Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

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The Zacuto Camera Cage for the Nikon Z6 and Z7 is one of just many options that are now available for Nikon’s flagship hybrid mirrorless cameras. I wanted to see just how well made and featured the Zacuto option was.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

In my personal opinion, a camera cage is a must if you want to use any mirrorless camera for serious filming applications. While mirrorless cameras can certainly be used without a cage, once you start wanting to add monitors, external recorders, professional sound, matte boxes, 15mm rails, and follow focus units, then a cage becomes a necessity.

Key features

  • Arca-Swiss dovetail on the bottom
  • Direct compatibility with the Zacuto Polaris 15mm LWS Baseplate System, sold separately
  • Hand strap included; optional wooden handle supported
  • Built-in NATO-compatible Z-Rail for top handles
  • HDMI lock and HDMI right-angle adapter
  • 1/4″-20 accessory mounting threads
  • 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16 tripod mount threads

With the upcoming ability to be able to capture ProRes RAW on the Atomos Ninja V over HDMI, a cage is going to become even more important for the Z6.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

Zacuto Z6/Z7 Cage Giveaway

Thanks to Zacuto, you can win the cage along with any two accessories listed below.

Zacuto Z6/Z7 Cage
Zarn
Top-Handle
Polaris Mounting Plate
Nikon FTZ Adapter
Side Handle

The giveaway has now ended. You can use the code ‘NEWSNIKON5′ to receive 5% off the Nikon Z6/Z7 cage from the Zacuto website.

Meet the Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7

The Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 features an Arca-Swiss dovetail on the bottom for compatibility with the Zacuto Polaris 15mm LWS Baseplate System and third-party systems. Combined with the optional Polaris baseplate, the cage can be used as the core of a full shoulder rig for the Z6/Z7.

The camera attaches to a 1/4″-20 screw on the mounting platform of the cage. It also secures to the sides of the cage via the camera’s neck strap eyelets. With the eyelets lined up to dedicated screw holes, two special included screws are screwed into the cage, through the eyelets.

Even with the supplied hand strap attached, the right side of the cage has a largely open design that allows you to get a full grip on the camera’s handgrip. The cage also provides full access to all controls, slots, and ports of the camera. While the included hand strap attaches to the right side of the cage, the left side supports an optional wooden handle. If you incorporate one, the cage can be handheld with two hands for added stability, with the right hand on the camera handgrip and left hand on the wooden handle.

Additionally, the cage has a built-in NATO-compatible Z-Rail, which allows for quick release mounting of an optional Zacuto or third-party top handle. The cage also features an HDMI safety lock and comes with a right-angle HDMI adapter. For accessories, multiple 1/4″-20 accessory mounting threads are offered on the top of the cage. For direct tripod mounting, both 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16 threads are provided on the bottom.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

Personally, for me, a camera cage is a must if you are using a hybrid mirrorless for serious video work. So lets. dive in and see how the Zacuto Nikon Z6/Z7 cage stacks up.

Build Quality

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

Build quality is something you don’t usually have to worry about with Zacuto products. In some ways, I think Zacuto almost over engineers some of their products. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it comes to build quality.

The Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6/Z7 is really well made. The materials used are excellent and the finish is first class. I know Zacuto stuff tends to be expensive, but you are certainly getting a quality product.

All parts have a lifetime warranty, and Zacuto has some of the best customer service in the industry (at least in my experience) if you have any problems.

Caging your camera up

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

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 Z6/Z7 isn’t the fastest to mount your camera inside of.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

Before installing the cage, the camera strap fasteners on the left-hand side needs to be removed. The small strap eyelet hole on the left-hand side of the camera needs to be used as one of the mounting points.

I can see why Zacuto has designed their Nikon Z6/Z7 cage like this, as it gives you another mounting point so the camera won’t flex or twist. Unfortunately, this makes mounting and unmounting your camera from the cage a bit time-consuming.

The main fastening point is at the bottom of the cage. Zacuto likes to use these small-sized screws to secure camera cages and plates. Now, why there is nothing wrong with this, if you lose one (which can happen) you can’t just find a common 1/4 20″ screw to use instead.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

My other gripe is that the eyelet screw and the bottom screw require two different tools. It would have been nice to just need one tool.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

The screw that fits into the eyelet is also quite small. On my first try, I had the bottom screw tight, but then I couldn’t line up the eyelet screw. I had to loosen the bottom screw then push and squeeze to finally get the Z6 lined up. I then tightened each one a little at a time to ensure it was lining up evenly.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

On the positive side, once you have both connection points locked in, the cage and camera are rock solid. There is no twist and no movement. Cages that only provide one point of connection constantly twist and move, that is something that won’t happen with this cage.

I personally use my Nikon Z6 for both stills and video, so the problem with the Zacuto cage is that you can’t just quickly switch from no cage to a cage.

If you are primarily using your Z6/Z7 for video then this won’t be a problem, but if you are using it for stills and video and you don’t want to have it in a cage all the time this is something you will need to consider.

Camera grip strap

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

With the basic cage, you get a camera strap that is attached to the right-hand side. Whether you will want to use this will depend on how you like to operate.

I quite like the camera strap as it allows you to grip the camera with more confidence. It also lets you loosen your finger grip so you don’t have to hold onto the camera too tightly.

If you don’t like the camera strap then you can simply just remove it.

