You may have noticed that lots of videographers mount their cameras in a cage. That’s because they need to attach things like a mic, a light and a monitor – more than can be mounted via a single hotshoe. A cage makes it easy to attach all these things and it can give your camera a bit of extra protection. The downside, however, is that your camera is cluttered and cumbersome when you want to shoot stills.
SmallRig’s solution is the QR Half Cage. We tested the SmallRig QR Half Cage 2098 and Top Handle 1638 which is specifically designed for use with the Sony A7 III, A7R III, A7 II, A7R II and A7S II.
The QR Half Cage can be bought separately, but we paired it with the Top Handle 1678. This handle attaches easily via two hex bolts which are supplied along with a hex key.
Once it’s attached, the handle provides a good solid grip. It’s perfect for when you want to hold the camera out in front of your or at hip-level or lower. It also helps when you want to make smoothing panning movements.
Both the handle and the cage are made from aluminium alloy, which means they are light, weighing just 330g and 160g respectively.
The QR in QR Half Cage stands for Quick Release. That’s because the camera attached to the cage via a quick release plate. It means that you can pop the camera quickly in and out of the cage. It’s like swapping in and out of video and stills mode.
This quick release plate attaches to the camera with a slotted screw. That means you need to have a coin to hand to tighten it up. Not a major drama. However, the head of the screw sits inside a recess that’s a bit tight in one dimension for a coin. As a result, you have to fiddle about making small tightening movements. A hex socket would be a better solution.
On the plus side, the QR plate has a deep lip and this butts-up against the camera. It prevents the camera from twisting on the plate. The plate also locks into the cage securely and there’s a twin locking mechanism to keep your camera safe.
One thing to be aware of is that the plate is a Manfrotto 501PL type. These are used by larger video tripod heads rather than stills photography heads. However, there are 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch female threads on the base of the plate so you can attach another type of release plate if you need. Their location isn’t ideal, but it’s workable solution.
As its name might suggest, the QR Half Cage doesn’t encase the whole of the camera. This means that the grip is completely clear and free for use as normal. You can also access the buttons and dials as well as the battery bay and the card slots.
Without the handle attached, the camera’s hotshoe is also clear for use.
Over on the left side of the camera, the cage fits neatly around the cable ports. You have good access to all of them.
SmallRig has peppered the QR Half Cage 2098 and Top Handle 1638 with 1/4-inch and 3/4-inch thread holes and there’s an Arri locating point on the top. That means there are lots of places to mount accessories.
While the quick release plate design isn’t perfect, it locks into the Half Cage very securely. It can also be released in a jiffy, so your camera can shed its accessories quickly.
The Half Cage and Handle are both light and well made, having a high-quality finish with no nasty sharp edges. Together they provide plenty of scope for building a small rig around a Sony Alpha 7 camera.
It’s a great solution for anyone who wants to be able to remove their camera from a rig and pop it back in again on a frequent basis.