GH4 D-Cage Review
Well, this is my GH4 D-Cage review for the new camera cage from D-Focus Systems, smartly called the D-Cage. It is similar to some of the other products on the market, but I think it is pretty affordable and the fit is really lovely. So, lets dive into the details.
Lets start with how it is assembled: the top, bottom, and side plates are all separate – they each bolt together with allen bolts. As a former mechanic, my pro-tip of the day is this: if you are going to keep the cage put together full-time, assemble the cage with some blue lock-tite, just in case. That will help ensure that the bolts don’t decide to unthread themselves all on their own.
The cage attaches to the body with a ¼-20 bolt at the bottom, and a piece that attaches to the flash shoe on the top. So, you get two points of contact, plus anti-twist pins in the front just to the sides of the lens flange. The anti-twist pins are a really nice addition to the cage, and make it much more secure. Especially if you are changing lenses often, or using the strap mounts on the camera body. So far I’ve not yet had any thing loosen up on me.
How about build quality? – well it comes in a box with four separate plates, a baggie of allen head bolts, a single page of instructions, and a bunch of ‘made in America’ stickers. Which is awesome! – I love stickers! However when you first pull it out and look at it, the pieces don’t quite get you excited. It has the feeling of cast aluminum rather than billet machined. I think that it is, actually, machined but the plate stock is a bit thinner than what Wooden Camera or Smallrig are using. The finish is a matte black, with kind of a chalkboard feel to it.
I think overall the build quality is good, it feels quite a bit lighter than the SmallRig cage however. Lighter in weight and lighter in materials. I would say that is a plus and minus. In reality it feels good – and a big part of why I bought the GH4 was to save on weight so I’m happy with the lighter materials. Also, because the fit is so snug to the camera body it is super easy to drop into and pull out of my field bag.
Speaking of the fitment to the camera body: it is fantastic! There isn’t a ton of space with big open spots just waiting to get caught on a cord or strap. However, on the flip-side, it is harder to get to the mode dials. Especially difficult is the frame-rate dial on the left side as it is mostly covered up by the cage, the right mode dial is a bit easier to access but is still a bit of a pain. Both dials have a slot cut out above them so you can read what the dial is pointing at from above, but if you’ve got chubby fingers you might have a bit of a hard time getting in there to change your settings. So, that is something to be aware of.
The basic questions – yes you can access the battery on the bottom, yes you can access the card slot on the side, yes you can access all the ports on the other side – it even comes with a nice little HDMI lock. That it comes with the lock is a nice change, as I had to pay a pretty penny to get that on my other cage – and I barely use the dang thing because of one reason or another. This one is small, light, easy enough to carry along just in case you end up in a situation where you do need it. It is tool free, and simply attaches with a thumbscrew.
There are a ton of threaded holes, you’ve got ¼-20 … 3/8ths…and they are all spread around the cage. On the bottom you have thread mounts so you can put something like a Manfrotto video plate and still be able to use the anti-twist pin on the plate without any problem, which is awesome.
What do you get with the cage? Well, you can get the bare cage with the HDMI lock, which is awesome if you’ve already got a bunch of extra little stuff. However, if you order the cage bundle you get the cage, top handle, a rail system specific to this set up, a cold shoe and the follow focus.
The top-handle is proprietary to D-Focus – and it’s pretty cool. It is the same matte black chalk-board finish of the cage, uses a quick ¼-20 bolt from the top, and you just thread it into any of the top thread points. One of the nice things about this handle is that it offers more threaded locations on top, and it also has an anti-twist built into the mounting plate – it wraps around the front of the cage so it doesn’t move which is quite nice. Also, according to D-Focus’s website it fits the naked Black Magic Pocket Camera directly, which is pretty cool.
As for the rail system, it uses a similar ¼-20 quick bolt and easily threads onto the bottom of the cage, it also uses an anti-twist plate on the front of the cage, preventing it from going any where. And again, on the bottom of the rail mount is a threaded plate with the ability to mount a Manfrotto plate without fear of it twisting loose.
So – take home message on this cage, it is a totally different idea than the SmallRig cage, and I love it. It fits the camera body nice and snug, gives it a bit of a protective skeleton, and because of how the plates are machined it even feels good in your hand. I think that the D-Focus bundles are a great deal, and would commend them to any one in search of some new pieces to trick out their GH4 setup.