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Technology

Sony FX3 Review

The much-leaked Sony FX3 has finally been publicly announced. As expected, it’s an E-mount full-frame video camera that sits at the bottom of Sony’s ‘Cinema Line’ and bridges the gap between the portability of the a7S III and the capability of the FX6. To a large extent, it can be seen as an a7S III in a more filmmaker-friendly form. So let’s have a look at Sony FX3 review.

Sony FX3 Review

Sony FX3 Review and Mini Documentary Sample Footage | CineD

Sensor

Like the FX6, Sony says the FX3 has a 10.2MP BSI-CMOS sensor. Which is true if you only shoot video with it. However, the FX3 can also shoot 3:2 aspect ratio stills using a taller region of the sensor because, as you might have guessed, it’s actually the same 12MP sensor used in the a7S III. It also has a mechanical focal plane shutter if you do want to shoot stills.

The use of the same sensor no bad thing, given it has very good readout rates (essential for a video camera) and excellent performance in terms of noise and dynamic range. The FX3 uses the same Bionz XR processors as the a7S III and gets its much improved menus, too. The only major difference is that the on-screen display of AF tracking match the rest of the Cinema Line cameras, rather than those of the Alpha cameras (it’s only a subtle difference).

The FX3 also comes with the S-Cinetone color response, which the a7S III currently lacks, in addition to the S-Log and HLG options they both share. But all the signs point to this difference only lasting until the next a7S III firmware update.

Cinema paradiso

Still, despite that lack of built-in ND filters, there’s no doubt that the Sony FX3 has a highly impressive feature set for such a compact camera.

It’s not the first small cinema camera we’ve seen that shoehorns in the power of a much larger body. The Canon EOS C70 recently pulled off a similar trick, packing in most of the Canon C300 Mark II’s features into an impressively portable, user-friendly form factor.

Whereas the EOS C70 combines a Super 35mm sensor (similar in size to APS-C) with a DSLR-sized body, the Sony FX3 goes a step further with its full-frame sensor and super-compact body. That said, the EOS C70 claims an added stop of dynamic range (at 16 stops), so it’ll be interesting to see how the two compare in the field.

It’s not just Sony and Canon slugging it out for the cash of solo or beginner filmmakers either – we recently also saw the arrival of the much cheaper Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro. That camera combines a Super 35mm sensor with, yes, built-in ND filters for a pretty reasonable $2,495 / £1,879 / AU$3,935 price tag.

Naturally, the full-frame Sony FX3, which comes with Sony’s class-leading autofocus and other bonuses like twin CFexpress Type A / SD card slots, is a little pricier. It’ll be available to buy for $3,899 / £4,200 (around AU$7,460) when it becomes available from mid-March.

But when you consider how many of the Sony FX6’s features it manages to pack into a 715g body, it could well equal the popularity of the Sony A7S III – and possibly even tempt some of the owners of that camera over to the Cinema side.

Form Factor

6 Things I Like About the Sony FX3... and a Few I Don't

The FX3 is small. It looks like a fatter a7 type camera. With the Sony 24-70 F2.8 attached, the space between the lens and grip is tight. The top of my fingers pressed against the lens. Like other alpha cameras, the mount sits low on the small body, and with some of the fatter Sony lenses, they can go past the bottom of the camera. This can be an issue when using sleds or mounting to a teleprompter.

Menu and LCD Screen

Sony FX3 Review - Every Filmmakers Dream Camera
Sony FX3 Review

The menu structure is the same as the new a7s III when in video mode. It’s much better than other Sony menus, but I would have liked an even easier cleaner menu. In fact, it should have the same structure as the FX6 since it’s considered to be a part of that lineup. With that, I understand it’s not easy to put the vast amount of settings available to the user with the added photography settings, but the FX3 looks to be a camera FX6 and FX9 users would like to use, and keeping it familiar is a big plus.

The LCD screen looks to also be the same as the a7s III. For a camera that doesn’t have an EVF, it would have better to have a larger screen, but this isn’t possible due to the small size of the FX3. Reusing components from an existing camera makes a lot of economic sense.

The LCD screen can fully articulate and flip into a selfie position without obstruction; however, if an HDMI cable or other ports are used, they will block the view. It will also require the screen to be flipped before it is fully opened. This isn’t a big deal as it’s easy to open and flip, but the image being blocked will make it less helpful if you want to see the entire image, plus access to the touch functions will be very hard to do with cables in front of the screen. This is a common problem with all flip-out screens if you want to use the IO options on the camera.