For me, a camera cage is a must when it comes to a hybrid camera. We need as many mounting options we can get to make a camera designed for stills work easier for video. Zacuto has a cage for the GH5 that they call the Zacuto GH5 “No Cage” well, I’m not sure about that, but it does have some nice features and a few issues too. Hey, nothings perfect right? Let’s dive in!
Caging the beast
The cage comes in one piece. I appreciate this as some cages have to be built up around the camera. I like to be able to take a cage off and on as fast and easy as possible. The Zacuto “No Cage” isn’t the fastest to mount the GH5 inside of.
Before install, the camera strap fasteners on both sides have to be removed. The small strap eyelets on each side will be used to mount the GH5 into the cage.
The third point of contact is with the bottom 1/4″ 20. I had a tough time lining up the small eyelets to the tapped holes on the cage.
The screw that fits into the eyelets are quite small. On my first try, I had the bottom screw tight, but then I couldn’t line up the other two. I had to loosen the bottom screw then push and squeeze to finally get the GH5 lined up. I then tightened each one a little at a time to ensure it was lining up evenly.
Zacuto “No Cage” Features:
- Ultra Slim & Lightweight
- Cage with side handle .9 lbs, Cage without side handle .6 lbs
- Includes a Zacuto camera hand strap for stability and comfort while using the camera’s grip
- Access to camera’s battery, hot shoe and full button control
- Attaches to camera’s neck strap eyelets for secure connection
- Top Z-Rail (NATO) for top handle or accessories
- Can slide into the VCT Pro shoulder mount baseplate or Dock
- HDMI cable clamp for strain relief
- Removable Wooden side handle with built-in coldshoe
- HDMI pincher that screws directly into camera
- Optional non-rod based Micro 4/3rds to EF Metabones support
- Optional Top handle with built-in cold shoe
- Optional 15mm rod support base
- Optional Atomos Inferno Mount
With just the supplied kit the cage feels solid in the hand, or should I say hands.
With the included camera grip strap and wooden handle you just can’t help to grab it with two-handed confidence. Shooting like this is very nice for steady handheld shots and when you let go of the wood handle to focus the grip strap helps hold the camera so you don’t have to grip the body as tight. I haven’t used a grip like this on a stills camera before and I like it. Makes sense since cameras like the C300 and FS7 also have this design and it really helps take the strain of over gripping the handle.
The included wood handle has a cold shoe on top to add accessories like a microphone, wireless receiver, small light or monitor.
The wooden handle is mounted to the side of the cage via a built-in NATO rail and can be adjusted to the the vertical length of the cage for a custom fit.
The HMDI lock fastens to the cameras original mounting points just like the stock Panasonic lock. It’s nice and small and doesn’t stick out much. The clamp is spring loaded. This keeps it open and makes it easier to insert the HDMI connector into the camera’s port. The kit also comes with a left angle HDMI adapter. Not sure how handy this is since the cable will no longer be locked when using the adapter, however, the lock will take the strain off the GH5 connector. The full-size HDMI is a great upgrade to the GH5. Those pesky micro HDMI connectors are so fragile. I broke mine on a GH4. Good thing it was still under warranty! The GH5 HDMI lock is a winner.
On top, the cage is peppered with tapped mounting points and a NATO rail for a handle or other NATO mounting accessories. I’m a big fan of the NATO rail. They are a great way to quickly and securely mount kit to a cage. Notably missing on top of the cage is a cold shoe. Zacuto decided that adding one would make it unusable with an XLR adapter attached to the GH5’s hot shoe. By moving the cold shoe to the top of the wooden grip it gives you more/better options.
Since the strap eyelets are now being used to secure the GH5 to the cage Zacuto added a slot on both sides for a strap.
Access to GH5 controls and buttons
It’s nice to have solid and secure mounting points for a monitor, microphone and other essential bits, but you also have to be able to get to the camera’s controls and buttons. The Zacuto GH5 cage has pretty good access.
The front buttons visually are blocked when using the camera but if you know the camera you can easily find the buttons on the other side of the cage. The On/Off is fairly easy to get to and the camera’s dials are unobstructed. I found access to be very good on top of the camera while shooting.
The only button I can’t get too is the front assignable Fn6 button. I do miss not having it since I assigned peaking to it. You can see the button but none of my digits fit in that small hole.
