LockCircle Robot GH5, the Key to All-Round Top End Feature Film Camera Cages and Rigging for the Panasonic Lumix GH5?

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.

Links

Image Credits

Image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Help support ‘Untitled’

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.

  • 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

SmallRig: SmallRig Panasonic Lumix GH5 Cage 2049 – New Product Release

http://www.smallrig.com/smallrig-panasonic-lumix-gh5-cage-2049.html

“… SmallRig Cage 2049 is designed specifically for Panasonic Lumix GH5.

Key Features:
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….”

Gallery

Help support ‘Untitled’

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.

  • 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

Luminous Landscape: Peak Design Straps – The Cuff and Leash Review – with COMMENTARY

https://luminous-landscape.com/peak-design-straps-cuff-leash-review/

“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….”

Commentary:

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.

Links:

Røde Microphones Releases VideoMicro Pro+, New Top Rank On-Camera Directional aka Shotgun Microphone – UPDATED

Australian recording studio and video production mic company Røde Microphones announced the imminent release of its new self-powered on-camera directional mic the VideoMic Pro+ on July 25 and yesterday a review sample arrived on our doorstep, and what a microphone it is with a list of hardware and software improvements advancing well beyond its immediate predecessor the VideoMic Pro. Røde’s VideoMic Pro+ aka VMP+ is likely to quickly become the go-to top-end video hotshoe-mounted production shotgun microphone. 

I took the VideoMic Pro+ out for a quick spin attached to my Panasonic Lumix GX8, a wonderful stills camera and a sadly underestimated 4K UHD video camera now somewhat eclipsed by the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5.

I threw a third-party TRS 3.5mm-to-2.5mm adapter sourced from the local Jaycar store into my bag as the GX8, like many smaller hybrid mirrorless cameras made today, is equipped with a 2.5mm audio jack in order to save space.

The two 2.5mm-to-3.5mm adapters here are the only ones I have been able to source in local stores and they are not the ideal solution. I am still looking for better-designed, better-made alternatives such as short 2.5mm-to-3.5mm TRS cables or smaller adapters so they do not get in the way or disconnect as these two do all the time.

I can’t help but wonder if there might be a better solution than adding a non-professional adapter into the audio equation, and whether Røde might be persuaded to make their own 3.5mm-to-2.5mm TRS patch cables in order to eliminate this one particular weakest link.

I often experience problems caused by these third-party 3.5mm-to-2.5mm adapters and have yet to find a more professional alternative. I like Røde’s red coiled cables for their quality, convenience and visibility.

I congratulate Røde Microphones for listening to its users and acting on that by replacing permanently attached cables with detachable cables on its newer products including the VideoMic Pro+, and hope that this is now the standard.

Røde Microphones VideoMic Pro+

My partner and I are both enduring one of the worst influenza seasons ever despite having been vaccinated so avoided street crowds and headed off for a coffee at the local high street, set up camera and microphone and pointed the rig in the general direction of our fellow caffeine addicts lined up at the front of the café.

Our test was quick and dirty to say the least as we want to spend time doing a more in-depth one over the coming days, but the results were impressive.

The first new feature

First feature put to the test was the new hinged battery door.

The VideoMic Pro’s battery door often presented a challenge to new users until time and practice taught them how to push it on and off without frustration and battery popping out onto the floor.

The VideoMic Pro+ is a much easier to use proposition and it takes little time to get the hang of two finger on the latches to release its hinged battery door.

Instead of relying on the locally hard-to-find rectangular 9v Lithium batteries required by the VMP and SVMX, the VMP+ allows the choice of two rechargeable AA batteries or Røde’s own LB-1 Lithium-Ion rechargeable.

If using third party AA-size lithium batteries, make sure that the current rating of the batteries will deliver the same or better than the Røde proprietary battery which is rated at 1600mAh (at 3.8 volts).

Røde’s VideoMic Pro+ product page implies that the VMP+ can also be powered by the detachable Micro USB cable so we will give that option a go soon. Meanwhile we chose the LB-1 lithium battery.

Auto on-off

The second standout feature we encountered is the VMP+’s automatic on-off power function. We plugged the detachable 3.5mm TRS cable into the VMP+ and then the GX8’s audio jack, switched the camera on and the VMP+ immediately powered up.

Then we powered the GX8 down and watched the VMP+ do the same. Yay! Great way to help save on battery power especially if toting just the one LB-1 battery about with you.

