Video with E-M1 Mark II and Dummy BLH1: Comparison with standard BLH1.

Wairoakid

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Oct 3, 2012
Messages
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I thought there might be an interest in some testing I did in using a dummy BLH1 in my OMD E-M1 Mark II compared to using an Olympus BLH1 battery.

I use my camera mainly for static video recording especially time lapse and have always looked at extending the time I can record. As I use an Atomos Ninja Flame monitor/recorder via the HDMI output I do not have to worry about
the 29 minute restriction. The only time restraints (aside from the camera getting too warm) are the size of the SSD used in the Atomos, the battery life of the Atomos AND the battery life of the camera.
I am usually recording in the field so I are not able to use AC power via a converter on either the Flame or the camera.
The Atomos Flame uses two rechargeable NP-F Li-ion batteries and also has a DC input.

I have a SmallRig cage for the camera which allows me to mount the recorder and other equipment in the same unit using the SmallRig ecosystem.

I was inspired by Sail Finland in his YouTube video
to get a SmallRig plate adapter that uses NP-F batteries and outputs 7.4v and 12v. He uses it to power a small monitor feed by the HDMI output when recording to his SD card.
I now use it to power my Atomos recorder to give me extended time. I plug the 12v output into the DC input of the Flame essentially giving me three NPF batteries to power my recorder/monitor. This is mounted on the SmallRig cage

This got me thinking about using such an adapter to power the camera via a dummy BLH1 connected to a NPF plate adaptor and getting extended recording time from the camera using a larger mAh battery.

I do have the HLD-9 so I could use an other battery to extend the recording time of the camera
but as I said I am using the SmallRig cage for the Mkii and unfortunately the HLD-9 will not fit when the Smallrig cage is attached meaning I am limited to one battery.
I could use two tripods and locate the cage plus Atomos and plate adaptor on a second tripod meaning the camera and HLD-9 would be on a one tripod giving me two batteries but still it would only be 2x1720mAh. AlsoI want to keep everything together.

Searching Aliexpress I found a KingMa DC jack to BLH1 Dummy Battery adaptor for the Em-1 Markii and a KingMa NP-F series Battery adaptor plate which outputs DC 7.2-8.4v from an NP-F battery. The BLH1 outputs 7.4v

Putting it altogether I ran some experiments to see how much extended camera battery life I got by using the Dummy Battery.
Clearly I expected longer battery life due to the much larger mAh and Wh for the NP-F over the BLH1 (5 times greater Wh from the Wasabi battery) but I want to see what the real world time was in my normal recording situation.


Equipment

Camera
Olympus OMD E-M1 Markii Firmware 3.5
Smallrig Camera cage for Em-1 mkii (not available at Smallrig site anymore. They seem to have given up on Olympus)
Olympus BLH1 battery 7.4v 1720mAh 12.8wH 100% charge
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-50mm zoom lens
KingMa DC jack to BLH1 Dummy Battery adaptor DR-BLH1
KingMa NP-F series Battery Adaptor plate DC 7.2-8.4v BM-F980D
Wasabi NP-F 8500mAh 63.0Wh

Recorder/Monitor
Atomos Ninja Flame
Atomos Battery ATOMBATOO3 5200mAh 38.5 Wh x2 (mounted)
SmallRig NP-F battery adapter DC 12v and DC 7.4v output. 12v output connected to Atomos DC input
Wasabi NP-F 8500mAh 63.0Wh on adapter
500gig SSD

Camera Setup for standard battery and dummy battery.
Video selection on top dial
Video Output HDMI no overlay, FHD SF 1980 50p
Static recording of scene while camera is on a tripod.

RESULTS
Standard Battery Olympus BLH1 1720mAh 12.8Wh
Note video is recorded on Atomos using Atomos controls to start and stop. There is no writing to the SD card or pushing the record button on the camera.
Camera shows 90mins of battery life in green indicator at start of recording and slowly counts down but not in realtime.
I stop recording when battery indicator is flashing empty but before it shuts down.
Recording time of video was 145mins in length.

Dummy battery King Ma
Note video is recorded on Atomos using Atomos controls to start and stop. There is no writing to the SD card or pushing the record button on the camera.
NP-F battery is Wasabi NP-F 8500mAh 63.Wh
Camera shows 100min battery life in green indicator at start of the recording and counts down but not in real time.
The recording was stopped at 270 mins as the 500gig SSD drive was full. The green battery "time remaining" indicator read 48min. The NP-F battery had 40% charge left. Clearly there was plenty of battery life left.
I will get a larger SSD drive.



