First off I’m going to put my hand up and admit that I previously had reservations of using a camera cage, I changed from a Canon DSLR setup to a Sony mirrorless one because I wanted the reduction in weight and I thought that adding a cage would mean adding unnecessary extra weight. With the capabilities of my newish Sony A7ii camera, I started to explore recording small video clips and it just felt clumsy when I wanted to shoot at different angles and having to rummage through my pockets and rucksack to get to all the accessories I needed from time to time.
So when SmallRig sent me their newest 1982 camera cage for the Sony A7ii, A7Rii and A7Sii, and their best-selling 1955 camera stabilizing NATO handle, I jumped at the chance to give it thorough whirl to see if adding that extra weight solved all the headaches I had when filming.
SmallRig’s 1982 camera cage is their latest edition for the Sony A7ii series mirrorless cameras. Many manufacturers release a camera cage for a certain model of camera and be done with it, but SmallRig is company that has listened to the users of their products and constantly refines its camera cages, and the 1982 is the latest product to roll out of its factory for the Sony A7ii series of cameras. From its first edition, SmallRig has rejigged the cage’s layout and refined the design by manufacturing the 1982 from one entire piece of aluminium block, add a built in hot shoe, ARRI locating hole, ARRI rosette mount and NATO rail on its side, and improved the access to your camera’s buttons, dials, switches and latches.
I have previous tried out camera cages that are comes in several pieces and needs to be assemble around the camera but I never liked them because they didn’t feel sturdy enough, and that any assembly screws are even slightly loose, the microphone picked up the tiny rattles. With the 1982 being made on one block of aluminium, it just has this sturdy feel to it and I was in the safe knowledge of having one less point of noise source to worry about.
Let’s take a quick look at how you would mount your Sony A7ii series camera into the SmallRig 1982 camera cage on the next page.
Buy the Smallrig Cage for the Sony A7II camera from Amazon for USD $135.00
Mounting your camera inside the SmallRig 1982 camera cage is very simple; just position the camera inside the cage and then secure it into place via the mounting screw at the bottom of the cage with a coin. There are a few points to pay attention here:
From experience I found I need to twist the screw with a coin hard to ensure the screw did not become loose, and the camera moving about inside the cage.
Sony A7ii series cameras fit quite snuggly inside the SmallRig 1982 camera cage, so you will need to remove any protective coverings such as leather half cases and silicon sleeves to have the camera fit inside the cage.
If you use a small prime lens you will find the camera installation very straight forward, but if you plan on using any wider lens such as I did in the video above or a cine lens, then you will need to detach the lens first, secure the camera body into the cage and then reattach the lens.
With bigger bulkier camera cages, and ones which are oversized, accessing your camera’s switched and dials mean reaching around the body or slipping a finger into a small gap to adjust the camera’s settings. At the top of the SmallRig 1982 camera cage, access to the Sony A7ii series top dials are unobstructed providing easy access, apart from the customizable C2 button, so you need to plan around this. If you do want to take photos as well, the right hand side of the camera cage has a indent where your right forefinger can press the trigger button with ease.
On the right hand side and bottom of the SmallRig 1982 camera cage, both the SD card opening and battery latch is unobstructed and again very easy to access. An ARRI rosette mount is located here which allows you to mount a rosette handle if so required.
On the left hand side of the SmallRig 1982 camera cage, both the latches that cover the audio ports and micro-HDMI ports are uncovered, and SmallRig was kind enough to provide a HDMI clamp in case of accidental knocks which would otherwise damage the port on the camera itself. You will also find an ARRI locating hole and NATO rail so you can slap on a side handle or mount a LED light or external viewfinder.
As if the SmallRig 1982 camera cage was not a gem in itself, SmallRig also sent over their best-selling handle, the 1955 camera stabilizing NATO handle.
At first glance, the 1955 looks like an other camera cage handle with a cheese design to allow mounting of various accessories, but on closer inspection, this could be one of the most well though out handles around. Mounting the 1955 handle onto your camera cage requires a short NATO rail for it to clamp onto, and once secured the handle is firmly in place.
The first bit of surprise of the SmallRig 1955 handle is that there is a hex key built in, which is a god send as I don’t have rummage around my pockets and rucksack for a hex key to loosen or tighten the screws with the camera cage. The next bit of great idea in the design of the 1955 is that there are 3 hot shoe slots built into the handle all at different angles, so no matter how and whatever direction you mount it, there’s always an available hot shoe slot in the orientation you want to mount say a microphone, and that’s not to mention the ARRI locating holes build into it.
And if that was not enough, with a quick loosen of the 2 silver screws along its side, the 1955 handle can be slid forward allow you to adjust it to the grip you want, or in my case with a long lens unbalancing the cage, have the handle slid all the way to the forwards giving me a more balanced handling with videoing at low angles.
Verdict & Conclusion
I am going to be very honest here and say I used to think having a camera cage on a DSLR video setup was to look a bit fancy and added so much more unnecessary weight. After using the SmallRig 1982 camera cage extensively during our trip to Computex 2017, I must say it has been a godsend and I absolutely love it. When doing video work, the first thing I do now is install my camera into the cage.
Why have I reversed my judgement? Its the flexibility I want that a camera cage can give me. Sure, for simple run and gun video podcast work, having a camera cage is not necessary, but for more steady shots and ones that require a bit more work, a camera cage is just a must. At the height of videoing at Computex 2017, I had to have so much more extra accessories at hand and attached to the camera.
A power bank to run the camera off so I didn’t need to have 8-9 batteries with me and constantly changing them
A LED light to help illuminate faces and slightly darker areas
A 7″ LCD screen to ensure that the video was well framed and more importantly that the correct objects were 100% in focus
An audio mixer which allowed for 2 microphone inputs
A shotgun microphone
A wireless microphone receiver
As you can see that’s a lot of extra equipment, and in no way could I have coped without the use of a camera cage.
We then come to why I love the SmallRig 1982 camera cage with the 1955 camera stabilizing NATO handle. Firstly, both the cage and handle is very well built, I have accidentally knocked it a few times on hard surfaces and not only has it protected my camera, both hasn’t the slightest scratch. Having the camera cage manufactured from one block on aluminium means there’s one less possible noise when recording from loose screws. The latest edition of the camera cage for the Sony A7ii series camera from SmallRig also brings many well thought out design features which does not hinder your use of the camera, but enhances it with all its packed features.
The SmallRig 1982 camera cage and the 1955 handle comes in at a very affordable price of US$135.85 and US$48.00 respectively, making them a very attractive option indeed, with many competitors’ similar option being priced nearly twice as much. Buy the Smallrig Cage for the Sony A7II camera from Amazon for USD $135.00
The only downside to the camera care which I reviewed is that the C2 button on your Sony A7ii would be hard to get your finger to, and that all screws are just metal on metal, meaning you really have to tighten then hard otherwise they will come loose. I’ve sprayed my screws with a bit of hair spray for extra grip, but ot would be nice if SmallRig had rubber washers on their screws.
I absolutely love my SmallRig camera cage and handle, and I’ve already invested on more modular bits and bobs for it (as you can see from the photos). I’ve added a 15mm rail system and lens holder to help support the extra weight of the longer lens I have, and an easy plate so that I can secure on any quick release plates of my tripods and video monopods. With the SmallRig system being so modular, I’ve already go my eye on a shoulder pad system and handles so I can carry the entire system on my shoulder for mobile recording.
Buy the Smallrig Cage for the Sony A7II camera from Amazon for USD $135.00
Take a look at our video going through some the basics pros and cons of this review: