The Two Best Secrets in Film & Photography: The Vagabond Mini & Our V-Mount Adapter

The Two Best Secrets in Film & Photography: The Vagabond Mini & Our V-Mount Adapter

Updated 11/29/21 We are in no way affiliated with Paul C. Buff, Inc. (the makers of the Vagabond Mini battery). But, if you have not heard about the Vagabond Mini battery, it is hands down one of the best batteries out there. The only flaw is that, until now, there has really been no way to mount it to your lights, cameras, computers, etc.

First, a little background on the Vagabond Mini battery. It is a 130Wh 14.8V battery (almost everything in the camera world runs off 14.8V). It can provide up to 30A of power (unheard of in any V-Mount or Anton Bauer Gold Mount battery) and is regulated at the low end to cut off at 11V (also unheard of in a V-Mount or Anton Bauer battery). And the absolute deal sealer is this battery only costs $89 $120. Yup, $89 $120. Try searching around for any V-Mount or Anton Bauer battery with those specs for $89 $120. Or even $200. To find a comparable 130Wh battery that can handle the same load as the Vagabond Mini in a V-Mount or Anton Bauer, you will be looking to pay closer to $400. And, still, many of those $300 batteries may top out at 8 amps of current draw—you won't be able to run some of your higher current draw devices like higher draw LED lights (like the Aputure LS C300d) or power your MacBook Pro.

The 11V cutoff that I mentioned above is key because of several reasons. Most 14.8v batteries will not discharge down to 11V. Many even cutoff as high as 13.5V. What does that mean for the user? Basically, less run time. But who cares if a battery will go down to 11V if my device takes 14.8V? Most devices specify 14.8V for the standard but actually have a range they can accept and some are even as wide as 8-30V. If the battery cuts off (shuts down) at 13V or so, there's a lot of power left in there. So, why wouldn't all the manufacturers set their cutoff point lower at 11V like the Vagabond Mini. It used to be that conventional wisdom says that for a Lithium-Ion 4s battery (which is what 14.8V batteries are), you should never discharge lower than 12-13V. But nowadays some tests even show that 10V is safe with newer batteries. Most likely, many manufacturers are still playing it super safe and only letting their batteries discharge to 13V. Over discharging a battery can effectively kill it or even make it unsafe. But we routinely discharge the Vagabond Mini batteries until they shutoff (11V) with no apparent consequences and some of my Vagabond Mini batteries are going on eight years old.

Now, back to the flaw of the Vagabond Mini battery—it has a proprietary mount that is intended to work with the Vagabond Mini power inverter and they don't make a mount to work with your standard V-Mount or Anton Bauer devices. Which is why we made the Vagabond Mini to V-Mount adapter. For the past two years we have been using the Vagabond Minis to power everything from laptops to lights to monitors to WiFi hubs to cameras.

Another weakness of the Vagabond Mini battery is the casing is not super robust. We have never broken one but you can tell that a fall off a camera cart could crack the casing or munch the power connectors. Whereas there are some V-Mount and Anton Bauer batteries that are specifically robustly built to withstand those abuses for rental houses. But you could probably drop and break three or four Vagabond Minis for less than price of one of those robust name brand batteries.

Anyway, through our behind-the-scenes videos and Instagram stories, many of you have noticed the adapter we have been using and have asked us to make them available for everyone. You can find them here and, as of today, they are ready to ship. Here's the video version of this with some closer looks at the adapter: