The Panasonic GH4 is a compact video production powerhouse, but the lack of mounting options can be an issue when you need to attach additional accessories or build a rig around it.
Wooden Camera sent over the Quick Cage and we put it through the ringer to find out if this half-cage can provide full-time support for building a rig around the Panasonic GH4.
Quick Refresh: Why Use a Cage?
A cage is basically a structure that wraps around all or part of the camera. Here are the key reasons for using a cage:
- Protection – the cage serves as an outer shell to protect the camera body from bumps or drops. A metal cage is usually tougher than most cameras’ plastic bodies.
- Mounting Options – most cameras don’t offer a lot of options for mounting additional accessories required for video production. A cage must provide mounting points with standard screw threads (e.g. 1/4″-20 & 3/8″-16) for mounting accessories like audio recorders, monitors, lights, handles, etc.
- Rigidity – keeping the camera from twisting is especially important when using a follow focus, so some cages provide anti-twist functionality to keep the camera pointing straight ahead.
- Support – a top handle can make supporting the camera at different angles easier, but a camera’s hot shoe was not designed to support the weight of a loaded camera rig (or even just the camera itself). Instead of risking damage to the camera, a cage provides a strong base for mounting handles and other accessories that would otherwise exert stress on the camera body itself (lights, monitors, etc.).
If none of these benefits apply to you, then you do not need a cage. Go forth and shoot cage-free!
Quick Cage Overview
Just the Stats Ma’am
- Manufacturer: Wooden Camera
- Form-factor: Half-cage
- GH4-specific: No
- Mounting Options
- 1/4″-20: Yes
- 3/8″-16: Yes
- Weight: 426g
- Price: $399
Wooden Camera’s Quick Cage is a half-cage— it wraps around the left and top sides of the camera, but leaves the right-hand side completely open. This provides unencumbered access to the GH4’s controls and also allows you to hold the GH4 as you normally would, using the camera’s hand grip.
The Quick Cage is made up of 3 components:
A cheese plate that sits atop the camera.
A baseplate mounted under the camera.
And a vertical 15mm rod that connects the top and bottom plates together.
Installing the Quick Cage on the GH4 is relatively straightforward and only takes a few minutes once you’ve done it a couple times.
- Mount baseplate under camera (screws into camera’s tripod mount)
- Mount top cheese plate on camera’s hot shoe (loosely tightened)
- Align top and bottom plates and slide rod through each plate’s rod clamp and tighten.
- Fully tighten top plate’s hot shoe clamp.
Notice: Battery Access
The Quick Cage allows full access to the GH4’s battery, but you need to be mindful of the camera’s fore/aft position when you mount it on the Quick Cage’s baseplate.
If you mount the GH4 too far forward or rearward, the battery door will by blocked by the baseplate.
Position the GH4 on the baseplate so that the battery door is between the baseplate’s inset to allow the battery door to open fully.
Bottom line: Installation is quick and simple. Just pay attention when attaching the baseplate so that the GH4’s battery door is not blocked.
Calling the Quick Cage “well-built” would be an understatement.
This thing is solid.
The top plate, baseplate, and vertical rod are all 15mm thick, meaning that the cage exhibits zero flex and provides a very rigid structure for the camera.
All of the Quick Cage’s edges are smooth and beveled, protecting you from wayward scratches. Furthermore, the entire cage is anodized, giving the Quick Cage a smooth satin black finish that will not easily scratch off.
Wooden Camera’s attention to detail even extends to the Quick Cage’s threaded holes, which are as smooth as silk. You can easily screw in bolts with just two fingers. By comparison, many of the threaded holes on Fhugen’s Honu cage required a good amount of cleaning before they were even usable.
Bottom line: The Quick Cage is built to last.
By definition, a cage should provide some level of protection for the camera it contains.
The Quick Cage’s heavy duty construction does a good job of protecting the camera. As a half cage though, it does not provide protection over the entire camera, but rather over the top, bottom, and left sides.
