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PROCUBE2 - A GAME CHANGER!

PROCUBE2 - A GAME CHANGER!

Pro Landscape Photographer, Graham Daly tests out the hähnel PROCUBE2

When I was recently asked by hähnel to test out the new and improved PROCUBE2, a professional twin charger for DSLR cameras, and to give my personal opinions and feedback on the product, I naturally jumped at the opportunity!

Over the last several years I have used a wide variety of shutter release cables from hähnel and I have always loved them. Initially I started with the standard wired release cables but over the more recent years I have been using the excellent wireless Captur remote systems. I absolutely love these wireless remotes and they are very much a staple part of my Photography kit.

So as I mentioned above, I was certainly more than happy to get my hands on the new PROCUBE2 and put it through its paces. I had heard good things from several of my photographer peers regarding the original PROCUBE product offering and I also knew that many of these same photographers were really happy with the updated features in the “mark 2”  offering of the PROCUBE product range, such as the newly designed cable-less charging plate replacing the old wired plate.

Before I dive into this blog post, let me just preface it by stating that this is not a tech-spec review or a rehash of the product information that hähnel already has available on their site via their product pages. But rather this is simply a straight-to-the-point review of the product from my own personal perspective with respect to its real world usage and application within my own daily workflows as a Professional Freelance Landscape Photographer. I will go through what I love and also some observations I noted about the product that might be addressed at a later stage in the product lifecycle.


How the PROCUBE2 integrates into my Photography Business

As a Professional Freelance Photographer I provide and cater for a wide variety of photography jobs and tasks. Everything from Product Photography within the convenient confines of my home office, to Product Photography on-location, to leading group based Landscape Photography Workshops as well as 1-2-1 sessions throughout various locations around Ireland. As my cameras are constantly in operation and utilizing Live View, I do tend to go through batteries rather quickly. Even more so when I am standing out under the stars on a cold night photographing the Milky Way – the cold really does suck the life right out of the batteries!

Having a portable charging system that enables for the simultaneous charging of 2 of my Canon camera batteries or the charging of 4 AA batteries while either at my home office or else out on the road travelling between locations/photo shoots is a game changer for me and my needs.

As with many photographers, I do usually try to ensure that my batteries are fully charged and that I have some spares with me in my bag in order to ensure that I am equipped with the power requirements to satisfy my various photography jobs/tasks that are lined up for that given day. However there are always those days where I forget to charge some of them after a long night of astrophotography (the sleep depravation can make you forgetful!) as well as those occasions where a battery might fail and quickly start to lose its charge, it can happen!

Also there is the dilemma that I have several batteries that I need to fully charge in the shortest time possible so that I can get out of the door on time instead of waiting around for all of my batteries to completely charge. The battery chargers that are supplied by the camera manufactures only enable the charging of a single battery at a time and even with two of these OEM chargers, it can still take a substantial amount of time to charge all of my batteries!

And this is the beauty of the PROCUBE2 with respect to meeting my own personal photography needs. I now have both the option and capability to charge two batteries at the same time whether it is at home or while making my way between locations. The amount of time it takes to charge all of my batteries at home is reduced and the added flexibility charging while on the go in my Land Rover is definitely a game changer for me!

My First Impressions

As soon as I opened the PROCUBE2 box, I fell in love with certain aspects of the product straight away. Firstly, the packaging is lovely. It really stands out on a camera store shelf I think. And good packaging always helps to provide a good impression with the customer, and it certainly did that for me!

Secondly, I loved that the unit is so small and light, it literally fits and balances on the palm of my hand. It can be carried easily in my bag or I can simply leave it within the 4x4 so that it is there whenever I need the mobile charging.

Thirdly, I really liked the contents of the package. I opted for the Canon version which enables me to not only charge the Canon LP-E6 batteries that my Canon 6D runs on but was also pleasantly surprised to discover that it comes with three additional charging plates. One is the AA charging plate, and the other two plates are for the Canon LP-E8 and LP-E17 batteries. I don’t currently have use for the former but the latter is the battery that runs my Canon M6 mirrorless camera. So that was great!

I also really like that devices are colour coded depending on what camera platform they are intended for. The Canon model is of silver variant, the Nikon version is a shade of grey, Panasonic/Fuji model is blue, the Olympus model is brown/bronze colour and lastly the Sony version is orange. This will be very useful for quick identification of the correct charger for those of lucky enough to have a mixture of camera systems and thus a requirement to have multiple different versions of the PROCUBE2 charger.

Lastly, it is pretty cool that the unit also contains a USB connection so that I can charge my phone if needed while on the road as well.

 


My Observations & Conclusions

Below are a few quick things that I noticed while using and testing the product.

When you are charging the Canon batteries, the display unit on the PROCUBE2 quickly and easily show you a percentage of the current battery charge and therefore you can deduce or guesstimate how long more is needed to fully charge the batteries. However, when you are charging the AA batteries, the display unit only shows you a charging battery icon and so there is no real way to guess how long more is needed to fully charge the batteries.

Also, while you can charge either one or two of the Canon batteries using their respective charging plates, the AA charging plate needs to be populated with all four battery before the charging process engages. I am guessing this is because of the device needing to close the loop/circuit before engaging but there are plenty of times when I wanted to charge only two of my AA batteries but was forced to stick all four into the charging plate just to charge the two batteries that I required.

Another thing that I would love to see in a later revision of the product or even made available as an additional add-on would be an AAA charger. I have a lot of head torches in my camera bag, for navigating in the dark while on locations and most of these use AAA batteries. While not directly a camera accessory per se, they are definitely staple parts of a Landscape Photographer’s kit bag and so having the option to charge AAA batteries as well as AA batteries would be awesome!



Lastly the PROCUBE2 comes with a small hole at the back which when pressed, releases the charging plate so that you can take it out and stick in one of the other plates that comes in the box. Attached to the manual in the box is a small metal pin, similar to what you would get with your phone when looking to remove a SIM card. It is not very practical for me to bring this around with me while moving from location to location as I will just probably lose it. Now, I can still release the plate by using a biro/pen or something similar but for me personally I would prefer if the PROCUBE2 came with a quick release button on the back instead that I could simply press with my finger instead.

The above are really only small aspects though that really does not bother me that much with respect to using the product on a daily basis. In fact, I LOVE this product and I will definitely be looking to get my hands on the Sony version at some stage in order to charge all of the batteries that my Sony A7r quickly eats through!

All things considered, I would recommend (and have been recommending) this awesome product to any of my clients and photographer friends.  

 

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