I wonder though if Røde will be making spare LB-1 batteries available in future? I always feel safer carrying at least one spare even if the batteries have well-earned reputations for longevity.

An easier interface

The next standout feature was the ease-of-use of the VideoMic Pro+’s electronic interface via push buttons instead of the VideoMic Pro’s sliders. I have always found sliders less sure than buttons in other devices and often wondered if I had inadvertently slid off-setting when in the field with the VMP.

The VMP+’s buttons makes that less of a concern, especially its power-on/off button which needs a slightly sustained push to to be activated. That is good, thoughtful design.

Also thoughtful and effective is the circular layout of the VMP+’s buttons and indicator LEDs. Although they are similar in functionality to those on the Røde Stereo VideoMic X, the latter’s controls are in a vertical straight line and have always felt just a little counterintuitive in use given their contradiction to the SVMX’s circular design.

My fingers leapt easily over the VideoMic Pro+’s button and LED arrangement and it was a doddle changing the settings while watching the GX8 audio indicators change in response.

The safety channel

Another new feature I am really looking forward to putting into practice soon is the VMP+’s Safety Channel, activated by pushing the Output Gain Control button and Power Button at the same time, lower right and upper middle.

The Safety Channel lowers the output of the dual-mono signal’s right channel by 10dB to account for sudden audio spikes and reduce the likelihood of fatal audio clipping. If the left channel is compromised then the right channel will most likely be okay.

The other major new hardware feature in the Røde VideoMic Pro+ is its optimized windshield, now larger and more rounded than the one in the VideoMic Pro. My BFF was very interested in that aspect of the VMP+ as she spent some time working on similar features for a US-based audio hardware and software corporation.

The curvy bits

Making windshields curvier apparently helps persuade wind to better deflect around the microphone’s sensitive bits with the benefit of less noise. My wording, not hers! Cue animation of wind represented by arrows approaching windshield and sliding off.

Røde Microphones has had an agreement with famous UK audio accessories makers Rycote in place for some time now whereby Røde manufactures its own Rycote Lyre shockmounts and is permitted to integrate them into its microphone designs.

I have been a Rycote customer for some years having observed various Rycote products in heavy use by audio professionals onset so it is pleasing that the Røde team seems to see Rycote in a similar light.

Which DeadCat?

The folks at Røde Microphones tell me that a new DeadCat optional windshield accessory specially tailored to the VideoMic Pro+ is being made and will be available soon. The DeadCat windshield for the VideoMic Pro is unsuitable for use with the VMP+.

Forget adapters, get a Beachtek 3.5mm-to-2.5mm coiled cable

Beachtek SC25 3.5mm-to-2.5mm coiled cable, suitable for connecting the Røde VideoMic Pro+ to the 2.5mm audio mini-jack of the Panasonic Lumix GX8 and other cameras.

I finally located a suitable 3.5mm-to-2.5mm cable and (almost) hit the jackpot with it being short, coiled, with gold-plated contacts and, an unexpected bonus, a different look to the 2.5mm end’s plastic moulding for fast and easy identification.

My order for several Beachtek SC25 3.5mm to 2.5mm Stereo Output Cables is now on its way.

It appears that Beachtek came up with this cable back in the Lumix GH1 days when Panasonic’s flagship DSLM had a 2.5mm audio minijack. Given it is likely that fewer cameras will be equipped with such jacks in future, I thought it best to get exercise my Rule of Three, two for location and one for the studio in case either or both are lost or damaged.

Coping with the VideoMic Pro+’s rear extension

The new Røde VideoMic Pro+ mounted on the Panasonic Lumix GH4’s hotshoe, showing how the rear of the microphone juts backwards.

Early users of the Røde VideoMic Pro+ have reported problems with the way mic with cable attached juts backwards into one’s face when mounting the VMP+ on the camera’s hotshoe.

I compared the way the VMP+ sits on my GX8’s hotshoe with how it works on my GH4’s hotshoe and can confirm these reports. The VideoMic Pro+ is fine with the rangefinder-style GX8 but the back of the microphone gets in the way when placing one’s eye up close to the DSLR-style GH4’s EVF.

I had a similar problem with the very first Røde microphone I bought, the original VideoMic, now replaced with the current red Rycote Lyre shockmount-equipped VideoMic.

The mic came with its hotshoe mount screw-attached to the centre of its rubber-band shockmount so all I had to do was unscrew the hotshoe mount, move it to the back of the shockmount and problem solved.

