The LINO from Ulanzi is a Metal Cage Rig for Smartphones. It’s the perfect accessory for filmmakers who use their phones to capture stunning footage, or who want to use their phones as a monitor. With its sleek black alloy design and red bevelled highlights on the nobs, it’s very aesthetically pleasing.
The cage can stretch from 130mm – 160mm accommodating even the sizeable iphone 13 Pro Max in its phone case. The cage extends against the tension of an internal spring system, which, once extended creates enough space for you to place your phone face down, then the springs clamp your phone into place.
Once your phone is in place a red bevelled nob is used to secure the clamp and hold your phone tight. Surrounding the phone are internal soft rubber cushions (on all four internal sides and back) to protect and secure your phone, as well as a one flat cross beam than ensures your phone won’t fall out.
The LINO’s metal cage is accompanied with two alloy handles, helpfully labelled Left and Right. When attached to one of the two side mounting options, featured on both the left and right sides of the cage, stabilisation potential will increase. Holding your phone steady using these handles results in much smoother and less shaky video, than simply hand holding your phone.
With the addition of the handles there is increased distance between where you hold the phone and the centre of the unit’s mass, which allows you to hold everything more stable. The handles also enable you to hold the phone while moving, instead of gripping the side of your phone or the case it’s in. This is a factor that can sometimes obscure the camera lens or lead to you fumbling your touch screen, or worse, dropping the phone.
Both handles can be adjusted to any of the 360 degree positions you need, enabling tilt, pan, zoom and the other creative shots you’re after. They can be positioned high or low on the sides of the cage. They cannot easily be attached to offer vertical usage which seems an oversight in a world that is Tictok and Insta Reel mad. There are Arri Locating Holes on the cage’s sides, which you can use, but they aren’t meant for this use and may not grip your handles to the degree you desire.
Each handle can be tightened against the cage at any angle by a red bevelled nob, which has a white rubber insert for grip. There is also the capacity with each handle to adjust and then tighten the bracket as it attaches to the handle. This is done via a hex key, one of which is included in the box. It is worth noting that the handles can be positioned at any angle, but they will always remain parallel to the side of the cage.
By securing your phone inside the metal cage, you are increasing the weight of the entire unit by 245 grams. It feels light and manoeuvrable to handle and the finger impressions on the handles allow for good grip and comfortable use. The advantage of this extra ¼kg of weight is in absorbing the bumps and shakes a lighter set up would easily pickup. The heavier a camera is the less shake you’ll experience, providing it’s not too heavy to freely manoeuvre as so desired.
EXTERNAL ACCESSORY PORTS
The LINO Cage has a total of ten ¼ 20” screw mounts and 4 cold shoe mounts. There are two cold shoe mounts on top, one on the left hand side and one underneath the cage, for a multitude of accessory options. Of the ten ¼ 20” screw mounts, two, one on the top and one on the bottom are Arri Locating Holes, used for mounting to larger video rigs and other accessories.
On each side of the camera you will find the handle mounting ¼ 20” screws, identifiable by an accompanying groove which allows the handles to lock in place. There are also two ¼ 20” handle lock options next to each other on top of the cage. This enables the carrying and use of the cage, via a single centralised handle attached to the top of the cage. The two mounting hole options, allow for you to centralise the handle, based on the size of your phone. This is really handy for creative hard to reach shots.
The final two ¼ 20” mounts are on the opposite end to the charging port space, and can be used with any ¼ 20” mounted accessory.
CHARGING PORT ACCESS
Ulanzi’s Metal Rig is made for Smartphones, that have a charging port positioned centrally on their base. This is so you can plug in a microphone, such as Ulanzi’s J12 Dual Wireless Lavalier Microphone System, and capture great quality audio to accompany your video. The J12 system can snuggly fit in the iphone charging port, but will require you to put the right hand handle on the left side and invert its position, obviously you’ll need to do the same for the other handle.
The big question is one you’re still asking, how good is the product when it comes stabilisation? After using the product for a while in a variety of situations, from moving slowly with the pohone to walking, from panning and tilting, zooming in and out and walking on unsteady ground I can draw several conclusiuons.
First, it feels really nice to use your smartphone in the LINO cage. It’s comfortbale, easy to operate, versatile and quick to adjust should you need to.
Second, it does a great job at stabilising your footage. It doesn’t completely eradicate shake, in every circumstance but will make a huge difference in most. I found when I walked slowly and filmed carefully, that the stabilisation you could achieve was really impressive.
Third, when you film with your phone it’s very easy for your finger or hand to block the phones microphone. The handle alleviates this issue entirely so the sound you will get is of far greater quality and consistency. That’s even before you add a microphone system, like Ulanzi’s J12 dual wireless microphones.
Fourth, you can access all of your phone’s touch screen, microphone and speaker options without them being inhibited. You could, if you wanted to, use the cage as a phone case, although it does add considerable size and weight to what is intended to be a ‘mobile’ device.
I also used the cage with just the top handle, and if you film carefully and slowly, you will expereince the same advantages listed above.
PRICE AND CONCLUSION
As I’ve shared earlier, the greatest oversight of this terrific product is its inability to easily move to a vertical orientation and still use the clever handles. Perhaps this is something to look forward to in later additions. If this is not an issue for you, and it won’t be for many of you, then at $59.95 you’re picking yourself up a great accessory that will enormously benefit your smartphone filmmaking. You can get it from here.
Thanks to Ralph Mayhew for the review article, here is the link to the original article.