One of the things that can make your life as astrophotographer a bit easier is to have an external power source for your DSLR instead of using the in camera batteries. Turns out that it doesn’t make any difference on dark current, but it’s the increased capacity that matters. Most of us will want to ‘leave and forget’ their setup running for a certain amount of time once we are setup and everything is running smoothly. But with the potential of your camera’s battery running out this is sometimes tricky (checking battery) or will cause loss of exposure time because the battery ran out.
Another situation we need more capacity than 1 battery might offer is when we are doing time lapses. This is another setup you might want to just get up and running and only return to wrap it back up at the end of the night. You’ll need more battery capacity in most cases! An external battery with bigger capacity is the useful solution here.
External battery for Nikon cameras
I hear surprisingly often that there is way to power a Nikon camera with external power. I can assure this is not true, as there are multiple solutions to power the Nikons with a power bank or even using regular power outlet.
What you’ll need is a battery adapter. This battery adapter is basically just like a regular battery, except it is connected to a cable that you can hook up to the power bank or the AC converter.
The battery adapter have different names for the different batteries they represent. So be sure to check you have the right one for your particular camera model!
EP-5A; For EN-EL14 battery replacement in Nikon D3100, D3200, D3300, D5100, D5200, D5300>
EP-5B; For EN-EL15 battery replacement in Nikon D500, D600, D610, D7000, D7100, D750, D800, D810(a)
EP-5; For EN-EL9 battery replacement in Nikon D40, D40X, D60
The official Nikon adapters are said to be a bit ‘wonky’ at the connection between the battery adapter and either the AC adapter or the battery pack. Also, like with all official Nikon accessories, they are way more expensive than 3rd party alternatives. In all cases you should be sure to check the reviews for comments on the connection of the cables!
Next to the battery adapter you’ll need the actual AC adapter or battery pack of course. It is important that the power source will have 7.2V – 8.4V as output. So you can’t just hook the battery adapter on to any powerbank you might already have. Be careful to check the output of your power source as the wrong current might hurt your camera!
The official AC adapter is called EH-5/EH-5A or EH-5B.
Ex-Pro Nikon On-The-Move
The solution I’m currently using is the Ex-Pro Nikon On-The-Move 7600mAh power bank with power adapter. You can simply get a separate addition adapter if you want to be able to use this with different camera models that use different batteries.
The connection from the battery adapter to the power bank is very solid and I have never suffered a disconnect. The power bank works just fine. It comes with a nice sleeve for some additional protection and ways to hang/stick/mount it to your setup. Or simply attach it to your belt if you are moving around and what to use this. I used it in Namibia where the temperature gets to 0 degrees Celcius and it keeps working just fine.
The only thing you’ll have to do is to paint the leds for the charge indication. It’s a blue color that’s quite bright. Just get some red nail polish and make them dim and red