We’ve reviewed previously the GoPro mod kits or modification kits here that allow users to install an interchangeable lens system on your GoPro. Please refer to that article for a full recap on the available mod kits and the pros and cons. In this article, we review the Backbone’s Ribcage product line the industry leader in GoPro Modkits
The Rib Cage Modkit for GoPro takes the front housing of the GoPro and adds its housing to the front of the camera. The mod kit allows for a “docking” unit installed around the lens/focal area. The Rib Cage then lets you quickly change camera lenses to get different depth of field, zoom capabilities, and exposures. With the RibCage the options become vast on the type of lens you can put on your camera including night vision, 4k, M12, 360 VR, and CS-Mount/C-Mount lenses. This modification takes your GoPro designed mostly for action shots and turns it into an ever adapting solid little camera.
The biggest set back to the Ribcage modkit is losing all the accessories and items that are GoPro specific. The Ribcage changes the size of your cameras dimensions making cases not fit the GoPro after you have modified it. Also modifying your GoPro camera voids the warranty of your camera. The last bit is less known that you should be aware of before you chose to buy the Rib-Cage. With some of the lens that you will want to use with the Ribcage, it will change the weight of your camera. GoPro’s eye not centered in the middle of the camera adds a lot of weight with your lens to the side of the camera. This weight distribution makes it hard to center and hold the camera. Back-Bone does offer a weight system kit to help out with this fact, but it also requires special mounts that only Backbone offer. Basically to make the GoPro post modification feel and function like a high-end camera you will have to buy a lot of accessories that you can only get with the Backbone brand.
Before we start, it’s important to note that the Rib-Cage and manufacturer Backbone are not affiliated at all with GoPro. Backbone has merely provided a comprehensive solution to a voiced complaint in a GoPro limitation (the lack of an interchangeable lens system). With that disclaimer being said the RibCage was designed specifically for the GoPro and has kits compatible with all GoPro’s except the Hero3 that kit has been phased out of production.
The Rib-Cage comes with detailed instructions on how to do the installation.
What is included is:
Two Precision Aluminum Parts
Removable IR Cut Filter
All Required Hardware (Like screws and connectors)
Perform Firmware Updates
Charge your battery
Clean your work area
Notes from Rib-Cage
Nothing from the installation requires force. Patience, light touch and careful following of the instructions can allow anyone to install. If you are using force, Rib-Cage notes you are doing something wrong.
Going back and forth installing and uninstalling is not recommended as it can cause stress of the components
The kit is made of highly machined parts and thread holes. Forcing screws can impact the threading for the screws.
Precision Phillips Screw Drivers
If you want to use the original GoPro Camera button instead of the Ribcage You’ll also need
Thin Double Sided Tape
Lens Cleaning Tools or Cloth
The Ribcage Installation has two phases that include the teardown and assembly. GoPro recommends reading both guides and then utilizing the video to do the step-by-step
The entire process from teardown to installation takes about 35 steps and 45 minutes to one and a half hours based on how comfortable you are with electrical equipment and if you choose to do certain features like using the original GoPro button versus the Rib-Cage version. You do not have to be too technical with all the instructional videos. The teardown process is really easy and requires few parts to be removed while the installation is quick and pretty painless. We took about an hour to get ours on and were very happy with the results of the installation.
The first thing to note is Backbone bluntly states all over the website and guides that they have no affiliation with GoPro and that all warranties become voided when the modkit installation process happens. ALL WARRANTIES FROM GOPRO OR GOPRO WARRANTY SELLERS ARE VOIDED.
In addition to this, the DIY (do it yourself) modification releases ALL liability from Backbone if you choose to do it yourself. This means, if you mess up the GoPro or mess up any function or feature, it’s on you. Backbone does not replace anything that is DIY.
The variable in all of this is simply you.
If you are a GoPro 3 user, unfortunately only the option of installing yourself is available as Back-Bone no longer offers or creates pre-modified GoPros. If you are looking though to outsource the GoPro modification kit installation, I would recommend either calling Back-Bone or going on eBay as eBay has some supply of pre-modified Back-Bone GoPro 3’s.
The Back-Bone Ribcage is a comprehensive solution for the GoPro and solves the lack of lens replacement capability. The reviews are good and the installation process is very do-able we did ours in about an hour. With that being said, actually doing a modification yourself versus having Backbone do it for you is contingent on the value of your time and handiness. But most importantly, factor in the costs to see if the cost and usage will make sense to do a modification at all. If you want to have a very nice and versatile camera while sacrificing some of rugged durability to the GoPro our final conclusion is- This is a must buy!