A great thing about mirrorless cameras are their small size and handholdable form factor. It’s also the worst thing about them for video production. The small size does have one advantage: customizability. Users with a cage and some extra rigging tools should be able to get the camera configured for their exact shooting style. You might even want to built a couple variations.
Filmmaker Keith Knittel has built up a couple options for his Sony a7 IV using some choice rigging accessories. One setup is ideal for quick run-and-gun filmmaking while the other is best suited to a more conventional production. Check out what he did in this video.
Along with the a7 IV he has the very nice FE 50mm f/1.2 GM lens, though you can likely choose whatever you want. Where you need to start building is with a cage.
In this case it is the SmallRig 3667 Full Cage for the a7 IV, a7S III, and a1 – I actually have this cage as well and can attest to its quality. It’s well designed and one of the best features is an integrated Arca plate.
To add to the cage you will want to use a NATO rail on the top. This makes it easy to attach and remove the top handle. This “Lite” model saves on the weight but still has a ton of mounting options. One of these mounting points is an ARRI-style which is perfect for a tilt and swivel monitor mount. For a monitor, Keith uses the Atomos Ninja V and put it in its own cage.
Now for a fun part: the follow focus. SmallRig actually makes a Mini Follow Focus which is compact and affordable. It comes with a small rod and rod holder to get it mounted, too. Add the gear to your lens and get you can get it all set up.
As for cabling you’ll want to find something that works for your monitors and camera. Keith recommends some 90-degree cables that are straight and short for that you can get them wired up and out of the way.
The final piece for the run-and-gun setup is the audio. He uses the Deity Pocket System and mounts the receiver to the angled cold shoe on the top of the cage. Any similar shoe-mounted and compact system should work great here.
This is a solid everyday rig that you can carry around with you and have all the essential pieces to make shooting easier. In some cases, like a lengthy all-day shoot on set, you’ll probably want a different configuration. Fortunately the bones of the run-and-gun rig are the same. To start he simply takes off the follow focus.
Where he starts building up the rig is by adding a baseplate with rod holders to the bottom. In between that he does use a quick release plate to make it easy to attach and detach the camera. You’ll then obviously need some rods, a pair of 12” carbon fiber rods should do.
The SmallRig model selected here has an arm to get it out of the way and mounts directly to the 15mm rods. The Fxlion battery pack and plate have a few outputs to power the camera and accessories.
To make holding this larger and heavier kit a bit easier you can add a left hand side handle. If you kept the follow focus rod mount attached it is actually a perfect point to clamp the NATO-compatible handgrip.
Adding a matte box is a serious upgrade compared to the compact rig. Keith is using the SmallRig Mini Matte Box Pro. After you get it mounted you will want to add another bit of support with a simple 15mm LWS Rod Support. This will allow you to use professional filter sets and there are sleds that make it easy to swap them out.
With that all set up you can bring the follow focus back. It’s easiest to put it on at the end.
Which one would you pick? The run-and-gun rig or the all-day rig?
[source: Keith Knittel]
- Sony a7 IV Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig 3667 Full Camera Cage for Sony a7 IV, a7S III and a1 (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig 1195 NATO Rail (B&H, Amazon)
- SamllRig 3766 NATO Top Handle Lite (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig 2903 ARRI-Style Monitor Mount (B&H, Amazon)
- Atomos Ninja V Recorder/Monitor (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig 2209 Cage for Atomos Ninja V/V+ (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig Mini Follow Focus (B&H, Amazon)
- Deity Microphones Pocket Wireless Digital System (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig 2144B Arca-Type Quick Release Base and Plate (B&H)
- SmallRig 1798 Baseplate with Rod Clamp (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig 851 15mm Carbon Fiber Rod Set (12”) (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig 3204 V-Mount Battery Adapter Plate (B&H, Amazon)
- Fxlion Nano TWO Ultracompact V-Mount Battery (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig Left Hand Wooden Handgrip with NATO Clamp (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig Mini Matte Box Pro (B&H, Amazon)
- SmallRig 15mm LWS Rod Support for Mini Matte Box (B&H, Amazon)
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