Sony’s New FX3 Puts a Cinema-Quality Camera in Your Pocket

Illustration for article titled Sony's New FX3 Puts a Cinema-Quality Camera in Your Pocket

Image: Sony

For a while it seemed like Sony’s high-end digital filmmaking cameras were on a collision course with its Alpha mirrorless cameras as those shooters became more capable at capturing video. Today the inevitable was confirmed: Sony officially revealed its FX3 with features from both the company’s digital cinema and Alpha lines, giving creators a more affordable way to capture Hollywood-caliber content.

An image of the FX3 leaked a few weeks ago led to speculation that Sony’s compact cinematography tool would be able capture video at 8K resolutions, but the full-frame, back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor the camera is using is limited to resolutions of up to 4K, or 16:9 QFHD at up to 120 frames per second. Although even with a cooling fan and a vent design that encourages natural heat dissipation, the FX3 can only record uninterrupted at 4K, 60P. Higher frame rate shooting is limited so the camera doesn’t overheat. Skipping 8K is a choice Sony made to either keep the FX3’s price tag down, or to ensure it doesn’t compete with the company’s pricier digital cinema cameras—or both.

When shooting video, the FX3’s ISO settings can be pushed to an impressive 409,600 which might come in handy the next time you find yourself filming on the dark side of the moon and can’t see the sun. The camera’s 627-point autofocus system includes features like AF Transition Speed, which ensures that automatic focus changes happen smoothly so as not to be jarring to audiences, and Touch Tracking, which allows operators to simply tap an object on the FX3’s flip-out touchscreen display to tell the camera what it should keep focused in frame, even as the subject is moving around.

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Illustration for article titled Sony's New FX3 Puts a Cinema-Quality Camera in Your Pocket

Image: Sony

With the battery and memory cards installed (both dual CFexpress Type A and SDXC cards are supported), the FX3 weighs just 1.58 pounds and includes a hot shoe mounted grip, making it easier to hold, operate, and maneuver the camera at low angles. Keeping a lightweight camera steady while shooting handheld is a real challenge, so the FX3 employs five-axis in-body image stabilization for smooth videos even while filming with a lens lacking any stabilization of its own. The applied stabilization is also captured as metadata while filming, allowing it to be tweaked during post-production.

Most filmmakers will want to keep the optional grip attached, because it not only offers quick access to several controls, including ISO, iris, white balance, and zoom, it also features 15 custom buttons that can be programmed as shortcuts to 140 different functions normally buried in a software menu. The grip also has a mount for a microphone, a pair of balanced XLR/TRS audio inputs, and a 3.5-millimeter stereo two-channel jack while the camera can capture four-channel 24-bit audio when multiple mics are attached.

Illustration for article titled Sony's New FX3 Puts a Cinema-Quality Camera in Your Pocket

Image: Sony

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The FX3 will officially be available starting sometime in March with a price tag of around $3,900. That isn’t pocket change, but it’s also $2,600 cheaper than the new $6,500 Sony Alpha 1, which many people will be considering as their next video shooter. It is, however, $1,400 more expensive than the recently announced $2,500 Blackmagic Design BMPCC 6K Pro, which offers 6K shooting and an HDR rear display, although 120 fps high-speed recording is limited to 2K. But for video content creators who already have a bag full of Sony E-mount lenses, or already have a workflow involving Sony’s higher-end digital cinema cameras, the FX3 sounds like an easy choice.

Blackmagic Announces Updated BMPCC 6K Pro Cam with New HDR Display

Illustration for article titled Blackmagic Announces Updated BMPCC 6K Pro Cam with New HDR Display

Image: Blackmagic

With Sony having teased a new cinema camera launch next week, it seems Blackmagic Design is sneaking in a new product ahead of Sony’s announcement with its updated Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro.

Starting at $2,500, the Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro costs $500 more than the previous model, and in exchange for that extra cash, the big upgrade on the BMPCC 6K Pro is a new HDR rear display that now tilts out (instead of being locked in place) and tops out at an impressive 1,500 nits of brightness.

in case the BMPCC 6K Pro’s new HDR display doesn’t cut it, you can also add on Blackmagic’s optional $450 EVF.

in case the BMPCC 6K Pro’s new HDR display doesn’t cut it, you can also add on Blackmagic’s optional $450 EVF.
Image: Blackmagic

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Aside from the new display, the BMPCC 6K Pro also comes with a new built-in IR ND filter to help users better control their footage’s exposure, with the camera able to block 2, 4, or 6 stops of light. And to help to ensure the camera doesn’t run out of juice, the BMPCC 6K Pro now supports larger NP-570 batteries, with Blackmagic having also made an optional $145 Battery Pro Grip that can hold another two NP-F570 batteries, delivering up to 3 hours of recording time.

And while it’s not part of the BMPCC 6K Pro’s stock config, Blackmagic also made a $500 optional 3.68 million dot OLED EVF that can tilt up and down up to 70 degrees.

Elsewhere, the BMPCC 6K Pro is pretty much the same as the previous model, with the camera’s dual native ISO 6K sensor (6144 x 3456) still offering up to 13 stops of dynamic range, a 25,600 max ISO, and 6K/60 fps video recording (or 120 fps at 2K). Port selection also remains unchanged, with the BMPCC 6K Pro featuring USB-C, a full-size HDMI port, dual mini XLR ports, and separate headphone and mic jacks.

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Illustration for article titled Blackmagic Announces Updated BMPCC 6K Pro Cam with New HDR Display

Image: Blackmagic

The only real problem for Blackmagic is that next week, Sony is expected to launch its take on a portable cinema camera in the FX3, which is rumored to support native 8K video capture. However, with the cost of the FX3 still TBA, ultimately choosing between the BMPCC 6K Pro and the Sony FX3 will probably come down to pricing and how invested people are in a specific ecosystem.

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