DP and Photography Pro Uses D-Tap To Overcome Power Constraints On Location

Posted by: on Sep 01, 2021

DP and Photography Pro Uses D-Tap To Overcome Power Constraints On Location

As a full-time photographer and videographer, I spend nearly 100% of my days on location. Without a clear home base where I can keep my gear set up, there are two things I always know for certain. One, any new car I buy needs to have enough trunk space to transport all my gear. Two, I need to know where my reliable sources of power will be so there’s no question that my gear, and my team, are rolling for the full shoot.

There Are Power Problems Everywhere

Early in my career I assisted for a lot of different photographers and remember how I hated going to places that didn’t have easily accessible power. Today, I routinely come across locations where conventional outlet power can be a challenge. Examples include farms, production facilities, construction sites, casinos, and anything outdoors.

Production facilities are always especially challenging.  Many are set up with very few power options other than those used to run the machinery at the facility. In the few locations that do have ample power, the size of the building requires I run yards of extension cords to make use of it. That introduces a hazard on set which me and my crew then need to spend time securing. With the size of most shot lists my clients give me, that’s precious time we should be spending recording images.

Typical “studio style” camera set up illustrating the use of D-Tap batteries.  Credit: Matt Ludtke Photography

Cutting The Power Cord When Shooting Photos Or Video

Whether I’m shooting photo or video, self-contained and battery powered gear brings convenience, efficiency, and safety. This is particularly true when the shoot has multiple set-ups in different spaces on a tight schedule.

One of the first big things I ever invested in to address these power challenges were a pair of Elinchrom Ranger battery powered strobes.  They are a pack and head setup that delivers the same type of output as large studio strobes that are typically powered through a wall outlet.  Battery powered strobes are the first thing I reach for when I need to set up lights on a still shoot.  I love the idea of being able to place these lights wherever I need them and not have to worry for a second where the nearest outlet is.

Video work presents a different set of challenges.  The nature of high output video lights sometimes dictates the need to have access to a power outlet.  With the advancements in LED technology, there are a lot of the newer constant light source fixtures used for video which can be powered with batteries. I have five lights in my basic interview lighting kit and all of them have the option to attach D-Tap, brick-style, batteries.

Running on battery power does mean you have to make sure you’ve enough batteries charged for your full shoot day. That is easily addressed with proper shoot prep and the flexibility and versatility of your set makes it worthwhile.

Expanding The Use Of D-Tap Power On Set

Because so much of my gear runs on D-Tap batteries, I always have extra, fully charged batteries in my kit. Recently, I was able to start putting a couple of those back-ups to work on set using the Tether Tools D-Tap to USB-C PD Power Adapter. It has proved to be one of those pieces of gear I didn’t know I needed until I had it. Now I can’t imagine going out on a shoot without it. Let me explain why.

D-Tap batteries have a large amount of capacity and output, but that output needs to be regulated.  For example, a lot of cinema cameras and lights on set can handle a range of voltage without a problem, and the typical 14.4v output that D-Tap batteries provide are within that range. When that powerful output is regulated, there are several other devices on set which can benefit from being able to draw power from a battery this size. On my sets, that includes computers, monitors, tablets, and cell phones. 

ONsite D-Tap to USB-C Power adapter being used to recharge small LED fixtures on set.
Credit: Matt Ludtke Photography
ONsite D-Tap to USBC Power adapter being used to recharge and power a Rhino slider on set. Credit: Matt Ludtke Photography
ONsite D-Tap to USB-C Power adapter being used to power a tablet on set so a director could remote it and direct the video shoot from another state. Credit: Matt Ludtke Photography

The D-Tap to USB-C PD Power Adapter provides both USB-C and USB-A ports for devices on set, and the unit regulates the power correctly to each device. As a result, one battery can almost last a full day. On still shoots, it gives me reliable power when I’m previewing images for a client, managing files or firing off a quick email to coordinate the final details of tomorrow’s shoot. On video shoots, it gives me the means to expand my video setup by sending the video signal wirelessly to a lightweight monitor my client can have in their hands throughout the shoot. On any set, simply having an option for a client to power their laptop or phone can make me a hero in their eyes.

All the gear required to be prepared for each shoot leaves little room in my vehicle once its packed. However, I’m always willing to create a little more space for new gear, such as the D-Tap to USB-C PD Power Adapter, that helps me discover new ways to execute both creatively and technically.

See more work from Matt at www.ludtkephoto.com or @mattludtkephotography on Instagram.

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