Sony FX30 APS-C Cinema Camera Review
It's not until you first pick up a Sony Cinema Line camera that you get the full picture. That's the case with the latest FX30 release. As an entry into the cinematic world, this small beast-of-a-camera unlocks the full potential for a serious B camera. Utilising an E-Mount, users can easily adapt their existing investment in lenses to film cinematic marvels at the touch of a button.
Under the hood, you'll find a new 4K Super 35 format 20MP sensor size capable of leaving the competition behind, thanks to the HDMI's external output of 16-bit RAW (at a 16:9 resolution of 4672 x 2628). For FX, FS series and a7s III users, there are some stunning Log modes (S-Cinetone and 16 user LUTs) that will keep the look of mentioned bodies, all while providing up to 4K 120 fps and full HD 240 fps.
Sony has turned the tide to grab market share with this high-end entry-level piece of equipment. As an entry into the world of cinematography, users will quickly understand how adaptable this camera is when adding accessories via the XLR handle. So, once you build your dream rig consisting of an external monitor, microphone via the two supported XLR inputs, wireless transmitter and battery, you'll be set to film almost anything. Corporate shoots, commercials, short films, YouTube and travel, are all on the cards for adopters, as this cinematic marvel can just about do it all.
One Mount = One System = Expandability
If you are new to Sony's system, then there's one thing you should know - One Mount. This simple philosophy makes so much sense when you put it into practice. Essentially the One Mount system connects cinematographers seamlessly with E-Mount. Now, regardless if you own a Sony mirrorless camera or Cinema Line camera, lenses are adaptable without adapters ensuring users don't have to spend additional money on a new set of lenses. This truly is a game-changer in the way cinematographers and photographers shoot.
Sony FX30's Main Features
- New 4K Super 35 format 20MP sensor size
- BIONZ XR
- 4K 120 fps and full HD 240 fps
- 6K oversampling output
- S-Cinetone and 16 user LUTs
- 120 frame per second slow motion recording (5x slower than real life)
- Magnesium alloy body attributes to a robust design
- Weighs 646g with battery and memory card
- Under a kilo in weight with the added XLR handle
- 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording
- 16-bit RAW output (4672 x 2628 [16:9] resolution)
- Ability to add multiple accessories to build the ideal cinematic rig
- In-built highly efficient cooling system
- 14+ colour gamut latitude
- Customisable LUTs for realistic output previews
- Amazing AF, that's reliable
- Dual Base ISOs for low-light shooting
- 2 XLR Inputs using the XLR Handle
- Sony's One Mount System
Weight and Adaptability
The Sony FX30 is a lightweight and compact camera that weighs a minuscule 646g with battery and memory card or 951g with the XLR handle unit. Weighing less than 1kg, the distinctive flat-top design of the camera has been well thought out so it can adapt to various pieces of equipment, including gimbals and drones, without causing interference to the main camera operations.
Its sturdy magnesium alloy build makes it suitable for harsh shooting conditions no matter what environment you find yourself in. Also, when holding the unit for the first time, you'll notice the comfortable grip as it provides optimum flexibility, stability, and comfort for extended hand-held shooting sessions.
Upon inspection, you'll notice three thread holes on the XLR handle for additional accessory mounting. So, when building your rig, consider the placement of external monitors, recorders, batteries, video lights, extension grips, wireless microphone receivers, or other add-ons. Talking about microphones, the FX30's XLR handle can adapt two XLR audio inputs, making it a worthwhile expense when buying the camera.
Is 4K Stainable For Longer Shoots?
If you're used to shooting 4K, you'll know the many restraints that temperature plays with recording time and camera usability. From our perspective, the Sony FX30 is leaps and bounds over other units as it adopts a highly efficient cooling system, which is more than capable of supporting recording for longer durations. To tap into such a system, you'll need a high-capacity Sony Z battery or adaptability via USB PD, which also doubles as a stable power supply when recording.
How About 6K?
