Can Viltrox and SmallRig Disrupt Cinema Camera Batteries?

SmallRig and Viltrox V-Mount Batteries
Credit: SmallRig and Viltrox
Both companies started by making simple accessories. Now they want to master the complicated ones.

After making a wide variety of cages and camera accessories, SmallRig has moved into lighting and wireless follow-focus units. Viltrox, on the other hand, started with lens adapters and focal reducers before moving on to cinema lenses. 

Now, both companies are taking a stab at making a better V-mount battery for your cinema camera with the SmallRig VB mini line and the new Viltrox BV-99. 

But do these new tools have enough reliability and features to give filmmakers a reason to switch from trusted brands? Let's get into it.

Small Rig, Smart Power

The SmallRig VB99 and VB50 mini V-mount batteries came out in July of 2022. To make these new kids on the block attractive to creatives, SmallRig focused on making the battery smart and keeping it compact.

SmallRig’s battery management system (or BMS) chip was designed to take up less space while supporting multiple charging protocols. This includes bi-directional USB-C PD fast charging at a max of 45W for the VB50 and 65W for the VB99. 

SmallRig VB99 Battery Internal breakdown
Marketing jargon aside, you are getting a modern battery with a modern feature setCredit: SmallRig

The SmallRig VB99 is rated at 99Wh, giving you 14.8V and 6.7Ah. The VB50 comes in at 50Wh, with 14.8V and 3.4Ah. Both have one D-Tap port that gives you in and out, with dual DC ports on the bottom giving you 8V and 12V. That’s 24W and 36W, respectively.

Next to that, creatives will also find USB-C and USB Type-A ports for running those small follow focus units or charging their smartphone. To top it all off, you’ll find a nice little screen on the back giving you battery percentages. 

The standard size of both batteries is also much smaller than your usual V-Mount fare. According to SmallRig, at least 30% smaller. With how small cameras are getting these days, like the RED Komodo and Z Cam, compact seems to be the way of the future. But if you need more power, you can always go for the VB155, which will give you 155Wh. 

SmallRig VB99 Battery
Besides the D-Tap and V-Mount connector, these are all the ports you getCredit: SmallRig

From Lens Adapters to Power Delivery

The Viltrox BV-99, on the other hand, only comes in one flavor: 99Wh at 14.8V. Having said that, it has many of the same features (with a little extra) as the SmallRig competition. 

A nice little screen on the back gives you all the necessary battery info you’d need, while each side hosts a single D-Tap port, giving you two instead of the one from SmallRig. At the top, you’ll also find a USB-C (with the same PD fast charging feature) and USB Type-A port. 

The size is also pretty compact, which is a great fit for smaller cinema cameras, monitors, and lighting tools you may be using. 

Viltrox BV-99 v-mount battery
No DC ports, but you get an extra D-TapCredit: Viltrox

Same Battery, Different Shell?

With how similar the SmallRig VB99 mini and Viltrox BV-99 are, we wouldn’t blame you if you assumed they're the same tech but in a different shell. While the components may be similar, if not identical, creatives are getting a different flavor from each company. 

What does that even mean? Well, you have different design language and exterior components. Creatives will also get different ports depending on which brand they chose.

But which do you choose? That all depends on your needs.

If you need more D-Tap ports, the Viltrox will be a solid choice.

Need more DC ports or a small Watt-hour? Go for SmallRig.

But are they disruptive? Yeah, a little. For the price that both the SmallRig and Viltrox are going for, you're getting a few extra ports and quality-of-life features (like the design and screen) that other brands just don't have. It's not revolutionary, but it sure gives the competition something to think about. 

While these batteries may be attractive on the outside, how they perform on the inside remains to be seen. When it comes to electricity, reliability, safety, and longevity are the cornerstones of a good product. Figuring out how both SmallRig and Viltrox will fare in the long term will take some time. However, we are hearing some good things!

What do you think about these two batteries? Would this be something you’d want in your toolkit?

Let us know in the comments!     

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1 Comment

Biggest disruption for batteries and power for me on projects recently are USB-PD adapters. USB-C to 12volt adapters have been a game changer for me. A lot of my gear is also starting to come with USB-C for power anyway. It’s pretty easy to pick up a battery pack with USB PD at a local store making travel a lot easier as well. And the batteries are way cheaper

March 31, 2023 at 6:40AM

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Nathanael Neveux
Cinematographer, Editor
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