Italian movie production hardware maker LockCircle produces the Robot Skin GH5 cinematic system, perhaps the ultimate answer to high-end, ultra-light, handheld hybrid movie camera caging and rigging aimed at users working in feature film and television series productions.
Substantially composed of deep anodized CNC-machined billet aircraft grade aluminium with selected grade 5 titanium parts, integrated into the IMS Professional and Positive-Lock lens mounting systems for PL-Mount, Panavision, Leica-R, Canon EF and Nikon optics, with provision for Camera Assistant focal plane measuring, available in Noir Black, Blumix or Purple Rain for design-conscious Camera Operators and Directors of Photography, and a myriad of accessory options.
Designed by cinematographers for cinematographers, LockCircle’s Robot Skin GH5 has clearly been created to impress and to perform in the most demanding conditions.
Its attention to detail is astounding, the design effort apparently aided and abetted by Sydney-based Director of Photography/Producer Clinton Harn ACS, and clearly aimed at those whose needs and budgets ensure that only the best will do.
I came across LockCircle’s Robot Skin GH5 while comparing and contrasting GH5 camera cages I have seen and tried in real life with the many available online, and no others came close to it in terms of design, functionality and manufacturing quality.
LockCircle’s International Resellers page, alas, does not list any Australian importers or retailers but the Robot Skin GH5 may eventually appear at B&H Photo in which case I will add links to the affiliate links list at the base of this page.
For those of us for whom LockCircle’s cage might be financial and mission overkill, it may be wise to compare these three Robot Skin GH5 bundles to other manufacturers’ versions.
So far the other GH5 cages that have impressed are those made by Movcam, Seercam and SmallRig, with 8Sinn’s GH5 cage showing promise that may be fulfilled if the Polish company issues a revision that allows access to the GH5’s remote port.
Clicking on these affiliate links helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.
Note: 8Sinn and SmallRig products are not retailed at B&H Photo Video with which we have an affiliate relationship, but we use and recommend the following camera cages for the Panasonic Lumix GH5. LockCircle products are retailed by B&H but the Robot Skin GH5 has yet to appear there. When it does, we will add those links below.
“… SmallRig Cage 2049 is designed specifically for Panasonic Lumix GH5.
1. It does not block any access to the SD card slot, battery compartment, and all camera controls.
2. At the bottom are an abundance of multiple 1/4’’ and 3/8’’ threaded holes for Manfrotto and Vinten QR plates or Quick Release Baseplate Kit 2035.
3. The cage is good for thermal dissipation of camera and prevents it from twisting.
4. It could attach Panasonic Lumix GH5 DMW-XLR1 Helmet Kit 2017 on the top for handheld shooting and protection of XLR….”
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Clicking on these affiliate links helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.
Note: SmallRig products are not retailed at B&H Photo Video with which we have an affiliate relationship, but we use and recommend the following camera cages for the Panasonic Lumix GH5.
“Most people are familiar with Peak Design, a company that makes camera bags, packs, and straps. I have been a major fan of the company’s straps for quite some time and have mentioned them on a number of our Toy Shop episodes. Peak Design has, in my opinion, invented one of the best camera strap lines on the market…
… Since using the Peak Design system, I have never been happier with the use of straps. Peak Design offers a variety of straps of varying widths as well as a wrist cuff strap. As soon as I get a new camera or even a review loaner, I insert the Anchor Links. Then, depending on the weight of the camera or how I’ll be using the strap, I decide on which strap to use….”
I have yet to see the new Peak Design Cuff and Leash appear at a camera store, here so please read this commentary bearing that in mind.
The only local camera store that carried the Peak Design brand has now closed and the remaining camera store in our local area has a very limited selection of stock of any brand; Peak Design is not one of those brands.
Like Kevin Raber of Luminous Landscape, as soon as I buy a new camera or receive a review loaner, I attach Anchor Links then a Peak Design Clutch and Peak Design Cuff and never remove them unless a loaner must be returned.
As a result, every single camera in my collection wears its Anchor Links, Clutch and Cuff on a permanent basis, the latter two only coming off when I need to place the camera inside a cage that requires their removal in order to fit.
Camera cages with built-in strap attachment points have only started appearing in the last year, via brands like 8Sinn (latest version not yet on their website), Movcam and SmallRig. I have been looking for an optimum solution for attaching Anchor Straps to other cages, L-Brackets and hand grips but the best so far, Peak Design’s Pro Drive Screw, has its annoyances and limitations.
I have tried many different brands and types of camera straps over the years, made by camera manufacturers and third parties, and none of them has been ideal. Some have failed spectacularly and others have proven to be a real pain to use.
One of the brands that came closest to ideal until I discovered the Peak Design brand through the late Michael Reichmann of Luminous Landscape was Dsptch, and I still have some of their products stored away should I ever need them again.
After buying the Peak Design Capture Pro camera clip, quickly followed by the company’s Clutch, Cuff and Leash camera straps, then trying out Peak Design’s Slide and Slide Lite sling straps for reviews, I have not looked back.
