Not long ago I reviewed the GH5 cage made by SmallRig, and generally speaking I loved it. It’s very well made, no scratches or rough joints, beautifully finished and simple, yet well functioning. There were a few points though that, while they didn’t bother me personally, could use improving.
Not long after that, SmallRig announced a second, updated cage for the GH5. Some people have voiced frustration about already getting the (now inferior) first cage, but I applaud SmallRig for biting the bullet and fixing what needed to be fixed. Yes, it may be an inconvenience to some, but it shows that they really listen and really care about what their customers want. This comes as no surprise to me from a company with an extensive co-design program, but it’s still nice to see.
So, around 75% of the design was changed, but a lot of those changes don’t necessarily affect how it functions. The shape of the bottom, for example, has changed drastically but I don’t personally see any effect. In fact, the larger base on the new version slightly blocks the indentation on the bottom of the flip out screen that’s supposed to be used to easily grab and open it. It’s not a big deal since there are identical little tabs on the side and top of the screen, but it might be worth mentioning. (Don’t redesign it again, SmallRig!)
The big changes pretty much all focus on the right, grip side of the cage. Before, the top was simply a straight bar across that cut through the middle of the front dial and the buttons. This did technically allow you to access both the dial and the button, but made it very very tight (especially the dial). The new cage completely solves this issue, curving closer to the mode dial and leaving the buttons and front dial wide open. Again, a minor annoyance is that turning the camera OFF is now slightly difficult, but that’s probably not something you’ll need to do in a hurry or too often during a shoot anyway. I’ll live with it… happily.
Another big change is the shape of the rail on the right side. This change is kind of 2 fold; the space between the cage and the camera body is smaller and the shape is contoured to perfectly match the contour of the GH5 grip. Both of these changes work together to make hand holding the camera far easier and more comfortable. Of course, there’s still a rail there, but it seems about as comfortable as could be with a cage attached. If you want more than that I’d HIGHLY recommend their wooden side grip (1941) with the rosette NATO clamp (2046) which I’ll also be reviewing very soon. I swear, it was made specifically for my hand.
There are other minor changes which mostly come along with the changes in it’s form factor but most likely won’t affect functionality. The placement of some screw threads have naturally changed and the NATO rail on the right is now half the height because of the contour for the grip, but it is still there. The left side, including the cold shoe mount, seems to be more or less unchanged, the top still leaves the hot shoe free and there are still the same small tabs on the front to help avoid the camera twisting out of place.