Cages for the Panasonic Lumix GH5: At Least Two Being Designed Right Now – ARTICLE UPDATED

Prescript, as it were

Since I wrote this article near the beginning of 2017, a number of camera cages for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 have appeared on the market and I have been able to take a look online at many of them. In the case of one GH5 cage, Seercam’s Cube GH5, I have been kindly sent one and have had the opportunity of taking a closer look than websites permit. 

Seercam's Cube form-fitting GH5 camera cage with one-touch quick-release Classic Plus top handle, finger support handle and quick-release rod riser.
Seercam’s Cube form-fitting GH5 camera cage with one-touch quick-release Classic Plus top handle, finger support handle (not shown) and quick-release rod riser.

I admit to a degree of well-informed bias. I have a Seercam cage for my GH4 and it has served me and my GH4 well, amply living up to Seercam’s mission of providing the best protection possible. If it were not for that cage, my GH4 might be in pieces due to an accident that occurred shortly after I bought it. The cage took the impact and my GH4 was saved.

Motion9 GH4 cage at left, Seercam GH5 cage at front and SmallRig GX8 cage at rear right.
My current cage collection: Motion9 GH4 cage at left, Seercam GH5 cage at front and SmallRig GX8 cage at rear right.

Seercam, by the way, is the new international trading brand name for the South Korean camera accessories company Motion9 and so my GH4 cage was branded as a Motion9 product.

After buying my GH4 cage, named the CubeMix GH4/3 due to it fitting the GH4 and GH3, Motion9 improved its design with the addition of a quick-release top handle and a quick-release cable clamp under the new product name, CubeMix GH4/3 Pro.

If those accessories were still in production, I would snap them up in a second as they solve the single biggest problem I had with the GH4 cage back then, the need to rapidly remove and reattach the CubeMix GH4/3’s three handles when working fast on location.

Quick release accessories, whether attached via dovetail rails, NATO rails or Arri rosettes, are clearly the way to go for speed and efficiency and permit safely carrying your caged camera about in a backpack or shoulder bag then quickly removing it and snapping on handles and other quick release accessories ready for work.

None of my current shoulder bags or backpacks are dedicated video camera bags permitting carriage of fully assembled video rigs, but Peak Design’s 30-litre Everyday Backpack with its flexible internal space has proven to be a good solution for carrying cage-mounted cameras and other oddly-shaped and sized video equipment.

UK Lumix Luminary Nick Driftwood's anamorphic moviemaking rig. Panasonic's Lumix GH5 is suitable for tripod-mounted big rig moviemaking as well as mobile handheld video cinematography.
UK Lumix Luminary Nick Driftwood’s anamorphic moviemaking rig. Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 is suitable for tripod-mounted big rig moviemaking as well as mobile handheld video cinematography.

Sometimes though, transporting a fully assembled video rig is beyond the capabilities of even the best and biggest bag. Nick Driftwood’s GH5 rig for anamorphic moviemaking above, also depicted further down this page, is a case in point.

Anamorphic lenses aside, big rigs like Mr Diftwood’s are not uncommon when shooting full-length documentaries, the main purpose for which I bought my GH4 then added Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3 cage followed by a Panasonic DMW-BGGH3 battery grip for stability and added power in handheld video and stills photography.

Seercam's Cube GH5 camera cage, Extension Kit for GH5, rod riser and Classic Plus Handle can accommodate some hefty camera rigs if need be. Alternatively, their Cube GH5 cage is lightweight yet protective enough for stripped-down rigs consisting of camera and lens only.
Seercam’s Cube GH5 camera cage, Extension Kit for GH5, rod riser and Classic Plus Handle can accommodate some hefty camera rigs if need be. Alternatively, their Cube GH5 cage is lightweight yet protective enough for stripped-down rigs consisting of camera and lens only.

Communications with the Seercam team reveal they are working on further GH5 solutions including an international-standard external battery pack, a special longer rod for the Extension Kit for Cube GH5, left and right side handles and an updated quick release rod riser.

Links


The original article

With the March 2017 release of Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 Super 16/Micro Four Thirds looming, my attention turns to the many and various accessories needed to make the most of this revolutionary camera. One essential accessory for filmmakers seriously considering the GH5 is a cage, and at least two cage-makers are known to be working on designs at the moment. 

Camera accessories maker SmallRig is currently working on this lightweight cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 and is inviting input from interested parties. I have a SmallRig cage for my Panasonic Lumix GX8 and recommend it. Seercam, formerly Motion9, is also working on a cage for the GH5.

I am most familiar with two brands of cage makers – SmallRig and Seercam, formerly Motion9, links below. I currently own one cage made by each and would definitely consider purchasing from both again.

The folks at SmallRig design their new products via a crowdsourcing process, as it were, seeking input and new ideas from users. Seercam is interested in hearing from potential users and I have, accordingly, sent them the photograph of Nick Driftwood’s GH5 anamorphic rig below.

