When Sony launched their smallest Cinema Line Camera on February 23, 2021, they wrote, “it delivers not only a coveted cinematographic look, but also enhanced operability and reliability, extending beyond traditional cinema camera form factors.”
FDTimes wrote, “ILME-FX3 does not look like a typical cine camera. It has the appearance of a ruggedized Sony interchangeable lens mirrorless E-mount alpha series camera whose viewfinder has been sliced off in the service of a solid and symmetrical body.
“As for enhanced operability and reliability, the FX3 has an abundance of 1/4-20 mounting points threaded into its unibody magnesium shell over a stainless steel skeleton. Its cage-free design begs you to mount this camera anywhere—in all kinds of places where a single mounting point and add-on cage wouldn’t dare to thread. FX3 will be free to range almost everywhere because it is small, light and ergonomic; common wisdom is that the best camera is the one you always have with you.”
I should have expected that calling it “cage-less” implied you don’t need a cage, and that is like asking a child not to jump in the nearest puddle. Of course there would be a cage and clever accessories—and they are now here from Wooden Camera.
Michael Tolar is the Design Engineer at Wooden Camera who designed the FX3/FX30 cage system for Sony FX3. He explained:
The FX3 project started after I heard that we were getting requests for an FX3 accessory kit. This was almost two years after the camera came out.
I have an FX3 myself. I was doing wedding filmmaking on the side and I started shooting with my FX3 back in 2021. It was miles and worlds beyond what I had used before and is still my favorite camera.
The primary motivator for me doing the FX3 project was learning that a lot of users were looking for a rigging system from Wooden Camera and making these requests.
As a wedding filmmaker, I had been going pretty lightweight, so I didn’t do a lot of rigging. I eventually came to need one or two accessories on my camera, mainly the time code generator from Tentacle. I needed some way to mount it on my camera. I hated using Velcro because it peels off and it gets messy when it’s hot.
Personally, I didn’t use the microphone handle top assembly that comes with the FX3. It adds a lot of bulk. I was running around with a gimbal most of the time and trying to keep everything as lightweight as possible.
I also didn’t use the base plate or even the external battery plate. Again, I was trying to keep everything as light as possible. I was running around for 12 hours with the camera gimbal. So the first step of my design was the lightweight cage.
But, a lot of users were asking for extra mounting points on the top handle, a riser system to attach to a Studio Baseplate, and a bigger external battery to run an onboard monitor, wireless video transmitter and other things. So, those accessories are available as additional options.
This essential main piece that you must have is called the Cage for Sony FX3/FX30. This is the L-Style Cage with Base that attaches to the bottom and camera left side of the camera, provides a handgrip mounting point with anti-twist pins along with an HDMI connector clamp, and then wraps around the top left side with an additional mounting point.
Our Cage Right Grip attaches to the camera right side and follows the contours of the camera so it’s comfortable and provides some additional mounting points, including one for a handgrip. There are 3/8-16 threads—symmetrically placed on both left and right sides. There’s clearance underneath the bottom so the battery door can pop open without removing the cage.
The FX3 camera, when it was released in 2021, was very unique in that it had 5 mounting points. They wanted the camera to be cageless. Unfortunately, they didn’t put any anti-twist pinholes around those bolt holes. So making it cageless was really like an invitation for us to make a cage.
There’s a choice of Micro V-Mount or Gold Mount battery mounts for the battery slide that slides onto rods at the rear.
I think the most interesting thing about this project is that I really cherish the privilege to get to design something that represents the brand I work for. It’s kind of like wearing a t-shirt that you designed. It was a cool opportunity because I love working at Wooden Camera. They’ve given me a lot of opportunities to design some interesting products. I brought the FX3 cage idea to my boss, Dominick Aiello, and he said, “Bring it on.” The entire team at Wooden Camera was enthusiastic and super helpful.