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Does the Sony FX6 even need a shoulder rig?
Well, in short, no! It’s not completely necessary to build a Sony FX6 shoulder rig. There is nothing wrong with taking the camera out of it’s box, popping a battery in and starting to shoot. There are many scenarios where this would be perfectly fine.
But, like with any tool, customising and accessorising it to your specific needs can transform it into a near perfect workhorse (and make your on-set life a whole lot easier)!
There are a many different ways to rig your FX6 and that’s what I’m going to cover in this series of articles.
Some rigs are built due to personal preference on how people like to shoot, some rigs are necessary for larger productions and some rigs are built to be light and nimble.
The rigging options in this series are simply how I like to setup the camera for different types of video production. A lot of this comes down to personal preference and there isn’t really a right or wrong way to customise your camera, this is meant to give you some ideas on how to rig your own FX6.
So grab yourself a cup of coffee, get comfortable and dim the fresnels, it’s time to geek out on some camera rigs.
Part 1: Sony FX6 on a shoulder rig
A lot of DPs / Camera Operators will say just get an FX9 if you want to run a Sony camera off the shoulder which, to be fair, they have a point.
However, the beauty of the FX6 is how light and small it is. The flexibility it brings with being able to strip it down or dress it up depending on the shoot is what adds to making this such a popular camera.
Sony FX6 shoulder rig.
My previous A-cam was the Sony FS7 which I used for shoulder work on a daily basis.
My biggest issue was the balance, it was always front heavy which put most of the weight on my arms. The FS7 is comparatively light but once lens, matte box, receivers, monitors etc. were added it felt quite heavy by the end of the day.
My goal when researching how I could shoulder mount the Sony FX6 to make it as compact and centre balanced as possible. This would in theory make the pictures more stable, as well as being more comfortable at work.
I wanted the shoulder pad to be under the centre / towards the front half of the camera with batteries, monitors and / or transmitters to be at the back.
After looking around at options I bought a few different parts from different brands. I couldn’t find one solution from the same company that did everything I was looking for.
Base plate with shoulder pad
I decided to go with the Chrosziel 401-FX6 light weight support for a few reasons.
Adjustable shoulder pad
The pad is easily adjustable forward and backwards – I can adjust the centre of gravity on the shoulder without tools in 5 seconds. If I have a light lens, I’ll lock the pad under the centre of the camera, If I put the 70-200 2.8 on for example, I’ll move the shoulder pad forward 10mm to adjust for the additional weight on the front.
There is a thumb screw on the shoulder pad to move it back and forth quickly.
The front of the base plate has two Hirth rosettes (Arri compatible). I use the right side to attach a shape hand grip extension.
The back has space for 15mm rails via a rail mount which are an additional purchase. I decided not to go for these at the moment as I wanted to keep the length of the camera as compact as possible. There are 4 1/4″ and 3/4″ screw points at the back, which I use to mount the wireless video transmitter when needed.
The right rosette with the shape hand grip extender. Fast, easily collapsed and with a lot of range with positioning of the handgrip.
The left side isn’t used but it can easily be used to mount an additional handle for more stability.
This baseplate can connect to a tripod using standard VCT plates, Sachtler, Manfrotto quick release and I imagine, many others.
This is super helpful as this means I can use any of my tripods without swapping them all over to VCT plates.
For the top plate, I didn’t want to go over the top (no pun intended)! I just needed a few additional mounting points for sound recordists to mount their receivers and any other bits and bobs that came along.
The Tilta FX6 top plate was the one I went with due to it being relatively lightweight, it’s made specifically for the Sony FX6 and it has 15mm rod clamps, which I use for securing the v-mount plate at the back.
V-mount battery plate
Tilta make two versions of the v-mount battery plate:
- Type 1:
This version connects directly to the FX6 BP battery plates on the camera. This is a good option for camera operators who use lighter v-mount batteries and don’t need to hot swap.
I was a little concerned with putting the full weight of larger v-mount batteries directly on the cameras internal battery pins which were not designed to hold that much extra weight.
I also didn’t want to risk the camera losing power in the event the v-mount connections or the battery itself failing unexpectedly.
