My 7 Favourite Sony A7S Accessories

As working professionals we at cinema5D are occasionally being asked about “our favorite working gear”, so I’ve decided to compile a list of my “must have” Sony a7S accessories which I frequently use in the field.

Day in day out and the Sony A7s continues to be my daily work horse. It is truly a remarkable piece of equipment for what it does and how much it costs.

I’m sure many users have their own “favorite accessories list” (Please share with us), but for now I’ve decided to share my list with the community.

1. Cage

For me, a good cage is one that can seamlessly “blend” into the camera without interrupting when using it. Furthermore, it should enhance some of the camera functionalities and compensate on its weaknesses. (securing an HDMI cable is a good example).

My preferred cage at the moment comes from a Korean company named Motion9. In such a crowded market, this cage does a good job supporting the camera. (mind you that we at cinema5D are working on a comprehensive Sony A7s cage review that will be published later this year).

Strengths:

  • Easy and secure attachment of Sony’s XLR K2m,  K1m or Sony’s UWP-D11 wireless receiver
  • Securing HDMI and audio cables is excellent with adjustable clamp.
  • Removable top handle
  • Support button on the cage to help removing lenses

Weaknesses: 

  • All cage adjustments require tools (Allen keys)
  • The cage is very tight on the camera and removing it requires a great amount of time
  • Attaching/detaching motion9’s “ROD RISER” (a 15mm rods support attachment) is a very painful process

2. Variable neutral density filter

In this category I would like to point out 2 outstanding products/solutions. The Vizelex ND Throttle Adapter for Canon EF/EF-S Lenses to Sony NEX Cameras from Fotodiox and XUME lens adapter.

The Vizelex ND Throttle Adapter is simply a genius solution!. Forget screwing/unscrewing a variable ND filter in-front of your lens every time you change one. With this solution the variable ND filter is behind your lens so managing the filter between different lenses is not an issue.

The XUME on the other hand, is a great solution if you have a good variable ND filter and several electronic/manual lenses. With the XUME you just screw a magnetic ring onto your ND filter and another magnetic lens adapter ring on all of your lenses and voila!, you can move your ND filter between lenses in a fast, convenient and secure way. Note:  Be sure to choose the correct lens diameter, otherwise you won’t be able to use the wide angle side of the lens as it will appear in your frame

Vizelex ND Throttle Adapter:

Strengths: 

  • Modestly priced
  • No “cross” effect
  • Very easy to use
  • Well built

Weakness: 

  • Works with manual lenses only

3. XUME lens adapter

Strengths: 

  • Modestly priced
  • Excellent magnetic power

Weakness: 

  • Nothing I could find

4. Sound

One of the great things with the Sony A7s is its audio capability. After years of using external audio recorders and later syncing audio in post, there comes this camera and changes it all. Its general audio quality is good but if you are really looking for a way to take your sound set-up one step further, use one of Sony’s audio XLR adapters. (XLR-K1M, XLR-K2M). For my documentary work I use the XLR-K2M. It is cheaper and gets the same results as its more expensive brother.

Strengths: 

  • Easy to use
  • Significantly expands the camera audio capability
  • “Wireless” solution
  • Allows “Auto audio level” when needed. (not possible without the attachment)

Weaknesses: 

  • Expensive
  • When connected to the camera, you probably won’t be able to attach a cage handle to your cage (XLR-K2M)
  • Because of the nature of direct hot-shoe connectivity, time will tell if it’s becomes faulty after extensive usage

5. Powering

The supplied Sony A7s camera batteries are just OK. (I guess this is why Sony decided to ship the camera with 2 original ones). The batteries weakness becomes more obvious when the XLR-K1M or K2M sound attachment is connected to the camera especially when “Phantom power” is turned “on”. The way I solved this problem is by using “IndiPRO Tools” powering solution and in particular the IndiPRO Tools POWER POD Quad. If you are like me and also have many unused Canon LP-6 batteries lying around, then this is the perfect modestly priced solution for you too. Together with the IndiPRO Tools 69SA7  (A7s dummy battery), your camera will run forever.

