SmallRig Has Two Fujifilm X-T3 Cages in Pre-Order, One for the Camera with Battery Grip and One Without. First 100 Orders Get 30% Off.

Camera accessories maker SmallRig is quick off the mark with not one but two camera cages for the Fujifilm X-T3 APS-C/Super 35 hybrid mirrorless camera to take advantage of the X-T3’s radically boosted video capabilities. 

My experience with a range of Fujifilm cameras indicates that almost all of them benefit at least from metal hand grips and more so from vertical battery grips for better, safer handholding and extra power. 

It is pleasing to see that SmallRig has acknowledged this by adding extra gripability to its cage for the X-T3 minus vertical battery grip. 

Both camera cages are currently available under SmallRig’s Pre-Order scheme at 30% off an already low regular price and the estimated shipping date is October 11, 2018, well-timed for the official release of X-T3 production models. 

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Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens.

Clicking on these affiliate links and purchasing through them helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • Fujifilm VG-XT3 Vertical Battery GripB&H
  • Fujifilm MHG-XT3 Metal Hand GripB&H
  • Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera – B&H
  • SmallRig
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SmallRig Cage for Panasonic Lumix LX100 Premium Compact 4K Hybrid Camera Now in Pre-Order at 50% Off

Camera accessory maker SmallRig recently placed a camera cage for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 M43 4K hybrid digital camera  on pre-order status at a 50% discount for the first 100 orders, and it reminded me of what a remarkable little camera the LX100 appears to be even though it was released back in 2014 alongside the then ground-breaking Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4

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SmallRig Cage for Panasonic Lumix LX100 2198 enhances this capable little premium compact Micro Four Thirds camera for discrete run-and-gun video.

The professional camera stores I was frequenting at the time did not stock the LX100 otherwise I may well have bought one had I the chance to see and try one out.

The LX100’s specifications are impressive for a 2014 release camera with some of the few disappointments being its lack of microphone and headphone ports for good quality audio recording, but that lack can be remedied by attaching a small audio recorder to the camera for double system sound that can easily be synched to video in Final Cut Pro X or Red Giant’s Shooter PluralEyes.

A successor to the LX100, presumably to be named the Panasonic Lumix LX200, with more contemporary specifications such as in-body image stabilization aka IBIS or at least improved optical image stabilization, ND filters and a 16 to 20 megapixel sensor, has long been rumored and I hope that the latest rumour, that it will be announced before the photokina trade show in September this year, is true as I have been in the market for a top-specced compact hybrid camera for quite some time.

The one obvious downside to compact cameras that fit into the palm of one’s hand as the LX100 seems to is their minimal gripability and lack of attachment points for accessories necessary for producing great video such as audio recorders, microphones, hand grips, handles and small monitors or monitor/recorders, but SmallRig’s custom cage provides enough of those in the form of 1/4-20 threaded holes and a NATO accessory rail on one side.

The SmallRig Cage for Panasonic Lumix LX100 2198 is the company’s first such cage to adopt a more protective form factor than SmallRig’s other camera cages to date and I hope augurs well for more protective camera cage designs in future.

I became aware of the usefulness of protective as well as connective camera cage designs when shooting on location in a challenging situation with a Lumix GH4 inside a GH4 Cube Cage made by Motion9, now rebranded as Seercam.

SmallRig’s design style has been evolving lately with the appearance of custom L-brackets which add videocentric features to a camera accessory formerly aimed solely at stills photography.

Hybrid cameras, equally adept at stills photography as high-quality video, have demanded a rethink on the question of camera and accessories support and I look forward to SmallRig’s designs becoming more hybrid-savvy.

The Panasonic Lumix LX100, and hopefully soon the Panasonic Lumix LX200, are a case in point.

I look to a camera like this being as good for handheld documentary photography or tripod-mounted portrait photography in vertical and horizontal orientation via built-in Arca-Swiss plate as it is for video whether accessorized minimally or with audio recorder, left side handle, top handle, microphone and even a monitor.

I would like to see SmallRig’s cage for the LX200 be even more hybrid-influenced than its LX100 cage, a fusion of Arca-Swiss tripod plate with NATO, Arri and 1/4-20 mounting points such that one never needs to remove it, so versatile and comfortable would it be whether held in the hand or mounted on tripod, monopod or gimbal.