Capture Pro is my most-used Arca-Swiss conversion solution for traditional stills and movie tripod quick release camera plates, until I invest in an Arca-Swiss clamp for each of my current stills and video tripods and monopods.
Slide and Slide Lite live in storage until I need to cover events and documentary subjects demanding a two-camera, two-lens in-depth approach where both cameras must be easily available at all times. Even then, Clutch and Cuff remain in permanent residence on every camera.
Leash, my first Peak Design sling strap, is reserved as a safety strap during urban and bush treks when I am carrying one camera in the hand but run the risk of dropping it in risky terrain.
I am not sure if and when I will have the chance of my first look at the new Cuff and Leash, so must rely on articles by trusted reviewers like Kevin Raber.
I have a couple of cameras at the top of my wishlist, the coming Fujifilm X-E3 mostly for documentary and portrait stills photography and as a backup to my X-Pro2, and the Panasonic DC-GH5 mostly for documentary moviemaking.
I am currently undecided as to whether I will attach the new Cuff and old Clutch to them both, or start searching for old versions of Cuff at online retailers as old Cuff has served me well over the years.
I have a couple of concerns about new Cuff and new Leash. Foremost is the leather component of Peak Design’s Ash colourway, introduced in the company’s Everyday camera bags range.
Now that the effects of climate change and global warming are well set-in here in Sydney, the risk of mould has become a constant concern. When mould attacks leather and certain plastics, its spores set up permanent residence inside and can never be removed.
With a sudden change in the weather, mould’s fruiting bodies can appear on the surface of the leather or plastic then start spreading onto other products inside and nearby.
The idea of susceptible leather and plastics transferring mould infection to cameras, lenses and other expensive objects fills me with horror.
I have asked Peak Design staffers to confirm whether the Ash colourway’s light tan leather trim and the Charcoal colourway’s black Hypalon synthetic are resistant to mould or not, but have not heard back about that yet.
There are other concerns with leather, whether mould-resistant or not. Leather production is part of the global industrialization of agriculture and is inherently cruel as well as environmentally irresponsible. I will not be buying any more leather products or products containing leather, so no Ash colourway Peak Design products for me.
Another concern is the idea of metal parts in close contact with fragile camera parts whether when on the move or at rest. Old Clutch and old Cuff have all-plastic hardware that has not shown signs of mould so far and neither have they rubbed my cameras and lenses up the wrong way.
Slide, Slide Lite and Leash go into their own little fabric bags, other small bags or camera bag internal pockets until needed then go back there or into safe storage when at home.
For now, new Cuff and new Leash’s aluminium hardware is an unknown quantity.
My appeal to stop using leather in camera bags and accessories
I am calling on all makers of camera bags and accessories to stop using leather.
The reasons are clear and well-justified – the extreme cruelty of industrial agriculture, its environmental irresponsibility and the ever-growing problem of mould infection resulting from climate change and global warming.
There is no intrinsic need for leather even in products like shoes and boots. Camera bags and accessories makers like Cosyspeed are leading the way in showing that leather simply is not necessary.
“It will be a sausage fest,” my best friend warned me when I told her I was planning on rising from my sickbed to visit SMPTE17 earlier this week.
She is an industry trade show veteran, having long worked as one of the most in-demand research and development engineers for famous brand name global corporations before quitting due to overt male bias and male versus female pay differences.
SMPTE17 is the first movie and television industry trade show to be staged at Sydney’s revamped conventions and exhibitions complex, ICC Sydney, in Darling Harbour.
In the long years between the previous conference and exhibitions centre being torn down and ICC Sydney kicking into operation late last year, this city has been without the trade shows upon which photographers in particular depend for their all-too-rare hands-ons with new and essential equipment.
Since moviemaking, photography and television went digital, there has been steadily growing overlap between the hardware and software needs in these related industries.
Visual storytelling is their other common component and practiced storytellers have been crossing the borders between since I began learning cinematography and photography the hard way as a kid in the middle of the west of nowhere.
The idea of separating one set of visual storytelling applications from the other two that are increasingly closely related is becoming more absurd as the years go by.
ICC Sydney in Darling Harbour is a more suitable venue than SMPTE15’s windy, soggy, distant Hordern Pavilion in Moore Park and the day I attended this year’s iteration benefited from excellent weather and cold-hued laser-beam sunlight.
With this winter being one of the most challenging for vicious influenza infections and bacterial secondary infections untouched by the annual quadrivalent injection, the usual injunction to keep one’s distance from in-your-face sneezers and coughers carried extra weight, so I was on my feet dodging disease vectors on the trade show floor.
The Streetomatic+ more than proved itself and I hope that an Australian importer/distributor will step up to the plate to make Cosyspeed’s camera bags available here.
Being a moviemaker and photographer, my attention was largely focussed on those vendors at SMPTE17 whose products served both fields well.
SMPTE is traditionally aimed at the heavy guns in the movies and TV, as proven by previous iterations of the trade show.
