Sony has announced the FX30, a compact digital cinema camera that shares the same body design as the older FX3, but upgrades from full-frame to an all-new back-illuminated 26MP APS-C sensor that captures Super35 4K video.
The company is positioning the new Sony cinema camera as a starting point for filmmakers who want all the benefits of a movie camera but may not yet have the necessary skills to upgrade to the higher-end camcorders that Sony offers.
The new Sony FX30 sits below the FX3 in Sony’s E-mount cinema camera lineup and is designed to bridge the gap between what budding creators want and what’s being released for the professional market.
Sony’s new crop camera is slightly lighter than the FX3 but otherwise identical in appearance. It features a new 26MP APS-C sized sensor not previously seen in a Sony camera, and although it is backlit, it is not stackable. Sony claims that the sensor is fast enough to take photos without a focal plane shutter, but not enough to work with a flashlight system.
Compared to the Sony FX3 (approx. $3,898 on Amazon), which features a 4K direct-sampling full-frame sensor with ISO 409,600, the Sony FX30 instead uses a Super35 sensor with 6K sampling and ISO 32,000. 6K resolution.
The sensitivity of the new FX30’s sensor ranges from ISO 100 to 32,000, but the camera has double the sensitivity of 800 and 2,500. Sony claims that the noise level at ISO 2500 should be about the same as at ISO 800 and that the sensor is capable of producing clean, low-noise images even in low-light conditions. The sensor is also capable of 14+ stops of dynamic range when shooting in S-Log3.
The Sony FX30 can shoot in 10-bit 4:2:2 for more freedom in color grading and record video in the HEVC codec with high compression efficiency. More specifically, the Sony cinema camera is capable of shooting 16:9 Super35 video in 8 or 10-bit, Long GOP, or All-I, as well as in H.264 or H.265 codecs at up to 60 frames per second.
Shooting can be done in 4K at 120 frames per second, but this happens with an additional 1.6x crop. The FX30 can also shoot in Full HD but without the additional frame rate options over 4K. Photos are taken in APS-C format at 6192 x 4128 pixels resolution.
The Sony FX30 can shoot continuously in 4K at 60fps thanks to its built-in cooling fan and heat dissipation structure. In addition, it can record indefinitely via USB Power Delivery (PD) and supports fast charging.
For film camera newbies, the need to grade footage is a bit of a hurdle, Sony says, and the FX30 comes to provide those users with a format that looks good right out of the box.
The new Sony FX30 features an S-Cinetone profile. The movie camera can also shoot in Cine EL and Cine El Quick log modes.
As you would expect from a modern Sony cinema camera, the FX30 features a reliable autofocus system that covers 90% of the frame with 495 points. Sony promises that this system is fast enough to support high-speed, accurate autofocus as well as precise tracking even when recording video at 120fps.
The camera also supports Animal, Human, or Birds Eye AF and Real-time Tracking, and is equipped with an AF Assist system that allows you to seamlessly switch between auto and manual focus. Also equipped with a focus map (to visualize depth of field) and Sony breathing compensation, it maintains a stable angle of view when changing focus points.
The Sony FX30 also comes with 5-axis sensor image stabilization, the camera also supports Sony Power Zoom (PZ) lenses and has a dedicated zoom rocker to support these lenses. Like the FX3, the FX30 is designed to be expandable, and in addition to the numerous contact points on the camera itself, it also supports Sony XLR grips and a detachable hot shoe, the company’s digital multi-interface shoe that allows the use of digital audio interfaces.
The camera has one HDMI Type-A connector, both USB-C and micro-USB inputs, a headphone jack, and two dual slots for CFexpress and SDXC memory cards. The camera also complies with 5GHz, and 2.4GHz wireless LAN standards work with wired LAN via a Gigabit Ethernet to USB-C adapter, and supports FTP transfer.
On top of that, it also supports 16-bit RAW video output via HDMI. Although Sony acknowledges that most external recorders on the market do not support 16-bit RAW recording, the camera is capable of transmitting this signal and is therefore more forward-looking than competitors’ cameras. It also supports timecode synchronization by connecting to a timecode source via an optional adapter and BNC cable.