SmallRig Cage for Panasonic Lumix LX100 2198

Some accessories for SmallRig Cage for Panasonic Lumix LX100 2198

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 Micro Four Thirds 4K hybrid digital camera and accessories

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Leica D-Lux (Typ 109), Leica Camera’s version of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100, with premium materials, finishes and hardware user interface.

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

  • Aurora-Aperture 43mm PowerXND 2000 Variable Neutral Density 1.2 to 3.3 Filter (4 to 11 Stops)B&H
  • B+W 43mm MRC 103M Solid Neutral Density 0.9 Filter (3 Stop)B&H
  • Chiaro 43mm 99-UVBT UV FilterB&H – I use and recommend Chiaro UV filters for protection and UV cutting, especially as their filters provide up to 99% light transmission and that make them in a wide range of diameters with knurled brass frames to avoid binding.
  • Kinotehnik LCDVF169D 3″ LCD Viewfinder for Select Panasonic and Sony CamerasB&H
  • Leica Auto Lens Cap for D-Lux (Typ 109)B&H – Leica’s version of Panasonic’s DMW-LFAC1 auto lens cap that seems to have gone missing from the B&H website.
  • Leica D-LUX (Typ 109) Digital Camera (Black)B&H
  • Leica Handgrip for D-LUX (Typ 109) Digital CameraB&H – both the Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 need hand grips, but only the Leica has one as an optional extra.
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 Digital CameraB&H
  • SmallRig
  • Tascam DR-05 Portable Handheld Digital Audio RecorderB&H – small stereo recorders like this or similar ones made by Tascam as well as other manufacturers such as Olympus and Zoom are useful when your camera does not have audio in or out ports for plugging in microphones or headphones. Attach recorders to cages or camera hotshoes via the recorders’ 1/4-20 tripod screw and a suitable SmallRig accessory.
  • Think Tank Photo Little Stuff It! Belt Pouch V3.0B&H – if the uncaged LX100 or LX200 is small enough to fit inside this bag, it would make a terrific way of carrying camera only, attached to shoulder or waist straps or camera bag rails.
  • Think Tank Photo Stuff It! Belt Pouch V3.0B&H – I have two of the previous version 2.0 Stuff It! bags and they are great for carrying all sorts of assorted gear, attached  to camera bag straps or rails.

SmallRig Cage for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K 2203 Goes Where No One Has Yet Gone Before

SmallRig is engaged in co-designing the first, to my knowledge, camera cage for Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K and it looks promising even at this early stage of the design process. 

Under the terms of SmallRig’s Co-Design practice, customers are encouraged to “share with us if you have any ideas or suggestions” and “if your idea is adopted as a core concept, you will be a co-designer of this brand-new product and get one for free once it is officially released”, a unique approach to custom designing accessories for moviemakers and photographers and a potentially rewarding one. 

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SmallRig Cage for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K 2203 with SmallRig Arri Locating Handle 2165, SmallRig Universal 15mm Rail Support System Baseplate 2092, SmallRig Wooden Universal Side Handle 2093, SmallRig Cold Shoe Extension 2044 and rods.
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Blackmagic Design has not yet shared any fine details about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K’s photography features. Will it be capable of high resolution stills with a choice of traditional photography aspect ratios?

Given the BMPCC 4K is predominantly a cinema camera with its low resolution stills function more likely to be applied to still-frames for publicity and NLE use, a cage for it needs to focus on documentary and narrative feature production needs.

Blackmagic Design may, however, have a surprise or two up its sleeve for the BMPCC 4K’s stills capabilities such as high resolution raw files approaching, say, Panasonic’s DC-Lumix GH5 in quality, so a second, stills-savvy, cage design or a more stills-oriented L-Bracket for hand and tripod use in portrait or landscape orientation may be called for.

Time will tell as Blackmagic Design is not sharing details about the BMPCC 4K’s stills features in any detail at the moment.

Meantime I have some thoughts below about what I would like to see in the final version of SmallRig Cage for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K 2203, and for some future accessories for the camera.

SmallRig Cage for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K 2203

Other SmallRig accessories to extend the BMPCC 4K 2203 cage’s usefulness

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3 Legged Thing QR7-EQ Quick Release Plate, Arca-Swiss compatible, with provision for attaching Peak Design Anchors for Peak Design camera straps. I would like to see all Arca-Swiss plates have this provision.