COMMENT
Three things to note I think.
1 Using the dummy Battery and NP-F gives me the greatly extended time I wanted from the camera.

2 The "Time remaining" indicator on the camera does not directly correlate to the actual time remaining in this recording situation. This would suggest running some tests if you are doing long static recordings. There may be some linear relationship between the time remaining indicator and the actual time. Using the dummy battery the countdown seems to slow down when it reaching 80min. Prior to that there seemed to be a 1 min countdown to 2mins video time.

3 The use of an external recorder reduces the load on the camera batteries significantly from my experience as opposed to the load when recording to the SD card.


All in all, I am very pleased with the result and a shoutout to SailFinland for giving me the idea of using NP-F adapter plates for the extra power to the camera and recorder.

Pictures attached of the system.

Pic 1 Front view of system.
Pic 2 Back view of system. Dummy battery adapter plate on right.
 

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Michael Meissner

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Messages
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Note, there is another option if you could use the HLD-9 battery grip. The battery grip has a small power socket that the AC-5 adapter plugs into. Unfortunately, it isn't the standard 2.1 x 5.5mm power plug, but I have various adapter kits that fit on to the end of a 2.1 x 5.5mm power plug and change the tip size to various sizes. One of these tips fit into the HLD-9. I was able to power the E-m1 mark II with a 9 volt power source and it worked well.

I tend to think using this socket might be better if the weather conditions are damp (you would of course need to protect the Atomos from rain) as you aren't leaving the battery door open. It is a shame that Olympus officially support dummy batteries. Most of the Panasonic cameras I've seen have a space to thread the power line from a dummy battery and still close the door.

I really need to measure the voltage/amps of the power drawn. I did some quick tests and I was surprised the power draw seemed to be the same for both 1080k and 4K videos.

For simplicity, I took out both batteries from the HLD-9. I would hope it works with the batteries in. My previous E-m1 mark I and E-m5 mark I did work with both batteries and external power.

That being said, I just ordered a dummy battery for the times I don't want the HLD-9 (and because I like fooling around).

Though of course if you just use external HDMI recording instead of using the SD card, you are just shifting the power from the camera writing to the SD card to your Atmos writing to its cards or SSDs.

If you weren't using the Atmos with the larger NP-F batteries, another option is to get a USB battery with C-PD support (power delivery) use a 'trigger' cable. This is a dongle you attach to the USB C-PD power source, and it says you want a specific voltage (9 volts in the case of the camera). A lot of the USB C-PD batteries are 18 watts (i.e. can deliver 9 volts and 2 amps). In my quick tests, the power was in the range 9 volts and 0.5 - 0.7 amps (i.e. about 7 watts). But you probably want to go with the batteries that can put out 30 watts or more (9 volts at 3 amps) just in case the camera needs more power. If you upgrade to the E-m1 mark III, it supports USB C-PD directly, but it will not run unless the power source can supply 9 volts and at least 3 amps.

I have done video recording (to the internal SD card) on my G85, and I noticed the camera had switched to the in camera battery. I was able to open the grip door while the camera was still recording (on a tripod) and switch batteries. Once I closed the battery door, the camera immediately switched back to the grip battery.
 

Wairoakid

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Oct 3, 2012
Messages
54
Note, there is another option if you could use the HLD-9 battery grip. The battery grip has a small power socket that the AC-5 adapter plugs into. Unfortunately, it isn't the standard 2.1 x 5.5mm power plug, but I have various adapter kits that fit on to the end of a 2.1 x 5.5mm power plug and change the tip size to various sizes. One of these tips fit into the HLD-9. I was able to power the E-m1 mark II with a 9 volt power source and it worked well.

I tend to think using this socket might be better if the weather conditions are damp (you would of course need to protect the Atomos from rain) as you aren't leaving the battery door open. It is a shame that Olympus officially support dummy batteries. Most of the Panasonic cameras I've seen have a space to thread the power line from a dummy battery and still close the door.

I really need to measure the voltage/amps of the power drawn. I did some quick tests and I was surprised the power draw seemed to be the same for both 1080k and 4K videos.

For simplicity, I took out both batteries from the HLD-9. I would hope it works with the batteries in. My previous E-m1 mark I and E-m5 mark I did work with both batteries and external power.

That being said, I just ordered a dummy battery for the times I don't want the HLD-9 (and because I like fooling around).

