“Filmmaker Daniel Peters directed and self-shot this short film using just the Lumix GH5, 25mm F1.7 lens, and the XLR1 audio adapter. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, Daniel really shows in this piece that you can get out there and create some great content with limited gear and crew….”
“On location in Perth, Australia testing out the Panasonic GH5. This entire report was filmed using 2 GH5 cameras. The Panasonic GH5 has earned a reputation of being a serious filming tool for those who need to be portable without compromise on quality….”
Seercam’s Cube GH5 has gained an Extension Kit to account for the Panasonic Lumix GH5’s optional DMW-XLR1 audio adapter and more accessories are in the works. The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies to moviemaking as much to any other field of human endeavour and none more so than to camera cages. They are as much a form of insurance, protecting precious cameras and lenses, as they are a way of efficiently carrying your gear while rapidly attaching and detaching the myriad of accessories demanded by a range of moviemaking scenarios.
While awaiting a review loaner GH5, Seercam’s Extension Kit for Cube GH5 arrived and I took a look at it from various angles and with some third-party accessories attached.
As these photographs show, the thoughtfulness, innovation and quality of Seercam’s product design and manufacturing are high. Although I have yet to put Seercam’s Cube GH5 to the test with an actual GH5 inside, hours of handling it with and without the Extension Kit and comparing it to its predecessor for the GH4, Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3, show each is comfortable in the hands and feels good to the touch.
My more macho moviemaking colleagues may dismiss such concerns as well as that of the cage’s ability to safely protect the camera, but the fact remains that documentary moviemaking can demand that rigged and unrigged cameras stay in the hand for minutes if not hours on end and comfortable grip and pleasant surface feel is essential in my opinion.
Another common point of contention is weight. Aluminium is lightweight in nature and is the most common metal used for cage construction though magnesium is used by one or two accessories makers now. There is not a huge difference in weight between cages that wrap around the camera like a strap and those that enclose the camera like a box.
Given choice between the two, and experience of both, I opt for enclosure than strapping, more weight rather than less, for stability as well as protection and mounting options. I find that well-balanced weightier camera rigs work better for me than lighter ones, whether camera and lens have stabilization built-in. In fact I often add weight to my rigs’ underside via a Manfrotto PIXI mini tripod-cum-handle, field recorder like the Tascam DR-70D or a quick release tripod plate.
Seercam Cube GH5 camera cage with Extension Kit and third-party accessories
Documentary moviemaker Sol March of Suggestion of Motion has been exploring rigging up his GH5 with rods, handles, clamps and a minimalist strap-style cage on his Facebook page. I began thinking about two-handed camera grip alternatives when I discovered that Manfrotto had discontinued its unique Fig Rig device, invented by movie director and digital video pioneer Mike Figgis.
Stripped down to its basics, the Fig Rig concept relies on handles either side of the camera as well as above and below. I have written about Mike Figgis’ Fig Rig here.
Meanwhile I have been looking at affordable alternatives that do not rely on gimbals, constantly balancing and rebalancing weights and that involve the body in a way that shoulder-mounted rigs cannot.
Seercam kindly sent over the 250mm and 350mm 15mm diameter aluminium rods from its 15mm Rod set to go with the 150mm rod that is part of the Extension Kit for Cube GH5 and I have been trying different rod and handle combinations that I will be exploring further when the review loaner GH5 arrives.
Seercam Cube GH5 cage with Extension Kit, 350mm rod and imaginary handles
One of the many benefits of Seercam/Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3 cage was its three handles – top round handle, cable clamp and finger support – that could be supplemented with Peak Design’s Cuff and Clutch camera straps, adding to the safety and comfort of using it.
Seercam’s Cube GH5 cage could benefit from from handles in various configurations. Here are some ideas. Apologies for my crude mockups.
I have been thinking about how to better handle cage-mounted cameras since discovering that Manfrotto’s Fig Rig has been sadly discontinued and that there is no direct replacement for it.
I am not a fan of Steadicam and gimbal motion stabilization, due to the cost of these devices and the fact that I find their stabilization unnaturally smooth. I find less-stabilized footage more naturalistic, more human and better suited to independent documentary moviemaking whereas heavily stabilized footage clearly has a place in fictional narrative feature films.
The Panasonic Lumix GH5 apparently does an amazing job of stabilizing footage in several different ways, to varying degrees, but I also use cameras that have no such stabilization built-in and so have been thinking about affordable devices as in these illustrations to add some steadying to those cameras as well as the GH5 when I obtain one.
Product shots lit with Rotolight Neo and available light, made with Panasonic Lumix GH4 and processed in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop using VSCO Films 7’s Ilford Pan-F 50 presets with selenium split-toning applied via Macphun Tonality CK.
Polish video camera accessories maker 8Sinn has released a top handles adapter extension adapter for its GH5 camera cage. The adapter is designed for use with Panasonic’s DMW-XLR1 microphone adapter that sits on the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5’s hotshoe. The DMW-XLR1 adapter enables GH5 users to input audio into their GH5 via XLR-cabled microphones in the same way that camcorders have for some years now.
