Sony raids Alpha camera tech for FX3 Cinema Line compact
Following a number of online leaks, Sony has now officially announced the FX3 full-frame video camera, which combines technology from the company's cinema shooters with imaging features from the Alpha range of mirrlorless cameras.
The FX3 model takes its place at the entry level of Sony's Cinema Line range of movie-making cameras, but rocks the look of a mirrorless camera rather than a full-blown cinema shooter.
"The FX3 is the perfect tool for content creators looking to enter the world of cinematography," said deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics, Neal Manowitz. "It combines everything our customers love about Sony's video capabilities in our Alpha lineup with a new body optimized for videography. We are excited to add to Sony's Cinema Line and continue to support the world's creators with the best tools possible."
The handheld compact is reckoned to be ideal for one-person content creation operations, and measures 5.11 x 3.33 x 3.06 in (129.7 x 84.5 x 77.7 mm) while tipping the scales at just 1.58 lb (715 g). Five UNC mounting points allow for accessories to be attached directly to the camera's body, and the unit also comes with a XLR handle that mounts to the shoe interface for two balanced XLR/TRS audio inputs to enable four-channel 24-bit audio recording and a 3.5-mm stereo jack too.
Analog-to-digital conversion and digital signal processing are undertaken by the XLR adaptor integrated into the handle, and it provides three more threaded mounts for even more accessories. The camera itself comes with a built-in stereo microphone, but also features a 3.5-mm audio jack for plugging in an external microphone should the content creator elect not to make use of the XLR handle.
Inside, the FX3 is built around a back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor with 10.2 effective megapixels available for video and 12.1-MP for stills, and a Bionz XR image processing engine. Sony says that this combination, also found in the Alpha 7S III, puts the focus on high sensitivity and low noise, offering a wide dynamic range over more than 15 stops and standard light sensitivity of ISO80 to 102,000, which can be extended to ISO409,600 for video recording.
The camera boasts a hybrid autofocus setup with 759 phase-detection points available for stills and 627 during movie recording, and is compatible with S-Log3 gamma and S-Gamut3 cine color gamuts, supports internal recording in XAVC S and XAVC S-I formats in both 4K UHD and Full HD, and XAVC HS in 4K only, and can output 10-bit 4:2:2 or 16-bit RAW format 4K/60p video to an external recording device over HDMI.
There's no viewfinder here, but real-time tracking AF is possible by touching the subject on the 3-inch side-opening vari-angle LCD monitor. Eye AF has also been included, as well as AF features requested by pro users such as AF Transition Speed, AF Subject Shift Sensitivity and AF support while in manual focus. And 5-axis in-body image stabilization is cooked in for up to 5.5 stops of shake compensation.
Dipping into its cinema-grade pool of resources, Sony has included its S-Cinetone color matrix to allow for the production of content with cinema-like natural mid tones, soft colors and smooth highlights, without having to generate such magic in post production.
The FX3 is capable of recording 4K UHD at up to 120 frames per second with autofocus for the promise of smooth-looking slow motion vids, and to keep the camera cool when shoots run hot, the camera has a built-in fan that draws air into the bottom of the body and blows out at the side, which means that 4K/60p recording can go on for longer without causing a thermal shutdown.
Frequently used controls can be found on the ergonomic grip and to the top of the body, and there are 15 custom keys ready for up to 140 assignable functions. A zoom lever on the grip can control compatible powered zoom lenses as well as unpowered zoom and prime lenses for shoot flexibility, and Sony has placed tally lamps to the top, front and back of the camera so that the operator and subject(s) are fully aware of when the device is in record mode.
Elsewhere, the FX3 rocks dual-slot media slots compatible with CFExpress or SD cards, and Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi offer wireless workflow possibilities, though wired LAN is also possible via a USB-to-Ethernet adaptor.
The ILME FX3 camera goes on sale next month for around US$3,900, the video below has more.
Product page: FX3 Cinema Line camera