The New Golden Age of Miniaturization

Two years ago, I put a complete iPhone video production package into a single shoulder bag. This week, I eliminated the shoulder bag, creating an even better 4K shooting package that is virtually weightless. We are indeed in a new golden age of miniaturization.

I have been on a mission to find the lightest gear package available because of back problems acquired from lugging around gigantic RCA TK-76 and early Sony Betacam cameras in the 1970s and 80s. Though production gear has been getting steadily lighter over time, it was 2019 that it hit a new tipping point.

It all starts with Sony’s new RX0 II ($699), tiny video/still camera weighing about four ounces. It captures stunning images, even in low light, with a one-inch sensor and low-distortion Zeiss Tessar T f/4 lens with an 84-degree angle of view and 2x zoom. This camera features internal 4K video recording, a stereo microphone jack, excellent image stabilization, serious slo-mo capability, a 7.9-inch minimum focus distance and a 180-degree tilt-able 1.5-inch LCD screen.

This camera is so tiny it screams “Wow!” The size is a remarkable 2.3 x 1.6 x 1.4-inches. It fits in any bag and is virtually weightless. It records to a microSD card and has an ISO range of 80 to 12,800. On top of this, it is shockproof and crushproof with a duralumin body designed to be dropped from 6.5 feet.

The camera has an IP68 rating, making it waterproof in fresh and saltwater without a housing up to 33-feet in depth. There's no need to safeguard it against rainwater and it also shoots comfortably in desert settings with sand and dust.

A useful optional accessory is the Sony VCT-SGR1 Shooting Grip, which has integrated controls to allow users to trip the shutter release and operate the record button and the camera's zoom from the grip itself. The shooting grip can also be converted for use as a tabletop tripod.

Shooting at frame rates of up to 960fps/1000fps captures split-second 4K action. The camera's new interval recording feature enables continuous shooting with a set interval between one and 60 seconds. The anti-distortion shutter is capable of shutter speeds of up to 1/32,000 sec. and is designed to minimize the rolling shutter phenomenon, which can distort images of fast-moving objects.

With the Picture Profiles feature and S-Log, users can set the overall tone of video from the camera body, adjusting parameters that affect the final look of the video

Sony also makes an optional Camera Control Box (CCB-WD1) that can simultaneously control multiple cameras, monitoring and changing settings remotely from a connected PC. This provides a stable connection to the cameras to facilitate accurate multi-camera synchronization, and it allows immediate file transfer from the cameras for easier file management.

SmallRig 2016

SmallRig 2016

A nice accessory for pro users is the SmallRig 2106 camera cage for the Sony RX0/RX0-II. It provides endless accessory mounting options (microphones, lights etc.) while maintaining access to the camera's controls. The camera just slides into it for a perfect fit.

A 37mm thread is built into the front of the cage for mounting a filter or compatible lens. One cold shoe, multiple ¼”-20 and 3/8"-16 threads, and one integrated ARRI anti-twist thread are provided for attaching accessories.

The bottom of the 2106 Cage takes the form of an Arca-Swiss style plate, enabling users to quickly mount the camera on a compatible tripod head. This cage is constructed from lightweight, sturdy aluminum and includes a 1/4"-20 camera screw and an Allen wrench. It weighs 3.5 ounces.

The miniaturization of production video has made great strides to the point that any smaller would be difficult for humans to use. It has taken almost 45 years to get here, but for the one-person journalist, documentation or freelancer, it is a new era of convenience and ease of use. Super tools are now available, it only takes the skills to use them.

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