If you’ve been a DSLR or Mirrorless shooter for any length of time, camera cages are a way of life. Over the years, I’ve wondered between huge bulky 15mm rail setups and shoulder mount rigs, but in the last 5 years or so I’ve settled into a minimalist approach to camera rigs. That’s why Smallrig has started to dominate my camera mounting kit.
I could use something crazy like the Varavon Zeus that literally dominates the camera frame with giant handles and mounting options. However, while a huge rig gives you a lot of options for mounting, sometimes you need to take a step back and think about what you really need to mount on your camera and how you plan to use it. Do you need more than 3 cold shoe mounts? Are 3 handles the right number or can you live with one? Do you really need a set of 15mm rails in order to survive? Do you want to carry around an extra 5 to 10 pounds of weight all day? Would you want to spend more money on mounting your camera then the camera itself? If you answered no to those questions, the $68 Sony A7s II cage from Smallrig might be the one for you.
First of all, I like to keep the right side of my Sony a7s II clean and free from obstruction. The a7s II comes with a very nice hand grip, especially when compared to the original a7s, and all of your camera controls are on that side of the camera so why cover it up? The Smallrig cage works perfectly with this concept, leaving the right side of your camera open and clear.
I also don’t want my camera to be able to float or spin inside of its mount. So Smallrig has designed the a7s II cage with tabbed wings and a rubber grip that presses up against your camera and keeps it held in place.
From the base design of the Smallrig Sony a7s II cage, I’ve only made a few upgrades. First, I like to have a handle opposite the body grip for handheld shooting. With that in mind, I’ve attached the $43 Smallrig V7 handle via a $18 10cm nato rail. On top of that handle, I have a single cold shoe adapter which gives me a total of two cold shoe mounts on the handle.
To finish things up, I’ve added a single4cm nato rail to the top of the a7s Cage. This allows me to easily switch between top grip and two-handed control of the camera.
Just make sure you mount your 4cm nato rail in the correct position. I’ve been shooting with the Sony k1m-xlr audio adapter so I needed to place the nato rail in a spot that allowed me to balance the camera, yet stay out of the way of the k1m’s smart hot shoe adapter.
Smallrig Sony A7s II cage $68
Smallrig V7 handle $43
10cm nato rail $18
4cm nato rail $16
Cold shoe adapter $9
So to recap, that’s just under $160 for a rig that will get you through around 80% of your shots and it requires almost zero setup. This Smallrig configuration leaves you with a total of up to 3 cold shoe mounts if you use one of these or two if you don’t. The layout also balances nicely with a monopod attached to the rig and it is actually the configuration I received so many questions about at NAB this year.
Devin and I were able to carry this around in one hand on the showroom floor, shooting a bit of B-Roll or the occasional booth interview without slowing us down or getting in the way of the constant crowds and congestion at NAB.
While this Smallrig configuration doesn’t solve every problem out there, it likely meet most’s needs (mine included) for far less than some of the other options out there.