I ordered in two Sony NPF970 batteries for my HVR-Z7 this week. I must have a collection of 6 Sony batteries which work with this camera, some up to 10 years old and barely working, and another 3 from a third party manufacturer.
Now it causes me pain to spend over £200 on two batteries, but it had to be done. Here's what I've been through with batteries over the last number of years.
The Sony batteries are great - they run long, incredible power for such a small shell. I remember batteries close to 10 times larger in the early days of Betacam which cost five times as much and only ran for half an hour. But that was 20 years ago.
The collection of Sony NPF batteries which I already had, purchased with different cameras over the years, work to varying degrees. Some give me no more than 1/2 an hour of power, other one to two hours. Considering a new battery will provide 4 - 5 hours of power why am I limiting myself on location when one will shoot for hours at a time, straight to card with tape running as a backup, or straight to tape to hand over to the client.
In addition to my ageing collection of Sony batteries I also have three other batteries which work with the camera made by a third party manufacturer. These batteries are great for long life, in good condition, and have years of life left in them. Only there is a slight problem. These batteries, while they do work with the Z7, are not perfect. About one in five or eight times when powering up the camera I will get a warning which reads "only use Sony Info lithium batteries in this camera." If I power down, or remove the battery, and then switch on again, everything works fine. A minor inconvenience for batteries which cost significantly less, yet an inconvenience which can cost a vital shot. HDV isn't always the quickest of formats to go into record, finding a place to cut into that GOP stream can sometimes take a few seconds. So between powering up, switching on and off, and getting the camera into record mode can cost one from capturing the action unfolding before ones eyes. This hasn't been a massive issue, I'm making more of it than it deserves, but it is inconvenient enough for me to want to take this problem and fix it.
Then there is another problem - and to me this one is massive.
The MRC1 Compact Flash that fits onto the back of the Z7 will only fit onto the back of Sony NPF batteries, so my third party batteries, which are shaped differently, will power the camera but not allow one to use the unit. This is a major issue.
I bought the Z7 for several reasons: records tape and card, allows for SD and HD, interchangeable lenses....all of these rely on power. If there is any interruption to the power supply, even for a few seconds, than everything else is out the window. And to not be able to record to card either, something will literally do away with hours of capture, well that doesn't work for me.
So I spent £200 and bought the genuine Sony batteries. I know these will work and work well.