Ultimate BMPCC 4K Cage Review and Shootout – 8Sinn, CAME-TV, Smallrig, Tilta, Vocas, Zacuto

Thảo luận trong 'ENGLISH' bắt đầu bởi Jakub Han, 12/8/19 lúc 20:54.

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  1. Jakub Han

    Jakub Han Guest

    We put seven camera cages (from six different manufacturers) for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (shortly BMPCC 4K) head to head for an in-depth look, review, and comparison. 8Sinn, CAME-TV, Smallrig, Tilta, Vocas, and Zacuto… Let’s see which one comes out on top in this ultimate BMPCC 4K Cage Shootout!

    First off: BMPCC 6K Compatibility of Cages?


    First off, let me add that with the recently announced Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, the question of course will be: Do the Pocket 4K cages fit the Pocket 6K too? The short answer: in most cases, they will! The measurements of the housing are identical on both cameras. The main difference are the slightly larger vents on the Pocket 6K, plus the larger (EF) mount, which might be a problem if you have a cage that encloses that mount (like for example some of the CAME-TV cages, see below). We already know that the Tilta cages for the BMPCC 4K will also fit the BMPCC 6K.

    What’s the Point of a Camera Cage for the BMPCC 4K?


    To use the full potential of any camera, it is crucial to find the right cage in order to mount whatever third-party accessories you may need. That said, cages don’t just add several mounting threads and cold shoes, they also improve the protection of the camera body, usually add better grips and handles, and protect the HDMI connector and other ports.

    In the case of the BMPCC 4K, there is now a wide variety of compatible cages, and the quality differences are quite significant. Most filmmakers who use this camera like (or even need) to rig it in the cage for several reasons – the most important ones in my opinion are:

    1. to protect the plastic body of the camera,
    2. to provide mounting for an external powering solution (the battery life of the internal batteries is not so good),
    3. to mount an SSD on the body for external recording via USB-C port,
    4. to provide further mounting points for accessories (the camera does not have a cold shoe at all),
    5. to provide mounting for follow focus (BMPCC 4K doesn’t have usable AF).

    For this comparison, we received cages from six different manufacturers for testing. CAME-TV sent us both their full cage and half cage, so it is a total of 7 devices. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of BMPCC 4K cages. There are more companies out there which offer cages for the Pocket 4K. If we receive additional cages, we might do another round of the review in the future.

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    Structure of Each Review:

    1. Ease of assembly and disassembly and how securely is the camera attached to the cage?
    2. HDMI and USB-C cables protector design.
    3. Is there an SSD mount and/or external battery mount?
    4. The top handle and side handles design.
    5. Overall ergonomics and conclusion.

    Firstly, I have to say that with all tested cages we have good access to all the buttons, slots, and connectors of the BMPCC 4K. In some cases (when the cage has two “pillars” on the left side) it is quite difficult to open the rubber caps on the left side to get access to all the connectors once the camera is mounted in the cage. Therefore, if you plan on using the connectors, it is better to open the rubber caps before inserting the camera in the cage.

    From most manufacturers, we didn’t receive all accessories for the BMPCC 4K cage. On our photos, you can see everything that we received for testing, but we always mention if the manufacturer offers additional accessories or even other versions of the BMPCC 4K cage.

    We have also put each cage on a scale. In order for the weight to be fair and comparable, we reduced each cage to a simple setup – cage itself, HDMI and USB-C protector, and a top handle. Further, in the test, we will refer to this setup as a “basic setup”.

    Now let’s take a look at all the cages in alphabetical order.

    8sinn Full Cage


    Firstly, 8Sinn also offers half cage for the BMPCC 4K, but we did not receive it for our test. We only tested the full cage, which was actually one of the first cages to be available for the Pocket 4K.

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    1. Ease of Assembly and Disassembly and How Securely is the Camera Attached to the Cage?

