DIY DSLR External Battery Pack: Get Up to 9 Hours of Shooting

Videographers and event photographers are all to familiar with the frustration of constantly switching out the tiny internal batteries of DSLRs. On a good day you can get a thousand or so still images or just a couple hours of video before switching the batteries.  This simple little mod from Chris Winter shows you hot to build a hardcore external battery that boasts roughly 9x the capacity of the standard internal batteries.

All you need for this build is an external battery pack with a DC output similar to the camera's required operational voltage (Chris is using a 9V, 10,000 mAh model which is close enough to his T4i's required 7.4V) and a DC dummy battery pack (Chris used one by Lanparte, available on Amazon). It should be noted that Lanparte makes these DC dummy battery packs for both Nikon and Canon, not jus Canon as stated in the video. The batter can be easily mounted to your rig via a cheeseplate with a coldshoe adapter.

This mod could be awesome for videographers, time-lapse, shooters, or event photographers (if it doesn't get in your way) but remember to pack some spare memory cards — with this much power, you'll need 'em.

Of course, before attempting such a mod make sure to do your homework and make sure all the components are compatible!

[Via Chris Winter & Udi Tirosh @ DIY Photography]

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Stephen Kampff's picture

20mins of shooting? What is he doing with the camera that makes the battery life so short?

Wil Fry's picture

Yep. I stopped listening at "20 minutes". Don't need a battery pack to solve that problem; just get a better watch. Even with the relatively poor batteries made for my Rebel XT back in 2005, I would regularly get a couple of hours without changing batteries, camera on constantly, shooting often.

With the modern batteries in my 60D, it's much more than that. Maybe's he's just holding down the shutter on burst mode for 20 straight minutes?

Ticho Ooms's picture

Video guys, video sucks battery life. I can get maybe 1-2 straight hours of video out of 1 single fully charged LP-E6.

itschriswinter's picture

Exactly Ticho, Video absolutely kills the battery, hopefully this can help a few people improve their battery life and not have to take them out all of the time!
Chris Winter :)

Wil Fry's picture

Same here (1-2 hours). I can't figure out how to get that down to 20 minutes...

itschriswinter's picture

Hey Will!
Definitely in still photography you would get more battery, but just imagine how long you can get with this external battery now. You could time-lapse for days!
Chris Winter

Wil Fry's picture

That would indeed be cool! :-)

itschriswinter's picture

Hey Stephen! Yep I am talking about only video mode. Once you're shooting at 60fps and continually with the LCD on the battery does take a tumble, on a good day you could get more! Thanks for watching :)

John Dewberry's picture

Does anyone know what the acceptable voltage window is for canon DSLR's? Is 9v too much?

itschriswinter's picture

Hey John,
From what I've been using the 9v is fine. The DC Coupler (dummy batteries), does help also as it tries to bring the voltage down to the acceptable level. I've been using this setup for a few months now and have had no problems whatsoever which is really great :)

Chris :)

Jeremy Marucot's picture

Pretty nifty idea. Could use a little refining in terms of design. It may be awkward using the viewfinder like this. Maybe a tripod mount adapter instead of hot-shoe would be easier to use?

itschriswinter's picture

Absolutely Jeremy. Thanks for the props. I've got another video coming out using a right angle cable instead of the straight DC cable. Always trying to get better.

Bryce Powrie's picture

I don't understand? Why don't you just use a battery grip with extra batteries inside?
Also, that cable coming out over the viewfinder would surley get in the way...

itschriswinter's picture

Hey Eggbert! LP-E8 Battery only carry around 1350mah, so having two battery would only equally around double that. This external battery is similar to having 6 or 7 batteries without every having to change them! Also, I've got another video coming up soon which uses a right angle cable which will solve that!
All the best

Bryce Powrie's picture

This makes more sense now! :) Thanks!
Would be interesting to see if this technology could be put into a battery grip. I have a feeling it would be pretty obnoxious having a big box attached to your hotshoe plate...

Possible next steps!

Ticho Ooms's picture

I'll definitely look into it. Could be really handy for long time lapse sequences with a short interval. No time to change batteries in between frames, you need at least 20 sec for that. I'm only worried about the technical aspect. Is it healthy for your camera, there's a voltage difference so it would result in a higher resistance or more heat loss. Just guessing here, but maybe I'm talking sense to anyone?

itschriswinter's picture

Hey Ticho! Awesome mate, glad you'll look into it. It really helps to not have to carry around extra batteries and also saves you time when you don't have to stop to change them. The Dummy battery regulates the power that goes into your camera to 7.4v which is why it works. I've been using it for a few months with no problems so it should be fine!
Thanks for watching,
Chris :)

EnticingHavoc's picture

Seems like a viable solution for video when additional weight and bulk doesn't matter. For still photography though one can purchase a regular battery grip or a cheap knock off. Since this particular design blocks the hot shot it's actually useless for photography. And it makes the camera very top-heavy.
The basic idea is enticing though ... hope to see more coming from this inventive mind.

Tobias Solem's picture

I would never overvolt a semi-pro camera with this trick, the extra heat and risk to the condensators and chips are just not worth it because you're cheap and can't just carry extra batteries.

Zack Deal's picture

I need cold shoes for my cold shoes for my cold shoes! My camera will start to look like medusa!

Nikhil Khadtare's picture

Hey there any alternative for Nikon D800? And have you tried using it with a battery grip? I take portraits so have to shoot vertical a lot of times. Thanks. Great video!

Paul Mathews's picture

Thanks for this great tutorial! Has anyone tested this with the Canon SL2, or any other canons that use LP-E17 batteries (anything after the t5i)? I want to do this using this coupler:

My concern is that the voltage range for this coupler's power input is 7.4-8.4V. Could running the XTPower MP-10000 through it and into my SL2 potentially cause any damage to the camera, since the battery outputs no lower than 9V? Or is it close enough?

Osiris Legato's picture

I just bought the sl2 and the setup works....

I'm not sure about all cameras but when I plug mine in, the camera says "Battery Communication Error. Does this battery/do these batteries display the Canon logo?" So I pressed No and it said "Canon does not guarantee the performance or safety of this battery/these batteries. Continue use?" Afterwards the camera works fine but it's too soon to tell.

You'd figure this is a VERY important thing to disclose when creating a video to tell potentially millions that you are possibly voiding your warranty and putting your gear in danger. I haven't noticed any damage yet but I assume the risk here is that since the external battery and dummy battery aren't chipped, it's freaking out because it can't display a battery percentage. Will this matter in the long run? No idea, I don't think it will short anything BUT when you switch back to normal batteries they might not display their battery life properly. Hopefully that doesn't mean the camera will fail to work even when a fully charged battery is installed.

Again, this is obviously not covered by Canon and I'm not sure if the camera can short out due to this. I bought a warranty that covers everything since Canon covers literally nothing anyway (other than manufacture defects).