More images of SmallRig’s GH5 cage currently in development

The Seercam folks tell me that they are waiting to test one of the three GH5s currently available in South Korea and will finish their design at the beginning of March. They will be showing it and other products off at NAB in April.

Nick Driftwood’s GH5 rig for anamorphic moviemaking

UK Panasonic Lumix brand ambassador Nick Driftwood’s anamorphic GH5 rig featuring the GH5, battery grip, XLR1 audio adapter, Atomos Shogun Inferno monitor/recorder for 4K 5pp/60p 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes, SLR Magic 35mm x2 anamorphic lens, Lanparte matte box, Røde NTG2 microphone phantom-powered from the XLR1 hotshoe. “We need to see a special GH5 cage design for the XLR1 from hardware companies,” Mr Driftwood says. That XLR1-savvy design should allow placing the unit anywhere off-hotshoe via a custom cable.

At the very least a cage must offer protection for the camera within and prevent twisting and damage when accessories are mounted on it.

I am not fond of mounting large or heavy microphones or recorders on hotshoes – I would much prefer to attach them via coldshoes on a cage. If something untoward happens to the coldshoe then it can be replaced. Not so a hotshoe.

I am becoming enamoured of battery grips especially when shooting battery-sucking 10-bit 4:2:2 4K or DCI. I prefer attaching recorders beneath the camera and attaching mics to them via coiled XLR cables.

At present I don’t use a rig like the one in Mr Driftwood’s photograph, but I may well need a rig like that minus the anamorphic lens when shooting a feature-length documentary.

The rest of the time my typical rig will be stripped right down for MOS (without sound) handheld video, or with a recorder beneath camera-plus-battery-grip and a microphone on top of the cage. Plus variations.

If a cage and its accessories can be made to accommodate all the typical scenarios one encounters in the course of a typical working career in stills and video – I often use cages for both applications – then I will be very happy indeed.

Links

Image Credits

Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris. Apologies to ELP.

Photograph of Nick Driftwood’s Panasonic Lumix GH5 rig courtesy of Nick Driftwood.

Tech Notes

Hero image of SmallRig cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 processed in Alien Skin Exposure X2 using a cyanotype preset.

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Camera, Kits, Battery Grip and V-Log L

  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 8-18mm Lens KitB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-35mm Lens Kit – B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery Grip – B&H
  • Panasonic V-Log L Function Activation Code for DMC-GH4, DC-GH5, and DMC-FZ2500B&H

SDXC V90 cards

  • Angelbird 64GB AV Pro UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Angelbird 128GB AV Pro UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Panasonic 128GB UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H

L-Plates

  • Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set for Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Camera Body  – B&H

Camera Cages

  • Movcam Cage for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Movcam Cage Kit for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Seercam GH5 CageB&H
  • Seercam Cage for GH5 with Classic HandleB&H
  • Seercam Extension Kit for CUBE GH5 CageB&H

Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack Wins The Carryology Best Active Backpack Award – with REVIEW

Readers of the Carryology website have voted Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack into first place in Carryology’s Fifth Annual Carry Awards held recently. Carryology describes the Everyday Backpack in glowing terms as “A supreme ‘crossover’ bag, this weatherproof pack [which] excels just as well in everyday use as it does during photography sessions or on the move. From photographers to travelers, to commuters and adventurers, this pack nails crazy sets of carry needs.” 

Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack 30-litre bag in Charcoal. In both its colours and size variations, the Everyday Backpack has been voted the winner of carry specialist website Carryology’s 2017 Carry Awards V for Best Active Backpack.

I would add cinematographers and moviemakers to that list of potential Peak Design Everyday Backpack users, given the ever-growing popularity of small, eminently portable mirrorless hybrid cameras for movie production. Mirrorless cameras can fit into bags too small for most higher-end camcorders.

The guiding principle of Peak Design’s Everyday series is bags for creative people who may or may not work professionally as photographers or moviemakers but who almost always carry some photography or video equipment, and that is a description fitting millions nowadays.

How much photography gear can the Everyday Backpack 20-litre and 30-litre bags carry?

The answer, in short, is a considerable amount as the two images above attest. I don’t recommend using the 20 litre or 30 liter Everyday Backpacks as full-time, all-day dedicated camera bags though. I have certainly tried doing exactly that and became exhausted early in the day with shoulder and back pain setting in.

The reason? Peak Design’s relatively lightweight shoulder straps and back pads with much less padding than found in dedicated camera gear-only backpacks. I have a couple of dedicated photographic backpacks, one medium-sized and the other rather large, and they have more padding than the two Everyday Backpacks and can be packed full of equipment for a long, neck pain-free day in inner urban locations or out in the fields of exurbia.

As their name suggests, the Everyday Backpacks are made for everyday carry duties for an assortment of objects and not just camera gear, such as personal items and assorted bumf required during a day at the office or any other non-photography job.

Gallery, Peak Design Everyday Backpacks, 20 litres and 30 litres capacity

The 20 litre and 30 litre backpacks share the same configuration shoulder strap padding. I wavered one which size to choose, on the basis that it may be wiser to select the smaller one so as to avoid overfilling it and causing too much strain on a body damaged from years of carrying heavy equipment.

After thorough research, I settled on the 30 litre size on Charcoal. My choice was based on the bag’s internal flexibility. I could remove all three origami-style Flexfold internal dividers altogether, or arrange one two or three as demanded by the gear and other paraphernalia for any given day.

My most common arrangement is to have one divider at the base of the bag for extra padding for heavier gear, a space above it for smaller pieces of equipment then another on top for personal items. That flexibility is what distinguishes Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack concept from all the other mixed-use backpacks I have owned and discarded after their limitations grated just a little too much.

At the moment my primary one-camera-plus-everyday bag is Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger 13, the smaller version of their Everyday Messenger 15 released several years ago. I have the Charcoal grey version and it looks suitably anonymous and non-photographic while carrying just enough gear for unexpected photo or video opportunities as I go about my daily routine.

From messenger bags to backpacks

Until the Everyday Messenger 13 I was not a fan of messenger bags. Too oversized, too sloppy organizationally and I suffered headaches every time I used one. Peak Design’s messenger bag gets it just about right, with enough room in the main compartment for a mirrorless camera with prime or smaller zoom lens attached, and one or two lenses in the adjacent subdivision.

There is plenty of sized-just-right provision for a small portable computer, small to large tablet, mobile phone, papers, notebooks, keys, SD cards and other storage media, pens and more. The bag’s pockets are well thought out enough that I can keep my personal items in it day and night.

I use the 30-litre Everyday Backpack when needing to carry all of the above plus some larger items of unconventional sizes and shapes such as mono and stereo microphones, headphones, recorders, battery grips and cameras mounted in camera cages.

Camera bags designed around the needs of the average DSLR photographer can prove challenging for items of this nature, with their tight-fitting rectilinear subdivisions intended for DSLR cameras, lenses and accessories. Video camera microphones like Røde’s Stereo VideoMicX and even their VideoMic Pro are an example of this.

Mould, cruelty, our planet’s future and fitting in

I chose the Charcoal rather than Ash version of the Everyday Backpack despite conventional wisdom that carrying heat-sensitive items in hotter climates would be better served by lighter coloured bags to absorb less heat, for four reasons – mould, cruelty, our planet’s future and fitting in.

Climate change has hit Sydney hard in recent years in many different ways but foremost in regard to photographic equipment is mould. Our climate is more sub-tropical than temperate now and there has been an epidemic of mould throughout the metropolitan region. Anything made of leather or with leather trim can suddenly sprout ash-grey fungus with the spores taking up permanent residence, never to be rid of.

Spores and mould can spread like wildfire and that is not helped by too many apartments and houses being poorly ventilated semi-sealed boxes with little to no insulation, no central heating or effective cooling and poor airflow. Fungus loves such environments. Renters complain about mould then receive eviction notices, according to recent reports in our remaining newspapers.

There is more to it than this. The production of leather, like all of animal-centred agribusiness, is inherently cruel despite industry claims to the contrary. Animal husbandry is hugely wasteful of the earth’s resources and a meat-heavy diet is inherently unhealthy, contributing to ever-growing greenhouse gas emission and climate change.

As to fitting in, despite constantly rising temperatures, this culture remains wedded to wearing black, carrying black accessories and riding about in huge glossy black European SUVs, in these keep-up-with-the-Joneses suburbs at least. Choosing non-leather Charcoal rather than leather-trimmed Ash is a win in several counts.

I hope that all camera, camera bags and accessories makers will give these issues some deep thought followed by positive action.

Some thoughts and recommendations

A common theme with all the backpacks I have used over the years is that further subdivision is always necessary for better organization and protection. I use bags within bags, cases within cases, in even the most well-compartmentalized bag or backpack.

The rectilinear bags and cases I use in conventional photography bags and packs are not the best fit for Peak Design’s non-rectilinear design ethos. Look instead to smaller bags and cases the Peak Design team designed alongside its larger bags and backpacks.

Peak Design’s Field Pouch and Range Pouch appear to be perfect fits for their Everyday Backpack, Messenger, Sling and Tote, great for protecting small items inside the larger bags as well as, with the addition of a Peak Design strap, gaining easy access to those same items outside them.

Should I add an Everyday Tote to my camera bag collection?

The Everyday Tote is an intriguing bag, unique amongst the products of camera accessories makers, the perfect solution to my needs when I was on the other side of the fence between creative talent and creative agency, talent-finding, commissioning then producing and line-producing the work of other photographers and moviemakers.

When I need to do that sort of work again, then the Charcoal Tote will be top of my list of essentials.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image by Peak Design from the Peak Design website, styled and resized in ON1 Photo Raw 2017.