Reviews |SmallRig Black Mamba Kit for EOS R5, R6, R5 C

SmallRig Black Mamba Kit for EOS R5, R6, R5 C Review

SmallRig Black Mamba Kit for EOS R5, R6, R5 C
Review

Price when reviewed

£169

$169
Check current price

Our Verdict

Once again, SmallRig has created a bespoke camera cage that fits snuggly and keeps the stylish lines of the camera, in this instance, the Canon EOS R5, R5 C and R6. Multiple 1/4 and 3/8-inch threads give plenty of mounting options, and adding rotation features helps keep the camera in position.

In use, the design of the cage is slim enough to be handled comfortably without the camera needing to be rigged into a larger system. The ability to mount monitors and microphones so easily is a major benefit and is obviously the main point for a cage of this type.

Over other cages, the neat side-mounted cable clamp is a nice addition and an essential for filmmakers, especially if you’re using the camera hand-held rather than on a static rig or tripod.

There are a few quirks with the design, and some of the adjusters are a little fiddly, but any issues are small and outweighed by the enhancements in use to the camera that having the fitted cage brings.

For

  • Bespoke fit
  • Cable clamp
  • Ability to mount accessories

Against

  • Knobs can be fiddly
  • Base pins can easily be lost

What is SmallRig Black Mamba Kit for EOS R5, R6, and R5 C?

The SmallRig Black Mamba Kit for EOS R5, R6, and R5 C is quite simply a camera cage. The cage sits over the camera and does several jobs, the first being that it protects the camera’s body from knocks and bashes, essentially acting as a solid metal bumper around a large area of the camera.

Then with all the 1/4 and 3/8-inch mounting threads, you have multiple options to bolt in accessory arms and attach accessories such as monitors, microphones and lamps. As this is the kit version of the Mamba, it also includes the top handle, an ideal addition for run-and-gun filmmakers. Again, this handle adds the ability to mount additional accessories.

Cold shoe slots are on the top side of the cage and top handle, so any accessory with a cold shoe mount such as a microphone can easily be slotted into place.

SmallRig Black Mamba Kit for EOS R5, R6, R5 C

Finally, on the side is the cable clamp, a simple addition that enables you to plug your cables into the side of the camera and clamp them into place. This is especially relevant with the R5 and R5 C, which utilise micro HDMI connectors rather than the more robust full-sized like the Sony A7 IV.

Build and Handling

SmallRig is known for its bespoke fitting cages, and the latest Black Mamba matches the design quality and fits we’ve seen from previous releases.

Unlike camera cages that were popular a few years ago, CNC and other manufacturing techniques have enabled far more lightweight and tight-fitting cages. This means that the Black Mamba fits perfectly around the camera, following every line of the camera’s body. At the same time, the exterior is similarly shaped to reflect the original design rather than being boxy.

While the outward look of the Black Mambe is stylish, it also provides plenty of fixing threads for accessories, and high-quality Aluminum has been used to ensure a good mix of strength and weight.

SmallRig Black Mamba Kit for EOS R5, R6, R5 C

Fitting the Black Mamba takes a few seconds, with the cage slipping over the front of the camera. Unlike other cages that can be fitted as is, the Black Mamba requires that you release the small pin in the base and remove the lug mount; once this is done, the cage slips over the camera.

Next, the base plate screw is tightened, the strap lug plate is re-installed, and the pins at the base are tightened. This all helps prevent any twist from the camera. When unscrewing the pins at the base, you mustn’t fully unscrew them as they can easily get lost.

With the cage installed, the ARRI top handle can be bolted into place, and any accessories you need can be bolted into the 1/4 or 3/8-inch threads. The cable clamp on the side is nicely designed with a single screw holding it firmly in place; this can be undone so that you can access the port doors, and then once open, the cable can be threaded through, inserted, and the clamp re-installed and tightened. It’s a bit fiddly, but then cable clamps often are.

The Black Mamba with the Canon R5 C fitted feels comfortable in the hand with everything in place. While it does add some bulk to the camera and grip, it’s still possible to use the camera easily hand-held. The ARRI top handle also provides a good and comfortable carrying option; it all feels well-balanced from the outset.

Features

Despite being a relatively simple cage, the SmallRig Black Mamba piles in the features. Firstly, the Black Mamba in the review is designed for the Canon EOS R5 C & R5 & R6, but similar Black Mamba cages are designed for other makes and models, including the Panasonic GH6.

