The Best Sony A7s Cage of them All? – 6 Cages Reviewed

best-sony-a7s-cage

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Varavon Armor II a7S Cage

Korean manufacturer Varavon is famous for their unique and intelligent designs. They were among the first to ever build viewfinder loupes when DSLR’s started to shoot video back in 2008 and they have been making a variety of great products ever since. Here’s their Armor II a7S Cage that has some very useful features up its sleeves.

best-sony-a7s-cage

best-sony-a7s-cage

HDMI cable protector quality

a7s-greenThis implementation of a cable protector is really really nice. There are screws on both sides of the cage. The black screws can be setup with an allen key if needed and will press against your cable from the back. The red thumbscrews press against the cable from the other side and jam it in place. Actually using just the red thumbscrews was sufficient to lock our HDMI cable perfectly in place and the black screws were not needed.

It’s easy to adjust and it’s toolless. Perfect.

On the downside we found the shape of the cage bends the cables a little bit to the back side of the camera, but not in a way that it would raise our concern.

best-sony-a7s-cage
best-sony-a7s-cage

Access to other outputs on the side

a7s-greenThere is very good access to all ports on the side and with the cable protector you can lock down each cable. Access to the doors is also easy.

Ease of assembly and disassembly

a7s-doublegreenAssembling and disassembling the Varavon Armor II a7S Cage is so simple and fast it’s a perfect example of how a great cage should handle this aspect. At the base the screw has a thumb clamp that lets you lock the camera without any tools. It takes 3 seconds to assemble this cage. Double-green lights!

best-sony-a7s-cage

best-sony-a7s-cage

How securely is the camera attached to the cage?

a7s-greenThe camera sits very securely in this housing. The two fittings on the front help stabilise and lock it to the cage.

Possible to use the Sony XLR-K2M audio module?

a7s-greenYes it’s possible to use the Sony XLR-K2M with this cage, but you will have to relinquish the handle like on most other cages except the Skier LiteCage for A7.

By the way, in theory this cage also works with the Skier Lite Cage handle. We could fit it onto the Varavon cage together with the audio module. Unfortunately we found the handle to be very loose and that’s why we could not recommend it.

Access to the lens release button

a7s-greenThere is nothing blocking the lens release button.


Baseplate mount quality

a7s-orangeUnfortunately this is where the Varavon Cage falls short. There is a large carved out area to accommodate the nice toolless base screw, but that doesn’t leave much of a surface for a tripod baseplate. Also there is just one 1/4″ thread. The tripod plate sits just firmly enough not to give this aspect a red light, so this could be improved.

best-sony-a7s-cage

Rod support quality

There is no rod support included with the Varavon Armor II a7S Cage and it is not available as an extra accessory.

However this cage comes with an entirely different approach: There is a mono-rod included in the package that attaches to a 15mm rod support on the side. This doesn’t help to get a mattebox in front of the camera, but it will support a single-rail follow focus like the edelkrone FocusOne. We didn’t have such a unit in office, but we assume it would work very well as the rod has an extremely firm seating in that single-rod support clamp. We actually used this rail to act as a handle to carry the rig around (not ideal, but works if you’re using the audio module).

best-sony-a7s-cage

best-sony-a7s-cage

Handle design

a7s-greenThe handle of the Varavon Armor II a7S Cage is a very solid construction that mounts firmly in any one of the many coldshoes available. It’s locked down with a 1/4″ thumbscrew.

A very nice touch are the 2 allen keys included within the handle itself. Even though basically all important adjustments on the cage are done with thumbscrews, it’s nice to have these two keys always at hand.

There is a removable coldshoe with a locking mechanism on top of the handle and there’s a 15mm evf support built into the handle design. Unfortunately this one can only be locked with one of the aforementioned allen keys.

There is a second rod support built into the front of the handle. See one of the first pictures in this review.

This handle would be perfect if it had the same shape as the Skier handle which fits the Sony audio module mentioned earlier.

best-sony-a7s-cage

best-sony-a7s-cage

best-sony-a7s-cage

Overall Ergonomics

a7s-doublegreenIn terms of ergonomics this cage has clearly deserved a double-green rating from us. There are so many useful and intelligent ideas built into this cage that make our lives as Sony A7s shooters easier.

It’s easy to tilt the LCD screen, there is a nice leather hand support on the right hand side and it accommodates CinEasy Touch mod that we like (helps trigger the rec button), even though this is a full cage.

Due to the full cage design there is protection on all sides. There is a total of 5 additional cold shoes (!) available on this cage (one is on the side)

There are many mounting points on all sides including 3/8 “ threads, one on each side, which makes a lot of sense as these are rarely used.

The most important adjustments on the cage can be done without tools, which is a big thing when you’re working under pressure (and which camera guy is not working under pressure?). And for those few rare cases where you need an allen key it’s included with magnetic attachments inside the handle.

The cage comes with a 15mm rod that you can optionally attach to the side of the cage to accommodate a single-rod follow focus like the edelkrone FocusOne. This rod can also act as an additional creative stabilization point or simply as a handle to carry the rig (not ideal, but works if you’re using the audio module).

best-sony-a7s-cage

best-sony-a7s-cage

best-sony-a7s-cage

best-sony-a7s-cage

Conclusion

This cage surprised and impressed us most and we gave it 10 green lights. This is the highest rating out of all cages in the test and makes it the definitive winner.

When using this cage you feel that someone took a lot of time to understand what shooters need in a cage for the Sony A7s. There are certainly different shooting styles, but this cage seems to tick most boxes of what one could need in terms of ergonomics, stability and mounting points.

There are numerous very intelligent ideas and we saw them evolve in a series of 2 different initial designs that ended up in this version of the cage. We would like to see more cages like this one and we are happy it is part this review. It is the most comprehensive contender and with its modest price this is by far the best option in this round of reviews.

 

Price: $305

Please consider getting your gear through the link above. Thank you

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Links to each A7s Cage Review:

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Dan Buck Joyce
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I bought this cheap Small Rig one from eBay, added my Wooden Camera handle, works a treat http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&alt=web&id=252029583313&globalID=EBAY-GB

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