SmallRig makes a wide range of cages, L-Brackets and other accessories for many popular hybrid, video and cinema cameras and products originally designed for one can often be applied to use with others.

The SmallRig Mini Plate with Arri Locating Hole 2171, for example, is useful for attaching the SmallRig Arri Locating Handle 2165 onto cages lacking Arri locating holes, while two SmallRig Wooden Universal Side Handles 2093 look excellent for smooth steady movements with any camera.

Being an Arca-Swiss tripod plate aficionado, I particularly like the look of the SmallRig Universal 15mm Rail Support System Baseplate 2092 as I like having Arca-Swiss plates attached to all my cameras and Arca-Swiss type clamps to all my tripods.

I would like to see SmallRig continue integrating the Arca-Swiss system into its products.

My wishlist for SmallRig Cage for Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K 2203

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The BMPCC 4K accepts audio input via mini-XLR to XLR cables, and a cage will need to account for these and other audio requirements.
  • Arca-Swiss plate at base – built-in or screw-on.
  • Arri locating holes – already provided on top of current cage design, with one on left and one of right side as well.
  • Cable clamps – port-side.
  • Cold shoes – do not need to be be built-in but can be attached to 1/4-20 screw holes.
  • Ergonomic design – needs to feel good and well-balanced in the hand and with all parts easily accessible while tripod-mounted.
  • Gimbal-mountable – especially on recently-released gimbals such as the DJI Ronin-S.
  • Good balance between protection and functionality.
  • Metabones lens adapter support – should also suitable for other adapter brands.
  • NATO rails – top and sides for quick release accessories.
  • Safe, secure below-camera mounting solution – for recorders and mixer recorders such as Tascam DR-70D and DR-701D, Sound Devices MixPre-3 and MixPre-6, and so on. Given the variability of cameras’ audio recording hardware and firmware, I prefer to rely on external audio recorders whenever possible.
  • Side handles – a pair, with shutter aka release button on righthand handle, via Arri or Nato quick release mounts.
  • SD drive mount or cage – for a range of drives including Samsung Portable SSD T5, G-Technology 1TB G-DRIVE R-Series USB 3.1 Type-C mobile SSD and other USB-C SSDs. USB-C mounts are not the most reliant so this needs to be accounted for.
  • Sunshade – although the BMPCC 4K’s monitor will be bright enough for viewing while shooting in sunlight, it will need to be shaded to enable easy viewing under all lighting conditions and especially to guard against glare.

Functionality and/or protection?

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Cages for the BMPCC 4K will require a cable clamp solution able to handle a range of cable types for all these ports.

Over the years I have observed two trends in camera cage design, protection and functionality.

All cages are designed for both but emphasize one over the other.

The best balance between depends on your needs and is affected by whether you will be shooting handheld, tripod-mounted, gimbal-mounted or a combination of two or three.

Another factor is the camera itself with some cameras built of tougher materials than others, or with easier to handle shapes and sizes than others.

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is anything but a pocketable camera, unlike its predecessor the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, being more of a cross between the latter and the many and various Blackmagic Design cinema and production cameras that have now been discontinued.

Unlike many potential buyers of the BMPCC 4K, I do not find its design ugly or unwieldy, but camera cages and accessories for it will need to take into account its non-standard shape and connection requirements.

Non-standard, that is, compared to popular mirrorless video or hybrid cameras likes those made by Panasonic and Sony.

SmallRig’s cage designs tend towards functionality and place less emphasis on protection compared to, say, cages by Seercam or Tilta.

Some examples to inspire?

Although SmallRig is unique amongst camera accessories makers in working directly with its customers in co-designing its products, there is much to be learned from and be inspired by in the products and approaches of other companies including those in the list below.

8Sinn has already shared the news that its has a design for a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K in the world and other makers are also likely to have begun the design process.

Competition will hot up when the BMPCC 4K is eventually released and it becomes obvious what sorts of cages and other accessories will benefit users.

Why not get your design requests in early and take part in the co-design process with SmallRig?

Links

Image Credits

Quick and dirty dry dock image by Carmel D. Morris.

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blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_front_lens_01_1024px_60pc
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (BMPCC 4K) with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens with manual clutch focus, great for manual focussing. I like the longer image-stabilized Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS Pro zoom for available light daily walkabout needs for video and stills.

