Rumors have been floating about Sony releasing a new camera this month and finally, they’ve borne fruit. The brand’s new FX30 cinema camera offers a blend of features that make it ideal for multiple uses.
The FX30 has a body that’s very similar to Sony’s existing FX3 from last year, but this newer model offers a 26-megapixel APS-C sensor with backside illumination. Unlike the FX3’s full-frame sensor, this one crops video and images while shooting Super35 4K video.
Sony is marketing the FX30 as a beginner and semi-pro device with professional shooting qualities for movie production without all the complexities –and costs- of a truly high-end camcorder from the brand.
For this reason, the FX30 isn’t quite as pricey or feature-rich and complex as the FX3, but it can deliver plenty of high-end video recording quality.
In other words, Sony is marketing the FX30 as a gap closer between solid cinematic functionality and top-tier shooting hardware.
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The FX30’s body actually bears a close resemblance to the brand’s photographic cameras while packing a whole pile of video recording specs into its compact frame.
One of the most immediately notable qualities of the FX30 is that it’s lighter than the FX3 despite looking virtually identical from the outside. Its 26-megapixel APS-C-sized sensor is a unique new addition to Sony cameras and offers an illuminated backside despite not having a stacked design.
In contrast to the FX3, which offers full-frame 4K direct sampling with an ISO of 409,600, the FX30 delivers Super35 format video with 6K oversampling and a much more modest ISO of 32,000. It’s worth noting here that only the oversampling is 6K in this new camera, it can’t actually output 6K video.
Sony claims that the FX30’s practical ISO range lets it create clean, low-noise images and video in most low-light settings and that the camera can deliver the same level of noise at an ISO of 2,500 as it does at 800. It’s dual-base at both of these ISO settings.
The sensor on the FX30 lets the camera manage 14+ stops of dynamic range as long as its video is captured in S-Log3 and the camera can also shoot in 10-bit 4:2:2 color for a better color grading latitude. The FX30 uses the HEVC (H.265) codec for high compression quality and efficiency on its 4K video footage.
The FX30 can also record in the H.264 format at up to 60 frames per second and shoots its Super35 footage at a 16:9 aspect ratio in either 8 or 10-bit and in Long GOP or ALL-I.
The camera can also handle 4K video at up to 120 fps but only with additional cropping of 1.6x. It’s also capable of Full HD shooting but only at the same frame rates as its 4K functionality allows. Furthermore, it’s a decent still photo shooter with its APS-C sensor outputting images at a resolution of 6,192 x 4,128 pixels.
Filmmakers who want to record 4K video with minimal difficulties or camera problems can also appreciate the FX30’s built-in cooling fan and heat dissipation mechanism, which work together to let it record its 4K video at 60 or 120 fps for long stretches.
These extend out to indefinite recording if the camera is connected to a power source via USB Power Delivery (PD).
Sony has heavily invested in the color qualities of the FX30. The technology built into the camera lets it deliver superb cinematic color right out of the box according to Sony.
The FX30 also includes S-Cinetone technology that’s the same as that found in the brand’s premium cinematic devices such as the Venice 2.
Because this is a Sony camera, excellent AF specs are par for the course. In the FX30 these include an AF system that covers 90% of the frame across 495 different AF points and according to Sony, this promises high-speed, accurate focus tracking even at maximum frame rate.
Other focus features include real-time Eye AF, Real-Time tracking and an AF Assist function that lets it jump from manual to automatic focus rapidly.
Sony has given the FX30 five-axis in-body image stabilization technology along with Sony Power Zoom support for these types of lenses. The camera is also expandable thanks to multiple contact points on the camera itself. Another handy feature is support for Sony XLR handles.
The FX30’s connectivity features include an HDMI Type A connection, one USB-C port, a micro-USB input and slots for CFexpress and SDXC cards. The camera also features compliance with wireless LAN at 5 and 2.4 GHz while also being capable of wired LAN through a USB-C gigabit Ethernet adapter. It can even handle FTP transfer.
Sony’s powerful but compact FX30 will start shipping by the end of October at a retail price of $1,799 for the body-only edition and $2,199 with an XLR handle included. It’s available for pre-order now