This article is written by Iddo Genuth
The product that we are looking at today is at least partly the result of our own idea that we conveyed to SmallRig about two years ago (and as far as we are aware we are also the first website in the world to test).
The problem that we were trying to solve was that we found no good way to hold a USB battery to power the gear that we needed when we were shooting. Since so much stuff now can be powered through USB and even more so with USB C including audio recorders, on-camera lights, mics and of course cameras, finding a way to properly hold a battery is becoming increasingly important.
Everything these days can be powered by USB
In the past, we tried all sorts of solutions including fabric cases that hang on the tripod and even smartphone holders and with our older cage we even made a dedicated aluminum holder for our Anker battery.
All these DIY solutions worked to some degree, but they are hardly universal and they all have their limitations. We wanted something that will work with more or less any battery and can be used on any cage or accessory with a 1/4″ 20 or 3/8″ 16 threads.
What SmallRig has done with their design is make a sort of a super robust metal smartphone holder that opens up (you can actually use it for that purpose if you like – it worked very well with our Pixel 2 XL). Besides being more robust than most smartphone holders it can also grip much thicker products and since most USB batteries are pretty thick it is much better designed for that.
The holder has three 1/4″ 20 connectors on the back and three more on each side so you can choose how to connect it to your rig. We used the LanParte quick release that we have reviewed here in the past and loved with a new flat plate to connect it to the side of our Sony A6500 SmallRig case (which we also reviewed a few years back). This way we can quickly remove the battery if we want to.
So how does the holder actually perform? The answer is that it depends on the battery. With our two larger Anker USB batteries it works very well although we would have preferred it if the holder was about twice as tall (you can always combine two units although you need to come up with a way to connect the quick release to both of them).
Can hold most mid-large size USB batteries
Our smaller Anker battery isn’t wide enough but with some hard foam or a rubber band, it seemed to work fine. It would be nice if SmallRig would ship this unit with a solution that can allow a user to hold smaller batteries. We also have a much wider USB-C battery from a lesser known brand – this one was just a tiny bit too wide and so it didn’t work – we suggest that you measure your battery before you order this unit to see if it fits, the official supported width is 53mm-87mm (about 2″ to 3.4″).
All in all, for a price of $30 this unique product comes highly recommended.