Last year, SWIT announced its new BIVO series Bi-Voltage B-Mount Batteries. These batteries are being directly targeted at ALEXA 35 owners and rental houses that stock the camera.
The BIVO series utilizes the 14.4V/28.8V standard, and they are available in capacities of 98Wh, 160Wh, 200Wh, and 290Wh. Having 98Wh and 160Wh versions in the lineup is a big deal because it allows users to actually hand-carry them on a plane.
For this review, I will be looking at the BIVO-98 and BIVO-160.
Having a dual voltage battery makes a ton of sense, as it allows you to use it on other cameras and equipment, and not just the ALEXA 35. In saying that, you would need to buy a conversion plate that allows you to use B-mount batteries on cameras or equipment that have an AB Gold mount or V-mount. SWIT does make a range of conversion plates that I will mention later in the review.
If you happened to own an ARRI Amira, ARRI ALEXA LF, and an ALEXA 35, which is quite common for a rental house, you could use the bebop B-Mount Battery Adapter for ARRI AMIRA or bebob B-Mount Battery Adapter for ARRI ALEXA/LF/65 Cameras so that you could run all of these cameras via B-mount dual voltage batteries.
The BIVO series all utilize the exact same design, with the exception of the smaller BIVO-98, which doesn’t feature an OLED screen display due to its thickness. The 200Wh and 160Wh two versions have the same thickness, and BIVO-290 has the same volume as the previous HB-A290B.
The digital ID interface of the B-Mount can intelligently identify the voltage (14.4V/28.8V), which means that the dual voltage functionality of the BIVO series is a good choice for any B-Mount application. With the exception of the BIVO-98 (150W), the other three batteries have an output power of at least 200W.
With SWIT’s unique Mispress prevention design, pressing the release button by mistake will not cause an accidental shutdown of the camera, especially if a user is used to operating the camera by holding and moving the mounted battery.
What is important to know is that 6A HV packs like the SWIT 98 BIVO may be overly tasked on the ALEXA 35, especially if the power draw exceeds 150 watts (which is its power output threshold). Early on, ARRI recognized this power issue (mainly because of the original LF) and recommended a minimum of 10A load for HV on B-mount. Since that time, ARRI has softened its stance on B-mount minimum specifications because they need B-mount adoption. The only slight concern with this is that if you don’t use a higher amperage pack, you may end up with a shorter service life for the battery packs since they could be continually overstrained depending on how you are using them.
Despite there being quite a few battery solutions on the market for the ALEXA 35, there aren’t actually a lot of flight-safe options. If you travel a lot, then having flight-safe batteries is a must. The SWIT BIVO-98 and BIVO-160 batteries are both flight safe, and on most airlines, an individual can hand carry up to two batteries that have a capacity between 100Wh and 160Wh. There is usually no limit to the number of batteries that are under 100Wh that you can take, although it’s always best to check with the airline you are using.
The only problem with the ALEXA 35 is that it is a pretty power-hungry camera and you would need quite a few smaller capacity batteries to get you through a day.
The shell of the batteries is made out of an impact-resistant, flame-retardant material. They are nicely made and they can survive a drop from 1.2 meters at any angle.
The batteries feature a built-in protection circuit, as well as high temperature, low temperature, over-voltage, under-voltage, over-current, and short circuit protection. The internal support for the battery is fastened to the core group, and the core and the circuit board and completely isolated. The integrated internal design also means there is no wire welding. All these elements combine to help with reliability and safety.
I do wish SWIT would have made the release mechanism out of aluminum. I can’t tell exactly what the mechanism is made out of, but the release pin doesn’t look like it is made out of metal. The locking mechanism is the most likely fail point on a B-mount battery. Because the mount is actually on the battery itself and not on the B-mount plate, the release mechanism needs to be as robust as possible.
The texture of the batteries is a little slippery for my liking and this doesn’t make them the most suitable to use if you are wearing gloves or they get moisture on them. It would have been nice to see SWIT include some sort of rubber or different material on the sides to make them easier to grip and handle.
I have found in inclement weather conditions you don’t want to be handling a battery that has a slippery surface.
