Table of contents
Sony FX6 Handheld Rig - Keeping it simple
In part 2 of this series I’ll cover how I use the Sony FX6 handheld rig when I want to keep the rig light, nimble, quick and easy to capture lots of content with minimal fuss.
As we know, the Sony FX6 is a little beast of a camera right out of the box. Small, light, able to use on a gimbal and mount on in a range of places where larger cameras would struggle to fit.
Sony FX6 Minimal Rig.
Every camera operator has their own preferred way of working and this setup is intended to give you some inspiration on different ways to use the camera on various job types.
In part 1 I covered rigging a Sony FX6 with an off the shoulder setup which you might be interested in reading before continuing on.
Part 2 - Minimal Handheld Rig
As the title suggests, this setup has only the minimal accessories needed in order for me to use comfortably. I really love using the camera with this setup – especially for b-roll.
It’s super quick to change viewpoints and angles, very light and nimble and combined with an Easyrig, I can legitimately shoot for hours without barely feeling any weight fatigue on my arms & back.
The key to building this rig was to resist temptation of adding accessories that won’t be needed.
When capturing b-roll or shooting run & gun, my go to lenses are the 24-70 f2.8 mk2 G master and the 70-200 f2.8 mk2 G master.
Using these 2 lenses gives lots of options and variety in coverage. By keeping the lens I’m not using in it’s bag fastened to my waist using the Easyrig belt, I can switch lenses within 30 seconds. This reduces time having to go back to the kit bags to change lenses.
One negative when using the 24-70mm with the FX6 is neither the lens or the camera body has stabilisation. For the most part this isn’t a big issue, I tend to like a small amount of movement and the Easyrig helps to reduce micro jitters.
I occasionally use my Canon 24-105 f4 with the Sigma MC-11 for those moments where internal image stabilisation is required.
Sony 24-70mm f2.8 Mk2
External Camera Monitor
For me, when shooting handheld, an external camera monitor is crucial to make sure I’m nailing my focus.
I find the stock monitor is just a little too small for any critical focus unless using it with a viewfinder loupe.
I have a Smallrig 702 bright and a Portkeys LH5P 5″ monitor. I find 7 inches is just a tad too big for a minimal handheld rig. The Smallrig 702 is now primarily the directors or clients reference monitor.
The more I use the Portkeys monitor on board the Sony FX6, the more I’m liking it. I bought it primarily in order to have wireless camera control of the A7S3 when being used on the gimbal but apart from that (awesome) feature, it’s an excellent, crisp and bright standalone monitor in its own right.
I like to have the monitor at the back of the top handle and keep the stock monitor in its original position. By having the external monitor at the back of the top handle, the Easyrig cable is positioned behind the monitor and not obstructing my view in any way.
Portkeys LH5P mounted on the back of the top handle
With the Sony FX6 having it’s own internal ND’s, having a matte box, in my opinion, is not a crucial part of this rig. It is nice however to have an extended top flag to reduce sun glare / hair light glare.
The matte box I went with is the Tilta Mirage with variable ND. I primarily bought the matte box to use with the A7S3 on the gimbal. One of the best purchases I’ve made for sure!
I do find myself quite often adding just a touch of ND on the matte box when using the FX6. Sometimes there is that zone where no ND is too bright and the lowest ND setting of 1/4 ND is just a tad too dark. Adding a touch of ND with the matte box can help you nail that perfect exposure without sacrificing your preferred aperture or shutter speed.
Another benefit of using the matte box is being able to use one polariser filter on all of my lenses.
Being based in Adelaide, I often have filming assignments in the Outback or very harsh sunny locations in summer. Having a polariser available to all lenses definitely comes in handy from time to time.
I have been mounting the matte box on the 24-70mm without any issues or concerns.
On heavier lenses such as the 70-200mm I recommend either using a more heavy duty shoulder rig with rails to support the lens or being very careful and supporting the lens as much as possible with your hands.
I have noticed that there is a slight colour shift when engaging the Tilta Variable ND. It’s a warmer shift by a few hundred kelvin. It can quite easily be compensated for in post but it’s something to be aware of.
There has also been one occasion where I noticed a colour shift in just one part of the image. In my opinion, it is vital to have a LUT enabled when using a variable ND in order to see colours (and any potential colour shift) before you start to record.
Tilta Mirage with Variable ND mounted to the end of the lens.
Mounting to the tripod
This is super simple, I have a Manfrotto quick release underneath the camera which I quickly clip onto my tripod. The same could be said if you own a Sachtler or most other brands of tripod.
When I’m running this Sony FX6 handheld rig, I just keep it basic and use Sony BP-U batteries. 2 BP-U 60’s usually get me through a full shoot day as they are just running the camera.
I power the monitor using a Sony L-series battery, 1 battery usually lasts around 1.5 hours so having 4 or 5 of them in the bag gets me through a shoot day. I have in the past added the V-mount plate if I’m in a situation where I don’t want to be changing monitor batteries frequently but that does add weight and the purpose of this particular setup is to be as light and nimble as possible.
Keeping it simple! This setup is powered using the stock battery in the camera.
Final thoughts on the Sony FX6 handheld rig
In the scenario, I really love having the camera built in this way. There is something about being so nimble and light when shooting actuality or anything where being quick is the difference between getting the shot and missing it.
You don’t want to be in that situation where things are happening in front of you and you’re stuck changing lenses, or fixing that loose screw cable etc.
No setup is perfect, that is never going to happen but for run & gun type jobs where you’re using the camera for hours on end capturing a variety of camera angles, this rig paired with an Easyrig or similar is a joy to use.