Strengths: 

  • Can fit on the camera, on a cage or the back of your rig
  • Buy the battery solution once and then according to the camera you want to power, choose the “dummy battery” you need
  • Lasts forever
  • A smaller dual battery version exists. (IndiPRO Tools POWER POD Dual)

Weaknesses: 

  • With any of those battery solution,  you are defeating in a way the purpose of a small sized camera

The following two categories are not specifically related to the Sony A7s but I decided to include them anyway! 

6. Slider

I travel a lot for work, so for me the most important thing when it comes to choosing a slider is a lightweight design, portability, length and its travel smoothness that should have some resistance. After testing many different models, I went back to my simple slider from Glidetrack. It’s 60cm long (25”), very durable and extremely easy to use. Somehow, the rubber parts on the carriage (the ones who are touching the slider), probably got dry so the result is more resistance during travel…

glidetrack SD 3

 

 

 

 

Strengths: 

  • Cheap
  • Small
  • Portable
  • Lightweight
  • Fast and easy set-up (no belts or other moving parts)

Weaknesses:

  • No fancy motor
  • Limited load capacity
  • Only good for basic slider movements

7. Tripod legs and fluid head

I’m not sure how many of you have heard the name “Really Right Stuff“. It is a US based family company which produces very high quality tripods, sliders and such. I can best describe their products as the “Apple equivalent” of the tripod world. Expensive, desirable and it simply works.

For a long time I was looking for a small high quality tripod that could accompany me in my journeys without sacrificing flexibility. It had to be lightweight, strong, go high/low enough if needed and most importantly, the fluid head must be perfect. I was very happy to see that most of my wishes got fulfilled with the “Really Right Stuff” tripod.  Please note, that their quickset/tripod adapter plate is not the common market standard. It will require adjusting to the new system and that can be costly.

The tripod legs I’m currently using are TVC-34 Versa Series 3.  The fluid head is FH 350.

The video above shows the TVC-33 tripod which is similar to the TVC-34 in many ways.

Strengths: 

  • The ability to move the fluid head to lets say slider, in a flip of a knob
  • Robust yet lightweight and very portable
  • Tilt rang -90 to +90 degris
  • Great easy to use secure clamp lever

Weaknesses:  

  • Expensive
  • Not a standard tripod plate
  • No illuminated balance bulb
  • Vertical movement tension (tilt damping) is located in the “wrong” right hand side.

Final Words

Sony a7S accessories are currently in high demand and sales are booming. Video equipment of course always is the personal preference of a  cameraman. Let us know in the comments: What are your favourite Sony A7S Accessories?

Leave a Comment

You are not subscribed to this post. Follow new comments

Login to comment

Kevin Alexander Reply
Kevin Alexander May 4, 2015

Thanks for this, Johnnie. I’m thinking about trading in some of my old gear to get the A7S, and this post is very helpful. One question for you… Which version of the Metabones adapter do you use? And how well does it work?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 4, 2015

Hi Kevin. Good to hear from you again!.

Simply put, the Sony A7s is a very capable versatile camera.
Regarding Metabones. I use version IV. It is just OK. Forget auto focus (for single operator gimbal use) and the camera will lose contact to the lens from time to time. Currently there is no other alternative. We tried different solutions from other (Chinese) manufacturers but all had either light leak/flare or connection problems.

Take care

Johnnie

Reply
Manuel May 4, 2015

Thanks for the post! Where did you buy the RRS tripod and tripod head? I’m living in Germany and can’t find any good resellers for their products

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 4, 2015

Hi Manuel.

I got the tripod head during one of my work trips. As far as I know there is no German distributor for their products but I will double check and let you know.

Thanks!

Johnnie

Vlad Box Rojas Reply
Vlad Box Rojas May 4, 2015

For the Glidetrack, I use a little bitt of vaseline on the rails and usually that works a charm. Great tips.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 5, 2015

Hi VBR.

Thanks for the useful tip!
For now the resistance caused by the dry rubber is perfect for smooth sliding…:)

J.

Reply
Miklos Nemeth May 5, 2015

Thanks, Johnnie for sharing your experience. The ND throttle would be excellent for FD, MD, OM, Leica M (sic!), Nikon AI/D lenses but since I cannot set the aperture on EOS or Nikon G lenses it’s usefullness is really limited. The hack shown on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKAZ7HdKpm0 is really a cumbersome workaround. I am not sure if Vizelex made an FD-NEX throttle, that would be really cool and hack-free.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 5, 2015

Hi Miklos.

I use the ND throttle solely with my Samyang and old Angenieux (Leica R with EOS adapter ring) manual aperture lenses.

No FD-NEX throttle solution as far as I know. Only FD-to Micro Four Thirds (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1086045-REG/fotodiox_ndthrtl_fd_mft_vizelex_nd_throttle_adapter.html)

Thanks!

Johnnie

Reply
Miklos Nemeth May 5, 2015

Thank You, Johnnie for the clarification. Brilliant! How silly I was, I could even use my Nikon AI/D lens collection on the EOS-NEX throttle with an F/EF adatper ring. You’ve shown me a new perspective of the Vizelex EOS-NEX. The Fotodiox demo is total BS. Thank you again for the great idea/notion/tip/hint. Miklos

Benjamin Neal Carroll Reply
Benjamin Neal Carroll May 7, 2015

There actually is a FD-NEX adapter… it looks like it was recently released. I just ordered one.
https://www.fotodioxpro.com/vizelex-nd-throttle-adapter-canon-fd-lens-to-sony-nex-emount-lens-adapter-with-built-in-variable-nd-filter.html

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 7, 2015

Benjamin, good catch.

Thanks for sharing!

Johnnie

Reply
Miklos Nemeth May 7, 2015

Thank you Benjamin for the link! If only all my wishes were fulfilled so quickly! An FD-NEX is a much better option to me, since I have mostly FD and Nikon AI lenses. The Nikon-FD adapter rings available on ebay work brilliantly and quite inexpensive for their high quality. For my APS-C E-mount cameras I use (a hell very expensive) Metabones FD-NEX SpeedBooster with the NIK-FD adapter ring. If only Matebones made a SpeedBooster with built in ND filter, that would be excelent for videographers using FS7, FS700, FS100, A5100, A6000.

Reply
Miklos Nemeth May 7, 2015

Oh I just wanted to mean the ND filter would be great for FS100, A5100 and A6000 videographers. The FS7 and FS700 already have their own ND filter.

Reply
Miklos Nemeth May 5, 2015

I was hesitating a hell lot whether to buy a Sony’s XLR adapter vs a Tascam DR-60D/Zoom H5. Sony made a huge mistake that its XLR adapters have NO 3.5mm (stereo) output jack. I have multiple cameras, and I wanted an XLR solution that works with all of my cameras. Both the Tascam DR-60D or the Zoom H5 XRL adapter are much less expensive than any of the Sony XLR adapters. A Tascam DR-60D/Zoom H5 is much more versatile, great sound quality, and they can be used with any video camera that has a microphone input jack. I record sound both on the Tascam/Zoom as well as link the sound into the camera either. Another disadvantage of the XLR is that it eats the power from the tiny battery of A7S. What do you think, my Friend? I love your reports, reviews. Miklos

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 5, 2015

Miklos.

Wish we were living at the same town, then I would have lend you my XLR-K2M and guaranty you would never use your DR-60 with that camera again….:))

-Audio quality is great
-Less cables to deal with
-No need to sync in post
-Total Professional control
-Press REC once

True, it is “eating” batteries but there are ways to “combat” it.

The Tascam DR-60 is good!. I’m still using it with my Canon 1DC but with the A7s it feels completely unnecessary. Additionally, the XLR-K1M/K2M are comparable with many other Sony cameras. I can imagine the A7s is NOT the last camera I buy from Sony…

And most important, try before you buy!!

Thank you Miklos!

Johnnie

Reply
Pho May 7, 2015

How to combat XLR-K2M from eating batteries, please?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 7, 2015

Hi Pho

See indipro solution in the article above.

Thanks!

Johnnie

Josiah Burdick Reply
Josiah Burdick May 5, 2015

I would also take a look at the Juiced Link offerings. I have been using their products for years, and while all the pluses are the same with them: phantom power, super high quality mic pre’s, already synced up, usable with other cameras – you have none of the negatives.

You can run for days on one 9V battery, so it is not draining the cameras bat. It truly is superb quality. You have gain nobs built right in for quick adjustments. I would highly recommend them.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 5, 2015

Hi Josiah,

Thanks for sharing!.

Johnnie

Steve Townsend Reply
Steve Townsend May 6, 2015

Hi Johnnie brilliant review. I have a lot of RRS bits and pieces which I have used for years with my Canon and now Sony cameras. I got into this using their pano heads and camera L brackets. Really recommend but all of their gear is always so expensive, especially us in the UK having to pay the big shipping charges. Been looking at that 350 head and just decided to go for it. Anyway not why I am commenting. But love that ND Throttle device. Will be superb with my 17mm TSE lens and 24mm TSE for video and especially time lapse. These TSE lenses are two lenses I find you probably don’t want to use wide open for critical focus because of the swing facility built in to the lens so I was very interested in the ‘aperture hack’. Also with a smaller aperture you then don’t have to provide so much ND which suits many scenarios. Interested if you have tried the hack? I have a 5D so I could do it, but a bit much to carry around to change aperture of the A7s and A7ii cameras. Maybe I could do the hack with my Metabones adapter (which by the way is rubbish for electrical misconnection I find).

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 6, 2015

Hi Steve.

You are absolutely right. RRS stuff is a bit too expensive but the quality is second to none. It is also a pity those guys don’t have a proper European distributing chain.

Regarding the ND Throttle. I did not try the hack and have no intention to do so. The XUME is a better alternative for me. I can freely use my Canon lenses and attach my favourite high quality Vari ND filter to any of them with no hassle…..

I use the Throttle only with my old angenieux lens and the Samyangs.
I’m also not so happy with the electronic misconnection of the Metabones adapter, but all the others I’ve tried were even worse….

Thank you!

Johnnie

Bob Krist Reply
Bob Krist May 6, 2015

Johnnie: Excellent review, thank you. Have you noticed any sharpness degradation with the Vizelex? I’m not thrilled with mine and I wonder if it’s just a bad copy.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 6, 2015

Dear Bob, good to see you here again!

I will double check myself as I can see that some people are complaining about lose of sharpness and light penetration to the adapter. As I wrote before, I’m using the Vizelex only with my old angenieux lens and the Samyangs and didn’t encounter any specific problem but it’s my duty to double check myself now that I see others complaining.

Thank you!

Johnnie

Bob Krist Reply
Bob Krist May 6, 2015

Thank you, as always, Johnnie!

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 6, 2015

Bob, thank you!

Johnnie

Reply
Herb Kronenberg May 6, 2015

What are your main lenses on a7s?
I can’t decide between Canon 24-105 F4 IS, Tamron 24-70 F2.8 VC, Sigma 24-105 F4 OS.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 6, 2015

Hi Herb.

Tokina 11-16mm, Canon 24-105 F4 IS, Canon 70-200 F4 IS

Sorry, I have no experience With the above Tamron and Sigma lenses.

Thank you!

Johnnie

Reply
Alex May 6, 2015

+1 on the Motion9 cage. Fantastic build quality and super useful.

Reply
Emil May 6, 2015

Hi Johnny
Can the Sony UWP-D11 send an audio signal directly through the hot shoe of the A7s? And is it then possible to attach a shotgun mic through the mini jack cable and then get 2 channel audio without the xlr-adapter?
Many thanks
Emil

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 7, 2015

Hi Emil.

-Can the Sony UWP-D11 send an audio signal directly through the hot shoe of the A7s YES!
You will need this part Sony SMAD-P3. (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1079814-REG/sony_smad_p3_multi_interface_shoe_adapter.html)

-Is it then possible to attach a shotgun mic through the mini jack cable and then get 2 channel audio without the xlr-adapter? Never tried it but I guess the answer is no

Thank you!

Johnnie

Reply
Emil Danio May 7, 2015

Thanks for the swift reply Johnnie!

Guillaume Juin Reply
Guillaume Juin May 11, 2015

Hey thanks a lot,
I’d say you should have mentioned that little trick, which I have, and is REALLY nice, so you can see clearly in your EVF in strong sunlight (beacause light does enter from the sides of your eyes when you use the original A7S plastic eyecup). and it is more confortable! And VERY cheap. NO DOWNSIDES!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41-ppJ4fUeo&feature=youtu.be

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 12, 2015

Hi Guillaume

You are right! Forgot to mention the obvious…
I actually work with a padded version of the eyecup put on top of the rubber.

Thanks!

Johnnie

Reply
Miklos Nemeth May 12, 2015

Is that padded version of the eyecup an icuff, Johnnie?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 12, 2015

Hi Miklos

Answered your comment on the Canon XC10 review page but for the benefit of other members of the community, here is the link: http://c5d.at/cushion

Thanks!

Johnnie

Mako Koiwai Reply
Mako Koiwai May 15, 2015

Make sure your chosen head has counter springs and balance slide capabilities. You want to be able to step away from the camera without locking the Tilt … without worrying that the camera will fall over. Especially important when using longer lenses, ie. 70/200. I use the Manfrotto 503 … there are newer ones: http://dancarrphotography.com/blog/2010/05/31/manfrotto-503-hdv-tripod-head-review/

Reply
Johnnie Behiri May 18, 2015

Hi Mako.

You are right about “counter springs and balance slide capabilities”.

The Manfrotto 503 has a long way to go to match the build quality and performance of RRS FH 350.

Thanks!

Johnnie

Reply
jonathan tait May 18, 2015

Any good rigs or stabilisers for the A7s yet?

Reply
Renaat Ceulenaere July 24, 2015

We try to use FE-lenses and not to be bothered with adapters.
With the G28135mm, 16-35mm, 90mm macro you cover a lot for premium picture/video
Just needed high quality ND what I tested here: https://vimeo.com/133749268
the NISI variable ND -2.5 to -6 stops without any artifacts made for Hasselblad but works perfect on the G28135

Reply
Johnnie Behiri July 28, 2015

Hi Renaat, thanks for sharing the info!

A good 95mm variable ND filter is certainly something to ask for.

Reply
Renaat Ceulenaere September 22, 2015

This is this only one: several G28135 users were looking for months to find the right one. It does not leave any more my lens when outside, despite having the top fix ND Schneider MPTV IR.

Reply
Eric Bogan September 18, 2015

I can not find any info on the “XUME lens adapter” as far as if there is a keying mechanism to keep it from spinning. On other magnetic filter holders, using them with a variable ND is a two hand deal since the magnet adapter spins. This is a negative as far as I ma concerned.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri September 21, 2015

Hi Eric.

If I understand you correctly, nothing is spinning on the magnet side. Only the Vari ND does…

Thanks!

Johnnie

Reply
Eric Bogan September 21, 2015

No, on the other magnetic filter holders I have used the whole mounting unit spins (magnetic side) which makes one handed us of a variable ND a two handed affair. You need to stop the magnetic holder from spinning so you can adjust the VND. Not impossible but a pain to use (but better than not having a VND).