Panasonic GH5 Cage Rigs

If you have a GH5 (Mark I, II or S) you are probably not just doing underwater video but also taking scenes on land. In fact perhaps you are reading this blog and you do not even use your camera underwater.

Either way you know by now that shooting video just with your camera handheld is not a terribly good idea and the tools required are different from photography where once you have a tripod a remote shutter and a bunch of filters are practically set.

Video requires quite a bit of hardware. I have gone through this process and even tried to adapt some of my underwater hardware but it was really bulky and at the end you are better off with proper gear so I use Smallrig.

Smallrig is a Chinese company that makes tons of various bits for your camera for a variety of situations. The first item you need is a cage and they have just released a new updated version for the GH5 cameras.

Clicking the image above will take you to Amazon UK where you can check details of the item.

The cage is the starting point and you can put your camera strap the weight of 190 grams does not add terribly to the camera and in any case if you have a GH5 you are used to carry some more weight. The cage lives permanently on my GH5 unless I put it in the underwater housing.

I am now going to go through a series of set up that I use with some other components as well but first some words of warning.

Smallrig suggests to use a Nato handle on the left hand side however this blocks the HDMI side port from opening. In addition the arri locating pins are too high and if you use a side handle in arri format it will hang and not be level with the cage.

I wrote Smallrig to tell them and they accepted the feedback the reality is that they do not test designs with camera they run 3D simulations and they do not go and open all the ports, plugs etc. So the only handles that actually work with this cage and do not impede any functionality are in this article.

Monopod/Tripod Rig for Wildlife shooting

The basic rig for monopod and handheld work (this means you hold the camera steady and you do not move) has a top handle and a side handle plus a small microphone and if required an LCD shade.

Cage plus top and side handle microphone and LCD shader
Front view of the Handheld set up

I have gone through a series of handles for this cage and I have settled for the following items:

We are looking at £180 for all this hardware this stuff is not cheap however I just can’t emphasize how more ergonomic and effective this is compared to holding the camera directly.

I have this rig used it for my deer film project.

The Deer Watcher was shot with this rig on a monopod

Handheld Rig

There are situations where setting up a gimbal is too much and you want to take simple footage handheld just using the camera IBIS. This works very well with a standard zoom lens like the Panasonic DG Leica 12-60mm or the Lumix 12-60mm.

In those situations is better to have two handles and the set up needs to be as light as possible.

Handheld Rig for walking shots

You will notice that the handles are smaller and they are also lighter. If you walk with your camera you are typically using the LCD and with two handles you are able to be much more steady if you were just gripping the camera.

Handheld Rig rear view

You can also use the EVF instead of the LCD if you prefer to have three points of contact with the camera.

You will need two Mini Side Handles 2916.

Follow Focus Video Rig

In those situation where you are in a studio or controlled environment you can use manual focus for pulling and usually you also have a monitor to have precise exposure. I tend to use this on a fluid video head and sturdy tripod for indoor shots.

Focus Pulling Rig

Here I am shooting the mighty PanaLeica 10-25mm and I have my trusted Swit CM-55c field monitor.

Focus pulling rear view

I have an atomos ninja however since the GH5M2 has 60 fps in camera at 10 bits I only use it in bright outdoor scenes and the SWIT is just better in terms of tools and lighter.

Side view

With the new linear focus option for manual focus you can have a complete 360 degree turn of the wheel for manual focus if you so wish or shorter runs if preferred. I use 300 degrees.

You will need the Mini Follow Focus 3010 and then as monitor support you can go for a Universal Magic Arm with Small Ballhead – 2157 if your monitor is light. If you have a recorder you will need a Swivel and Tilt Monitor Adjustable Mount with Cold Shoe Mount – 2905 or if you prefer a similar item with Nato or screw mount. I find the cold shoe more versatile.

Wrap Up

It can be a bit daunting to search for the right items that do the job when you want to use your cage I hope this article will help you making the right choices and save time without having to do the trial error and return process I have done in the last year!

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