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

  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema CameraB&H
  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • DJI Ronin-SB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Sound Devices MixPre audio recorders/mixersB&H
  • Tascam DR-70D 4-Channel Audio Recording Device for DSLR and Video CamerasB&H
  • Tascam DR-701D 6-Track Field Recorder for DSLR with SMPTE Timecode – B&H

Camera Accessories Maker SmallRig Sets Up Its Own Amazon Australia Online Store

With the side effects of the Australian Federal Government’s demand that foreign online retailers sign up to become government goos and services tax collection agents yet to become clear and obvious this soon after the scheme’s July 1 commencement date, Chinese camera accessories maker SmallRig has dodged the bullet by setting up a dedicated SmallRig store on Amazon Australia

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SmallRig now has a store at Amazon.com Australia.

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos responded to the Federal Government’s demand that Amazon UK and Amazon USA become unpaid tax collectors by refusing to sell Australian customers at all from those two sites from July 1, instead bouncing them to the controversial Amazon Australia website, often criticized for having too little stock and too high prices.

SmallRig’s Australian Amazon store does not appear to offer the vast selection found on SmallRig’s website nor its unique Co-design and Pre-order functions but it is at least, a start and seems to contain some of the more popular item categories for which SmallRig has become famous since its founding in 2007, cages, handles, quick release plates, clamps and more.

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This item is on my wishlist and I may try out SmallRig’s Amazon Australia store by purchasing it and other items there soon.

I recommend that Australian readers make their purchases through the Amazon Australia SmallRig store to encourage SmallRig to add more of their products to it.

I have not yet made any foreign online purchases since July 1 from retailers that have refused to sign up to the Australian Government’s GST collection scheme, so have not put the new system to the test.

I hope, though that the Government is offering a fallback for purchases from those stores such as routing them through the Australian Customs service for GST collection on items where it has not been charged at point of sale.

Prior to July 1, the Australian Government only required 10% GST to be paid on items costing $AU 1,000.00 or greater.

Now all items purchased by Australian residents from overseas suppliers are required to have GST collected.

Links

Taking a Panasonic Lumix GH5 Equipped with a Guerrilla G-Cup for GH5 on a Brisk Walk Through Chatswood

When a documentary video or photography project about people involved in creativity and innovation is not in the offing, what else is there to do other than picking up the latest review loaner, placing another review loaner upon it then jumping on a train to head off for the closest reasonably busy suburban shopping destination the afternoon of New Year’s Eve 2017? 

Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens, Guerrilla G-Cup for GH5 and Peak Design Clutch camera strap. I used a Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 lens on the GH5 for my photographic walk through Chatswood depicted below.

Panasonic Australia’s media relations people kindly couriered over a GH5 just before Christmas, shortly after Guerrilla, formerly Miller & Schneider, sent over its G-Cup for GH5, and the G-Cup has been permanently fixed to the GH5 ever since.

It is still early days for me with the Guerrilla C-Cup but this first serious foray into shooting with it was a success.

New Year’s Eve 2017 was a hot and muggy day with constantly changing low-angle light filtering through the glare of a cloudy sky in Sydney’s northern suburb of Chatswood.

A Brisk New Year’s Eve Walk Through Chatswood with a Lumix GH5 and a Guerrilla G-Cup for GH5

DxO Optics Pro Elite with its companion applications cum plug-ins DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint was the first dedicated raw file processor I bought after being less than impressed with Adobe’s Camera Raw of the time.

The DxO combination has been my raw processing benchmark provided, that is, the raw files in question are not Fujifilm X-Trans non-Bayer raw as DxO’s code base sadly only supports Bayer sensors.

Accordingly I processed my brisk walk images in DxO OpticsPro Elite, now renamed DxO PhotoLab, with DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint as plug-ins.

This set of images was processed with DxO’s Agfa Scala 200x analog film simulation and selenium/gold split toning to emphasize the heat and light of my walk through those gritty streets.

Even the light indoors in the shopping centres and arcades both upmarket and down seared my eyes as it shafted through the skylights and windows into the gloomy lower floors below.

Agfa Scala 200x, intended for processing as a transparency film, was discontinued in 2010 and the closest extant film is reportedly Adox Silvermax.