The ARRI top handle is a handy feature and includes the ARRI 3/8-inch thread at the top, enabling easy mounting to larger rigs and systems. The handle also makes it ideal for run-and-gun systems, although with no IS on the R5 C, you’ll probably want to use a stabiliser of some type.

Being part of a larger system is really where the Black Mamba sits as an addition to your camera. It’s an all-in-one full cage and the dedicated cable clamp design helps to form the basis of the rig, and then there are plenty of options for expansion.

SmallRig Black Mamba Kit for EOS R5, R6, R5 C

These days many accessories such as microphones and lights feature a cold shoe and clamp; the Black Mamba features one cold shoe slot on the main cage and another on the ARRI top Hande, providing two flexible options.

A clever addition to the design, especially for videographers, is the Arca-Swiss plate that is fully compatible with the DJI RS 2/RSC 2/RS 3/RS 3 Pro and Arca-Swiss compatible tripods. This means there’s no need for an additional tripod base plate as the cage interfaces directly with the native clamps.

As soon as you start using your camera for video production, you’ll start to add extras, such as microphones and monitors that will require cables to be fitted and connected to your camera. The Black Mamba features a simple cable clamp system that can be fully removed so you can access the open protective doors, insert the cables such as HDMI and USB Type-C and then tightly secure them in place.

While many cages and systems can add significant weight to your camera, the Black Mamba has been designed to be lightweight. The ARRI top handle matches the design of the main cage at 122g, so the full kit weighs only 313g.

Performance

The great thing about a well-designed cage is that you shouldn’t notice it too much once in place. The cage should enhance the use of the camera, and the Black Mamba certainly does this.

Used with the Canon EOS R5 C, the cage fits snuggly, and while the bulk is slightly increased, it isn’t to a huge extent which means that the camera is still comfortable for freehand stills.

Utilising the cage for stills photography and the ability to mount a large monitor when shooting landscapes is beneficial. I like the ability to attach a monitor, coupled with a filter system, as it just helps to get creative with your landscape photography. Likewise, in the studio shooting portraits, the fact that you can easily tether to a machine, with the cable clamp ensuring that the USB Type-C cable stays in place, is reassuring.

SmallRig Black Mamba Kit for EOS R5, R6, R5 C

Moving on to video production and this is where the SmallRig Black Mamba really comes into its own, either as part of a larger rig or used on its own.

The top handle instantly makes using the Canon R5 C far more comfortable, and while I didn’t use any side handles, I can see how adding these would further enhance the use when used freehand.

The ARRI top handle also enables an easy connection to an easy rig, although, through this test, I didn’t have the chance to access one. However, the ARCA Swiss compatibility enabled the fast mounting of a series of tripods and the DJI RS3. Switching between supports and rigs without needing different base plates was a great advantage of using the cage.

One of the big features of any cage are the mounting options, and here the Black Mamba features a good selection of 1/4 and 3/8-inch threads. What’s good about these is that all 3/8-inch are of the ARRI 3/8-inch locating hole type, which means that it’s compatible with any friction arm featuring the Arri style Anti-rotation plate design. In use, this makes a huge difference, especially with monitors. Once in place, there is no chance that the monitor’s weight unscrews the arm; it’s just locked securely in position.

Final thoughts

It’s surprising how much difference installing a cage will make to the use and functionality of your camera. For stills photography, there are many situations where attaching a monitor directly or tethering it to a machine is handy. While you don’t need a cage to do this, it does makes it that much easier, especially with the ability to clamp in the cables.

Out in the field and used for shooting landscapes, the ability to bolt a monitor into the setup easily makes the whole experience more enjoyable, especially when reviewing the shots you have just taken and checking the image quality and integrity.

The real bonus for using a cage comes when you’re using it for video. The handle makes a run-and-gun style shooting far easier and makes the camera generally much easier to handle.

SmallRig Black Mamba Kit for EOS R5, R6, R5 C

Then there are the obvious advantages of being able to bolt in additional accessories through the two cold shoes and 1/4-inch threads. The ARRI 3/8-inch location thread. Likewise, the design of the base with the ARCA Swiss style base plate that’s integral to the design also makes things nice and simple.

Overall the SmallRig Black Mamba Kit for EOS R5, R6, and R5 C is an ideal companion to your camera, handy if you shoot stills but a must-have if you shoot video.

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