NITECORE UHX1 PRO & HASSELBLAD X1D BATTERY CHARGING HUB REVIEW
LET’S TALK ACCESSORIES TODAY, WITH THIS NITECORE UHX1 PRO & HASSELBLAD X1D BATTERY CHARGING HUB REVIEW
Before doing this Nitecore UHX1 Pro & Hasselblad X1D Battery Charging Hub review, I used the original Hasselblad X1D battery charger that came with the camera. It featured a very thin plug that you needed to plug directly into the battery, and while it worked perfectly so far, that didn’t inspire much confidence about its durability. As well, the charger wasn’t USB-based, thus preventing you to use it in the car, and allowed you to charge only one battery at a time.
As a landscape photographer, I travel a lot. Since I am in the field for long periods of time, I travel with at least two spare batteries to make sure that I never run out of juice. The possibility of charging two batteries at the same time, as well as having a USB-based charging option, are both very appealing to me.
First, since USB is so ubiquitous, a USB charging solution helps me limiting the number of chargers and cables I need to leave home with. Second, being able to charge two batteries at the same time (even if only sequentially, more about that later) means that I can go to sleep after putting two empty batteries in the charger and I’ll find two full batteries when I wake up for my sunrise shooting. If you have more than 2 spare batteries, you can bring the freshly charged batteries with you for your morning session, leaving two more to charge. These would be ready by the time you need to leave the hotel for your next stop, or for your afternoon session, and so on.
So, when Hasselblad’s new dual Battery Charging Hub became available, I immediately got one.
Nitecore is a brand I trust, and a brand I have been using for a long time. They make great USB-chargeable headlamps and flashlights with all the features and durability you might need, including being useable as self-defence weapons if needed. I got three of them, and never had a problem with them. Back in my Leica days, I also used their USB-charger for the Leica SL and loved it. Before getting my first Hasselblad X1D, back when Hasselblad’s own USB dual charger didn’t exist yet, I looked at Nitecore to see if they offered an option for my soon-to-be new camera. Unfortunately, back then they also did not. Happily, however, that has changed now and Nitecore just released their USB-based dual charger for the X1D, called the UHX1 Pro.
As fate would have it, right after I got my Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub, Nitecore got in touch with me and offered to send me one UHX1 Pro for review.
Disclaimer: At the time of writing, I am not affiliated with Hasselblad or Nitecore in any way. I am a professional photographer looking for the best equipment for my work, I buy all my gear with my hard-earned cash and I don’t get paid by anyone to write articles for my blog. For this article, however, Nitecore has been kind enough to send me a free dual charger to review, and I want to thank them for the opportunity. Of course, that won’t influence my findings in any way.
Since I already had the Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub, I thought it would be interesting to do a side-by-side review to compare both chargers. Let’s get started now and see in this Nitecore UHX1 Pro & Hasselblad X1D Battery Charging Hub review how they performed!
BUILD, SIZE AND WEIGHT
If you own or have seen any Nitecore chargers before, the UHX1 Pro will look and feel very familiar. The charger looks like a brick, lays flat on the table in use and features two slots for the batteries to slide in, laying side by side. The charger is built out of tough plastic which Nitecore declares to be “fire retardant”. Since I obviously haven’t tried to set my UHX1 Pro on fire, I’ll have to take their word for it.
The UHX1 Pro features an LCD screen showing a wealth of information during operations. The LCD features two lines, one per battery, indicating charging volts and mAh, as well as the battery status (Poor, Normal, Good) and the charging mode. While the plastic feels very durable, the LCD screen scratches extremely easily.
Nitecore’s dual charger ships just with a USB (type A) to micro-USB 2.0 cable, in a minimal, cheap-feeling box with an instruction leaflet, which is also available for download on Nitecore’s website.
The Nitecore UHX1 Pro is 125 x 70 x 29mm, and weighs 116 gr.
The Hasselblad’s Battery Charging Hub follows a completely different building and operational philosophy, perfectly in line with the essentiality that I love in my Hasselblad X1D and XCD lenses. The charger is extremely small, looking like a square block with two slots on top for the batteries. Contrarily to the UHX1 Pro, you’ll have to insert your batteries in the Hasselblad’s Battery Charging Hub vertically side-by-side in the charger.
The Hasselblad’s Battery Charging Hub is made of what feels like brushed aluminium, like the X1D, and features very minimal controls, like the X1D. Coming in a gunmetal finish and colour similar to Apple’s “space grey”, it features just one button and two rows of 4 LEDs.
The Hasselblad’s Battery Charging Hub ships with a USB (type A) to USB-C cable and a USB power adapter, in a beautiful box. An instruction booklet is also available, but no downloadable version is present on Hasselblad’s website at the time of writing.
The Hasselblad’s Battery Charging Hub is 52 x 50 x 32mm and weighs 86 gr, and is much smaller and lighter than the Nitecore UHX1 Pro.
In short, Nitecore’s charger looks and feels like a tactical piece of equipment, solid but not indestructible. Hasselblad’s charger looks and feels like an indestructible piece of jewellery. My preference here goes to the Hasselblad.
IN USE: FEATURES & CHARGING BATTERIES
When you pop a battery in the Nitecore charger, if you aren’t connected to a USB power source nothing will happen. Connecting your charger to a USB power adapter, the LCD screen will inform you about the status of your battery and will start charging it.
The UHX1 Pro features both a “regular” and a Quick Charging mode. Using a 5V USB-adapter, the charger will be in normal mode. In this mode, it will charge your batteries with a max current output of 800 mAh, and if you slide two batteries in, it will charge them sequentially, also at 800 mAh.
