My Compact Rig / Sony FX3 Camera Rig
Okay so kinda wild, but I posted a photos on instagram like I normally do, and BOOM... it went semi viral. Everyone wanted to know how I rigged out my FX3, what parts, where to get them, etc. So I thought the easiest way, rather than DM'ing every single person, was to write the blog with all the link and talk about exactly why and how I use every part to make the rig work for my shooting style. The one think I want you to understand before you go any further is that this doesn't have to be for a Sony FX3, any smaller mirrorless or larger cinema camera can be rigged out in a similar way, all you need is the universal pieces, and then some camera specific pieces! And I will try and specify which ones are universal, and which ones are going to be specific for your camera so you know before you buy.
So now you've seen the beautiful little compact rig, it's a handheld rig, that can easily be popped onto a tripod, and built for the filmmaker who HATES when cables are everywhere and doesn't want to keep adding useless parts and pieces to a camera rig for all this added weight without any real benefit. She's minimalist, sexy, and oh so light. I made this rig for myself, but my wife stole it and fell in love with shooting this exact set up (plus a shotgun mic) for wedding days. Below is a photos of all the parts and pieces, missing just the camera, that I used to build this compact rig.
So here's how I build it out.
This plate is universal, it's a 15mm rod baseplate from small rig.
This is what you attach the rods into, but ALSO attaches to the camera through 1/4 inch screws (one or two depending on your camera) at the bottom. This baseplate is the foundation of this Rig.
TO BUY - https://amzn.to/3pcFsqn
This is a universal V-mount plate from small rig, that has 1/4 inch holes all over the place for versatile mounting, in any direction on basically any camera. The baseplate itself comes with a 15mm rod mount that you can mount to rails, but I decided to put that aside and mount it to the baseplate so I can get a tighter more compact rig, and put the V-mount plate closer to the back of the camera to get rid of the gap between the plate and the camera. The photos below show the v-mount plate, and the v-mount plate attached to the 15mm rod baseplate. I took the 1/4 inch screws that came with the plate and screwed them into the baseplate, on the side of the small rig logo.
TO BUY - https://amzn.to/3LWukrG
These are universal 15mm rods from small rig, that come in a ton of different lengths, so that length you buy will depend on what you need. They also come in aluminum or carbon fiber.
The rods I choose are 6 inch carbon fiber rods, which are a good fit for most prime lenses. If I put on a larger lens, like a 70-200mm or something that is bigger, I will change the rods out for longer rods. So you take those rods and side them into the two holes in the baseplate, pushing them all the way in as far as they can go, and then lock them down. And at this point you should have something that looks like the picture below.
TO BUY - https://amzn.to/3sePQjq
For this rig, I built out my Sony FX3, but depending on what camera you have, you might need a different cage, but at this point it should fit most cameras. And now, once you attach the baseplate to the v-mount plate and add the rods, you can screw your camera onto the baseplate. I screwed the FX3 onto the baseplate with one 1/4 screw at the bottom. Below are some photos from the bottom and the back to show you what your rig should look like at this step. You can see the v-mount plate is very close to the back of the camera, so you will loose your ability to flip out your screen, but that's okay since we are adding a monitor that can output the screen from the camera.
Now we add the cage, specifically I am using the small rig camera cage for the FX3, but only the nato rail on top. It might seem like a waste, but it's necessary to mount the handle, and you can use the entire cage if you want, I just opted for this compact rig to get rid of excess weight. Small rig makes a ton of different cages for a ton of different cameras, so just look for a cage that you like for your camera that you can mount a top handle to.
TO BUY - https://amzn.to/3LTps6z
I went with a small rig top handle for this one, now they make a TON of handles so it's okay if you get overwhelmed. I linked the similar one that I am using below, because the one I am using turns out to be discontinued. You can also use an arri pin top handle as well. Biggest thing is to check the top of your camera cage and make sure you have the appropriate mount for the handle you want. The photo of the handle will be shown in the next section with the monitor mount.
TO BUY - https://amzn.to/3hbMiIp
Monitor mounts are a lot like top handles, it really depends on what top handle you have, and that dictates what monitor mount you need/want. The top handle I am using is a nato with 1/4 inch screws and arri pin in front. So the monitor mount that will fit the top handle linked above is a 1/4 inch screw mount linked below.