    It is quite easy to assemble and disassemble the camera in the cage. It secures with one screw at the bottom in the camera’s tripod screw thread and with one screw at the top thread. The bottom side of the cage has retractable pins on both sides of the screw to slide in the pin holes on the bottom to prevent wiggle when the camera is mounted in the cage. The cage itself also has quite a big opening for the lens, so even inserting the BMPCC 4K with a bigger lens mounted should not be a problem. The camera is secured very well in the cage. Thanks to the bottom screw with fitting side pins and top screw there is no wiggle whatsoever.

    2. HDMI and USB-C Cables Protector Design.

    The HDMI and USB-C cables protector that came with the 8Sinn cage is not that great in my opinion. It prevents the cables from bending to the sides, but it does not prevent them so well from being pulled out. It depends on the exact shape of the connector, but I did not manage to tighten the protector enough to prevent the cable from being accidentally pulled out.

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    3. Is there an SSD Mount and/or External Battery Mount?

    We didn’t receive these mounts for testing, but 8Sinn offers a clamp for the Samsung T5 SSD. It seems they don’t offer any external battery mount though.

    There wasn’t any Metabones adapter support included with the cage, but 8Sinn offers it as an additional accessory. They also offer the 15mm rods base, but we didn’t receive it for our test as well.

    4. The Top Handle and Side Handles Design.

    8Sinn has multiple top handles available for all their cages – basic handle, pro handle, and Scorpio handle. I tested the cage with the Scorpio handle and I like its design and ergonomics. It is an all-aluminium handle with lots of 1/4″ and 3/8″ threads and a total of 4 (!) cold shoes on both ends. It is possible to unscrew the large nut holding the handle in place and rotate it freely to face whichever direction. There is also 15mm rod side mount on the handle’s neck. Thanks to the removable mount with NATO rail and ARRI Rosette, the handle can be mounted on various places on the cage.

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    5. Overall Ergonomics and Conclusion.

    8Sinn BMPCC 4K cage has a simple but functional aluminium design with a tight fit. I like the amount of both 1/4″ and 3/8″ threads this cage offers. It is also possible to attach neck strap on the camera as there are mounts for that on the right side of the camera. There is a cold shoe mount on the left top side. It is also suitable for frequent mounting and removing of the camera. Big advantage for me is the possibility to choose from three different top handles. I am not a big fan of the HDMI and USB-C protector which 8Sinn uses, but it certainly helps in some way.

    The total weight of the basic setup of the 8Sinn cage is 564g.

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    CAME-TV Half Cage and Full Cage


    CAME-TV offers three different full cages for the BMPCC 4K – Basic, Plus, and Rig. We tested the “Rig” version. On CAME-TV website the rig version has different accessories and wooden handles, though. They offer one version of half cage, which we also received for the test.

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    1. Ease of Assembly and Disassembly and How Securely is the Camera Attached to the Cage?

    It is quite easy (although not as easy as with the 8Sinn cage) to assemble and disassemble the camera in the cage. It secures with one screw at the bottom in the camera’s tripod screw thread and with one screw at the top thread. Instead of retractable pins at the bottom of the cage, there are tiny bolts that need to be screwed in the small holes in the camera. This process takes a bit longer than with the pins.

    It has a tight front element, so when mounting the camera in the cage, the lens has to be detached first, and then attached again once the cage is mounted. The front element can be removed though.

    What really surprised me, is that both cages which we received for our test do not precisely fit the BMPCC4K! The cages are approximately 1mm higher than the camera, so the bolts cannot be tightened properly. With force, they can be tightened, but they slightly bent the cage. With the front element attached they cannot be tightened at all, because the cage cannot bend so easily. I hope that’s not the case with all CAME-TV BMPCC 4K cages and that we just received an early version.

    The camera also has a small wiggle even when all bolts are tightened, so it seems the tiny bolts don’t hold it in place as firmly as the pins would.

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    2. HDMI and USB-C Cables Protector Design.

    There is only an HDMI adapter protector, no USB-C protector. Its design is quite weird in my opinion. When installed, it supports the connector from one side and there is a small bolt, which can fix the connector in place. However, there is no support from the other side – when fixing the connector with the bolt, it is actually bending it as there is nothing to hold it from the other side. Minus points for CAME-TV here. I found out on CAME-TV website, that they also offer a different protector, so hopefully, that one works better.

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    3. Is there an SSD Mount and/or External Battery Mount?

    There is a simple aluminium clamp for the Samsung T5 SSD. CAME-TV does not seem to offer any external battery mounting solution.

    4. The Top Handle and Side Handles Design.

    We received two different top handles with CAME-TV cages. They are both quite comfortable to hold. They have four mounting threads – two 1/4″ and two 3/8″, one cold shoe and they can be rotated in four different directions. One of the handles mounts to the top of the cage with two Hex screws. The other handle (in my opinion the better one) mounts to the front of the cage and offers an extra 15mm rod mount. When the front element of the cage is installed, however, the better top handle cannot be used, because the screw holes are taken by the front element.

    We also received wooden side handles for CAME-TV cages. They don’t have any buttons. I think the handle on the left side makes some sense, but the one on the right does not because it makes it hard to operate the buttons of the camera.

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    5. Overall Ergonomics and Conclusion.

    The whole frame of the full cage is made out of one piece of aluminium, whereas the half cage consists of three pieces bolted together. Both cages came with a bottom 15mm rods holder, which is a standard CAME-TV holder. It slides from the side to the bottom of the cage, so the camera and the rods can be positioned off-axis if needed. The 15mm rods base, however, seem to have a bigger height than standard. This could be problematic when mounting a follow focus with a smaller lens.

    Ports on the side can be opened without trouble because the cage only covers the front edges of the camera. The Grip protector is kind of a unique design bit of the CAME-TV full cage. It protects the grip but makes it actually too bulky to hold. My hands are not small, but I didn’t feel like I am holding the camera with the grip cover very safely. Good thing is, that it can be removed if you don’t want to use it.

    A good advantage is, that both cages offer two 3/8” threads with ARRI locating pins on the top side. The cages’ design with colorful strips is not my favorite, but someone might like it.

    The total weight of the basic setup of the CAME-TV half cage is 461g.

    The total weight of the basic setup of the CAME-TV full cage is 588g.

    Smallrig Half Cage


    I tested the Smallrig half cage (type 2254) with the 15mm rod support, top handle, and the wooden side handle with the SSD slot. Smallrig also offers QR half cage (type 2255) with quick release plate in the cage and full cage (type 2203), which we didn’t get for our test. They also started offering a sunhood for the Pocket 4K’s display, but we also didn’t receive it for our test.

    I also have to say that we didn’t receive this cage directly from Smallrig, but we wanted to include it thanks to its popularity, so we borrowed it from a friendly gear rental place in Vienna, Austria – the AV-Professional. We are very thankful for that.

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    1. Ease of Assembly and Disassembly and How Securely is the Camera Attached to the Cage?

    The Smallrig half cage is quite easy for assembly and disassembly. It secures with the top and bottom bolts and it has a metal piece with two pins for the bottom, which can be taken out completely. The camera is secured very well in the cage. Thanks to the bottom screw with side pins and top screw there is no wiggle whatsoever.

    2. HDMI and USB-C Cables Protector Design

    The HDMI and USB-C cables protector that came with the Smallrig cage uses a similar approach as the one from 8Sinn, but this version from Smallrig works better in my opinion – the screws can be tightened better and the cables can not be pulled out anymore so easily. It holds the cables pretty well in place in my opinion.

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    3. Is there an SSD Mount and/or External Battery Mount?

    With the Smallrig cage in the version we got, there are two possibilities to mount an SSD and both are only made for Samsung T5 SSDs. The first option is a simple aluminium bracket which can be mounted on top of the cage. The second option, which I would prefer, is mounting the Samsung T5 SSD inside in the wooden side handle. Smallrig made a handle with a tight fit space where you can lock the SSD in place.

    After looking at Smallrig web, they also offer a universal SSD mounting clamp, which should be able to hold other SSDs too.

    4. The Top Handle and Side Handles Design

    The top handle is used with other Smallrig cages as well and it is ergonomic and quite comfortable. The handle is mounted to the cage with NATO clamp. Smallrig cage has NATO rails both on top and on the side, so you can choose where to mount it. It has many 1/4″ and 3/8” threads, two cold shoe mounts and a proper size HEX key built-in and held by magnets. Side handle contains a slot for the SSD as mentioned above and I like its design a lot.

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    5. Overall Ergonomics and Conclusion

    Smallrig BMPCC 4K half-cage has a simple one-piece aluminium design. There is a lot of 1/4″ and 3/8” threads on the cage. There is a cold shoe mount on the left top side. The cage is very lightweight. I would be afraid to use the strap mount in the top left corner because it seems to have a very sharp edge, so it could cut the strap and make the camera fall. The rod support piece is solid with standard mounts. There is a Metabones mount included with the cage as well.

    The total weight of the basic setup of the Smallrig cage is 396g.

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    Tilta Full Cage


    Tilta cage is made out of aluminium and can be purchased in grey or tactical finish version. We received the tactical finish version and I have to say I like it a lot. Their cage design is also unique in a way that you can detach the whole right side of the full cage and simply get a half cage if needed. We received a LOT of Tilta accessories to test with the cage. They really offer a wide variety of gadgets.

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    1. Ease of Assembly and Disassembly and How Securely is the Camera Attached to the Cage?

    The cage is well fixed in position with the top and bottom screw and with two retractable pins at the bottom. It is quite easy for assembly and disassembly.

    2. HDMI and USB-C Cables Protector Design

    Instead of just a protector, Tilta offers its own adapters and cables. The USB-C cable from Tilta has special connectors with screws, which I find to be the best type of protection. The cable sits perfectly in place and cannot be pulled out unintentionally. For the HDMI connector, Tilta also supplies their own L-shape adapter with a small screw which fixes it securely in position. For me, it is the best and safest solution out of all tested protectors.

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    3. Is there an SSD Mount and/or External Battery Mount?

    There is a Samsung T5 SSD holder clamp on top of the camera. Tilta also provides a different version of the clamp for SSDs from Angelbird. It might be possible to mount other brands of SSDs in the clamp too. Other than that, there is also a special side handle with one slot for the Samsung T5 SSD. This side handle also offers a slot for an external battery. More on that in the handles section. When it comes to powering solutions, apart from the side handles with battery slots Tilta also offers V-mount plates either for the back to be mounted on 15mm rods or under the camera as a baseplate. They also offer baseplate battery mount for Sony NP-F batteries.

    4. The Top Handle and Side Handles Design

    The top handle is mounted on top using a mini NATO rail and can be fixed in three different positions. It has a 15mm rod mount, two cold shoes on each end and many ¼” and 3/8” threads. The handle can also be turned 180 degrees and positioned facing “forward”, but only when the monitor sunhood is not mounted. It stands in a way otherwise. The grip of the handle is comfortable.

    Tilta offers a variety of side handles. Standard handle with one ¼” thread and one 3/8” thread with ARRI locating pins on top. Than the Nucleus_N handle module with a slot for Sony NP-F970 battery and for a Samsung T5 SSD, which even has a strap and focus wheel to control the Nucleus Nano. Last but not least, there is a Nucleus handle in a thinner version for Sony NP-F550 batteries and without the SSD mount. I especially like the big handle as Sony NP-F970 batteries provide a high capacity for the BMPCC 4K. Both Nucleus handles have 12V output for the camera and 8V output for the Nucleus Nano motor.