If you use a QC 2.0 compatible USB power adaptor (9V input voltage), however, the UHX1 Pro automatically will switch to Quick Charging mode and the LCD will show Quick Charge. In Quick Charging mode the UHX1 Pro is able to charge a single battery faster, using a current of 1200 mAh, or it can charge two batteries at the same time, but with a max output current of 800 mAh only. While charging, the Nitecore UHX1 Pro will give you real-time information expressed in mAh about the current levels it is using, and about the power stored in the battery as you charge it.
When you pop a battery in the Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub and you aren’t to any power source nothing will happen, just like with the Nitecore UHX1 Pro. However, contrarily to the Nitecore, pressing the hub’s single button you’ll get the 4 LEDs to give you a visual indicator of how much charge you have left in the battery, even if you are not connected to a USB adaptor. Either slot will work to check a single battery’s charge level, and if you pop two batteries in the Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub will provide you with information for both. The LEDs will stay on for three seconds, and then turn themselves off. This is very handy in the field to check your batteries, even when far from an electricity outlet.
As the Nitecore UHX1 Pro, the Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub also features a normal mode and a quick charging mode. Please note that only newer, 3400 mAh batteries do support quick charging, according to Hasselblad’s website. The charger will choose charging mode automatically according to the power source connected (5V for normal, 9V for quick) and the battery used. While charging, the Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub will give you real-time information about the charge in the battery by flashing the 4 LEDs, from bottom to top, so that when i.e. the bottom two LEDs are still and the top two flashing in sequence you’ll know that you have reached 50% power, and so on.
Trying to charge a single, newer model 3400 mAh battery in both chargers using a run-of-the mill, 5V USB adapter, I managed to fully charge a completely depleted battery in 3 hours and 25 minutes with the Nitecore charger. The same battery, once discharged again, took 2 hours and 45 minutes to charge with the Hasselblad’s charger.
Using the same USB adapter, charging two batteries took about double the time with both chargers, since both chargers charge them sequentially.
Using a high-power USB charger, instead, I managed to charge two batteries in just under 3 hours with the Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub, and in 3 hours 20 minutes with the Nitecore.
As any piece of equipment, chargers are only as good as they are reliable. After writing this review, I did bring them both with me during my 3 months Fall 2019 Workshop tour and during my Spring 2020 Workshop Tour as well, alternating them in use, and I can report that both worked flawlessly so far.
At the time of writing, September 2019, the Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub sells for 155 US while the Nitecore UHX1 Pro costs 95 US. However, the Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub comes with a Quick Charging USB power adapter, while the Nitecore does not.
In just a couple of months, we went from not having any USB-based, dual-battery chargers to having two, which is great. Both the Nitecore UHX1 Pro and the Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub work very well and do their job as advertised, providing us photographers on the move with a great option to charge two batteries at the same time, relatively quickly and using USB as a power source with all the benefits that this entails in terms of streamlining our bags.
As many X1D users know, at least some of Hasselblad’s new 3400 mAh batteries “go to sleep”, so to speak, if left unused for some time. This means that if you pop a “sleeping” battery in your camera, it will look like it’s completely depleted even when it’s fully charged instead. To work again, the battery just needs to be plugged into a charger for one second to be revived. While this is easy enough to do at home, imagine going on location knowing you have a fully charged battery, and pop it in your camera just to find out that it doesn’t work.
Since up to now it was impossible to revive a battery in the field, this was something that frustrated many photographers to no end.
Both the Nitecore UHX1 Pro and the Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub offer a great solution for this. Just bring them with you in the car, and if you have a charged-but-sleeping battery you can bring it back to life in one second just by connecting your USB-powered charger to your car’s USB power source. Finally!
Of course, both the Nitecore UHX1 Pro and the Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub will allow you to charge your batteries in the car while moving from a location to the next, which is also extremely convenient if you are working far from home or from hotels for long periods of time.
Which of the chargers in this Nitecore UHX1 Pro & Hasselblad X1D Battery Charging Hub review to choose? Well, this depends on your preference, of course.
The Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub is as simple and effective as a charger can be. It’ll charge your batteries adapting to the power of your USB source transparently, without giving you details other than the 4 flashing LEDs telling you both the cares status and roughly how much power your battery has, in 25% steps. Popping a battery in, a button press will tell you how much juice is left in the battery even if you are in the middle of nowhere. It’s smaller, lighter, more elegant and portable, will charge your batteries faster than the Nitecore and comes with a cable and a USB power adapter. Finally, it uses a USB-C plug. On the downside, it’s more expensive.
The Nitecore UHX1 Pro, on the other hand, will give you plenty of information during charging operations, including whether your battery is “good, normal or poor”, with “poor” meaning it needs replacing. It will also give you precise information about the charge level your battery has reached and about the charging current, in mAh. However, it won’t give you any information if you aren’t plugged into a USB power source. It’s bigger, heavier, more “tactical” in look, will take longer to charge your batteries and comes with a cable only. Finally, it uses a micro-USB plug. On the upside, it’s less expensive.
Personally, I will bring both with me to have a backup, which is necessary for my work, and use them both taking advantage of their different features. Best of both worlds! If I had to buy one from scratch, I’d probably get the Hasselblad Battery Charging Hub since while I can live without the extra information, I do like the smaller and lighter construction, the minimal interface and the fact that it comes with a USB power adaptor and uses a USB-C plug better. Having moved to the X1D II, I have less need for a backup, since I can charge my batteries in-camera in a pinch.
Thanks for reading this Nitecore UHX1 Pro & Hasselblad X1D Battery Charging Hub review, I hope you enjoyed it! Why don’t you share it with your friends, or drop me a comment to let me know how you feel about this?
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