When SmallRig was working on a new cage for the E-M1 Mark II they visited some of the bigger Facebook Olympus groups and asked who wanted to be a tester of a prototype.
I didn’t even get to see the initial request before multiple people had tagged me as the guy to get to test this new piece of equipment.
Needless to say I wasn’t going to say no.
And so, after a few emails with SmallRig they sent me their very first prototype of the cage along with a few accessories for me to test and review.
I’d like to say in advance: This review is based on my honest, personal experience. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
SmallRig is a designer and manufacturer of DSLR camera rigs, camera cages, camera stabilisers and professional video shooting accessories.
The sweet thing about these guys? You can build out your rig into pretty much any configuration you can imagine. It’s sort of like Lego for filmmakers!
So when they decided to develop a cage for the E-M1 Mark II I was excited! The cage is the core piece of any rig. The piece that connects your camera to the rest of you setup. A well designed cage is crucial to a properly functioning rig.
Since I’ve been shooting more and more video with my E-M1 Mark II a cage (and a rig) is a natural progression. But why should you get a cage? Well… it’s simple:
If you’re into video… you should look at a cage.
If you’re into run-and-gun videography with minimal fuss… you should look at the E-M1 Mark II.
If you want to take your run-and-gun videography to the next level… well then the combo between the two is what you need.
A cage for example, allows you to add an external monitor (for better and more accurate focussing on monitoring you footage), you can add grips, arms and handles and many other accessories that will increase the stability of your handheld filming. Or add a light, multiple cold shoe mounts, rods, clamps… whatever you need. A cage will allow it.
Once you get going you’ll eventually add follow focus, matte boxes and shoulder support… before you know it you have a fully customised (and customisable) cinema rig that’s built exactly to your needs.
Personally, I’m building 2 rigs in one. The light/minimal rig I’ll use for everyday video shooting in the outdoors (APOL for example). And a rig that has the bells and whistles for proper, next level documentary style filmmaking on the go.
At the base of all this is of course my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.
I love how easy it is to create stable and high quality video with the E-M1 Mark II. No external stabilisers needed really. So if I can add a minimal amount of accessories to my camera while keeping it a small and versatile as possible all while increasing the stability and accuracy of my camera movements then I’m all-in!
This new cage is the perfect addition to my E-M1 Mark II. It extends it where I need it without making it more cumbersome or difficult to use. In fact, it makes it even more fun to use!
Comparing the footage of simple handheld filming and with the addition of a single/double grip it is clear that the grips add to the stability of the footage.
At what cost?
Size. Which is why I went as modular as possible and stuck to the NATO rail system. Easy on – easy off, but more about that later on.
In short: SmallRig has done great a job with this cage.
It’s TINY and fits perfectly onto the camera. No movement whatsoever.
You attach it with a single screw to the tripod hole in the bottom of the camera. Don’t worry, you gain around 9 new holes to attach tripod mounts to the cage.
In fact, It’s so small I just leave it on the camera at all times. Opposed to the Walimex Aptaris cage I used previously, which was a universal cage and was much larger and cumbersome you barely notice that the cage is even attached to the camera.
All buttons and wheels are still accessible and the screen swings and rotates and the camera battery door opens freely without the cage ever getting in the way. Perfect!
The cage, and all other SmallRig accessories for that matter, are really well built. Clean, well designed and thought through. Things just fit.
The HDMI cable clamp mine came with actually doesn’t quite reach the HDMI cable well enough to hold it. Maybe there’s a longer one… I haven’t checked.
I’d love to see the side holes line up with the top ones… but maybe that’s just me. And it doesn’t really change the way I can use the cage.
Accessory wise there’s plenty to chose from. The first thing I went for is an additional handle.
In general you can pick between two different way of attaching your accessories to a cage. Either directly screwed to the cage for a more permanent solution, or via a NATO rail.
I prefer the NATO rail solution as this mean I can easily add or remove bits and pieces to the rig and also have the choice to move things around much easier.
The thing I really like about the SmallRig NATO rails are the safety pins on either end. Your accessories will never just slide off, even after loosening the screws, which by the way don’t require any tools.
My favourite accessory is the top handle. It comes with a built in allen key that sits magnetically in the grip itself. The handle is designed so that you can change the position of the grip and has multiple cold shoe mounts as well as the option to add pretty much any accessory you want.
The cage is a great addition to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and if you want to upgrade your camera with the ability to attach a multitude of accessories then this is the best cage out there.
Even for people who only occasionally film but would like to mount an external grip to get a better hold of the camera this cage is worth considering.
SmallRig has been an great company to work with and all the parts arrived super fast from China (to Europe) and the quality of the gear is excellent. Nicely finished, full metal and well fitting.
Like I said, Lego for filmmakers.