    All handles can be inserted in the bottom piece of the cage and can even be used with the 15mm rod support, but the space is limited. I think the side handles are better secured in place without the rod support attached.

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    5. Overall Ergonomics and Conclusion

    The cage is a tight fit and so the camera can still be used very well handheld. There are lots of threads and two cold shoes on top of the cage. The 15mm rod support base slides in from the side, so it can be used in offset position too if needed.

    I like the fact that you can either have a full cage or half cage by simply detaching a part of the cage. The cage itself is not a one piece of aluminium – it is made out of more parts which are bolted together. It is important to check those bolts and tighten them from time to time as they might get loose. I like that Tilta included the HEX key in the design and it is held by magnets at the bottom of the cage. On top of the cage, there is one extra cold shoe on the right side and one ¼” thread with ARRI locating pins left from the handle.

    I also like very much the wide range of accessories that Tilta offers for the cage. It is a whole ecosystem, which also incorporates nicely their Nucleus follow focus.

    It’s also important to add that Tilta says that their cage ecosystem will also fit the recently announced Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (BMPCC 6K).

    The total weight of the basic setup of the Tilta full cage is 515g.

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    Vocas Half Cage


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    1. Ease of Assembly and Disassembly and How Securely is the Camera Attached to the Cage?

    It is not that easy to assemble and disassemble the camera in the cage. It also secures with one screw at the bottom in the camera’s tripod screw thread and with one screw at the top thread. There are two pins on the bottom side of the cage on both sides of the screw. Those pins are, however, fixed in the cage’s design and that complicates things a bit when inserting the camera in the cage. The Vocas half-cage is made out of three pieces bolted together and to mount the camera in you need to loosen two of those screws and open the cage a bit for the pins to go in their place.

    The camera is secured very well in the cage. Thanks to the bottom screw with side pins and top screw there is no wiggle whatsoever.

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    2. HDMI and USB-C Cables Protector Design

    There is no USB-C connection protector included. The included HDMI connection protector is very solid. It consists of a simple L-piece HDMI adapter and small bracket which keeps it securely in place. That means the HDMI cable will always face to the back next to the screen. The connected cable itself is not secured in place in any way.

    3. Is there an SSD Mount and/or External Battery Mount?

    There is an SSD mount included with the cage. It is a simple platform with rubber straps. It holds the SSD quite safely in place, although not as safely as a solid aluminium clamp. Big advantage of this solution is that it can accommodate SSDs of various sizes. It seems Vocas does not offer any amount for external battery especially for the BMPCC 4K.

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    4. The Top Handle and Side Handles Design

    The top handle is ergonomic and quite comfortable. It has a thin design, but I didn’t have problems with it even though my hands are rather big. The handle is fixed in place with two screws and can be slightly moved back and forth or mounted in the other direction or on the side of the cage. It has a 15mm rod mount, many 1/4″ threads and one cold shoe mount on the top side. There are no side handles available.

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    5. Overall Ergonomics and Conclusion

    Vocas BMPCC 4K half-cage has a simple and very lightweight aluminium design with a tight fit. There is a lot of 1/4″ threads, but only two 3/8″ threads at the bottom of the cage. There is a cold shoe mount on the left top side. We did not receive the 15mm rod support for our test, but Vocas does offer it. It is not very suitable for frequent mounting and removing of the camera. The advantage is that there is a universal SSD mount included with the cage.

    The total weight of the basic setup of the Vocas cage is 332g, which makes it the lightest cage in our test.

    Zacuto


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    1. Ease of Assembly and Disassembly and How Securely is the Camera Attached to the Cage?

    When inserting the camera it was quite a struggle to position it correctly inside, because the cage is a very tight fit. Furthermore, the top and bottom bolts are held on the cage with springs, which means you can’t lose them, but it was hard to see if the threads are positioned correctly.