The other button that’s a little tight is the lens release button. When using the Metabones SpeedBooster EF to MFT ULTRA I can’t push it with my finger. The adapters lens release is in the way and the cage is too close to the GH5’s lens release button. Since my digit didn’t fit I grabbed a pen to dismount the lens with the adapter from the GH5. When using native lenses I was able to access the button without issue.
My other Metabones SpeedBooster adapter for the Zeiss Contax lens also doesn’t have this issue since the lens release isn’t in the same position on the adapter and has unobstructed access to the GH5’s lens release button.
For mounting on a tripod I use the Arca-Swiss style clamps, so I have to add a quick release plate to the bottom. Some cages come with the Arca Swiss plate built in, however, Zacuto has an entirely different system with integration for the VCT line of baseplates.
The bottom of the cage has two ¼” 20 threads and a 3/8″ 16 thread for a tripod plate. It also has a built-in dovetail to slide into a VCT Pro shoulder mount baseplate ($650) or VCT Pro Dock ($145) so you can quickly move your camera from handheld, to shoulder mount, to tripod shooting. The dovetail connection point is also where you will connect the optional 15mm lightweight rod support for attaching matte boxes, follow focuses and motors to name a few.
The base kit is complete enough to get your GH5 caged and Zacuto has several accessories to build up a rig if you so desire. Yes keeping it clean and simple is always a good approach and these bits will help you do just that.
Zacuto Top Handle
Zacuto makes a lot of accessories that work with the cage. I think a top handle is handy to have on any cage system. The Zacuto Top Handle ($220) mounts to the built-in NATO rail on top and has a lot of room to get it in a place to easily balance the camera. The NATO mount on the handle has four position options for different setups requirements.
The top of the handle also has a NATO rail along the top with several 1/4″ 20 and 3/6″ 16 taps plus a cold shoe on the front.
If you want to add an EVF or side monitor a 15mm rail mount can be added to the front as well.
The Panasonic XLR adapter fits on the GH5 hot shoe with the Top Handle attached but you can’t turn the handle around with the XRL adapter as it doesn’t clear the top.
ATOMOS INFERNO MOUNT
Have an Atomos Inferno? Zacuto has a new mount for that. The Atomos Inferno Mount fits on top of the cage or on the handle. The mount is molded to fit the body of both the Inferno and the GH5 cage. It attaches to ¼”-20 on the bottom of inferno and has two locking screws to prevent twisting. The other end attaches to the Z-Rail (NATO) and ¼” 20 at the top of the cage. The Atomos Inferno mount includes two mini ratcheting levers to control the tilt of the monitor. The mount can be attached to the Atomos Inferno in two ways. Front facing or reversed depending on how far forward or back you want it on the cage.
Metabones Support Adapter
If you’re like me and use a Metabones adapter pretty much all the time with the GH5 then the optional Zacuto GH5 Metabones Support Adapter ($35) might come in handy. The support adapter attaches to the cage. I generally don’t want to lock the adapter into a cage since I do use native MFT and Zeiss Contax lenses that have a SpeedBooster for MFT. If bigger longer lenses are used the support adapter will reduce lens twist from the GH5’s mount but you still will get a little twist from the adapter where the lens is attached.
In order to use the adapter support the stock Metabones Arca-Swiss foot needs to be removed. Then attach the lens to the camera and insert the two screws into the support adapter and Metabones to lock it in place. The adapter is made specifically for the Canon EF to MFT adapter. With the Zeiss Contax Metabones SpeedBooster, it wouldn’t line up. As far as other Metabones adapters working I’m doubtful it will work since it has to be exact in order to lock it in place.
The Zacuto GH5 “No Cage” is pretty much a cage. I like how I can get a tight grip on the GH5 with the included wood handle and side grip strap. With plenty of tapped options all over the cage, you will be able to customize it very easily with monitors and audio kit. Getting the GH5 into the cage was a process and it’s not as fast as I would have liked. I’m sure if I did it several times I would figure out the best way. On the bright side, the three points of contact give the cage a very solid connection. If you really want to go big with a rig the Zacuto VCT system can easily be incorporated. Zacuto has a ton of options to get the setup you need for your type of shooting. I like the Top Handle with the 15mm rail mount option. Pricey at $220 but solid and with the rail mount you can add a Gratical EVF with the AXIS Mini. The cage is also on the pricey side coming in at $495 US for the basic kit. All parts have a lifetime warranty.
A cage is a good investment for a hybrid camera. I use them all the time. Makes adding those extras so easy and protects the camera as well. All in all a solid entry from Zacuto for the GH5.