The SmallRig GH5 cage and accessories make for a very fairly priced and very high quality rig. While a lot of details may not appear drastically different from other designs, that’s not a bad thing. Especially considering the price. Getting a solid, trustworthy and functional rig setup is what counts and SmallRig definitely delivers on that.
There are a lot of details which are more or less expected from any cage setup. For example, 1/4-20 and 3/8 screw mounts all over the place, full access to all of the battery, card and port doors and the ability to adjust all accessories to your particular needs. Let’s take a look at a few details more specific to the SmallRig setup.
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The cage itself, as most designed for the GH5, doesn’t lock into the hot shoe mount since it’s required for accessories like Panasonic’s XLR adapter. Instead, for stability, it has some tabs on the bottom front which prevent the body from twisting loose in the cage. They work just fine and it feels very secure.
The rails on either side do have a bit of space between the cage and the body and some people say they don’t like this. I, personally, find it to be a total non-issue. My small hands can still grip the camera just fine but there are also attachment points for a hand strap if you want a little extra security in your grip. Of course there are also handles designed specifically to be attached to both the sides and top of the cage if you want to handhold a majority of the time.
The rails on the sides are also usable as a NATO rails to attach things like an EVF mount if you want to do so. I did get that accessory and it works just as you’d hope it would. There are separate adjustment points for where it attaches to the cage and to swivel the mount forwards or backwards. It has a 1/4-20 screw and rubber gripped surface so you can attach quite a lot of things here, not only an EVF. There are also additional screw mounts on the arm where you could attach additional accessories if you’d like. That’s a theme that will follow through with pretty much all the accessories I’ll talk about in this review.
On the left side rail, I’ve attached an HDMI lock made by SmallRig. Of course, the GH5 comes with one that will screw into the camera itself and the cage allows for that to be used without any problems, but the SmallRig one is of much higher quality. It takes up nearly zero space and is just a much more streamlined solution when using this cage in my opinion.
I also got a small lens adapter support which can help support lens adapters (which is quite obvious). It doesn’t get in the way even when not using it (it can be adjusted up and down) and will help with heavier or longer adapted lenses when you need it.
You’ll have a range of options when attaching a top handle and I went with a simple metal one with screw mounts all over it. It attaches via a NATO rail with safety locks which you can buy separately (it doesn’t take unnecessary space if you don’t want to use it and it’s extremely cheap if you do). There are also cold shoe attachments on the top and end of the handle for things like a microphone or external monitor/recorder. Of course it’s covered in 1/4-20 and 3/8 mounting points as well as the hole pattern for ARRI accessory mount pins. You can slide the handle back and forth to fit how you want to grip it and also to find a good balance for your particular camera setup. This is done with 2 allen bolts and there is a hex wrench hidden in the handle itself, held in place with a magnet. This is really convenient, especially since it takes up nearly no space. I actually wish they did this for the other allen bolts as well, like in the rail support system (they’re a different size).
Speaking of the rail support system, it has an Arca Swiss quick release plate on top, so you can quickly and easily remove your camera from the rail setup. You could then, of course, attach a plate to the bottom as well so you can remove either the camera only or entire rig from a tripod as easily as you would without any cage or rod setup. I love this design except that the Arca Swiss plate on the bottom of the cage means you’ll have to remove that before you can remove the camera from the cage if you want to do so. Both the plate and the cage attach with regular screws like almost any tripod plate would but the slot in these screws feels a little more shallow than I’m used to. This means it’s a little more difficult to remove with a coin without fear of messing it up. It’s far from impossible and this is really nitpicking but I think the ease of removing these is one area that could be improved. Finally, the rod clamp can slide up and down on this system (with an allen bolt) to match the height of your lens and follow focus/matte box. The rods are fairly standard and are available in multiple lengths, diameters and of course aluminum or carbon fiber. The ends of the rods are threaded so you can extend them if you wish.
With a few very minor complaints such as wanting another hidden hex wrench or easier-to-remove screws in the quick release plate and bottom of the cage, this setup is extremely solid. There’s not a whole lot to say besides the facts because it just works. As with any rig, you could spend hours and hours designing and laying out your rig, but SmallRig will always allow you to do just what you want. It has a very heavy duty feel for a not heavy duty price and the limits will be only in your imagination.
If you’d like to check out any of the parts mentioned in this review, click the links below or visit http://www.smallrig.com
HDMI Cable Clamp: http://www.smallrig.com/smallrig-hdmi-cable-clamp-1822.html
Quick Release Safety Rail: http://www.smallrig.com/smallrig-quick-release-safety-rail-46mm-1409.html
15mm Rail Support System (Arca Swiss): http://www.smallrig.com/smallrig-15mm-rail-support-system-arca-swiss-1729.html
16 inch 15mm Aluminum Rails: http://www.smallrig.com/2pcs-15mm-black-aluminum-alloy-rod-m12-40cm-16inch-1054.html
Lens Adapter Support: http://www.smallrig.com/smallrig-lens-adapter-support-for-panasonic-lumix-gh5-2016.html