    Also, the pins at the bottom are quite thick and they fit precisely in the camera’s bottom holes. Because of the exact fit, I had problems getting the camera out of the cage.

    Once the camera is inside, it is fixed very well in place though. There is no wiggle whatsoever.

    2. HDMI and USB-C Cables Protector Design

    Zacuto uses a different system to protect the USB-C and HDMI connections and I am not sure if it is the right one. It uses standard L-shape adaptors and some sort of aluminium clamps which are supposed to hold them in place. When I tried to mount them, I found out the clamps are positioned so, unfortunately, they even bent the adapters when tightened. That is not ideal. Zacuto actually demonstrates their cage in their videos with a different type of protector, so hopefully, that one works better.

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    3. Is there an SSD Mount and/or External Battery Mount?

    There is a Samsung T5 SSD clamp on top of the cage, which has quite a nice design with big Zacuto logo on top and an extra cold shoe. It seems Zacuto does not offer any external battery mount for the BMPCC 4K.

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    4. The Top Handle and Side Handles Design

    The top handle design is quite nice, it has one cold shoe on the top, many threads on the top, and wooden grip. As the only handle, it also has an additional very long NATO rail on top. It mounts to a long NATO rail no the cage so it can be moved back and forth.

    There is a side wooden handle with a cold shoe on top, which can be useful for mounting various accessories. The handle itself is mounted on the cage through a long NATO rail, so it can be moved up and down.

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    5. Overall Ergonomics and Conclusion

    Zacuto is a tight lightweight one-piece aluminium cage. If needed, it offers a totally flat top. The hand strap on the right side is nice and ensures a safe grip. I just find the upper aluminium piece by the hand strap at the end of the cage too sharp and I can imagine it can hurt after a long time holding and operating the cage.

    There is a Hex key at the bottom of the cage which is held in place with magnets. It is the exact size for the top and bottom screw, so that is quite helpful when mounting the camera in the cage. Zacuto cage is, however, not so great for frequent mounting and unmounting of the camera.

    Zacuto has a new quick mounting system Polaris which we also received for the test and it was part of the 15mm rods support base. Zacuto also offers a metabones adapter support, but we didn’t receive it for the test. Overall, I like the amount and length of NATO rails with this cage. It provides good flexibility.

    The total weight of the basic setup of the Zacuto full cage is 473g.

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    BMPCC 4K Cages Review and Shootout Conclusion


    When evaluating all cages, I have to say all of them had their advantages and disadvantages. Generally, I wish more manufacturers provided slots for other SSDs than just the Samsung T5. Thumbs up for Tilta and Vocas in this regard.

    For me, the clear winner of our test is the Tilta. They offer a wide range of accessories. Their cage is modestly priced, sturdy, and well designed. The tactical finish is also very a nice touch. I like how they focused on external powering solutions too. As a bonus, their Nucleus follows focus also works well with the side handles.

    Vocas cage is also an interesting choice thanks to its lightweight minimalistic design, the universal SSD mount, and good HDMI adaptor. Smallrig is a very affordable cage with nice side grip and good design. 8Sinn can also be a good choice as it offers different handles and it does not have any big flaws. It is also probably the best cage for frequent mounting and removing of the camera. Zacuto offers a very secure grip with the hand strap and great flexibility thanks to the long NATO rails. CAME-TV has a few flaws, but it can also be considered with the right price. I really hope they solved the problem with the right dimensions.

    It really depends on what you are looking for and which factors are important for you when choosing the right cage. We have links to all the cages underneath our article, so it will be much appreciated if you can use them as we get a small commission from every purchase. That helps us to keep creating long reviews like this one. Congratulations if you managed to read the whole article.

    Which cage for the BMPCC 4K do you like the most? What is an important factor for you when choosing a cage? Can you imagine using the Pocket 4K without a cage? How do you like our new wallpaper in the cinema5D studio? :) Let us know in the comments underneath the article.

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