For photography, mirrorless Sony cameras are very practical and ergonomic just the way they are, but for video production they need to be built up. A cage is essential if you want to add accessories such as an external monitor, shotgun microphone or wireless receiver, top handle, on-camera light, XLR preamp or separate audio recorder, and so on.
The shoe mount can satisfy one of those needs, but at some point you’ll find yourself needing two or more accessories. Not to mention, a cage simply helps protect your camera, making it easier to grip and hold for longer periods of time, and less likely to drop.
Zacuto has released a new camera cage for Sony A7, A7RIII, and A9, essentially the most popular Sony mirrorless cameras today. That’s the nice thing with Sony mirrorless cameras: their guts change, but their bodies stay relatively the same, for easier integration with all of your gear.
The Zacuto cage is designed to be lightweight and compact, weighing only 0.6 lbs without the side handle, and 0.9 lbs with. It attaches to the 1/4/-20” thread under the camera, and also the eyelets neck strap connection if desired. You can still access the camera battery, hot shoe, and all the buttons without workarounds.
A hand strap is included, which is essential in our opinion. One of the first things we do when we buy any camera is add a hand strap (aka hand grip), because it’s the first and best protection you have against dropping the camera for any reason.
We recently bought one of these for our 1DX mkII, and it works well, but like many hand straps, it is a tedious chore to put it on. And unfortunately, for the 1DXmkII to fit onto the new DJI Ronin-S, the hand grip has to come off. It’s a huge pain.
That’s why it’s a very practical feature to have the hand grip built into the Zacuto cage. So if you do want to fly your A7 on the a gimbal, for example, you just remove the whole cage, and it takes out all the accessories along with it, including the hand strap.
In addition to the hand strap, the Zacuto A7/A9/A7RIII cage also includes a removeable side handle made out of wood. On top of the handle is another cold shoe. This is a great spot to place the Sony XLR-K2M audio accessory and shotgun, leaving the top of the camera for your top handle.
Holding the camera and cage with two hands in this position makes for a very natural and comfortable shooting position. You really could shoot like this for hours. But of course, your left hand has to occasionally reach the lens to control focus, so sadly the wooden handle will have only limited special time with your hand.
On the cage itself there are lots of 1/4-20 threads for mounting accessories, and it has a built-in Z-Rail for mounting an optional top handle (or whatever else you want to put there).
The bottom of the case has a 3/8” thread for your quick release system. It also has a dovetail if you want to use your VCT Pro shoulder baseplate or VCT Pro dock, enabling you to transition from handheld shooting to a shoulder rig to tripod.
As with any Zacuto system, this cage is very configurable and there are many things you can do with it.
If you really want to turn your little mirrorless Sony into a beast of a camera, you can attach a 15mm rod support base, and throw on a matte box, follow focus, wireless motors - you name it.
All told, a camera cage seems like a very simple piece of machined metal, but for everything to work seamlessly, and for it to feel like a natural extension of the camera itself, it really does need expert design and engineering. Zacuto has taken the time to get this one right.