Sony announced a new member of its Sony cinema line FX3. The cinema line currently includes Venice, FX9 and FX6 cameras. The new FX3 is the most compact Cinema Line camera, combining Alpha 7S III-like form with FX6-like cinema performance.
The core of FX3 is the full-frame 12.1 megapixel Exmor R back-illuminated image sensor. The 12MP sensor has a high ISO of 409,600 and promises up to 15+ dynamic range stop when recording in S-Log 3. The 12MP sensor can also record still images at 10 frames per second.
Main functions of Sony FX3
12.1MP full-frame backlit image sensor
The standard ISO range is 80-102,400, and the maximum can be expanded to 409,600
4K recording up to 120p frame rate
Full HD video up to 240 fps
Five-axis anti-shake in the body
16-bit RAW output via full-size HDMI
Use S-Log 3 to exceed 15 stops of dynamic range
Circulating ventilation and cooling fans enable “uninterrupted” 4K 60p recording
S-Cinetone Picture Profile
Up to 627 AF points when recording video
Bionz XR processor
Reduce rolling effect
XLR audio input
Included XLR handle
Dedicated zoom joystick
In terms of video quality, FX3 records 4K UHD video at 120 frames per second. When recording Full HD video, the maximum frame rate is 240fps. The camera includes Sony’s S-Cinetone Picture Profile, which has a beautiful film effect with soft tones. There are 11 optional picture profiles. FX3 includes S-Log3 gamma, S-Gamut3 and S-Gamut3.Cine color space. According to Sony’s internal testing, when shooting in S-Log 3, FX3 promises more than 15 dynamic range files.
When using All-I (XAVC S encoding), the bit rate is up to 600Mbps. FX3 records 10-bit depth images at 4:2:2. The movie camera includes MPEG-H and HEVC/H.265 encoding. 10-bit 4:2:2 mixed logarithmic gamma (HLG) can also be used in all recording formats. FX3 has a proxy recording function, and provides 10-bit full HD and 8-bit 720p proxy options.
The current Sony Cinema Line (from left to right): Venice, FX9, FX6 and the new FX3
Sony designed FX3 for single-player shooting games, while its other Cinema Line cameras are more geared toward production teams. For this reason, FX3 is more compact, mobile and lighter than the existing FX series cameras and Venice. Soloists also have more requirements for autofocus, so FX3 aims to provide high-end autofocus and functions to assist manual focus operations. Sony said its control layout is very different from other Cinema Line cameras.
Sony FX3 size and main features
The FX3 with memory card and battery weighs only 715 grams. The camera is up to 5.1 inches wide, 3.1 inches high, and 3.3 inches deep. Despite its compact form factor, the FX3 still has a pass-through cooling design and a built-in fan, and Sony is almost silent on this. In terms of thermal design, Sony’s internal tests found that FX3 can record up to 13 hours of 4K/60p video. Of course, the ambient temperature will affect this result, but considering the size of the camera, it is still impressive. The system in FX3 is the smallest system ever created by Sony.
However, there are trade-offs to achieve a compact form factor. FX3 does not include an SDI connector, and there is no room for the electronic filters included in FX6. This means that FX3 does not have a built-in electronic variable neutral density filter.
From the front, FX3 has a cageless design. There are five ¼-20UNC mounting points on the camera and the included detachable XLR handle. The installation point is supported by the internal stainless steel substructure inside the magnesium alloy FX3. You can use these fixing pins to fix various accessories.
You can use the Catalyst software to select the compensation range and the resulting crop when processing the video.
FX3 has a 5-axis in-body anti-shake system inside the camera. This marks the first time Sony has incorporated IS into Cinema Line cameras. The IBIS system includes an active mode, which extends the compensation range in exchange for approximately 10% of the image area cropped. Taking into account the solo shooting, FX3 can be used hand-held without using a gimbal. You can also use Catalyst Browse and Catalyst Prepare software to utilize gyroscope data stored in the metadata of the recorded clip. Using software such as this, users can select the compensation range and the resulting crop when processing video files.
Full-frame FX3 uses Sony E mount and can use nearly 60 lenses made by Sony
Autofocus performance is driven by Sony’s hybrid autofocus technology. The 627 AF points of FX3 cover 94% of the vertical image area and 95% of the horizontal image area. FX3 also includes face detection and real-time eye autofocus. You can use the variable-angle touch screen at the rear to enable touch tracking and enable autofocus when focusing manually. Like FX6 and A7S III, users can also control the autofocus transition speed and subject movement sensitivity quite a bit. Although we do not have specific numbers, Sony also promises to provide powerful low-light autofocus performance.
Many parts of the FX3 body include weatherproof seals, including body seams, cabin covers, hinged doors and media slots. Sony states that the device is dust-proof and moisture-proof. The camera includes a full-size Type A HDMI slot, which supports 16-bit RAW output. The camera can use a wired LAN with a compatible USB adapter, and in addition to the micro USB terminal, it also includes a USB Type-C super speed port. The camera has built-in Wi-Fi with 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels. FX3 supports mobile network sharing, remote control and FTP data transmission. You can also use USB-powered devices via USB-C.
When using the supplied XLR handle, FX3 provides 4-channel 24-bit audio recording. The handle includes XLR input, built-in stereo microphone and 3.5 microphone jack. The FX3 body itself includes a microphone and headphone jack, and also includes a built-in stereo microphone. FX3 supports a variety of accessories, including microphones, lights, handles, wireless microphones, etc.
If Sony FX3 has all these small features, what is the difference between it and FX6? FX3 does not include a built-in LUT, nor does it have a continuously variable built-in neutral density filter. FX6 also includes DCI 4K, pure 24p frame rate, 12G-SDI, time code, and its larger size can realize different functions.
Nevertheless, FX3 is still a category of compact features. Compared with A7S III, the overall size of FX7 is not completely different, while FX3 has a more friendly video design and other features. FX3 has S-Cinetone, which is not currently provided by A7S III. FX3 also has internal fans, cue lights, video-friendly controls and additional scalability.
FX3 includes a new XLR handle. The left side of the handle can be seen here.
In the end, Sony introduced the FX3 to the market as a compact, cinema-centric camera, specifically aimed at individual shooters. The camera’s S-Cinetone Picture Profile, internal cooling, XLR handle, cageless design, cue lights and video control layout can prove this.
Sony FX3 will be available in mid-March, with a suggested retail price of US$3,899 in the US and US$4,999 in Canada. FX3 comes with an XLR handle in the box. The handle will not be sold separately.