Verdict: Five stars ★★★★★
Available for five different camera brands, the Pro Cube 2 can charge two batteries at the same time, or four AAs, and it has a USB output too for charging your smartphone. It even has a car adaptor. It’s a niche product, but it’s very, very good.
OK, so a battery charger probably isn’t the first item on your photography kit dream list, but the Pro Cube 2 is no ordinary battery charger. It’s fast, it has a digital display to tell you how it’s doing, it can do two batteries at the same time and it handles AA batteries and smartphones too – or any camera that charges via a USB cable, for that matter.
It’s also pretty specific, so the first point its that it comes in different versions for different camera brands (they’re neatly colour coded) and each version charges the most common battery types for that brand, not all of them. So here’s a checklist:
Will it work with my batteries?
PROCUBE2 for Canon: LP-E6, LP-E8, LP-E17 batteries
PROCUBE2 for Nikon: EN-EL14, EN-EL15 batteries
PROCUBE2 for Panasonic/Fujifilm: DMW-PLC12, BLF19, BLG10 & NP-W126 batteries
PROCUBE2 for Olympus: BLN-1, BLS-5, BLH-1 batteries
PROCUBE2 for Sony: NP-BX1, NP-FW50, NP-FZ100 batteries
How it works
The Cube accommodates different battery sizes using interchangeable battery holders. These are released via a tiny hole in the side with a gadget that looks like an iPhone SIM release pin. It does mean, though, that you can only charge two batteries of the same type at the same time. If you have two Nikon EN-EL15 batteries, for example, you’re fine; if you have two Nikon cameras and one takes an EN-EL15 and the other takes a smaller EN-EL14, you’re going to have to swap the battery holders over to charge both.
If you have two more more batteries for a single camera, though, or two cameras that use the same battery type, you can charge them two at a time.
The clever part is what happens if you need to charge four AAs for your speedlight or LED panel. For this, you just place the AA battery tray on the top. There’s no need to remove the camera battery tray and there are no clips or plugs – it attaches magnetically. When the AA batteries are charged you can remove the tray and use it to store the batteries ready for use.
Increasingly, it’s not just smartphones that use USB charging. Many cameras do too, not to mention accessories like portable power banks. This makes the PROCUBE2’s USB charging socket especially useful. According to the specs it outputs 2.4A, which is on a par with Apple’s iPad charger, so it should be pretty quick.
The PROCUBE2 comes with a power adaptor that has interchangeable panels for Europe, the UK and US, plus a 12V car adaptor. It’s a good deal bulkier than a standard camera battery charger to be carrying around on your travels, but it’s also a lot more adaptable. The ability to charge batteries in your car will be a big selling point for landscape and travel photographers who might be spending many hours or even days away from mains electricity.
It’s also a pretty cool and effective accessory to leave on your desk, thanks to its smart design and grippy rubber feet that keep it rooted to the spot rather than sliding around.
Battery technology is Hähnel’s speciality. It quotes a 100-minute charging time for the Canon and Nikon versions, just 50 minutes for the Panasonic/Fujifilm version and a charging time 90 minutes for the Olympus model. The Sony version is slower, at 150 minutes, but the PROCUBE2 does at least support the new higher-capacity NP-FZ100 battery, as used in the A7 III, for example.
Hähnel quotes a charge time of 240 minutes for a set of four AAs, though this and indeed all charging times will depend on the battery brand, type, age and how much residual charge it has when you start.
If you’ve got just one battery with your camera then the Hähnel PROCUBE2 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Why buy this when you got a perfectly good charger with your camera?
But if you use spare batteries, or you have two cameras, then it’s a completely different proposition. Busy photographers will typically have one or more spares (for mirrorless camera owners, the need to carry spares is practically a fact of life), and this is where the PROCUBE2 comes alive. Not only can you charge two batteries at once, you also have an AA charger, smartphone/USB charger, travel adaptor plugs AND a car adaptor. Suddenly, the PROCUBE2 becomes a very interesting proposition indeed.
And what if you lose your camera charger, it stops working, or you acquire a camera that doesn’t have one? Have you looked at the prices of own-brand battery chargers recently? If you pay just a little more for the Hähnel you can get a much more versatile charging system.
More information: Hähnel website