Sony's FX30 camera is a powerhouse of cinematography that can capture stunning smooth quality. With 6K oversampling and a true cinematic look, this powerful little device will make any production come alive with its high-quality footage. The compact size means you'll never have trouble taking it wherever the shoot takes you, while sophisticated AF features ensure perfect footage no matter the crew or location. Add in the ability to dial in an S-Log3 gamma curve, and the sensor's full ability is unlocked with 14+ colour gamut latitude, resulting in mesmerising cinematic quality at the touch of a button making post-production colour grading a pleasant experience.
Get a True Indication of What Footage Looks Like
With the features mentioned above, this cinematic piece of equipment is just scratching the surface as there's a lot more impressiveness up its sleeve. For instance, if you want to know what the recording codec output will look like during production, turn on a customisable LUT on the LCD monitor (both preset and user-supplied). The screen and the HDMI will then provide you with a clearer, more accurate preview of what the final footage will look like.
Autofocus and Stabilisation Ability
Keeping to its high-end appeal, the camera offers many features and benefits for cinematographers. With its advanced autofocus system and in-body image stabilisation, the FX30 is a great choice for anyone looking to capture amazing video footage.
Consider the Sony FX30's reliable autofocus system that maintains a steady focus as the ultimate focus-puller. This makes it easy to capture amazing video footage, even in challenging environments. The camera also features sophisticated tracking features that let you concentrate on your shoot. This means you can keep your eyes on the action and not worry about losing focus. In addition, the FX30 also has an in-body image stabilisation system that ensures hand-held shooting at 4K resolution without a gimbal. This is a great advantage for any cinematographer looking to capture smooth and stable video footage.
Adding to the focus system, the Sony FX30 adopts compensation for focus breathing, meaning when compatible lenses are used, more stable footage is obtained by minimising the field-of-view shift that can occur when racking focus. Also, if the in-camera experience isn't enough, cinematographers can control focus breathing via post-processing software by way of reading the camera metadata! To put this into perspective, Catalyst - Sony's Browse Prepare application provides more than breathing compensation via metadata. Users can unravel camera shake, camera rotation, embedded LUTs and shot mark all through the application, making it a powerful asset to Sony's users.
Forget the rest, as the new Sony FX30 has all the bells and whistles under a new main menu. While it may take some getting used to if you are using this camera as a B camera, cinematographers will quickly find easy access to frame rates, shutter speeds and additional settings through a simple menu setup. Adding to the flexibility of use is the ability to change how to open the menu as you may like to assign it to one of the many customisable buttons. This gives the cinematographer added advantage of checking footage on the go, without having to rely on thought but rather on muscle memory. Did we mention you can even split the menus to different buttons so movies are separate from stills?
Turning your attention to the side of the FX30, you'll notice an impressive memory card array that's designed to keep footage recording relay or simultaneously. The FX30 considers two CFexpress Type A cards (better for high bit rates) and compatible SD cards within the multiple media holders.
Earlier we mentioned you could assign a Customisable LUT to the LCD monitor, but we forgot to talk about the build! The side-opening multi-vari-angle LCD onboard monitor is a well-thought-out visionary window for cinematographers wanting a lightweight kit. Users will find significant improvements in outdoor use and added flexibility for touch and a swipe-to-access menu.
If you are adding an external monitor (let's face it, most of you will be), then a handy HDMI Type-A connector is available on the body. This supports full 16-bit RAW output (RAW video output is 4672 x 2628 [16:9] resolution, exceeding DCI-4K resolution) to an external recorder. Additionally, you'll find various ports for USB Type-C, Multi/Micro-USB, mic, headphones, and a Multi Interface Shoe with a built-in digital audio interface.
Trust a Popular System
If you are in the market for a new cinematic tool, look no further than the FX30. This gateway into the cinematic world will be your drug to expand into the Sony ecosystem over time. Consider this a welcome shooter for almost any genre, as it can adapt easily to various external tools with additional accessories only a plug away. To learn more about how this camera works, ensure you speak to our team of filmmaking experts who can assist you with a full rig build. Our expansion into the cinematic world is growing at Georges, and we look forward to helping you navigate your filmmaking journey.