Today we are going to take a look at a compact and relatively inexpensive cage for the popular Sony A6500. We have been using the camera for the past several months and having a cage for connecting accessories as well as carrying the camera around more easily is certainly something that we recommend.
SmallRig makes a large number of camera gear accessories and mounting units, we actually bought quite a few of their cheese plates and connectors in the past and they make some very decent yet affordable products.
We started using the Sony A6500 a few months ago. Initially we shot videos with our older DIY camera cage and while it definitely works, it feels too large and cumbersome for such a small camera so we decided to look for something smaller.
The SmallRig A6500 is the first of what might be a number of cages that we will be looking on here for the camera. It is a very straightforward cage, all metal of course but it does have a few interesting features.
The SmallRig A6500 cage
Let’s start with a general look around the cage – it is a very thin cage – most of it consists of a single line of 1/4″ 20 threads, you do have two lines on the right with 2 extra 3/8″ screws as well (there are also a number of smaller threads around the cage – we are not exactly sure what screws they fit).
On the top right you have a cold shoe and you have another cold shoe on the optional handle. If you don’t use the handle you also have access to the hotshoe of the camera itself. On the bottom you have the obligatory cutout for the battery and memory card slot at a 1/4″ 20 screw for connecting the camera in the center.
Sadly this isn’t a toolless cage – you will need a flat screwdriver to connect the camera to the cage as the screw isn’t a thumbscrew and you can’t replace it with one as it will not enable you to place the cage straight on the floor. You will also need an Alan key to connect the optional handle (which you do get if you order the cage kit with the handle).
Talking about the handle this is maybe the biggest thing that we would change in this cage. It is a decent enough handle but we actually prefer the feel of our old cage handle with the rubber grip and more importantly, the handle is fixed in its position. The reason why this is a problem is that if you want to use the viewfinder on the A6500 – especially when shooting in the sun without a bright enough monitor – the handle is stuck in the way. Now you can unscrew it and put it to the other side but this isn’t super convenient in our view and doing this each time we want to use the viewfinder is out of the question.
What we would like to see is a rubber handle version with the option to connect and release the handle without tools for quick transport and storage and with the option of rotating the handle 90 degrees to better use the viewfinder on the camera.
We want a different handle
Another thing that we got was a small lock for the HDMI. It is a nice addition and it sort of works if you have a simple straight cable but if you have an angled cable (like we do) or use all three connectors (we use both the HDMI, USB and mic jacks at the same time), it is completely useless. So it would be nice to have something that holds all of them in place with a different design that maybe holds the cables themselves and not the cable connector.
One cool feature that many users might appreciate is the design of the bottom section of the cage. It is basically a large Arca Swiss plate so you can place the cage directly into a Arca Swiss compatible head and lock it – very nice although of course for video production longer fluid head style plates are much more common.
Talking about quick release plates as we have noted before we prefer the Manfrotto RC2 plate system (even when we use it in conjunction with longer video plates). We can easily place an RC2 plate on the bottom of the cage however even though this help us place the entire system very quick on a base, removing the actual camera from the cage – for example for shooting stills – which is something we do often and prefer not to do with the cage attached, if we don’t have to, can’t be done easily like we could on our old DIY cage which included an RC2 base for the camera itself (a design which would be impossible with such a small cage of course).
So let’s conclude this short review of the SmallRig A6500 cage. This unit is well built, compact, support Arca Swiss heads out of the box and can help you build a very nice portable system around your Sony camera.
There are some things that can be improved in this cage as well, especially in the handle as we have mentioned although to be fair this is an optional accessory and SmallRig does have a few other handles although non seems to do exactly what we suggested here, but if SmallRig will decide – they can easily come up with a different type of handle that will be rubberized, removable (NATO handles do that) and rotatable without the use of tools and we really hope that they will indeed consider this idea.
SmallRig – simple, compact and inexpensive