For example, I had attended SMPTE15 hoping to see all relevant products from vendors but the artificial divide between so-called professional and enthusiast product ranges held sway then and only those products deemed “professional” were available.
At SMPTE17, that silliness was not so much in evidence.
This year, brands like Panasonic and Sony acknowledged reality by showing their mirrorless stills/video hybrid cameras alongside their camcorders and cinema cameras.
Panasonic smartly invited Lumix indie mirrorless documentary moviemaking pioneer Griffin Hammond to man the GH5 stand and present workshops and floor talks.
I would have loved to have attended them but remain ill from severe influenza and the last thing I want to do is risk spreading it about.
The overt male bias at SMPTE15 and its predecessors was slightly less in evidence this year thanks to foreign staff manning foreign vendors’ stands or Australian staffers who work the world trade show and special event circuits for their Australian headquartered globally-focussed employers.
The aforementioned sausage fest remained in evidence throughout, though, with blokes dominating hands-on opportunities such as those on the Sony stand stand’s APS-C/Super 35 and 35mm mirrorless cameras and lenses.
I had hoped to try out the Sony α9 camera to see what all the fuss is about but had to go away disappointed after several attempts.
We have a looong way to go before moviemaking and photography approach anything like equal opportunity.
There were other disappointments.
The glass display cabinet containing Movcam’s popular camera cages and other accessories remained locked and unmanned with none of the C. R. Kennedy staffers having possession of the keys.
The Manfrotto display focussed only on a new tripod range and some accessories and bags.
I have long been wanting to see, try and potentially heavily invest in in Manfrotto’s Xume fast-on, fast-off filter system that foreign colleagues insist are absolutely essential.
The staffer there barely knew what I was talking about and it was the same or worse with other brilliant Manfrotto products like the Fig Rig and the Lino Manfrotto professional clothing range. Ah well.
Vitec Group plc’s apparent reluctance to practise the fundamentals of vendor education and good marketing and public relations seems to filter down throughout their distribution chain.
Product distribution and retail has been average to mediocre in this country for some time, leading directly to reliance on online sales going to US-based retail giants like B&H Photo Video.
Things might be different if we had something here approaching the B&H store and I can understand why so many of my photography and video colleagues shop overseas, online or, increasingly in person.
I would love to support local retailers and importers/distributors by buying locally but experiences like the one later the same day when trying to procure some essential hardware items from local retailers mitigate against that.
Listening to every camera and pro store assistant tell me to go online to order from B&H has its effect and it is cumulative and, often, permanent.
I strongly suspect the store assistant chant of “get it from B&H” will turn Amazon’s way when the global supply giant establishes its national warehouse and delivery network throughout Australia.
The phrase “they will eat your lunch” kept coming to mind in every store I visited in a quest that ended in the inevitable online order to B&H as soon as I returned home.
There were some highlights at SMPTE17 such as Rotolight UK’s Barry Grubb attending the C. R. Kennedy stand to show off the brilliant Rotolight Aeos hand-and-stand photography and video LED-plus-flash light system alongside the equally brilliant Rotolight Neo and Rotolight Anova LED lighting systems.
I rely on my Rotolight Neo 3 Light Kit with barndoors and Chimera soft box for stills and video, and have been long hoping for a more powerful, wider-beamed, portable LED light to use in one-light or two-light portrait and interview set-ups on location.
The Aeos appears to be it, and is about to become available as a two-light kit in a backpack with barndoors and soft box to follow. Yay!
The trade show floor was brightly and unevenly lit so it was a stretch to see the full effect of the Aeos’ output – if we ever have a B&H-style superstore here a studio to judge the quality of lights surely would be an essential.
But, even with the room’s ambient light the Aeos showed enough brightness and colour control to add it up high on my movie and photography lighting wishlist.
Other highlights included the SMPTE-first presence of a G-Technology stand showing off the company’s excellent location and editing suite media storage products, some intriguing moviemaking microphones from also SMPTE-first Azden and some great products from established Australian brands Atomos and Blackmagic Design.
SMPTE17 was the best iteration of the trade show I have attended so far despite non-attendances by brands and distributors that I had so hoped would be there.
We are at a critical stage in Australia with the ending of the photography trade shows, a dearth of the travelling hardware show-and-tell events and workshops that go on overseas, the lack of Australian-based brand ambassadors and product demonstrators, and the ever-looming shadow of Amazon.com.
Like winter, Amazon is coming and one has to hope that its imminent presence will radically improve the importing and retailing situation for moviemaking and photography hardware for practitioners at all levels.
That situation will improve radically yet again if Amazon sets up some rumored bricks-and-mortar show, tell, try, buy and educational workshop experiences throughout the country and especially here in Sydney.
To My Readers:
In order to get this article online in a timely manner I have had to skip some content and put off processing some photographs, adding captions and other data and so on.
I will be adding those currently missing bits as soon as I can but I am still seriously ill with this wretched dual virus-plus-bacteria infection that I contracted while in the city to shoot some product review footage weeks ago.