Though of course if you just use external HDMI recording instead of using the SD card, you are just shifting the power from the camera writing to the SD card to your Atmos writing to its cards or SSDs.

If you weren't using the Atmos with the larger NP-F batteries, another option is to get a USB battery with C-PD support (power delivery) use a 'trigger' cable. This is a dongle you attach to the USB C-PD power source, and it says you want a specific voltage (9 volts in the case of the camera). A lot of the USB C-PD batteries are 18 watts (i.e. can deliver 9 volts and 2 amps). In my quick tests, the power was in the range 9 volts and 0.5 - 0.7 amps (i.e. about 7 watts). But you probably want to go with the batteries that can put out 30 watts or more (9 volts at 3 amps) just in case the camera needs more power. If you upgrade to the E-m1 mark III, it supports USB C-PD directly, but it will not run unless the power source can supply 9 volts and at least 3 amps.

I have done video recording (to the internal SD card) on my G85, and I noticed the camera had switched to the in camera battery. I was able to open the grip door while the camera was still recording (on a tripod) and switch batteries. Once I closed the battery door, the camera immediately switched back to the grip batteries
Thanks for this info about the USB battery . I too like fooling around with different options. I have never thought of powering the HLD-9 via the DC input with external 9v battery. Interesting that the HLD-9 needs 9v but the camera body will run on 7.4v. The main thing I have against the HLD-9 was that it can not fit on with the Smallrig camera cage installed which supports all my Atomos gear. In fact if it had fitted I would have probably just accepted the two batteries and done a swap during videos like you did as I have a number of BLH1. The NP-F however gives me plenty of video recording time and I just have to make sure I watch the weather (which I have to do with the Atomos). I was a bit leery of using the KingMa stuff at first but testing the voltage etc showed it seemed to be delivering what was promised.
 

Michael Meissner

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
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Messages
861
Location
Ayer, Massachusetts, USA
Thanks for this info about the USB battery . I too like fooling around with different options. I have never thought of powering the HLD-9 via the DC input with external 9v battery. Interesting that the HLD-9 needs 9v but the camera body will run on 7.4v. The main thing I have against the HLD-9 was that it can not fit on with the Smallrig camera cage installed which supports all my Atomos gear. In fact if it had fitted I would have probably just accepted the two batteries and done a swap during videos like you did as I have a number of BLH1. The NP-F however gives me plenty of video recording time and I just have to make sure I watch the weather (which I have to do with the Atomos). I was a bit leery of using the KingMa stuff at first but testing the voltage etc showed it seemed to be delivering what was promised.
I suspect it doesn't 'need' 9 volts, but 9 volts is an easy voltage to generate (it is one of the voltages that USB C-PD can deliver). I haven't tested smaller voltages. The original AC-1 (for the E-1/E-3/E-5 DSLRs) and AC-3 (for the HLD-6/HLD-7/HLD-8 grips) delivered 9 volts (or at least claimed to).

If you are going to keep batteries in the camera/grip, the voltage probably should be higher than that of the batteries (8.4 volts maximum, IIRC). When I bring out the volt/amp meters again, I should test varying voltages (I have an A/C adapter that has a knob and I can select various voltages).

In terms of the time remaining, I suspect Olympus just uses the voltage of the power source and does an interpolation of how much charge is left.

Panasonic cameras tend to have code that if the input voltage is greater than 8.4 volts, the camera assumes it is being powered externally (and turns off the battery meter, and probably doesn't go to sleep). Otherwise if it is 8.4 volts or less, the camera assumes it is being powered by a battery. On some Panasonic cameras, if the dummy battery isn't fully decoded (i.e. sets the resistors like Panasonic batteries do, so the camera assumes it is an 'official' battery), the camera will shut down if the voltage is 8.4 volts or less. I notice the E-m1 mark II does issue a warning for a non-Olympus battery, but it doesn't shut down (and the battery claimed to be fully decoded).
 
Last edited:

Wairoakid

Mu-43 Regular
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Oct 3, 2012
Messages
54
I suspect it doesn't 'need' 9 volts, but 9 volts is an easy voltage to generate (it is one of the voltages that USB C-PD can deliver). I haven't tested smaller voltages. The original AC-1 (for the E-1/E-3/E-5 DSLRs) and AC-3 (for the HLD-6/HLD-7/HLD-8 grips) delivered 9 volts (or at least claimed to).

