What is a Camera Cage? (And Why?)
Are you a videographer, or even just work in and around cameras in a marketing / personal capacity? A Camera Cage is one of the most underrated and most useful pieces, of Camera Gear that you can purchase.
But what is a Camera Cage? If you can't tell from the photo, a cage is a metal box that goes around your camera body. They can either be form-hugging, basically the skinny jean version of cages, or they can be a loose fit, more boxy version (As seen above).
I’ve recently purchased a Camera Cage for my Panasonic Lumix GH4 (as seen above!). It’s no exaggeration to say it’s one of those purchases that actually increases your ability and want to go shoot. Often photographers, videographers, or people in media warn against buying too much gear - be this that it gets in the way of the creative process, or on a pure financial side.
I was on this train for a while. Why get a cage when I can save for a couple of months more and purchase a new lens? Believe me, when I tell you, a Camera Cage and accessories are some of the best £200 that you can spend on your gear setup.
Why Use a Camera Cage?
There are multiple reasons as to why you should use a camera cage (apart from you using the camera even more!)
Whereas a Camera body gives you one hot shoe mount for a microphone, video monitor, etc, a Camera Cage gives you the ability to mount multiple accessories. Meaning a setup can include two handles, a remote trigger, a Video Monitor, and a Microphone mount (be that a boom mic or a Lavalier mic receiver).
2. Handled Footage is suddenly a breeze
Even just by adding a handle or two to your setup, handheld footage suddenly becomes that much more appealing in any gig that you might end up in. Having two handles on your camera cage, the chance of shakes in your footage drops dramatically (even if you have in lens or camera stabilization!).
If you add multiple accessories the camera can also get very heavy. Having a more stable and effective shooting platform with the accessories sensibly placed for weight can suddenly make a very ergonomically sound setup. You won’t feel like you need to get that super expensive gimbal anymore!
3. Size matters (in this instance)
You rock up to the gig that you’ve gotten. It's one of the most important you’ve had, a future repeat client type of gig. And ‘all’ you have on you is a GH4 and a lens.
Unfortunately, some clients just won’t take you seriously. Although you and I both know that it's what you produce from a session that counts, not the gear, some clients don’t see it this way.
Although a DSLR produces content that more than meets the eye test for any content companies need barring a Netflix release nowadays (those Canon R series are looking mighty fine at the moment), the head of marketing or whoever you’re working with may have read one blog post like this or just have a preconceived notion of what you ‘ should ' have, and have less trust throughout your time together.
With a Camera Cage, you can increase that confidence at a cost that is a lot less than getting a new Blackmagic Pocket 6k Pro. If you have a cage with a monitor and grips, a client will just assume that you are capable. This may seem laughable, and it’s not something that should be an issue, but if it keeps the client happy, it's a worthwhile investment.
Should I Buy a Camera Cage?
SO! After all that, should you buy a Camera Cage? If you even dabble in video, I would rate this as a must. However, if you are sizing up a Camera Cage, then you should factor in at least a handle or two, and if you don’t have them already then you should probably consider getting yourself a Video Monitor and a Mic setup to really get the full use out of your new setup.
There are so many Camera Cages out there that it is very difficult to advise what one to buy, and that is before we even get into the different ones available for every different type of camera there is!
However, if we’re just talking about manufacturers, Tilta and SmallRig are probably your best shots. There are almost certainly cheaper options around on amazon etc, however, you get what you pay for. I personally love SmallRig, and that is the setup I have. With the GH4, as it’s a bit of an older model its a bit of a hassle finding the form-fitting cage for it. Despite this though, the ‘generic’ model for a medium-size DSLR I purchased from SmallRig is perfect, and I personally like the look of the box in comparison to the form-fitting version you can get.