Sony announces $6,699 FX3 cine camera
Sony has announced the FX3, the newest in the company's Cinema Line of film-ready cameras. The new camera borrows a number of features from last year's A7S III, but combines them with a smaller, lighter body that's aimed at users who don't need the stills capabilities of the A7S III, but still desire solid video specs.
Inside, there's a 10.2 megapixel (12.1 effective megapixels for stills) backside-illuminated full-frame sensor that offers 15+ stops of dynamic range and can shoot to a maximum ISO of 409,600 in video modes. The camera is powered by a BIONZ XR image processing engine.
The FX3 is the most compact Cinema Line camera from Sony - with the top of the camera completely flat with no viewfinder or top dials, it weighs just 640 grams without a card and battery.
It ships with its own XLR handle, which includes XLR/TRS combination connectors, a digital audio interface for four-channel 24-bit recording, and a 3.5mm headphone jack (in addition to the one on the FX3 body).
Despite the size, the FX3 body still features 5-axis on-sensor image stabilisation system, which is a first for the Cinema Line. If you're willing to sacrifice an additional 10% crop, Sony says that a digital stabiliser can work in tandem with the on-sensor stabiliser to offer further shake reduction, although this feature is not available in the 120 frames per second and higher shooting modes.
The back of the camera features the same side-opening vari-angle 1.44 million-dot til-swivel touch LCD as on the A7S III that Sony says is now a 'genuine control area' as it offers full touch support.
Interestingly, the FX3’s body features five thread holes (1/4-20 UNC) to attach compatible accessories, effectively negating the need for an additional body cage.
The supplied XLR handle unit attaches to the body via the Multi Interface Shoe, and also provides three additional thread holes for accessories: two on the top and one on the end. External monitors, recorders, wireless microphone receivers, the accessory shoe kit (cold shoe plate), or other add-ons, can then be attached to it.
The buttons frequently used in movie shooting, such as ISO, iris and white balance adjustment, are located on the grip and on the top of the body, which Sony says allows control over the buttons with one hand. In addition, 140 functions are assignable to 15 custom keys.
Finally, the FX3 combines a fan for active cooling with heat dissipation technology resulting in uninterrupted 4K 60p recording without thermal shutdown (when paired with external power).
The fan can be set to multiple operating modes (Auto/Minimum/Off), and circulates air from the bottom of the camera (see the image above), through the body and then exits it to the side, all in silence. The body is also dust and moisture resistant with sealing at all body seams, the battery compartment and media slots.
Many of the video specs of the FX3 will be familiar to users of the A7S III. That includes 4K up to 120 frames per second, and up to 240 frames per second in Full HD 1080p. Footage can be captured at either XAVC S/H.264 or MPEG-H HEVC/H.265, and at 10-bit and 4:2:2 in all formats. Like the A7S III, it can also shoot 16-bit RAW video via HDMI out.
The autofocus is the same as that in the FX8, which means a 627-point phase-detection AF system. Sony's Real-Time Tracking AF is available in all modes, and this includes Eye-AF, although only human eyes are supported in video modes.
Despite not being billed as a stills camera, Sony says the FX3 has a mechanical focal plane shutter like the Alpha series, and its electronic shutter should also be quite capable as well thanks to the BIONZ processor.
Sony have also made steps to ensure continuous power with the FX3. On the exterior, there are two USB-terminals (Type-C and micro). The Two USB ports allow for the camera to be powered while the microUSB port can be used for control or file transfer. In addition, there is also a headphone jack and an HDMI Type-A port.
Inside, the FX3 has dual CFexpress Type A and SD memory card slots. The camera also uses the same battery as the A7S III.
The FX3 is expected to be available in Australia from mid-March 2021 for an SRP of $6,699. You can find out more about the new camera at Sony.com.au.