The VideoMic Pro+ cannot be modified in this way but there are other solutions. Camera cages are becoming increasingly popular and some of the latest have one or two off-centre coldshoe mounts built-in. All allow you to screw coldshoes onto any 1/4″/20 threaded that you wish.

Another possible solution is to attach a threaded or coldshoe-equipped handle or rail onto the camera’s hotshoe and place the VMP+ where it works best. The choice is yours, and there is a fair amount of choice in how you do it and where you find your ideal solution.

Adapting 3.5mm minijack microphones to XLR devices

Røde’s VXLR+ 3.5mm female TRS socket to male XLR adaptor converts 12 volt to 48 volt phantom power into 5 volt to 5 volt plug-in power. It is necessary if you wish to plug the Røde VideoMicro, VideoMic GO or HS2 microphones into XLR devices. The VXLR+ will replace the VXLR in due course, when the latter will be discontinued.

While researching the Røde VideoMic Pro+, I came across a new XLR adaptor on the company’s website, the VXLR+.

I added four Røde VXLR 3.5mm-to-XLR adaptors when I ordered my Tascam DR-70D four-channel audio recorder some time ago. This recorder has four XLR/TRS combo jacks and I feel safer adapting 3.5mm TRS to XLR when connecting microphones to all my XLR devices.

The data sheet PDF for the VXLR+ lists these compatible microphones for the VXLR+:

  • VideoMic
  • VideoMicro
  • VideoMic Pro
  • VideoMic Pro+
  • VideoMic GO
  • HS2
  • RØDELink Filmmaker Kit
  • smartLav+ (when used with SC3 adapter)

I have been informed that the VXLR+ will replace the VXLR in due course, when the VXLR will be discontinued. In the meantime the VXLR works fine with all the above microphones except for the VideoMicro, VideoMic GO and smartlav+. These three mics require plug-in power, which the VXLR+ can provide when they are plugged into XLR phantom power devices.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image composite made from Røde Microphones product photographs in Adobe Photoshop then styled with Alien Skin Exposure X2. Gallery photographs made as 3-bracket HDRs on Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 camera with Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric prime lens then processed in Macphun Aurora HDR 2017 and Macphun Luminar for a Polaroid look.

Seercam Releases Beautifully Designed Cube 6X Camera Cage for Sony Alpha A6500, A6300, A6000 Super 35 Cameras

Camera accessories maker Seercam has released the Cube 6X, a camera cage for Super 35/APS-C hybrid stills/video cameras in Sony’s Alpha (aka alpha or α) mirrorless interchangeable lens E-mount camera range and, from studying its design and manufacturing details and photographs, it is a must-have for all owners of cameras in the range which includes the α6500α6300 and α6000

Seercam, continuing the tradition the company set under its former brand name Motion9, has produced a cage with all the often unique and always top-tier design and manufacturing values for which the brand has become respected.

Some of Motion9’s first camera cages were created for groundbreaking, popular cameras like Blackmagic Design’s BMPCC aka Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, and Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GH4.

Some Motion9 Camera Cages

The Motion9 website appears to no longer be available but I have located some archive images of the company’s cages for the BMPCC, Panasonic Lumix GH4 and Canon EOS 5D Mark III cameras, from left to right below.

It is no secret that I am a fan of Seercam’s cages due to their design and manufacturing quality, and consider them the default go-to cages whenever acquiring a new camera. That consideration is well supported by their sturdiness and ability to safely support attaching all the third-party accessories upon which moviemakers have come to rely.

While it is true that some other cage makers come up with cheaper, lighter and smaller cages, usually designed in the screw-tapped-ribbon style consisting of a narrow aluminium loop in one piece or screwed-together around the camera, Seercam’s unibody cages offer protection and thoughtful design features rarely seen elsewhere.

Seercam’s Cube 6X for Sony α6500, α6300 and α6000

I will add more and larger photographs here as I receive them.

It is often the little things that make all the difference. In the case of the Cube 6X, that includes Seercam’s customary silver-anodized screw-in righthand finger support, two built-in cold shoes with the option of attaching more as needed, pinky finger support on the base of the cage, and cage-mounted push-button video recording functionality allowing easier and faster access than the sometimes bizarrely positioned video buttons to be found on Sony cameras.

I rarely shoot video without mounting my camera in a cage, the only exception being when I attach a battery grip, and enjoy the extra grip, added protection and counterbalancing of large, heavy zoom lenses that well-designed cages such as Seercam’s afford.

