Hey ho folks! On today’s edition of the y! Shootout, we’re gonna put 2 USB battery chargers for the Sony FW50 battery to the test. We’re even gonna throw the old standard AC powered Sony charger into the fray just to see how that mixes things up.
The results might just surprise you.
External battery chargers are something most people often don’t worry much about, as one is often packaged together with your new camera purchase. For users of recent Sony mirrorless camera users though, external battery chargers are a very real cause for concern. Since the release of the NEX-5N (which introduced in-camera USB charging), the old BC-VW1 battery charger that used to be bundled together with every NEX started to disappear from NEX (and subsequent Sony Alpha ILCE) retail bundles everywhere.
While USB charging on its own is convenient, for people with multiple batteries (considering the FW50 battery does only about 300 shots on average), having to charge and switch multiple batteries isn’t as fun. Expecially when most Sony mirrorless cameras are totally unusable when in “charging” mode.
But AC powered chargers like the BC-VW1 means more plugs to take care of. A USB powered, external charging solution would be much more convenient these days, wouldn’t it?
With that in mind, we’ve collected two USB external chargers for the FW50 for today’s y! Shootout: the Kingma Dual USB Charger and the MTB USB charger. We’re even including the old Sony BC-VW1 AC-powered charger for good measure.
With that sorted out, let the games begin!
DESIGN / BUILD QUALITY
The three chargers compared today are all made from plastic, though quality-wise it’s plain to see that the first-party BC-VW1 easily trumps the rest. The Kingma isn’t too far behind though, leaving the hollow feeling MTB charger in the dust.
In terms of design, the BC-VW1 is everything you would expect from a manufacturer provided item, housing a FW50 battery snugly in its charging bay. On the other hand, the Kingma is slightly less orthodox by design, being smaller than the BC-VW1 while providing not just one, but two vertical charging bays – which also fits the FW50 (well, two of them) very well.
Here, the MTB trails behind again, having a battery charging bay that doesn’t really hold a FW50 battery securely enough for my liking. Also, more critically the battery contacts on the MTB are VERY prone to being pushed down into the housing (and disappearing), unless you very carefully insert a battery into the charging bay.
Considering both the Kingma and the BC-VW1 don’t suffer from this issue, it’s clear that from a build quality perspective, the MTB is the loser here.
And considering that the Kingma is smaller, almost as well built as the BC-VW1 while providing not just one but two charging bays, it’s clear that the Kingma is the overall winner in this section of the match.
While a charger can look swanky and have a multitude of different features, all of these would mean nothing if it doesn’t do what it’s suppose to do, well: Charging.
To test this we’ve set the chargers to charge three FW50s simultaneously (one each), to see which one would be done first. The BC-VW1 drew power straight from a plug, while the Kingma and the MTB chargers wete plugged into our Anker 5-port SmartCharge USB charger.
Also, while the two USB chargers are topping up the batteries, we took power drain readings from each to determine if their the output lables were not just bogus.
First, the Kingma, which chalked up 1.22A. Considering that the output label stated 2x600mA (or 1200mA/1.2A) it would be safe to say that the Kingma was charging the FW50 battery as specced. Not really sure however if the charger would increase output if only a single battery was inserted, but based on the the amperage reading, this was quite possible.
Next, was the reading from the MTB, which was actually specced to output about 800mA. By the reading, it was actually drawing nearly 1A, which might be useful if you are in a hurry to have your FW50 charged. This DOES stress the battery somewhat more, unfortunately, and might have long term effects on your FW50s.
After leaving the chargers for about 2 hours, I came back with both the USB chargers done (and looking at the output, it was probably the MTB first, followed by the Kingma). The BC-VW1, on the other hand, was still not done – and took another 10 minutes to completely fill up the battery.
So… in terms of pure charge performance, it’s probably safe to say that this round goes to the MTB as the winner. Though it must be noted that this might not be optimal for the long term health of your FW50s.
In terms of value, it’s easy to see from the picture above that the retail packages for all three are rather stark. The most you would get would be the charger and a cable – and in the case of the MTB, not even a cable.
Price wise, the MTB and the Kingma can be had for around RM50 (about $12-15 at the current conversion rate), while a brand new OEM BC-VW1 can be had for about RM100 (about $24-30?).
Considering the price (and what you get), it seems that this round is an easy one for the Kingma, our winner. For the same price as the MTB, not only do you get a dual slot charger – you even get a free micro USB cable to boot.
Time to determine the ultimate einner of this y! Shootout. For that, let’s do a quick recount:
DESIGN / BUILD QUALITY: Kingma
2 out of 3 in favour of the Kingma. So yeah, seems the winner of today’s USB External FW50 Charger Shootout is the Kingma Dual USB External Charger!
For those interested, the Kingma (and the MTB, if that suits your fancy more) can be found over at eBay.