The Guerrilla G-Cup for Panasonic GH5

I was glad of the way Guerrilla’s G-Cup for the GH5 shielded the edges of my eyes in those searing shafts of light so I could peer more effectively into the darkness.

More importantly, the G-Cup did exactly what Guerilla’s product page text promised it would:

The G-Cup is a replacement eyecup designed to fit the electronic viewfinder of the Panasonic GH5. It enhances the clarity, comfort, and stability of your camera by securely attaching to the EVF to block out light and provide a comfortable cushion for firm pressure and improved handheld stability.

Custom-designed and optimized for each camera, the G-Cup adds very little weight, and it perfectly compliments the camera’s shape and balance. It enables run-and-gun shooting with your camera stripped-down, right out of the box.

Panasonic Lumix GH5 with Guerrilla G-Cup for GH5 and Peak Design Clutch hand strap.

That run-and-gun shooting experience is important to me with the GH5 and its DSLR-style form factor that is so different from the types of cameras I usually prefer for stills photography, rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras like Panasonic’s GX8 and Fujifilm’s X-Pro2.

I am right at home with those two cameras for the urban documentary approach I applied to my walk around Chatswood on New Year’s Eve, 2017.

The G-Cup made the GH5 look and feel like something very different, a marksman’s sight for peering distantly at the target and that feeling was underscored by my choice of lens, the Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro.

I received the 25mm f/1.7 with my Panasonic Lumix GX8 during an end-of-year promotion and it is currently one of my fastest Micro Four Thirds lenses.

Its 25mm focal length is not one I would have chosen to buy as I tend to shoot documentary stills with wider or longer focal lengths – in M43 they are 14mm, 17mm, 20mm and 42.5mm and in 35mm format they are 28mm, 35mm, 40mm and 85mm.

For documentary video as well as stills, I am very tempted by the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro f/1.2 prime lenses range and its 17mm, 25mm and 45mm focal lengths with their manual clutch focus capability, crucial for accurate and repeatable manual focussing and focus pulling.

Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric prime lens, one of Panasonic’s f/1.7 prime lens series, all affordable and light, and with a fast enough maximum aperture for most situations. Manual focussing is damped focus-by-wire rather than manual clutch focus as with the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses, so I prefer the latter for repeatable and accurate focus control but Panasonic’s f/1.7 lens series is great for tight, fast situations.

Panasonic’s fast little Lumix G f/1.7 primes are a different proposition, better suited to autofocus and one carrying on M43’s initial promise of smaller, lighter, more affordable cameras and lenses as well as more discretion when shooting in public.

For that they are well-matched with Panasonic’s GX8, a camera that is the height of discretion due to its unique tilting electronic viewfinder, which I hope will soon be updated as the GX9.

I have tried using the fully-articulated monitor on Lumix cameras in lieu of the GX8 tilting EVF’s waist level finder effect, but success is dependent on being able to shield the monitor from the sun or in having a main subject lit brightly enough.

SmallRig LCD Screen Protector Sunhood 1972 on Panasonic Lumix GH5.

I recently bought SmallRig’s LCD Screen Protector to try when shooing video in challenging light and needing to have the camera low rather than eye level on a tripod or gimbal, though it may be unwieldy for run-and-gun stills and video.

I will be in the Sydney city CBD later this week to shoot some much-needed Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) High Dynamic Range (HDR) and All-Intra 400 Mbps 10-bit 4:2:2  video footage so I can explore these promising new developments that arrived with version 2.0 of the GH5’s firmware.

Links

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

  • COSYSPEED CAMSLINGER Streetomatic Plus Camera BagB&H
  • Fujifilm X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 ASPH. LensB&H

News Shooter: My GH5 is off for repairs, time to reflect

http://www.newsshooter.com/2017/12/20/gh5-off-repairs-time-reflect/

“While packing up my GH5 to be sent in for service (more on that in a minute) I was thinking about why I like the camera so much and recommend it a lot to people….”

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

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

  • Movcam Cage Kit for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic V-Log L Function Activation Code for DMC-GH4, DC-GH5, and DMC-FZ2500B&H
  • Seercam CUBE Cage for Panasonic GH5 with Top Handle and Rod RiserB&H
  • Zacuto GH5 CageB&H

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

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.

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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.