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M9 Battery Charging in Africa [no electricity]


msap7222

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Hi, I am new to this forum. I am a pro with 26 yrs experience and I have been asked to shoot a book in East Africa in 2 weeks. Leica's Australian distributors, Adeal, are loaning me an M9 and lenses to take.

 

I already own M4-P, M6 and M8 (which will be my backups) and 15CV, 24ASPH, 50/1.4, 90/2.8 and 135/4

 

I collect the M9 and a few lenses next week.

 

The villages I will be working in do not have electricity I am told ...

 

So I guess my choices are to buy a Solar Charging Mat/Panel or simply buy and pre-charge about 10 M8/M9 batteries.

 

Another possibility is taking along a 12/7.2A battery and using that to charge the flat Leica batteries. I am not a battery "Einstein" so would have no idea how many Leica Battery charges I might get from a larger, donor battery.

 

I will also be taking my MACBOOK AIR as a storage/backup device for image files so it would be good to hear your thoughts on powering that as well.

 

Does anyone have any suggestions?

 

Thanks,

Mark

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Two key things; take as many pre-charged batteries as you can, keep them cool but not cold. When shooting, select the shortest auto-power off period - the camera uses quite a bit of power just idling. If you use discreet mode, make sure you wind the shutter by the time the red LED stops flashing, otherwise you are using power to "hold-off" the shutter wind.

 

Will there be any vehicles where you are? If so, they will provide a much better source of power than a 12v 7.2 Ah battery. That battery provides, in theory, about 85Wh of energy whereas the Leica battery provides about 8Wh. However, the battery will fail to run the charger at some point and the transfer of energy from one battery to another is by no means 100%. I think you'd do well to get 4 battery charges out of it.

 

The Leica charger can run from 12v and the cable is designed to plug into a cigar lighter socket in car. It can of course be connected directly to the car battery but you will need an adapter cable with large crocodile clips - take care to connect the correct polarity; it's likely the charger has reverse polarity protection but if it doesn't, it will cook if you connect it incorrectly.

 

No idea about the MACBOOK, I would have thought you could run it off a car battery as well given the right power adapter.

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Using car batteries through the standard cigarette lighter adapter is the most convenient as Mark suggests. Unless the car never gets to run you'll be fine.

 

Where will you be ? If you're high up in altitude bringing a lot of batteries precharged will not do you much good. In october I got under minus 10 celcius in Ethiopia. At these temperatures your batteries won't last long.

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Thanks Mark and fefe. I believe the village has a motorobike, so some aligator clips with a female cigar lighter socket for the Leica charger adapter might be a good way to go. I will be in Uganda where the daily temp at this time will be between 17 and 27 celcius - pretty mild.

 

The medical centre runs off a generator I am told, so I am sure I could get some power from a wall socket, but I feel a bit wierd using electricity intended for patients!

 

I figure each battery would be good for about 400 exposures minimum, probably more assuming I take on board your good advice on camera power time out settings, etc, so if I get 6 batteries, I should be good for the 6 days I am there. :)

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I would take between 8 and 10 batteries, for safe margin.With two chargers.

 

Better see a 12V AC transformer :

 

Maplin> 12V AC TRANSFORMER

 

or do Google for

 

Belkin 12V AC Transformer 300W

 

I could not find US links for it

 

http://www.ldlc.be/fiche/PB00041291.html

 

That is the 12V AC transformer I am using.

 

Edit :

 

For US see

 

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Belkin+AC+Anywhere+300W&x=12&y=18

 

 

or you can compare

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_2_6?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=xpower+inverter&sprefix=XPower

Edited by danyves
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I know you want to take the M9 so this may not be useful but when I (frequently, in Africa and Iraq/Afghanistan) find myself without reliable AC, the M8.2 stays at home and my M7 with a couple extra teeny batteries does the job perfectly. I've tried juggling generators, using the vehicle battery, solar cells etc. and find it's not worth the effort.

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Thanks Danyeves and Frank. The invertor may be a good solution.

 

Frank, I will be taking M4-P and M6 as well (with film!!) At least the 4 lenses will work with digi or film bodies.

 

The relatively small kit (4 bodies and 4 lenses) will almost completely fit into my trusty old DOMKE F6 bag.

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Buy some OEM batteries from ebay

they run about 10$ with shipping, i use those for a backup situations

they have some problems with M8/9 the battery indicator might not show correct charge unless you cycle them. otherwise they work ok. You can get 12 batteries for the price on 1 original one.

 

My set up is 2 original leica batteries and 4-5 oem ones.

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I definitely would not use one of the inverters. Why in the world would you want to? The Leica charger can run from 12v DC NOT AC so you do not want to connect 12v AC from a transformer to the charger. Anyone who suggests you do and tells you it works is an idiot and you are asking for trouble.

 

Best to connect a lead acid battery to the charger and avoid using it for any other purpose while you are doing so. The last thing you want is some sort of voltage spike which blows the safety fuse in the charger.

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The Belkin converter does has a safety fuse against voltage spikes, and does protect car battery from excessive discharge while it does permit to use two Leica chargers simultaneously and plug the Mac with multi-socket.

Edited by danyves
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I have been looking on ebay and see many options for aftermarket M8/M9 batteries at $10 - $15 each. At that price, even if they were 60% as good, I could buy 10, recycle them thru to empty, charge them and take them all.

 

I have read varying reports as to the compatibility with the Leica's battery status indicator (some say that discharging fully, then recharging the aftermarket batteries fixes this)

 

Sorry I should have been more specific, I was thinking that the invertor may be best to use with the MACBOOK.

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I figure each battery would be good for about 400 exposures minimum, probably more assuming I take on board your good advice on camera power time out settings, etc, so if I get 6 batteries, I should be good for the 6 days I am there. :)

 

In my experience it is more like 300 exposures maximum if you are very careful.

 

One battery per day is not enough in my opinion.

 

Lucien

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hyperdrive colorspace battery does have a very long charge life. Small enough to take place in a vest pocket. I do have a 160GB one, a safety item.

 

The latest version is even more easy to use.

 

HyperShop - The Official Online Store for HyperMac + HyperDrive

 

and for the MACBOOK

 

http://www.hyperdrive.com/HyperMac-External-MacBook-Battery-and-Car-Charger-s/91.htm

Edited by danyves
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i think the other posts have you covered for batteries in the Ms...but imo...macbook air for downloads and backup of valuable images in foreign countries?

 

this is the right tool for mobile file storage and backup:

HyperShop - The Official Online Store for HyperMac + HyperDrive

 

specifically the "colorspace UDMA".

 

we take 2 on travel jobs [leave the laptops at home] and download all cards to both, keep them in 2 different places, preferably one in a safe if available...they sell a ridiculously cheap

adapter [$12.95 US] that will recharge the hyperdrives from AAs. the units come with the usual cigarette charger as well. for 10 days worth of shooting with downloads once a day to both drives we never have to actually recharge them anyway...also, the drive itself is user upgradeable and they even sell the units without internal drives for those of us that have extra laptop drives around....you will find that the interface on the drives is a bit ghetto in a special PC kind of way...don't compare it to anything apple...but they work great... :-)

 

incidentally, hyperdrives are the only portable mobile drives i know of that will support phase one files...if you play that way too...but you'll need the 500GB models especially with the p65+...

 

still waiting on getting our M9.

 

have a great trip!

patrick

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If you are going to use the 12V lead for the Leica charger, my only advice is to be careful if you plug it into a cigarette lighter/power socket in a truck. These are not infrequently 24V, which I am sure would blow the fuse in the charger. Same applies if you plug an inverter into one of these sockets.

 

Wilson

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