- Type 2
This is the version I opted to go for. The plate is supported from the rails on the top plate, which means there is minimal stress caused on the camera itself.
The plate powers the camera via the 19.5v DC in port.
With this setup, I usually power the camera with a Sony BP-U battery and power all of the accessories via the v-mount battery. The battery plate has 3 x D-tap and 1 x USB outputs.
Combined with the outputs on my SmallRig v-mount batteries I have all the power options I need.
Overall the v-mount battery plate is ok.
My main criticism is the short length of the power cable from the plate to the DC input on the camera.
When I need to swing up the plate in order to hot swap a battery in the camera or even access the SD card slot, it’s very very tight, I can usually just manage it with the cable still connected to the camera when changing a smaller BP-35 battery but ideally, an extra 3cm on the cable would just make it much easier.
I have no idea why Tilta decided to make this cable so short.
The Tilta battery plate for the Sony FX6
Viewfinder & Loupe
There are a few ways to monitor your picture when you are using the FX6 on a shoulder rig. This can be an external monitor, the stock monitor or a third party viewfinder.
It’s quite popular to purchase an FX9 loupe which fits natively to the stock monitor on the FX6. I still have my old FS7as a backup camera so I swapped out the loupe and luckily it fit!
This brings me to what is widely known as one of the main frustrations when mounting the camera on your shoulder – loupe droop! The stock monitor mount on the FX6 is not designed to handle the additional weight of the attached loupe.
The Full Frame Flop Stop caught my attention. It’s not in stock at the time of writing but once it arrives and I’ve tested it out, I’ll come back to you with my thoughts.
Until that arrives, I’m using a rubber band to add friction. I’m not proud of it and a solution can’t come quickly enough.
Update: June 2023
The viewfinder Flop Stop has arrived and it’s been installed. What a great little find this has been!
I had originally ordered the Vocus Support Bracket, which was on backorder. After waiting over a month, I decided to cancel the order and try out the flop stop from Full Frame Camera which was 1/4 of the price. It was also out of stock but actually arrived within a couple of weeks.
It took 10 minutes to install and it’s works really well! Simple, lightweight and it’s fixed the viewfinder droop issue using it’s little magnets.
Installing the bracket took a few minutes with screws and keys included in the box.
The matte box on the lens is a Tilta Mirage which is sometimes used with polariser filters and ND filters. It’s useful to be able to add a touch of ND when the lowest 1/4 stop on the internal ND is just a tad too dark.
The Tilta Mirage matte box with ND filters.
Points to note + pros and cons
The other accessories on this shoulder rig are fairly straight forward. As mentioned, the wireless video transmitter is mounted on the 1/4″ mounting point at the back, the 5″ Portkeys monitor is usually mounted on the stock top handle, which is used when I bring the camera down for a waist high or ground level shot.
I have a cold shoe on the right side of the top plate for sound recordists receivers etc. and an Easyrig quick release ball screwed in to the stock top handle. If you do this as well, make sure you either use a rubber washer or fasten the ball stud onto the top handle with some pliers and periodically check this is still screwed in tight!
One thing I would say when building your Sony FX6 shoulder rig is try to use what you already have in your existing kit. I always try and give camera accessories a new life after a camera is retired.
In the above rig, the hand grip extender is originally from my FS7, the view finder is also from the FS7. Re-using these parts has saved me over $1000 AUD. The FS7 is now a backup camera / third angle camera on occasional shoots, in this situation, I would rarely have the need for two viewfinder loupes.
This shoulder rig definitely does somewhat take the ‘spirit’ away from the FX6 being a small, nimble cine camera, but as I mentioned at the start of this article, for certain projects, there is a need to build this camera up.
The rig definitely adds some weight, but using with an Easyrig or similar mitigates this significantly and I can comfortably run this rig off the shoulder for a few hours without too much discomfort.
I recently used this Sony FX6 shoulder rig on a reality TV shoot here in Adelaide and it performed really well. It was quick to take from a tripod onto the shoulder with everything on board to make the shoot run smoothly.
If you have any further suggestions to make this better, feel free to add them in the comments below.