Making a Compact Sony a7S II Rig with Hawk Woods Mini V-Lock Batteries

This is a guest review by director of photography and cinema5D reader Scott Leslie who tried to find a way to make his Sony a7S II rig more efficient and compact by adding a power-solution from Hawk-Woods. Let’s take a look.

When I saw Olaf von Voss’s cinema5D news post of the Hawk-Woods Mini V-Lok batteries, I was excited by the possibility of shrinking down my Sony a7S II rig.  As many of you know, the Sony a7S II is an amazing low light camera that delivers really nice images, especially for its price range.  I’ve owned one for a couple of years now and I’ve shot a ton of commercial, industrials and I’m about to shoot my second feature on it.  But, in order to use the Sony a7S II as a proper cinema camera, you need to Frankenstein a large rig around it.  While the body of the a7S II is only 1 pound, once built up, my rig came in at 20 pounds!  So, I was interested in a solution that could both lighten up my rig and make it more compact.

How to Shrink and Lighten Your Rig with the Hawk-Woods Mini V-Lok Batteries and V-Lok Mini Adaptor Plate

Hawk-Woods sent me a couple of their mini M100HP batteries along with their V-Lok mini adaptor plate (VLM-DC6) that comes with 4 D-Tap outs as well as USB charger connection.  They also sent me cabling needed to connect everything:

  • A D-Tap to Sony a7S II battery dummy – that convert the power down to 8.4v
  • The same kind of cable/converter for Canon battery, which is what my Zacuto Gratical HD EVF takes.
  • And a D-Tap to 2.1 mm jack for the ATOMOS Shogun Flame.

After trying out a few different mounting options, this is my final configuration of my rig.

I was amazed to see that the Hawk-Woods Mini V-lok Battery System offers all the benefits of a standard size V-lock battery in a little over a third of the size and weight. So, if you’re looking for long running times but want to save on weight and space, this is definitely a good battery option for you.  These batteries are fully compatible with existing V-lock mounts and chargers.

4 Different Watt Hour Versions

Now there are 3 different watt hour levels to choose from: the VL-M50 is 50Wh, the VL-M100 is 100Wh and there’s even a VL-M150 that is… you guessed it, 150 Wh.

For those of you who travel a lot on playes, these batteries would be perfect.  If you have the VL-M50 or M100 then you can carry on as many as you want.  If you have the VL-M150 then you’re allowed to carry on 2 of them. There small size weight will allow you to carry more batteries and have a lighter bag!

No D-Tap on Batteries, but 4 of them on the V-Lok Mini Adapter

The V-Lok Mini Adapter (VLM-DC6) worked out perfectly on my rig.  It’s well made anodized deep back box houses one USB (5V 2A) output and four D-Tap outputs.  One thing to note is, in order to shrink the mini V-lok battery down, Hawk-Woods did have to remove the D-Tap output on the battery, but they more than made up for it with the 4 D-Tap outputs on the mini adapter. One nice feature is the battery sits flush to the top of the V-Lok mini adapter, which allows you the option of mounting the unit upside down without worrying about jostling the battery when you set your camera down.  This is not the case with full size V-lock batteries.

I’m really impressed by the Hawk-Woods mini V-Lok batteries. When you compare them to a standard size battery the benefits are obvious. The fact that they have engineered the same Wh’s into this tiny battery is simply fantastic.

What’s your battery solution of choice? Have you tried to shrink your battery setup before, or does the weight and size of your brick batteries not bother you so much? Let us know in the comments below.