This is the trade-off of a half cage– full access to the GH4’s controls means less overall protection from impacts. The GH4 is much more protected within the Quick Cage than without, but a full cage may be more appropriate in hazardous environments.
Bottom line: The GH4 is not fully enveloped by the Quick Cage, but the camera is well-protected wherever the cage provides coverage.
For a half cage, the Quick Cage is absolutely covered with threaded holes for mounting additional accessories such as articulating arms, monitors, LED lights, microphones, and handles to the cage.
Most of the Quick Cage’s mounting points are concentrated on its top plate.
Threaded 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16 holes blanket the top plate from edge to edge using an industry-standard layout to ensure compatibility with gear from other manufacturers.
Tip: Since the Quick Cage’s top plate covers the GH4’s hot shoe, you may want to pick up some cold shoe mounts
so that you can attach mics and other accessories directly to the cage.
No space was wasted on the Quick Cage. There is even a row of threaded 1/4″-20 holes on the front of the top plate to allow you to mount a 15mm rod clamp for additional rigging options.
The Quick Cage’s vertical 15mm rod that joins the top and bottom plates also has threaded holes, providing additional flexibility in how gear can be mounted to this cage.
Finally, the Quick Cage’s baseplate also has a plethora of threaded holes for mounting everything from tripod plates to custom-made 15mm rod clamps. There are even holes for a tripod plate’s registration pin (a feature lacking on most DSLR-sized cameras), allowing for twist-free tripod mounting.
Of course, being a half-cage, the Quick Cage does give up some surface area in exchange for unencumbered access to the GH4’s controls and grip.
If the top plate wasn’t so flush with threaded holes, this could be an issue. As it is though, it is unlikely that you will run out of mounting points on the Quick Cage.
Bottom line: The Quick Cage has ample mounting points that provide industry-standard compatibility.
For a cage to be effective, it must effectively keep the camera from twisting when in use.
Thankfully, the Quick Cage provides good rigidity for the Panasonic GH4.
The Quick Cage includes an anti-twist block that braces the rear of the camera to prevent it from rotating on the baseplate (and thus getting out of alignment with the rods, etc.).
This works well, except for when you want to use the GH4’s articulating LCD screen.
Fortunately, the anti-twist block can be removed. This allows full range of motion for the GH4’s LCD screen, but it also means that you lose the block’s anti-twist benefits.
It would be nice if the Quick Cage provided some anti-twist functionality in front of the camera rather than in the rear. However, if you do not use the LCD screen (e.g. you use the EVF or an external monitor), or you don’t need to adjust it’s position, you can use the anti-twist block without issue.
Even without the anti-twist block installed, the Quick Cage’s wide baseplate provides a good amount of surface area to keep the GH4 from rotating. With the baseplate tightened down, any rotation at all requires a decent amount of force. Securing the top plate to the GH4’s hot shoe improves the camera’s rigidity even further.
Bottom line: Even without the anti-twist block, camera rotation in the Quick Cage is minimal at worst.
One of the key benefits of using a half-cage like the Quick Cage is full access to the camera’s hand grip.
With the Quick Cage, you can use the GH4 as you normally would, as if the cage weren’t there at all. This is great, because it means that the GH4 can live in this cage and still be used for video or stills without any real issues.
The LCD also has full range of motion since the vertical 15mm rod sits at the front of the cage.
Bottom line: Full access to all controls means that the camera can live in the Quick Cage.
Ergonomics & Usability
The Quick Cage’s design and mounting options provide several options to help you shoot more effectively and comfortably.
Steering Wheel Grip
In addition to allowing full access to the GH4’s hand grip, the Quick Cage also provides another place to grip the rig via its 15mm vertical rod.
Gripping the cage’s vertical 15mm rod turns out to be a rather comfortable way to hold the camera. This “steering wheel” grip is similar to the grip employed by stabilization devices like the Fig Rig, though the Quick Cage’s grip is not as wide.