A lot of operators tend to hold the back of the camera when panning and for that purpose, the batteries work well. B-mount is a super solid mount and it is a lot more robust than any other mount on the market.
SWIT provides a 2-year conditional warranty for batteries.
The following damages/issues are not covered under warranty:
(1) Any damage or breakdown caused by use, maintenance, or storage not according to the User Manual’s instructions, or disassembling, or repair without authorization of SWIT.
(2) Battery performance declines, cannot be charged, or cannot be fully charged that caused by using third-party chargers.
(3) Battery capacity naturally decreased after a certain cycle time of charging and discharging.
(4) The capacity loss caused by over 6-month’s storage, and not charging the battery to re-active it during the period.
(5) Any damage caused by irresistible factors (such as earthquake, fire, lightning, etc.) or human factors.
(6) Any damage or breakdown not caused by the product’s design, workmanship, manufacturing quality, etc.
The BIVO batteries can be charged on a Dual Voltage B-Mount charger or through the D-TAP interface. The batteries can be charged in a temperature range of 0-40° C, however, SWIT recommends that you charge them in temperatures between 0-30° C.
Size & Weight
The SWIT BIVO-160 B-mount battery tips the scales at 2.42 lbs / 1.1kg. It has physical dimensions of 5.7 x 3.9 x 2.1″ (14.4 x 10 x 5.4cm). So how does this compare to some of the competition?
|SWIT BIVO-160||2.42 lbs / 1.1kg||5.7 x 3.9 x 2.1″|
14.4 x 10 x 5.4cm
|CORE SWX Helix Max 150||2.2 lbs / 1kg||3.54 x 4.65 x 2.72″ / |
8.99 x 11.81 x 6.9cm
|bebob B155CINE 14.4/28.8V 155Wh||2.2 lbs / 1kg||5.7 x 3.7 x 2.3″ / |
14.4 x 9.4 x 5.8cm
Above you can see how the SWIT BIVO-160 compares in size to the CORE SWX Helix Max 150.
Some companies like Core SWX utilize the newer 20700 size cell, instead of the 18650 cells commonly used in other brand packs like BIVO. While this design creates a deeper build due to the wider cells, the operational functionality of the Helix Max packs will exceed that of others using 18650 cells in the market.
The SWIT BIVO-97 B-mount battery tips the scales at 1.47 lbs / 668g. It has physical dimensions of 5.66 x 3.93 x 2.12″ (14.4 x 10 x 5.4cm). So how does this compare to some of the competition?
|SWIT BIVO-98||1.47 lbs / 668g||5.66 x 3.93 x 2.12″ /|
14.4 x 10 x 5.4cm
|CORE SWX Helix Max 98Wh||1.8 lbs / 800g||3.54 x 4.65 x 2.38″ / |
8.99 x 11.8 x 6.45cm
|bebob B155CINE 14.4/28.8V 87Wh||1.5 lbs / 662g||5.7 x 3.7 x 1.5″ /|
14.4 x 9.4 x 3.9cm
The batteries fit on the camera nicely and they contour to the shape of the ALEXA 35. This is purely a cosmetic thing, but I personally like having batteries that are the same height as the back of the camera.
The ALEXA 35 balances really nicely on the shoulder, but I do find it helps to have lower-capacity batteries when doing this because you can get better balance when using larger lenses.
The SWIT BIVO batteries all offer two P-taps. These work well, however, it would have been nice to have seen a Twist P-tap (D-tap) where it doesn’t matter which way you plug it in. This is something the competing bebob batteries have.
As far as what these P-taps can output, it depends on whether the battery is being used in a 14.4V capacity or 28.8V capacity. Below are the details for both the BIVO-98 and BIVO 160:
- 14.4V status: 10.8-16.8V out, 200W load
- 28.8V status: 16V regulated out, 50W load
I like that the P-tap ports are both on the right-hand side of the battery. I find this positioning makes more sense than putting them on the top. While it is nice to have two P-tap ports, I personally prefer to power accessories I use with the ALEXA 35 via the Lemo outputs.