If you are going to keep batteries in the camera/grip, the voltage probably should be higher than that of the batteries (8.4 volts maximum, IIRC). When I bring out the volt/amp meters again, I should test varying voltages (I have an A/C adapter that has a knob and I can select various voltages).

In terms of the time remaining, I suspect Olympus just uses the voltage of the power source and does an interpolation of how much charge is left.

Panasonic cameras tend to have code that if the input voltage is greater than 8.4 volts, the camera assumes it is being powered externally (and turns off the battery meter, and probably doesn't go to sleep). Otherwise if it is 8.4 volts or less, the camera assumes it is being powered by a battery. On some Panasonic cameras, if the dummy battery isn't fully decoded (i.e. sets the resistors like Panasonic batteries do, so the camera assumes it is an 'official' battery), the camera will shut down if the voltage is 8.4 volts or less. I notice the E-m1 mark II does issue a warning for a non-Olympus battery, but it doesn't shut down (and the battery claimed to be fully decoded).
Good suggestion regarding the time calculation. I am not sure what the voltage it is drawing.
The camera never issued a warning about a non Olympus battery using the Dummy. Just showed 100 minutes vs 90 minutes with genuine BLH1.

This was the specs

Specifications

1.NP-F Battery Adapter Plate


1Product NameNP-F Battery Adapter Plate
2Size95mm* 50mm* 21.5mm
3DC Input/Output7.2V-8.4V 2A(Min)
4USB Output5V 2A
5Weight100g
6SuitableFor NP-F550/F750/F970/F980 Series Batteries


2.BLH-1 Dummy Battery DC Coupler

1Product NameBLH-1 Dummy Battery DC Coupler
2ModelDR-BLH1
3DC Input7V-8.4V 2A (Min)
4DC ConnectorDC 5.5*2.1mm male plug
5Dummy battery output6V-8.4V
6FunctionFully decoded
7Cable length50cm/(Stretchable length: 150cm)
8Size51.6*38.8*22.8mm
9Weight65g


Functions:

The Dummy Battery has built-in latest advanced decoding circuit, it will display power level on the camera.

  • Allows you to power your camera with NP-F batteries to prolong your shooting time


Compatible camera models:

For Olympus E-M1 Mark II, E-M1 Mark III cameras
 

Michael Meissner

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Sep 19, 2018
Messages
861
Location
Ayer, Massachusetts, USA
Good suggestion regarding the time calculation. I am not sure what the voltage it is drawing.
The camera never issued a warning about a non Olympus battery using the Dummy. Just showed 100 minutes vs 90 minutes with genuine BLH1.

This was the specs

Specifications

1.NP-F Battery Adapter Plate


1Product NameNP-F Battery Adapter Plate
2Size95mm* 50mm* 21.5mm
3DC Input/Output7.2V-8.4V 2A(Min)
4USB Output5V 2A
5Weight100g
6SuitableFor NP-F550/F750/F970/F980 Series Batteries
Interesting product. Given it is decoded, it should allow using the bigger batteries, and you can judge when you need to change them.

This is the dummy battery I just bought:
It was one of two dummy BLH-1 batteries that I found from USA dealers (the other being the BLH adapter from tethertools.com). It doesn't mention being decoded, so we will see whether I get the message about non-Olympus battery or not.

I've had problems ordering from alibia and aliexpress in the past (plus the long lead times these days due to Covid), so I try to avoid them.

I had bought the previous BLN adapter from tethertools, and I was severely disappointed in the build quality (the cable started fraying with just moderate use -- but pictures of recent products show a different cable, so perhaps they fixed it).
 

Michael Meissner

Mu-43 Top Veteran
Joined
Sep 19, 2018
Messages
861
Location
Ayer, Massachusetts, USA
I just checked it out. The E-m1 mark II with no batteries and external power to the HLD-9 will run fine down to about 7 volts. I put it into C4K mode and did a short video at 7 volts, and it seems to be fine.
 

Wairoakid

Mu-43 Regular
Joined
Oct 3, 2012
Messages
54
I just checked it out. The E-m1 mark II with no batteries and external power to the HLD-9 will run fine down to about 7 volts. I put it into C4K mode and did a short video at 7 volts, and it seems to be fine.
Thanks Michael . Good information to have. I was surprised at the speed I got the Dummy from Aliexpress ( two weeks) and I am at the bottom of the world - New Zealand. I accidently first ordered a BLN1 battery and adapter from the KingMa before I realized I had mistaken the N for an H and had to order the BLH1. The BLN1 has not yet arrived but I can use it for my Em-5.
 

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