The top plate also allows for mounting a top handle for additional options for holding the camera. A top handle is especially useful when shooting from a low angle.
Thanks to the Quick Cage’s industry-standard mounting point layout, you can attach virtually any handle to the cage, including Wooden Camera’s own quick-release top handle.
Wooden Camera’s top handle is one of the best handles I have ever used. It’s so good that it merits a separate review, so for now, just know that this top handle is as well-made and as thoughtfully-designed as the Quick Cage itself.
The Quick Cage has a unique quick-release feature that allows you to strip your rig down in seconds.
To detach the camera, simply loosen a single knob, slide the cage back, and lift the cage off of its baseplate.
Note: The baseplate has a safety locking pin to keep the cage from accidentally sliding off when it is attached. The pin engages with a satisfying click to let you know when it is engaged.
See this video for a quick demo of the cage’s quick-release functionality:
While the Quick Cage fits the GH4 like a glove, it was not designed specifically for the GH4 only. This means that the cage is versatile enough to work well with a variety of cameras.
The top plate and baseplate will mount to virtually any DSLR-sized camera, so all you need is a vertical rod of the appropriate length to join the top and bottom plates for taller cameras.
Here’s the thing: the vertical rod is a standard 15mm rod.
This means that you can use any 15mm rod to adjust the height of the Quick Cage for a different camera.
The length of the vertical rod is the only difference between Wooden Camera’s small and medium Quick Cages (the large Quick Cage also has a slightly different baseplate). If you don’t want to lose the 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16 mounting points when using the cage with other cameras, Wooden Camera also sells the medium and large rods separately so that you can use the same cage with any camera.
Bottom line: The Quick Cage’s flexible design allows it to be used with a wide array of cameras.
A Solid Cage for the GH4
Wooden Camera’s Quick Cage is well-built, thoughtfully-designed, and provides industry-standard compatibility with gear and accessories from other manufacturers.
If you’re looking for a versatile and future-proof cage that will add additional mounting points, rigidity, and protection without blocking the GH4’s controls or adding a lot of bulk to your rig, Wooden Camera’s Quick Cage is a solid option.
- Wooden Camera Quick Cage (Small) – Just the right size for the GH4.
- Wooden Camera Quick Cage Rods – Different rod lengths for using the Quick Cage with different cameras.
- Wooden Camera Quick-Release Handle Kit
- SmallRig Cold Shoe mount – Add quick-release cold shoe mounts to the cage for attaching mics and other accessories.
- Get the Panasonic GH4
Rigging the Panasonic GH4
- Cage Fight! 5 Cages for the Panasonic GH4
- Wooden Camera Quick Cage Review
- Viewfactor Contineo Cage Review
- SmallRig VersaFrame Cage: First Impressions
- Fhugen Honu Cage Review
- Wooden Camera DSLR 15mm Base Review — Expand the Quick Cage using 15mm rods with this base
- Wooden Camera NATO Handle Plus Review — More than just a top handle
- How to Build a Quick-Release Friction Arm for $30
- Quick Comparison: Zacuto Zwivel & Zwivel II
More Panasonic GH4 Guides
- Why You Should Be Excited About the Panasonic GH4
- Lenses for the Panasonic GH4 — Awesome glass for an awesome camera.
- Memory Cards for the Panasonic GH4 — Get the right memory cards for HD and 4K.
- Configuring the Panasonic GH4 for Video Production — Set the GH4 up for filmmaking.
- Rigging the Panasonic GH4 — Cages, Rigs, Components, Gear, and Reviews.
- Stabilizing the Panasonic GH4 — Tripods, Monopods, Sliders, 3-Axis Gimbals, etc.
- Maximizing the Panasonic GH4’s Audio Performance — Sound matters.
- Powering the Panasonic GH4 — Keep the GH4 shooting all day.
- Should you buy the YAGH for the Panasonic GH4?
- 6 Reasons Why DSLR Shooters Love the Panasonic GH4