December 16, 2021

Alphatracks

Sony and Minolta SLR Weblog

Battery magazine keeps cells organized.

Battery magazine keeps NP-FW50s organized.

Never worry about your Sony Batteries Again with this Battery Magazine

Never worry about your Sony Batteries Again with this Battery Magazine

The original design spec for the Sony Mirrorless cameras called for them to be small and exceptionally light. The heaviest part of any digital camera is the battery pack, so the Sony engineers complied by equipping the new breed of cameras with the featherweight NP-FW50 battery. Although less robust than larger camera batteries, NP-FW50 is still powerful for its size and weight.

Photographers loved the scaled-down camera bodies and their near weightlessness. They were less enthusiastic about the NP-FW50’s lack of stamina. Probably the biggest complaint against the new EVIL cameras was how quickly the battery died.

This isn’t an issue for me. Yes, the batteries go flat more rapidly than the larger, beefier cells of other digital cameras. But it takes almost no time to switch out an NP-FW50 for a fully-charged one, so this has never impacted my photography. I carry several NP-FW50s in my camera bag, and I have never found myself in a situation where lack of a fresh battery was an issue.

Bare battery magazine
Strong, one-piece design hollds four batteries.

Where is that Battery Hiding?

That is unless I can’t find a fresh battery. Did I mention the NP-FW50 is very small? Like all minuscule things, the NP-FW50 has the ability to burrow deep into the bottom of a camera bag, hiding amidst the filters, sync-cords, lens caps, and other paraphernalia I carry in my bag. Hey, they don’t call ’em gadget bags for nothing.

I carry five or six NP-FW50s in my bag, but I quickly discovered it was a chore to find a fresh battery when I needed one. When I dug a cell from the nether regions of my bag, I couldn’t tell whether it was charged or expired. As I said, it takes mere seconds to switch batteries on a Sony Mirrorless camera. If you have to perform this maneuver several times to find a working battery, however, it is no longer quick and easy.

Amazon Strikes out

Obviously, I needed a way to find my charged batteries instantaneously. I started checking Amazon for battery cases. I found some hard cases that were designed to hold a few batteries as well as memory cards. I rejected these for two reasons. First, they only held only two, or at the most three power cells. Secondly, I already have an excellent Pelican memory card case integrated into my workflow. 

Amazon had some soft pouches designed to hold batteries but didn’t care for them. There were enough compartments for all my batteries but the NP-FW50s would swim inside the large pockets. They simply weren’t an elegant solution.

So I went searching beyond Amazon. I found exactly what I was looking for on Etsy. Yes, Etsy. 

I always thought of Etsy as a craft site, a place to find soap dishes made out of pine cones or stylish leather vests that look like they were worn by a timber baron from the 1800s. It certainly wouldn’t be a place to look for digital camera accessories.

SplashNcolor on Etsy had just what I wanted

How wrong I was. I discovered you can find nearly anything on Etsy, including used cameras and lenses. Regarding the matter at hand, I discovered a seller called SplashNcolor

SplashNcolor uses a 3D printer to produce elegant, perfectly designed battery magazines for the NP-FW50. This was just the item I was searching for. The compact no-nonsense clip holds four NP-FW50 cells. The cells fit tightly in their individual chambers. Each chamber has a tab that prevents the battery from sliding out into the bag or your pocket.  

Tabs securing cells in the battery holder
Tabs secure batteries in place.

When you want to extract the battery just push down on the tab and the battery pops out into your hand.

To identify whether a cell is fresh or discharged, I place freshly charged batteries in the magazine with the contacts facing away. When I take a flat battery from my camera, I insert it into the clip so the contacts are visible. This way, I can grab the clip from my bag and tell at a glance how many charged batteries are available. 

When I return home from a shoot, I can immediately tell which cells I need to recharge.

This Battery Magazine is with me on Every Shoot

The clip usually lives in a specific pocket of my backpack. Sometimes, I don’t need to carry all my gear, so I switch to my smaller messenger bag. It takes no time to transfer my battery clip and my memory card case to the messenger bag, so I don’t arrive at a shoot without the necessary accessories.

When I am in the field, I sometimes leave the camera bag in a safe location and range around with just a camera and a lens or two. While it is a little bulky, the battery magazine fits easily into the pocket of my jeans, so I know I won’t find myself a half-mile away from my gear staring at a message on my LCD informing me “battery exhausted.”

Of course, if you lose the magazine, you lose four batteries at once. With that in mind, I coughed up a couple of extra bucks to have SplashNcolor print my magazine in bright red. The default ones are printed in black, but for a slight upcharge, you can have your magazine printed in various bright colors. I figure red makes it easier to find in the gadget bag, and if it should fall out of my pocket in the woods, the shiny red color will be easy to spot.

The red-orange color also matches the Storacell AA battery holder I use.

I was a little concerned with how well the magazine would hold up. Would the 3D-printed plastic become brittle and crack? What if I dropped it on a hard surface with a full complement of batteries? Would the plastic lock tabs break over time?

My Battery Magazine has held up well

I needn’t have worried. I have toted the battery magazine around for several months in all kinds of weather conditions. I’ve dropped it and tossed heavy camera gear on top of it. It still looks brand new and there is no suggestion that the magazine will fail to provide service for many years to come.

It took me about a week to get my battery magazine because the special color had to be printed on demand. Apparently, the black ones are printed in advance and can be shipped immediately.

If you shoot with a camera that relies on the NP-FW50 battery, I cannot recommend this magazine enough. I would never want to be on a shoot without it.


Click here to buy the Sony NP-FW50 battery holder at SplashNcolor’s Etsy shop.