Good grip and balance is even more important in small cameras the size of Sony’s Alpha α6n00 Super 35/APS-C mirrorless range.

The Seercam Cube 6X is available in three configurations, as a cage body-only, or with Classic Plus Handle, or also with Rod Riser 1565.

Links:

Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Review Loaner Arrives, Testing With Leeming LUT One and Seercam Cube GH5 Cage – UPDATED

A review loaner of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 arrived yesterday afternoon and it immediately found its way into Seercam’s Cube GH5 camera cage with Extension Kit for Cube GH5. Then I attached a Manfrotto Pixi Table Tripod-cum-handle to the Extension Kit’s coldshoe mount, ready for action should it occur.

First thing the next day, I was pleasantly surprised by a visit from Petra, one of the three young female brush turkeys whom we raised almost from the time they leaped out of their eggs on the mound next door. I grabbed the GH5 plus Seercam cage, hoped that the Griffin Hammond GH5 camera settings file I had installed late the night before would be up to the task, and jumped out the door. 

It was excellent to finally be able to try out Seercam’s one-piece cage for Panasonic’s Lumix DC-GH5 camera.
The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 review loaner camera arrived minus several items including the eye cup, USB 3 cable and lens hood for the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens.
The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 review loaner camera arrived minus several items including the eye cup, USB 3 cable and lens hood for the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens. We later improvised a temporary solution for the GH5’s eye cup from a spare eye cup from my GH4, attached with UHU Yellow Tack and hope.

We helped Petra recuperate from attacks by dogs who had stripped her of tail and wing feathers twice over the past six months, and she has grown up into a beautiful, confident young adult who now, it seems, has formed her own little tribe of three young brush turkeys whom she was leading about.

Still frames from my first GH5 video shoot of Petra and her friends

The footage reveals that I will need to reinforce the way we have attached the spare GH4 eye cup to the GH5 as critical focus was missed on several crucial shots due to relying solely on the monitor with focus peaking while shooting in semi-darkness.

I will be trying the GH5 out on some stills photographs next and then will load up Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT One settings for Cinelike D and V-Log L on the GH5 for further video shoots over the two-week loan period.

I will be editing and grading GH5 footage in DaVinci Resolve Studio 14 and Final Cut Pro X and processing stills in a number of image editors, LUTs and color grading plug-ins, and raw processors. I will be relying on Lesspain Software’s excellent Kyno media management and productivity software throughout.

Snapshots from my second day with the GH5

It usually takes me a few days to start to understand and get the best out of a new camera and even longer to understand a new lens, and the GH5 and its Panasonic Leica 12-60mm kit zoom is no exception. Another factor is that it can take a while for software companies to fully support new cameras and at the moment none of them appears to perfectly support this specific lens and camera combination.

At the moment I am defaulting to Adobe Camera Raw with VSCO presets and Photoshop, but once I know enough about what the GH5 and this lens can do then I will explore how other raw processing and image editing software interprets images from them. So far, though, the images look impressive.

My current Seercam Cube GH5 cage configuration for stills and video

I often go into situations where I may need to shoot stills and video, and so a minimal rig is most useful, allowing me the flexibility to make photographs while holding the camera in vertical/portrait or horizontal/landscape mode, or quickly switch over to video without having to add extra items.

I often use my GH4 and GX8 in minimalist rigging like here, in the GH4’s case in a Motion9/Seercam CubeMix GH4/3 cage and for the GX8 a SmallRig cage. I also like going even more minimal with my GH4 and attach just a battery grip and a microphone.

A GH5 is definitely high on my wishlist, reinforced by my experience so far with the camera, and I will be adding a battery grip, XLR audio adapter and, when Seercam comes out with its special battery pack that mounts in the GH5’s rod riser, will add one of those too.

A number of GH5 users report that the camera rips through batteries especially when shooting 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 video and using stabilization. I have experienced that myself already. I will need to at least double my collection of batteries for the GH5 and look at other power options too.

Some GH5 owners have stated that they have bypassed all other brands of cages for the GH5 and have opted for the minimalist SmallRig cage due to it being one of the first to have strap-mounting holes on the camera right side. It is easy to attach straps to any cage by screwing strap-mounting into your cage’s 1/4-20 tapped holes.

Right now I am using Peak Design Pro Drive Screws as they are the only ones I found in a local camera store but other moviemakers tell me they use other, smaller screws in preference. I am sure that camera accessories makers could come up with much better optional strap-mounting drives.

