Today we will take a look at SmallRig cage and accessories for Sony A6500. Sony A6500 is kind of two in one package. It can be used as high-end point and shoot camera or as an advanced professional camera. If you choose to use it as a professional camera, it makes sense to enhance its capabilities by building a rig.
I chose SmallRig advanced cage kit 2081, which consists of cage reference 1889, NATO handle reference 1955 and cold shoe extension 2044. I also have the wooden handgrip 1970, cold shoe 1241 and small ballhead 761.
Let’s take a look at the cage first. This cage is designed specifically for A6500. SmallRig makes one more cage that fits A6500, that is the reference 1661, but for A6500 I recommend this one, because the cold shoe is positioned on the left side and it doesn’t block any controls on A6500. There are also some other improvements.
The build quality of this cage in terms of the CNC machining, surface finishing and attention to detail is in my opinion perfect, I haven’t found any imperfections whatsoever. It is made of aluminum alloy and the weight of this cage is just 144 grams. Despite that, it feels very solid indeed. It also protects the camera if you hit it against the wall for example, but I would still avoid dropping it if possible. A6500 is secured to the cage by quarter inch screw on the bottom of the cage and by small screw with the use of mounting point for the strap. The fitment is very good and the camera doesn’t move inside of the cage at all. All controls on the camera are easily accessible including all dials and custom buttons. Battery and SD card compartment is accessible as well.
If I have counted correctly, there are 39 ¼ inch threads and 3 3/8 inch threads on this cage, so you have basically unlimited options to mount accessories. Bottom part of the cage itself is also Arca Swiss rail, so if you want to mount it on Arca Swiss compatible plate, you can do so without using any additional plates. If you are using Manfrotto mounting system for example, you can of course mount Manfrotto plate using one of the ¼ inch threads on the bottom of the cage. There also two NATO rails on this cage, one is located on the top part, so it very suitable for attaching the top handle and the second NATO rail is located on the grip side. That one can also be used for mounting a handle for example. Overall, the space is very well used on this cage, I guess that there is probably as many mounting options as possible.
If you intend to shoot handled, I definitely recommend getting the wooden handgrip. It is made of very hard rosewood, in my opinion, it is very well shaped, it improves the handling a lot. Especially if you use heavy lenses like Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM with adapter, this grip makes a huge difference and it significantly improves overall ergonomics of this setup. Handgrip fits the cage very well, there is no gap at all.
Included in 2081 package is NATO handle. It makes carrying of the setup much more comfortable and it is very suitable for low angle shots. It also gives you more ¼ inch and 3/8 inch mounts for mounting whatever you want to and also two more cold shoes. One is horizontally oriented and the other one vertically oriented. This handle will be especially suitable for monitors or recorders. I intend to mount ATOMOS Ninja V, once it is available, on this handle using 15mm rod. The handle attaches to the cage using the NATO rail, so it is very easy to change the orientation of the handle. Great detail is that there is a place for hexagonal wrench inside of the handle, which is very handy.
This package also contains cold shoe extension. It is very useful if you want to mount something on both sides of the camera, but you still want to be able to operate buttons on the grip side of the camera, or you just need more space to mount something like LED light for example.
SmallRig makes a ton of accessories for these cages, so if you are building an advanced rig, sky is the limit, as they say. For the time being, I am very happy with this setup, it improves the handling of A6500 and protects the camera. This setup lets me mount microphone, LED light and monitor at the same time, which is sufficient for me at the moment. In terms of build quality, I have no complaints at all. I also like that this cage uses the space very well and that the Arca Swiss rail and NATO rails are integrated in the cage design. Overall, I definitely recommend SmallRig cage for Sony A6500.