After a positive experience with SmallRig products for attaching an Atomos Ninja V to my DJI Ronin-S I decided to go with their modular system for my Panasonic LUMIX GH-5 video setup. The LUMIX GH-5 is a versatile camera that takes great still photographs but has a reputation for being high quality camera for video shoots. Since I have been asked to do some shooting for a YouTube channel as well as being asked to be a cinematographer for a documentary project it was time to build out my video kit.
I have decided to just put together a basic kit and then just add parts as needed. The camera is is enclosed in a SmallRig #2049 cage. This is the basic cage that everything else is attached to. It is attached to the camera with a 1/4-20 screw that attaches to the camera tripod socket. The cage wraps around the camera but allows access to all of the dials and buttons of the camera. There are both 1/4-20 and 3/8th holes around the cage for attaching accessories. Everyone has different ways that they like the camera set-up so it is kind of a Lego builders fantasy.
My first addition to the camera cage was something called a Nato #2172 rail. This has a beveled edge for sliding attachments on to the rail that are then locked into place. The rail is permanently attached with screws. A monitor attachment that I use to attach my Ninja V to my gimbal is attached to the Nato rail so that I can use it for recording the highest quality video that I can get from my camera. I just slide the lever to unlock it from the rail on my gimbal and slide it onto the rail on the top of my camera. What a great design.
Next I attached a Wooden Nato Side Handle #2187 to the side of the cage. This grip has a cold shoe on the top and a couple of mounting holes. I attached a RØDE Videomic Pro Plus to the cold shoe on the top. Now I can record high quality sound and video on the go. The grip is attached to the NATO rail that is built-in to the side of the cage. The grip can be attached to either side of the cage because the arm can be attached on the left or the right side of the grip. Very handy. There is even a hex wrench stored in the top of the grip for working the screws. I might even get another grip for the other side for more stability for when shooting handheld.
This is my basic set-up for run and gun video. I plan on adding a rail system on the bottom so that I can expand the camera for more formal shooting. I will be able to add a pull focus system, a Matt box, a shoulder pad, and a platform to mount a battery system for extended shooting sessions. And all I have to do to shoot with the gimbal is strip items off the cage and mount the camera on to the gimbal for steadycam work.
I am so impressed with the quality of the SmallRig products. Everything fits perfectly and there is no flexing or loose fitting joints. It is a rock solid set-up. As my camera changes I just get the appropriate cage and reuse everything on the new camera. This has been a great investment and it makes shooting so much easier.