8Sinn currently makes three different top-mounted handles for its cages and the top handles extension adapter works with all three including the Scorpio, my favourite due to its more enclosing design and versatility as a top or side handle able to be mounted at any angle via its Arri rosette and optional Arri rosette mount and NATO safety rail.
8Sinn’s Top Handles Extension Adapter appears to be the second such adapter designed to accommodate the DMW-XLR1 audio adapter by raising cage handles forward and upwards. Seercam’s Extension Kit for Cube GH5 made for its Cube GH5 camera cage and Classic Plus Handle was the first such device to market so far as I know.
Camera cage and accessories maker Seercam is about to release its extension kit for the company’s Cube GH5 camera cage and has kindly shared a set of photographs of the kit in situ on the cage and as part of a big Cube GH5-based rig. To all those moviemakers asking which accessories makers are building cages that can be safely stacked high with monitors, recorders, microphones, handles and more, Seercam’s Extension Kit for Cube GH5 is the answer to your prayers.
The extension kit contains a rod holder to accomodate rods of various lengths for mounting extra gear and even a camera left side handle.
The folks at Seercam tell me that they are currently working on their own custom external battery pack, similar to the one depicted in some of these product shots. Unlike Motion9’s CubePower battery pack that “could not be sold overseas”, the new Seercam battery pack will be designed and manufactured to enable it to be sold overseas. More details will be forthcoming as development proceeds.
This is great news for those of us shooting long takes or through long days with the GH5, which apparently eats up battery power faster than its younger sibling, the GH4. Although I am partial to camera-mounted battery grips like Panasonic’s DMW-BGGH5, Seercam’s custom battery solution looks like a smarter and more versatile alternative.
My favourite cage for my Panasonic Lumix GH4 camera was made by Motion9, now trading internationally under the Seercam brand name. The only GH4 cage I had ever seen in real life was Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3 and if the company’s other GH4 cage, the CubeMix GH4/3 Pro had been available at the time, then I would most definitely have bought that model instead, for its NATO sliding handle and one-touch cable clamp.
Now, Seercam has revealed its cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 and it looks like it will be the cage I buy for my GH5, when one finally finds its way into the country and into my hands.
I took a well-researched gamble on Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3 and it paid off handsomely. I will be keeping my GH4 as second camera to my GH5 when it eventually arrives and it will be wearing its cage even more then than it does now.
My GH4 will continue to be equipped with its Cube Cage Round Handle, in my experience the most secure design of the two Motion9 top handles, though it does not have the convenience of fast-on, fast-on via NATO rail or the ability to balance the camera’s weight via sliding to and fro.
I would consider replacing Seercam’s NATO rail with SmallRig’s Quick Release Safety Rail 7cm 1195 though, for its spring-loaded pins to prevent accidental removal. It is the little things that count.
Pity both items are out of stock. Quick-release mechanisms, so long as they mount tightly and securely, are key to working fast and efficiently as an independent, self-funded documentary moviemaker who cannot afford crews and wasting time screwing and unscrewing camera rigging when needing to move fast.
8Sinn’s GH5 cage and handles, especially its Scorpio top handle that can double as a side handle, was the first custom cage for the GH5 to appear online and it has several attractions including its elegance, small size and camera-right hand grip-hugging design.
I have another camera cage now, SmallRig’s 1844 cage for the Panasonic GX8, and through it have come to appreciate the small size and light weight of minimalist camera cages, but for regular through heavy-duty moviemaking when I need to attach a range of accessories to the rig, Motion9/Seercam’s beautifully conceived, brilliantly designed and expertly manufactured cages are my go-to standard.
You can see why in the photographs below. For your product comparison convenience, links to other current GH5 cages are listed at the base of this article.
Seercam’s Cube GH5 body and handle
Coming soon: extension kit for placing handle over DMW XLR1 audio adapter
Of all the GH5 cages listed below, those by 8Sinn and Seercam remain at the top of my wishlist.
If I were shooting features as part of a small crew alongside a camera assistant and audio recordist then I would choose 8Sinn’s cage along with Veydra or Duclos’ Voigtlaender ciné-modded native M43 prime lenses and follow focus device.
While Veydra cinema primes deliver a more standardized look that gets out of the way of the story, Voigtlaender’s faster optics produce quirkier looks that can enhance certain types of stories.
I really like M.Zuiko Pro lenses’ repeatable hard-stop manual clutch focus mechanism, build quality, durability and colour consistency across the range, and can sacrifice some stabilization for the sake of all that. They are terrific for video as well as stills photography.
There was some consternation about the Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8’s inability to accept screw-on filters when it first appeared, as there was about Panasonic’s Lumix 7.14mm f/4.0 lens, but some third-party filter adapter solutions for square or rectangular filters have appeared: