by Johnnie Behiri | 4th May 2015
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… 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?Read more
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