Introduction: Power Your Camera With USB

About: Eric Strebel, Industrial Designer of Botzen Design, designs products for industry around the world.

You can power your camera with the standard battery that came with your camera, or you can use an alternate power source, such as a USB power bank, or an iPad USB power adapter with a USB DC Drive Coupler

Many people buy and use numerous battery packs, or even extended packs, to power their digital cameras and camcorders.

I am going to show you how to use a common Apple 12W power adapter to run you camera continuously, or a USB power bank to run you camera for the whole day when you are mobile and shooting digital images or video.

What you will need:

  • Power pack pass through DC coupler (specific coupler for the make and model of your camera)
  • USB drive Power adapter cable (appropriate USB cable for your DC coupler as needed)
  • 12W iPad adapter, Genuine USB Apple unit.
  • USB power bank with 2.4A output (or a power bank recommended for your specific set up)

I stumbled upon this set up quite by chance after I purchased my Panasonic GF7 Micro Four Thirds Camera.

I was looking for a AC-DC coupler to power my camera. I had used such setups in the past for some of my point and shoot cameras, so I was familiar with the concept. During my search on ebay I cam across a seller that sold a USB DC coupler. Curious, I explored the listing, and purchased one.

Step 1: USB DC-Coupler and Drive Cable

DC Couplers should be available for any camera that has a removable battery, with a small flap that will allow the cable to emerge from the camera battery door. Voltages will vary based on your cameras requirements. So get the right one for your camera!

Sometimes these are also referred to as AC-DC couplers as they come with an AC adapter to plug them into the wall.

My unit consist of a Faux "battery" pack (DC coupler) with a short pigtail cable that has a female barrel jack on the end of it. The other part is a Vitesun USB Drive Cable (up converter) with a male barrel jack on one end with a USB Type "A" connector on the other. The up converter (DC Drive cable) changes the 5V USB to the required voltage (in my case 8.4V 2A) that the camera needs to function. The trick here is that the supplied USB voltage needs to have a minimum of 5V and 2.4A or 12W to work with this converter.

I got my unit from ebay,

There are many other units available form many other sellers, do your home work and ask the sellers questions if you are unsure.

Step 2: Apple 12W Power Adapter

For continuos fixed power, I use an Apple 12W power adapter. These are the adapters that were introduced when the iPad Pros were launched in September 2015

The 10W Apple power adapters will not work with my camera setup! I need the full 12W to make the USB unit work.

5.2V x 2.4A = 12.48W This is enough to satisfy the Vitesun USB and power my Panasonic GF7 Camera.

Another Bonus of the Apple chargers are the Built in Duck Bills that allow them to be used around the world on any voltage 110/220. And, you can plug them into a Double Barrel AC Power Cord Cable, Bonus!

I use this set up when I am doing extended time-lapse's that run for more that 12 hours, or if the camera is going to be in a fixed location for an extended amount of time.

Step 3: USB Power Bank

The USB power bank I am using is recommended for my DC drive cable. Make sure you check with the seller or manufacturer of your USB drive cable, to see what USB power bank or other power source they recommend.

I am using a NP-FW50 LP-E6 Camera 18650 power bank Model-QD185 made by 7 Electronic. This unit uses 5 18650 Lithium Ion cells. I am using Panasonic NCR18650B 3.7V 3400mAh Rechargeable Li-ion Batteries. These work very well for me. They can power my camera all day with out an issue.

The Power bank unit is easy to recharge on any Computer from a USB connector or the Apple 12W adapter with a Micro USB cable.

The entire set up is very convenient because it uses USB, a standard that most of us already use every day. We all have adapters for our Phones and tablets around the house, office, and vehicles that make using this system relatively convenient, easy to recharge and use.

I do wish that I could recharge the power bank and use the unit at the same time, sadly this is not possible with my power bank. Not sure if this is possible with other power banks, but it would be handy. If you know of a unit that outputs 2.4A and can be recharged while in use, leave a comment.

I got my unit here on ebay from the same seller that I go the DC coupler from.

Enjoy the video.