Without question, the Sony a7S III is a mirrorless camera meant for video. Impressive specs and image quality are wonderful, but it has the same problems for video as every other mirrorless camera: its form factor is better suited to stills. One solution is to get a cage, such as this Master Kit from SmallRig that I was able to take for a spin.
It’s the Small Things
When it comes to relatively simple devices and accessories, it really is the small things that make the biggest difference. For a camera cage, that is the ease of attachment, the placement of particular mounting points, and various other details that make it a true extension of the original device. Most importantly, it shouldn’t get in the way of any controls or ports.
The SmallRig kit for the a7S III does that. It’s lightweight, feels strong, and you could likely leave it on all the time and still enjoy perfect functionality of the camera. If you are using the a7S III for exclusively video, you’ll likely never take it off because it’s key to getting everything just the way you want it and it never gets in the way.
Picking up the base cage is fine, but the Master Kit comes with the essential accessories you’ll want to pick up, anyway. This kit features an HDMI clamp, a NATO rail, and a quick release top handle that slides onto that NATO rail. The HDMI clamp is nice and has anti-twist pins. And the top handle has a little locking pin on its top cold shoe that keeps everything nice and secure. Since I used this to mount an (expensive) monitor, this little detail gives me so much more confidence.
If I were to nitpick, I would call out the base not quite being as formfitting as I’ve seen from other manufacturers. It has a big hole for the battery door, which is absolutely functional in the way you need it to be. It just doesn’t look as nice as, say, my Really Right Stuff baseplates.
Another small detail on this unit is a tool is included for quickly attaching and removing the rig from your camera. It even magnetically attaches to the bottom, so you’ll never be without it. It’s certainly nice to have and makes putting on all your plates way more convenient. The magnet also seems strong enough that you won’t need to worry about it falling off.
Room for Expansion
I’m not going to count, but there are plenty of 1/4"-20 and 3/8"-16 threads on the cage. Every side has some. Plus, the bottom has good positioning for its tripod threads. There are even anti-rotation guides on some key points to support certain items you need to stay locked in. Another positive aspect of having all these mounting points is that you can easily use a side thread for vertical mounting of the camera, an increasingly common need that isn’t often provided as an option directly on the camera itself.
The top handle is also a great, well-built accessory. The NATO rail is a nice way to mount since it means you can take it off when you don’t need it. There is also a 15mm rod clamp integrated in this version for mounting other types of accessories. It even has a couple ARRI-style mounts for other tools, such as this monitor mount.
While the top handle is a good mounting point for a monitor, smaller accessories like a RØDE Wireless GO can slide into the cold shoe offset to the top right of the cage. Considering the design doesn’t add much bulk to your a7S III, you could leave it on all the time. In that case, there are mounting points provided for both a standard shoulder strap or a hand grip. There really is just so much you can configure on this cage.
SmallRig makes all these different accessories well if you want the complete package. There are almost too many options to choose from and, if you start with the cage, I’m sure you’ll be able to build your camera rig into a near-ideal setup for your needs.
A final note on the SmallRig Master Kit is on the relative affordability. Video equipment such as this has a tendency to go upwards in price very quickly. I believe SmallRig manages to provide an excellent value. If you’d rather put more money into your actual project than on the gear you use, keeping price in mind is important. And as someone who switches between stills and video and handheld and tripod, being able to quickly go from cinema ready to bare camera is super important for me.
I think SmallRig is doing an amazing job with their cages. Are you a fan? Tell us about your setup and experience in the Comments section, below.