The Sony FX3 looks like a bridge between the Sony Alpha mirrorless cameras and its box-shaped cinema cameras, including the smallest body and the lowest price yet with cinema features and functions.
Where Sony’s Alpha mirrorless cameras are essentially hybrid stills/video shooters, the FX3 is an out-and-out movie camera, complete with Sony’s Cinetone-S color science, a detachable handle with XLR audio input, integrated mounting points, and a movie-specific control layout, unlike anything on existing Alpha models from Sony, even the latest Sony A7S III (according to Sony).
The Sony FX3 might look like an Alpha, but with the VENICE at the top, the FX9, and the still-new FX6 below it, it’s really the newest and smallest member of the Sony Cinema line.
Know about Sony FX3
Internally, the A7S III and the Sony FX6 have a lot in common with the Sony FX3. Coupled with Sony’s high-speed BIONZ XR processor, it has a full frame 10.2MP back-illuminated EXMOR R CMOS sensor.
The combination provides video shooting speeds of up to 4K 120p and 240p for full HD video, but active cooling is the key innovation in the FX3. It has an internal fan that allows unlimited 4K 60p recording, and also supports USB power delivery, so that the battery capacity also does not need to be limited.
In extended mode, the FX3 provides ISO settings of up to 102,800, or 409,600, and while Sony says it does not have ‘true’ dual-ISO sensor tech, it is particularly good at ISO 640 and ISO 12,800. Sony has also claimed 15+ dynamic range stops and a decreased rolling shutter (jello effect).
When shooting video, the AF system provides 627 AF points, covering 94 percent of the frame height and 95 percent of the width (89 percent in total), and it has the usual Real-Time Eye AF from Sony and touch subject tracking.
Sony FX3: Design
Technically, the FX3 may seem similar to the A7S III, but physically, it is entirely a very different beast. On the top, there is no ‘bump’ viewfinder, because there is no viewfinder, not even on the back (like the A7C). Sony has no plans to offer one as an external add-on, but it points out that an external monitor can be added by video shooters.
The FX3 has a 3-inch, 1.44 m-dot, side-opening touchscreen display and a full-size HDMI port for external recorders. It is capable of HDMI 10-bit 4:2:2 16-bit RAW output, although Sony has an official announcement about supported recorders yet to be made.
An external recorder may not be necessary for you. 4K 120p, FHD 240p and 4K 60p 4:2:2 10-bit can be internally recorded by the FX3 on twin CFexpress Type A/SD card slots. Sony says that V90 SD cards can handle all recording formats, except for all-intra recording in the 4K 120p and FHD 240p modes, if you are worried about the cost and availability of CFexpress Type A cards.
The included carry handle distinguishes the FX3 from the Alpha cameras of Sony. It works as a low-angle shooting handle, but also includes two digital mic inputs from XLR/TRS (the FX3 body has its own 3.5mm mic and headphone jacks, as well as an inbuilt stereo mic).
There are five stainless steel 1/4-20 mounting points on the FX3 body and there are three more on the handle, so you won’t need a cage, according to Sony.
There are two more things you don’t get on the FX3, except for the EVF. Firstly, there is no direct Super35 crop support-the sensor in crop mode does not have the resolution for 4K capture. Second, and probably worse, there’s no ND filter feature in-built.
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What it does have is the 5-axis in-body stabilization tried and tested by Sony, coupled with an Active Mode for additional digital stabilization (with a slight image crop), effective even while walking (although not available at 120p or higher. The FX3 can incorporate movement metadata so that the Catalyst Browse or Catalyst Prepare tools from Sony can adjust the balance between stabilization and cropping in post-pro pro
Sony FX3: Specifications
- Sensor: full frame back-illuminated EXMOR R CMOS, 10.2MP (12MP for stills)
- ISO range: up to 102,800, 409,600 expanded
- Autofocus: 627 AF points (for movies), 89% total coverage
- Construction: Magnesium alloy chassis and covers, dust, and moisture resistant
- Video: Up to 4K 120p, unlimited 4K 60p recording, 16-bit via HDMI, Max bitrate 600 Mbps, 10-bit 4:2:2 All-Intra internal recording, XAVC S (H.264) and XAVC HS (H.265), Proxy recording
- Color: S-Cinetone, S-Log3, HLG, 10 in-camera Creative Modes
- Weight: 715g body only
- Dimensions: 129.7×77.8×84.5mm (WxHxD)
Sony FX3: Price and availability
Right now, the Sony FX3 is available for pre-order and should be available in stores beginning in March. The price will be around €4,700 in the UK, £4,200 in the UK, around $3,900 in the US, and if you’re in Australia, it will set you back AU$6,699. That makes it more costly than the Sony A7S III and much cheaper than the Sony FX6, only a little.