love the size, not forgetting to mention the aesthetics too. It looks & feels great behind any camera package, keeping the “bulk” down which often plagues larger camera set ups.
For studio use, the PL16 is a treat. The ability to charge multiple batteries quickly & efficiently is simply a God send. But the clincher for me with the PAGLink system is the micro charger. With a size similar to that of a DSLR battery charger & a wall wart, this device is a must have if you need to travel and not want to carry additional weight. We all know what a pain it can be to carry V-lock chargers.
On an interesting note, PAGLink don’t include D-Taps on their batteries for good reason. A lot of batteries with D-Taps cannot be certified for aviation standards because they are prone to short circuits. So this is where the brilliance of the PAGLink power hub comes in. Its a small footprint device no bigger than the front face of a standard PAGLink V-Lock which mounts & clips on or between each battery. The Power Hub has 4 modular and interchangeable connector ports with options from D-Tap, Hirose to 2.1mm. The hub also includes a 5V USB port that can power accessories or even a wireless video transmitter from Paralinx or Teradek.
I’ve incorporated the PAGLink system across several of my camera packages now. Whether its a handheld or tripod mounted RED Dragon digital camera, or my shoulder mounted Blackmagic Design URSA & 2.5k Cinema Camera, the batteries don’t get in the way and fit in seamlessly with any rig. I’ve also used them for a healthy dose of time now, with virtually no problems on set or location. My one regret is that I wish I had these puppies earlier while shooting my last feature film. Since then, the service & support from PAGLink has been nothing short of remarkable. The customer service team always answer questions and provide support promptly.
To me, PAGLink is a well designed, sensible & an incredibly efficient battery ecosystem. I’ve been so content with their performance that I’ve made it a point to include PAGLink at the footer banner of my website, including them on my list of products that I use & trust implicitly. If you want a V-Lock or Gold Mount power solution, these guys are the ducks guts & the new gold standard in batteries. For more info on PAG, check out https://www.paguk.com/
Full disclosure: I have not been paid by PAGLink to evaluate or review their products. The outcome and findings of this review are personal views of my experience & ownership of the product.