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  • Writer's pictureChadwin Smith

Building the Sony a6500 into a Mini Cinema Rig

Hey filmmakers, today I'm going to show you how to build the Sony a6500 into a mini cinema rig. This will also work with the a6000, the a6300, the a6400. And the brand new a6600. Obviously, the Sony a6500 is a tiny mirrorless camera and it can be very convenient for run and gun shoots and traveling and everything like that, but a lot of times you want a bigger camera rig for a handful of reasons.

By doing this build out, we're going to solve a lot of the issues that come with the Sony a6500. A big one is micro jitters. By adding all the weight and rails to this, it's going to make it so much easier to stabilize the sensor on this and get rid of that ugly digital vibrations that come with mirrorless cameras. We all know that the Sony cameras are notorious for terrible battery life. So once you throw that V mount battery on there, it's going to last you all day long and you don't have to worry about battery life again. Another thing that this build out solves in that same arena is the overheating issue. So, anyone that's used these cameras knows that when you're shooting in 4k for an extended period of time, the camera overheats. But once you use a V mount battery, the camera doesn't get nearly as hot and so the chances of it overheating goes way way down. Once we get a 5" monitor on there, it's so much brighter and easier to see if you're in focus and if you're exposed properly. Now that you know why I want to build this out into a cinema rig. Let's jump right into the build out.

The first thing we need is a cage. Every good build out starts with a cage and this one is from Smallrig You can get them from a whole bunch of different companies, but I always find that the Smallrig parts are really the cheapest and best for your value and just are so customizable, so many different things you can add.

Now we're going to add a quick release plate to the bottom of the cage. And I'm using one from Manfrotto it's called the RC2 and I really like this one because it's so small and it clicks in and out really fast from the quick release plate.

Next, we're going to add one of my favorite parts to the rig and that is this Sony e-mount adapter to canon EF. The beautiful thing about it is the variable ND filter is built into it. It makes it so easy to add ND to every single lens that you own, because it mounts here and then your lens mounts after it so you don't have to screw anything to the front of your lens and deal with all different thread sizes, and step up and step down rings. Now that we have the ND filter on there, let's get a lens on there and I'm going to be using the Rokinon Cine DS 50mm lens It's just a great go to lens for me. And I always use the lens hood. A lot of people don't use lens hoods, but I swear by them because there's nothing worse than getting lens flares when you don't want them. If I want lens flares, I'll take it off.

The next part of this rig is adding a top handle and I actually talked about this brand new top handled from small rig in a recent video and it is still my absolute favorite one. I'm going to link to all this stuff down in the description below. You can find all these parts and do your own build.

One of the coolest features of this top handle is that the allen key just slides magnetically right into the side of it. So. anytime you need to quickly remove the top handle, you have the allen key right there; you know it's the right size and that you always have it on it. The camera is looking a lot better than it did just totally naked. I love this little top handle and cage on there.

Next we're going to add the monitor mount and this one is also made by Smallrig and it uses the ARRI locating pins We're gonna mount it to the front here and I love that because it's tool-less, it just screws right into place.

Next, let's get the monitor attached to this. Really you can use any monitor, but today I'm going to be using the Atomos Ninja V This is one of my absolute favorite monitors and it pairs perfectly with just about every camera out there.

Then we're going to get the HDMI cable plugged in and I'm using the ones from SmallHD A lot of times people ask me what HDMI cable I'm using. These are my favorite because they're so light and thin, and they work perfectly on gimbals because they don't affect the weight of them at all.

In order to get a V-mount battery on this rig, we're going to need to use rails. So we're going to use a base that's made by small rig. And then on top of it, I have the Manfrotto RC2 quick release plate mounted And that's just using a standard 1/4 20" thread to put it right on top. We've got the base plate and I'm going to click the camera into it.

Really, you can use any length of 15mm rails, but I'm using the 6" ones, because I want to keep this cinema rig as compact and small as possible. And these ones are also made by Smallrig.

Let's go ahead and add the V-mount base plate and I'm using one from Tilta But honestly, there are a bunch of different ones out there that you can find and use that will work just as well.

Next, we're going to add the V mount battery to the base plate. And then we got to get all the cables plugged into this. So, we can actually power the camera and the monitor off of this one battery.

In order to power the Ninja V, we're actually not going to use the Sony NPF batteries, we're going to use the battery eliminator that comes with it. And then I purchased a D-tap cable that will plug right into the back here. And then I'm going to take it around to the D-tap on the side of my battery. And now you'll see that this will power on.

Next, let's get the dummy battery plugged into the camera and then into the V-mount battery. And make sure that you plug this into the 8 volt port on the side of your V-mount battery, do not plug this into 12 volt, or anything else that is not labeled 8 volts, or lower, because if you do, you will most likely fry your camera.

As you can see, there's all this ugly cable hanging off. And you know, it's just gonna get in the way and snag on something. So to finish off any rig, I always do some cable management. And it's pretty simple. I just use a bunch of these little bread ties that often come with different cables and things like that to tie and secure the cables down.

Look at that! With a little bit of cable management, it makes the rig look so much cleaner and better and prevents it from snagging on anything. This is seriously a little beast of a camera. Now, with this V-mount battery powering the Ninja V and the camera, I can run all day with this setup. I can actually see what I'm doing with this huge 5" monitor. I absolutely love this setup and one of the best parts about this rig is this top handle because I can just hold it from the top, get a hand underneath and it is so much more stable. All those micro jitters are gone now. I can have some really nice stable handheld footage and when I need to pull focus, I can put my hand right underneath the lens and do some focus pulling.

Now if you want to add a follow focus to this, you can easily do that by just getting longer rails like 12 inch ones and then throw something like the Tilta Nucleus Nano on the side here. One of the biggest things for me when I'm doing a camera rig build out is making sure that there are no moving parts, I don't want to hear anything jiggle or wiggle or move around. And this is just a really solid setup to where I don't have to worry about anything moving on me.

Guys if you want to learn how to light and shoot better videos, hit subscribe on my YouTube channel right now. I have a ton more videos coming out on shooting editing, camera rig builds and everything like that.

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