TO BUY - https://amzn.to/3Io2tys
This photo shows the FX3 cage nato rail, with the small rig top handle and monitor mount attached.
Atomos Shinobi External Monitor & IKAN HDMI Cable
The monitor I am using is the Atomic Shinobi 5.2" 4K HDMI external monitor. I love Atomos, I've used them for as long as I can remember, and I really wouldn't want to use any other monitor (and I've tried them all)! Monitors can come in HDMI or SDI, or both, so this one specifically is HDMI. This monitor is just a monitor, but Atomos does make the NinjaV which is an external recorder as well. But that's for another blog.
I love the Atomos monitors because of their high NIT and reliability, and when you shoot video outside, you basically NEED one or you are just guessing when it comes to exposure and focus.
So since this monitor is HDMI, I also linked my favorite HDMI cords. This is the infamous yellow HDMI that everyone on instagram asks me about, and it's make by IKAN. I think one of the most important things to have backups if you could only choose one, would be your HDMI cord. I also prefer shorter ones so your cables aren't getting all tangled up and caught on everything. So this cord is 1.5 feet long, and I find this a pretty good length, but they also come in 3 feet. They also come in different "flavors"; full HDMI, mini HDMI, and micro HDMI. Depending on your camera, this will determine what kind of cable you need to output to a monitor. But most monitors will have a full HDMI.
***I turn my camera screen off to conserve battery, and output the camera screen to the monitor. It's a specific setting in the new Sony menu under, tools, external output, HDMI info display, OFF. That way, the monitor acts as my camera screen, PLUS any of the monitor features like zebra, focus peaking, and histograms. This way you just have a bigger screen with a higher NIT and more accurate picture displayed.
TO BUY MONITOR - https://amzn.to/3BLktQA
TO BUY HDMI - https://amzn.to/35itwMO
Shotgun Microphone & Mount
In my original post, I didn't have a microphone, but so many people were complaining that it didn't have a microphone so I decided to mount a mic to show you that it's totally an option you can add, if you know you are going to be wanting that on camera audio.
Some of my favorite compact mics are the Sennheiser MKE 200, MKE 400, and you can also opt for a Rode mic even though they tend to be a little bit bigger.
I added the mic onto the 15mm rods with a shoe mount that you slip the mic into. I opted for this to keep the mic further away from me, and also further away from the Lens to minimize operator sounds and lens focusing sounds.
TO BUY MKE 200 MIC - https://amzn.to/3IiRHJw
TO BUY MKE 400 MIC - https://amzn.to/3LTq6kv
TO BUY MOUNT - https://amzn.to/3hcys8G
Some of my favorite V-mount batteries on the market right now are the FX Lion nano series. They are small, lightweight, portable, and give you a ton of options for changing with different ports. The one I am using currently is the Nano one 50WH. For me, it lasts about 3-4 hours, and I have it powering just the camera, so I don't have to fiddle with taking out batteries from the camera. And I power the camera through USB-C. I don't use any dummy batteries, so I do have a full battery in there, and the V-mount just keeps that battery charged for longer periods. So this is where the V-mount plate from the beginning comes into play, all you are doing is mounting the battery onto that plate, and then connecting it to the camera through USB-C.
TO BUY - https://amzn.to/35mAyQu
This USB-c took me hours to find on Amazon and a lot of returns, but I finally found the perfect USB-c cord. It's about a 6" angled USB-c cord to plug into the v-mount battery and into the camera. If you know anything about me you know I am a stickler for cables and keeping rigs tidy, so having just the right cables is a huge thing for me so it doesn't look like a rats nest.
TO BUY - https://amzn.to/3sg9D27
Tilta Mini Matte Box
This matte box is super light and pretty much on my camera 90% of the time, even when I'm on a gimbal. Most people don't know what a matte box is or does, they just think it looks cool and want one. So I'm here to let you know why you need one in one sentence. It's basically like a hat for your lens, so it should fit tight and have no gaps. That's why I am using the mini matte box, it's made for anything from about 50mm to 86mm lens diameters. It comes with adapter rings to mount it to basically any lens.
TO BUY - https://amzn.to/3H9MrXm
Till next time,