Released earlier in 2021, the Sony FX3 has been received with wide acclaim as a compact full-frame camera that delivers fantastic cinematic results. Here, Procam Take 2's Head of Training & Development and Director of Photography, Saul Gittens, gives us the lowdown on the brand new Sony camera and notes how it compares with the Sony a7S III and Sony FX6:
The Sony FX3 is a new E-mount, full-frame video camera intended to bridge the gap between the portability of the Sony a7S III and the capability of the Sony FX6. It certainly feels more rugged.
Like the FX6, the FX3 has a 10.2MP BSI-CMOS sensor. This means it is great in low light and also in terms of noise and dynamic range it's excellent. The menus are improved from those on the a7, so if the operator is familiar with that line of cameras they should get on great with the FX3.
The FX3 also comes with the S-Cinetone colour response in addition to the S-Log and HLG options they both share. S-Cinetone is the monitoring look that comes with the FX9 and it provides a rich cinematic look. The operator or director can choose to "bake-in" this look for productions that won't have additional colour grading in post, so it’s a cost saving addition.
Another great addition to this camera is a front and rear tally light, this is a real advantage if you are using it as an unmanned 2nd camera as you will easily know when it's recording. ISO and iris buttons sit together on top, since they are settings a camera operator changes frequently, whilst shutter is relegated to the back.
There is a rocker switch on the top of the FX3, which is used to control power-zoom lenses: a function not on the a7S III.
The XLR handle includes a pair of standard XLR connectors with separate volume controls for each. There's also a 3.5mm stereo connector, in addition to the one already on the camera's body. Any audio delivered through the XLR handle is digitised and sent to the camera via the hot-shoe. When used together, the XLRs and 3.5mm jack support 4-channel audio recording.
The FX3's video capabilities are an exact match for those of the a7S III. It can shoot UHD 4K at up to 60p from the full 4.2K pixel width of its sensor. It can also shoot UHD 4K at up to 120p from the native 3840 x 2160 region (which imposes a slight crop).
All these options can be captured as 10-bit 4:2:2 video, with a choice of the XAVC HS (H.265), XAVC S (H.264) or XAVC S-I (All-I H.264). As with the a7S III, most of these combinations can be written to comparatively modest V60 SD cards, with only V90 rated cards able to shoot almost everything and only All-I 120p, shot via the cameras quick and slow mode, demanding a CF express card.
XAVC HS footage can be captured as either 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 10-bit files, whereas XAVC S gives a less-efficient 10-bit 4:2:2 option or 8-bit 4:2:0 capture. All-I capture is always 10-bit 4:2:2.
In addition to the 4K capabilities, the FX3 can shoot 1080p at up to 120p, either from the full sensor region or a Super35/APS-C crop. 1080 footage is captured as either XAVC S or XAVC S-I.
Like the a7S III, the FX3 can output 16-bit Raw video data over its full-size HDMI port.
With a compact body, the FX3 is well-suited for shoots using handheld, gimbals or drones, and the stabilisation is much like that of the a7S III. You can use the camera's in-body stabilisation, which will help compensate for some ‘wobble’ when shooting handheld. All Procam Take 2 branches supply a handheld rig as part of the FX3 package.
The FX3 also features an Active SteadyShot mode. This crops in the image a little, using a 4K area that can be moved around within the bounds of the 4.2K sensor to provide additional correction. This is only possible at up to 60p, because the 120p mode is only available using the central 4K area.
It should be noted that the FX3 does not have built-in ND filters, either electronic or mechanical, and does not feature a waveform monitor. However, the FX3 would make a great second camera when paired with either the VENICE or FX9, and is equally a sensible option for small, low-budget, run-and-gun shoots.
Procam Take 2 stock a number of Sony FX3 packages ready for use. Our standard package includes a Metabones E-EF adaptor, opening up compatibility with a wide variety of EF lenses. In addition to CFEXPRESS cards and batteries, the package also includes a shoulder mount, perfect for handheld shots. If required, an external top mic and headphones can be added on request. Visit our Sony FX3 product page to add this to your next kit list.