Nikon Z6/Z7 Zacuto Cage HDMI lock

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

The HMDI lock fastens to the outside of the cage. By undoing a screw (which you can do with your fingers) you can insert your HDMI cable and then refasten the screw which will lock your HDMI cable in place.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

The only trouble I found with the HDMI lock is that you end up having the plastic covers that protect the ports hanging out from the cage. The HDMI locking port also makes getting the cover off the microphone and headphone jacks a little tricky.

The kit also comes with a left angle Mini to full-sized HDMI adapter. I’m 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 camera’s HDMI connector.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

The full-size HDMI adapter is nice to have, but if you use it, the HDMI cable will be sticking straight back does mean that your HDMI cable is sticking out backwards which I didn’t personally find to be that ideal.

Top of the cage

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.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

Also on top of the cage is a cold shoe. This is handy for mounting a microphone or any other compatible accessory if you aren’t running a top handle.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

Since one of the strap eyelets is now being used to secure the Nikon Z6/Z7 to the cage, Zacuto added a slot on both sides for a strap. I personally like being able to still use a camera strap with a cage.

Control and button access

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 Nikon Z6/Z7 cage has pretty good access.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

All the cameras primary buttons and dials are pretty easy to access. The only button on the Z6 that I found a little hard to access was the ISO button. If you have large fingers you may find it difficult to access easily.

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There is unobstructed access to the media and battery as well.

Nikon Z6/Z7 Zacuto Cage Wooden handles

Optional wooden handles are available for the Nikon Z6/Z7 cage. As the cage uses NATO rails you can mix and match handles and move them around to whatever position works best for you.

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.

Zacuto has several options when it comes to handles. There is a standard NATO rail top handle, a wooden side handle, and a wooden ball mount.

Nikon Z6/Z7 FTZ Mount Adapter Support

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The Nikon FTZ Adapter from Zacuto ($19 USD) screws onto the front of the Zacuto Z6/Z7 camera cage to support the Nikon FTZ mount adapter. This provides support to relieve stress on the Nikon Z6/Z7’s lens mount. This is important if you are using larger, heavier lenses.

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This attaches to the front of the cage via two small screws. This support is nice to use but you do have to keep in mind that if you are going to be changing lens mounts during a shoot you won’t be able to unless you remove the support.

As I tend to use quite a few different lens mounts when I am shooting, I found it easier to not use the FTZ mount support.

Zacuto Cage Bottom adapter

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The bottom of the cage has two ¼” 20 threads and two 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.

Polaris Baseplate system

The Polaris Mounting Plate can be used with the cage, Polaris Camera Plate or any Arca-Swiss-type plate to quickly mount and detach your camera as you switch between various supports or from tripod to handheld capture.

This is nicely designed and it allows you to go from a tripod to handheld very quickly.

Real World Use

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

I think one of the Zacuto cages biggest strengths is if you are shooting handheld with a Z6/Z7. Being able to grip the camera with two hands certainly makes a big difference in getting smooth, solid shots.

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

The cage is very functional and I liked how I could rig it up easily depending on what my needs were.

Pricing

The Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 retails for $280.25 USD. For this you get:

  • Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7
  • Camera Hand Strap
  • HDMI Right-Angle Adapter
  • 2 x Dedicated Eyelet Screw
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
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If you want the top handle, that’s an additional $220 USD. A side handle is $125 USD. If you want the Polaris Mounting plate that’s $150 USD. If you get the Camera Cage and all of these accessories the price balloons out to a whopping $790 USD. Whichever way you look at it, that is a lot of money to spend on a camera cage.

Competition

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SmallRig Cage for Nikon Z6/Z7 Camera

The pricing of the Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 certainly places it as one of the more expensive options that are available.

Despite how well made the Zacuto cage is, it faces a lot of competition from more affordable options. Some of those options include:

Final thoughts

Zacuto Camera Cage for Nikon Z6 & Z7 hands-on review

The Zacuto Nikon Z6/Z7 cage is very well made. While overall the design is pretty good, it’s not perfect.

I like how I can get a tight grip on the Z6 with the wooden 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 Z6 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 positive side, the two 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 optional Top Handle, side handles, and Polaris baseplate, but if you add up all of these items along with the base cage, it starts to get very pricey.

On the flip side, a lot of these optional accessories can be used on other cages. As they are all based around NATO rails you can simply take an accessory and use it somewhere else.

A cage is a good investment for a hybrid camera, but in saying that, you do have to be mindful of how many years you are going to use that camera for when investing in accessories. I use cages all the time when shooting video with mirrorless cameras. In my personal view, the Zacuto cage is more for professional users who want a cage that is rock solid and can be customized.

If you are after a basic cage to occasionally use, then this cage isn’t for you. I like the Zacuto cage, but it’s going to be a tough sell for the company to convince users to spend more money buying it.

With a lot of camera cages now becoming available, in some cases for under $100 USD, the Zacuto cage is only going to really appeal to serious professionals. If you are after a rock-solid, well-made camera cage that can be totally customized then the Zacuto Nikon Z6/Z7 cage is certainly worth looking at.

Zacuto Z6/Z7 Cage Giveaway

Thanks to Zacuto, you can win the cage along with any two accessories listed below.

Zacuto Z6/Z7 Cage
Zarn
Top-Handle
Polaris Mounting Plate
Nikon FTZ Adapter
Side Handle

The giveaway has now ended. You can use the code ‘NEWSNIKON5′ to receive 5% off the Nikon Z6/Z7 cage from the Zacuto website.

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