This particular blog post is about portable power for on-location photographers, I usually don’t do gear reviews but this is just such a solid setup I wanted to share. I’ve been using Paul C Buff’s Vagabond II (VII) for about 3 years now. I got tired of looking at it plugged in day-in and day-out (as you needed to keep it plugged in when not in use) and decided it was time for an upgrade. It was really between the VML and the Innovatronix Explorer Mini. I went with the VML because PCB has given me nothing but the best customer service and the price was about $100 cheaper going for the VML. I prefer the VML+bracket over the Explorer Mini and its shoulder sling bag (purse).
The vagabond II ultimately recycles faster and gets more # of shots than the VML, but the VML has its benefits. The most important for me was weight and size for one, The VII weighs 18.6lbs vs the VML at 3.5lbs and less than half the size of the VII. This really helps the haul of gear while on-location. However the VML doesn’t make a good sand-bag/counter-weight like the VII did.
The VML adds a an extra AC outlet as well as a few creature comforts such as a USB port, and a life-meter. The lithium battery itself is also swappable if you needed spares for a longer session. I like how you can use this to charge your cellphone/ipod/laptop with this version as well. I probably never will, but the option is nice!
I opted to use The VML Bracket for mounting vs the supplied PCB plastic mount. The plastic mount was sketchy, and it just didn’t cut it for me. The bracket runs about $50 shipped, and requires a Super-clamp for usage, I don’t have any worries about mounting this thing anywhere now. $50 for peace of mind is well worth it.
I’ve used this on one location shoot so far. I got around 180-200 full power 1/1 shots out of it using a White-Lightning X2400 (1000Ws) before being completely depleted. That number is perfectly fine with me, I don’t always shoot at full power, this particular shoot I was trying to kill the sun with a ton of light and ND filters. I think the upgrade was well worth it, this is a very solid setup. Link to VML product page is HERE .