On another note, I have been using a spare eye cup from my GH4 to temporarily replace the one missing from the review loaner GH5. I have tried gaffer tape, Blue-Tack and UHU Yellow Tack – proper name Sticky Tack or Poster Putty – but found that the UHU Yellow Tack works best, though the eye-cup has fallen off a few times anyway.

Links

Image Credits

Help support ‘Untitled’

Clicking on these affiliate links helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • 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 KitB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-XLR1 XLR Microphone AdapterB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery Grip – B&H
  • Panasonic V-Log L Function Activation Code for DMC-GH4, DC-GH5, and DMC-FZ2500B&H
  • Atomos Ninja Inferno 7″ 4K HDMI Recording Monitor and accessoriesB&H
  • Seercam GH5 CageB&H
  • Seercam Cage for GH5 with Classic HandleB&H
  • Seercam Extension Kit for CUBE GH5 CageB&H

With the Unique Manfrotto Fig Rig Long Dead, What Will Replace It? – UPDATE

NOTE: Since writing this article, I came across a comment from Mike Figgis about the Fig Rig Mark III that I have written about in this article:


The technology world is littered with unique, brilliant inventions that solved a common set of problems perfectly but that were badly marketed, poorly distributed, set at the wrong price point, or failed to find a manufacturer in the first place.

One such product failed by the system was the Fig Rig, invented by movie director Mike Figgis and manufactured in two versions with accessories by Manfrotto.

I wish I had been able to buy a Fig Rig when they were available for too brief a time.

With the Fig Rig now dead, is there anything that can take its place?

The Manfrotto Sympla version of the Fig Rig, adding bells, whistles, expense and the opposite of simple?

I suspect the answer is no, and the video industry is all the poorer for it. Although one could try the plastic pipe DIY option, there are alternatives to the Fig Rig, similar rigs in smaller circular or semi-circular shapes, but neither of the makers of HaloRig nor the Steadywheel have the financial might or global distribution partners of a holding company like Manfrotto’s owner, the Vitec Group plc.

Vitec’s press relations people have not responded to enquiries about the Fig Rig’s fate so we can only speculate and lament the truncated life of a product that had a purity of intention and design, loads of potential, needed to be downsized and updated for modern hybrid cameras, and deserved a marketing effort it that apparently failed to receive.

Manfrotto’s now discontinued Fig Rig video steadying device

The only images of the Fig Rig that I could find on the Web and in a PDF document are low resolution so I have tried to enlarge them a little here.

Mike Figgis made a short video showing off the Fig Rig in action during a walk through the streets of London. The director did his own camerawork.

What I love about the Fig Rig is that it is body-centred, gestural, in the way that my stills cameras are when I am in the middle of the action making documentary photographs and, in order to get the exact framing I want of people near and far, left and right of frame, bend my knees, lean and swivel. I want the same range of movements when shooting documentary video.

Shoulder rigs don’t do it for me though they certainly have their uses, likewise steadicams, stabilizers, gimbals and all their many and various variations.

Of all the images in the gallery above, for me the key is the one at left on the second line down, showing how the Fig Rig allows an operator to pitch, roll and yaw the camera in the same way that an aeroplane does.

And what happened to Manfrotto’s other great white hope, the Lino Apparel Collection?

The Manfrotto Lino Pro range of photographers’ clothing for women and men appears to have suffered the same fate as the Fig Rig. Again, I did not have the pleasure of seeing any of the items in a camera store so have no idea of their design and manufacturing quality and fit but judging by two videos and the tiny photographs below, they look like a brilliant solution to a common problem.

It seems that the Lino Pro range was initially made for only men but a women’s line was added later, according to Manfrotto’s press release at PR Newswire.

I gave up being fashionable long ago; in fact I never have been given photography and moviemaking have played such a large role in my life from teenagerdom onwards. I have pursued style and functionality though, and that has not easy here at any time.

Finding functional, stylish clothing has become less difficult lately with the arrival of UniQlo in Australia, enabling me to wear a basic black layered core all year round by relying on the company’s Airism and Heattech undergarment ranges.

Now all I need is a set of functional, stylish overgarments I can pop on when going out or shooting in my home studio, and that support the special needs of photographers and moviemakers. Manfrotto’s Lino Apparel Collection would have been the bee’s knees had they not been killed off almost as soon as they were born, or so it seems.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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

Cage Maker 8Sinn Releases Top Handles Extension Adapter for Panasonic Lumix GH5 XLR Audio Adapter

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.

Links: