Trusting the Force – Introducing the PATONA Dual USB Charger

While ordering the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC), well aware that the camera didn’t come with a separate battery charger, I took care to order a no-name brand single charger together with a pair of spare Li-Ion EN-EL20 batteries. It was a single battery charger which also came delivered with a car charger adapter for charging batteries while driving, which I tought was a good feature that would come handy in the field on film locations. The no-name charger worked allright for my initial needs while charging at home from the AC mains power supply. However, taking a trip with the car a month ago I tried to charge my EN-EL20 batteries with the car charger adapter, but it didn’t work properly. The no-name charger has a LED light which indicates green for fully chaged and red while charging; putting a discharged battery would have indicated red but when plugging it to the car power feed it indicated green. When I tried to plug it into a AC mains power supply later that same day, it still indicated green and refused to charge the battery. Apparently it malfunctioned in the process and failed on me – the charger was damaged or simply broke.

The old no-name charger (left) compared to the new PATONA charger (right; not in scale)
The old no-name charger (left) compared to the new PATONA charger (right) with attached cables (not in scale)

Knowing that I still needed a charger I started to look somewhere else, using the refund to buy a better product (cudos to Fyndiq, the web shop from which I purchased the faulty charger, who didn’t make a fuss when I made my complaint). Already when buying the no-name charger three months ago I regretted not buying a dual chager, which would make operation of the camera much more smooth on a shoot, as my BMPCC never would be without batteries (with one inside the camera while two were charging). Also, I decided never to buy a no-name brand electronic device in my life from now on, especially for my camera kit. I thank the gods that the charger didn’t fail on me during a important shoot, which would have been disasterous. Even the simplest of things have to works seamlessly, as components in a field equipment kit are important cogs in a larger machinery. Initially, I thought of buying a original Nikon charger (the brand which designed the EN-EL20 battery), but the MH-27 model felt way to ankward in operation and oversized for only being a single charger. I continued my search on the web but luckily it didn’t take me that long to find what I was searching for, one dual charger branded PATONA on Batteries-Online.se.

patona
The PATONA Dual USB Charger

The PATONA Dual USB Charger costed me twice as much as the no-name charger, but it had a brand name (PATONA International S.L.U., Hilzingen, Germany) and it did charge two batteries simultaneously. What attracted me to this specific model was that it used the USB standard, useable with a standard smartphone USB to Micro-USB cable, making it versatile in its connectability, such as using a USB car charger, etc. It was delivered two weeks ago and came with its own Micro USB cable. However, as I already have a Samsung USB to Micro-USB cable, attached to a iPhone charger, I decided to use that instead. I also plan to buy a Car Charger with a USB port. The PATONA charger is designed in Germany and manufactured in China. It has a sleak plastic design, with the size of a smartphone (which also attracted me to it) and very light weight. The specifications for the PATONA charger reads as follows. Input: Micro USB 5V, 2.1A (MIN). Output: 730mA x 1 / 730mA x 2 or 700mA x 1 / 500mA x 2. It only operates in temperatures between 0° to 40° C. It charges up to two batteries independently, with each charging bay having its own LED light which lights red when the battery is chargning, with green indicating that the battery is fully charged. When any of the batteries is fully charged, the charger automatically shuts off the system (cuts off power).

The PATONA charger securily stowed into my Clas Ohlson Instrument Case
The PATONA charger and cables securily stowed into my Clas Ohlson Instrument Case

I have only used the charger once, charging batteries for my latest project, the XmasTree Hunt (due for publication soon), and it worked flawlessly. I estimate that it charges a fully discharged EN-EL20 battery for slightly longer than one hour (which was approximately the same amount of time that the disused charger took to charge one battery). I have yet to try to use the new charger in the car. Considering its sleak design and quite attractive looks (being black and yellow), it fits perfectly into my instrument safe case. I had to make a simple adjustment to the foam lining inserts, mending some cuts that I had made for the old and disused charger, using parts of the cutout foam cubes and superglue. (I have come to realise that it is easy to mend the foam lining of the instrument case, either it it brakes because of its pre-cut pattern or if I have to rearrange parts of it, using superglue.) But after some simple modifications, the new charger has found its new home into my camera hard case. I want to keep all of the essential stuff relating to the camera in one case for runt-and-gun situations. The original white Samsung Micro-USB cable and original white iPhone AC charger fits nicely into the Meteor 5-1 sun hood compartment of the hard case, where I also will store the future USB car charger.

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