SWIT doesn’t give you any USB-Type A or USB-C outputs. Personally, I would have liked to have seen a USB-C output, because then you could use the battery to power devices such as your laptop.
The SWIT BIVO batteries are a solid offering if you are in the market for dual-voltage B-mount batteries. They are solidly made, you can charge them quickly, and they fit the form factor of the ALEXA 35.
I like the OLED display on the side of the battery because that is where all the other displays for the ALEXA 35 are located.
On the BIVO-160 you can clearly display battery status and power information, including output voltage, power percentage, remaining running time, and a protection warning code if any abnormality is detected.
Above you can see the warnings that will appear and what they mean.
Unfortunately, the BIVO-98 is too thin to feature an OLED display, and instead, it has a more traditional battery indicator on the back of the battery.
Now, I did check to see how accurate the % display was reflected between the battery and the camera and I found it to be pretty accurate, but occasionally, it would be 1% off. This is quite common, and something I also found when using other B-mount batteries.
One bug I did notice, is that the ALEXA 35 was showing percentage values for two batteries, even though only one was attached. I am not sure whether this was a fault of the battery or the camera.
I also like that the BIVO series batteries have an integrated flashlight. This may sound like a trivial extra, but it comes in handy at night or in low-light environments where you don’t have a torch, etc.
If you own an ALEXA 35 and you are going to be traveling a lot, 98Wh and 160Wh batteries make a ton of sense.
The ALEXA 35 isn’t a huge camera, and the BIVO-160 is a nice sweet spot for offering decent run times, while not making the camera too heavy. If you do need to go lighter, then the BIVO-98 is a good option, but you won’t get very long run times, especially if you are powering other accessories off the camera.
In saying that, the BIVO-98 is a great option if you are running the ALEXA 35 on a Movi Pro or a Ronin 2.
B-B, V-B, & B-V Hot Swap & Conversion Plates
In addition to the BIVO batteries, SWIT also has a variety of B-B, V-B, B-V Hot Swap, and Conversion plates.
The KA-B30B hot-swap plates’ high voltage of 28.8V matches the ALEXA 35. and it provides 120 seconds of battery change time. This is a handy plate if you need to make a battery change without powering down the camera.
The KA-S30B hot-swap plates’ standard 14.4V provides a B-Mount battery-powered solution for standard voltage cameras on the market. Just like the KA-B30B 28.8V, it also provides 120 seconds of run time so you can change a battery while keeping the camera powered up.
The KA-S20B conversion plates provide direct B-mount (batteries) to V-mount (devices) conversion utilizing the batteries’ 14.4V standard voltage. This means that BIVO series batteries can be used directly on different devices which is handy.
The KA-S21B conversion plates provide direct B-mount (batteries) to V-mount (devices) conversion utilizing the 28.8V standard voltage. Again, this allows BIVO series batteries to be used directly on different devices that you may own.
The KA-B21S conversion plate supports the use of high-voltage V-mount batteries on native B-Mount devices. This gives you a drop-proof high-voltage battery solution for the ARRI ALEXA 35.
Price & Availability
Below are the prices for the batteries, hot swap, and conversion plates:
How do these prices compare to the competition? Well, below you can see:
|SWIT BIVO-98||$499 USD|
|CORE SWX Helix Max 98||$569.05 USD|
|bebob B155CINE 14.4/28.8V 86Wh||$535 USD|
|SWIT BIVO-160||$579 USD|
|CORE SWX Helix Max 150||$711.55 USD|
|bebob B155CINE 14.4/28.8V 155Wh||$645 USD|
The CORE SWX Helix Max is more expensive than the bebob, but the bebob doesn’t offer any sort of LCD display, and they take longer to charge.
- KA-B30B $880 USD
- KA-S30B $799 USD
- KA-S20B $259 USD
- KA-S21B $259 USD
Below are the prices for European regions:
- BIVO-98 €499
- BIVO-160 €579
- BIVO-200 €629
- BIVO-290 €999
- KA-B30B €799
- KA-S30B €799
- KA-S20B/21B €259
- KA-B21S €259