The Sony FX30 is the Ideal Entry-Level Cinema Camera

09/28/2022Link21

With the release of the Sony FX30, it is now easier than ever to pick up a cinema camera. Many everyday content creators in need of a cinema camera have found current options to be either too expensive, too complicated, or both. With the FX30, the barrier for entry is even lower without sacrificing quality or performance. Sony accomplished this by taking the clean design of the FX3 and packing in a newly developed 26.1MP APS-C BSI sensor.

The FX30 is an ideal first cinema camera and a perfect entry into Sony’s Cinema Line.

Sony FX30
Sony FX30

Super 35mm Sensor

The FX30 is designed to be a camera you can grow with, offering much of Sony’s technical mastery—including advanced functions such as timecode support and S-Log3—while remaining relatively affordable. Using a newly developed APS-C/Super 35mm sensor allowed Sony to offer the same recording specs:

  • UHD 4K at up to 120p
  • 10-bit internal recording
  • S-Log3/S-Gamut3
  • 16-bit raw output
  • Standard ISO Range of 100-32000
  • Dual Base ISO (800 / 2500)

You need to watch the crop. The FX30 performs 6K oversampling from an area of the sensor that is an almost unnoticeable 1.04x crop. This will work for 4K in 10-bit in any recording mode up to 60 fps.

Now, for 120 fps, there is a 1.6x crop of the Super 35mm area. This is on top of the system’s standard APS-C/Super 35mm crop.

To make this all happen, the FX30 uses the latest BIONZ XR image processor, which allows it to realize all of these new features found in other new camera releases.

You can also use the FX30 to snap some still images if you prefer; the 26MP resolution is great for that.

Compared to the FX3

Coming in at a much lower cost than the FX3, the FX30 is an interesting option for many. Those considering the FX3 may find that the FX30 checks all their boxes, and more, without the higher cost and with the ability to create a much smaller package. But what do you get by moving up to the FX3 and what do you lose by choosing the FX30?

Obviously, the FX3 has a larger full-frame sensor compared to the FX30’s APS-C sensor. This usually means that the FX3 will have better dynamic range and low-light performance; however, Sony seems to have worked some magic with the FX30.

By using the 6K image area and down-sampling, the appearance of noise in the image is minimized. This can give a boost to low-light performance and allows shadows clearly to retain more detail. Further testing is needed, but it is very promising.

Even though the two models share the same native ISO range and dual base ISO specs, the FX30 has a rated dynamic range of 14+ stops—still quite excellent, but just a hair behind its full-frame brothers.

But as mentioned earlier, when compared to the FX3, the FX30 needs to crop into its already cropped sensor to realize 120p recording. The FX3 crops, but only 1.1x on the full-frame image while the FX30 is another 1.6x on top of its already cropped format. Not a deal breaker by any means—just something to be aware of if you plan on using the slow-motion recording options extensively.

Interestingly, the FX30 gains some features that aren’t currently available in the FX3, such as Breathing Compensation.

Beyond that, almost everything else is the same:

  • Same body design
  • User LUT support
  • Cine EI and other log shooting modes
  • Fast Hybrid AF, including 4K 120p
  • In-body image stabilization
  • Active cooling
  • Timecode input via optional VMC-BNCM1 Timecode Adapter Cable

Audio

An interesting move is that the FX30 does not come with the XLR-H1 XLR Handle Unit supplied with every FX3. This can be a separate purchase or picked up as part of an initial kit with the camera.

Without the XLR handle, users can gain monitoring and recording through the 3.5mm input and output jacks on the body of the camera. The Multi Interface Shoe remains, and Sony makes plenty of accessories that work directly with it for audio transmission.

So if you don’t have a ton of use for the XLR handle at first, acquiring it is a decision you can make later on.

Catalyst Software

Many of Sony’s newest features include metadata that is recorded directly into the video files. This includes the following:

  • Embedded LUT and EI information
  • Gyro and lens stabilization metadata
  • Breathing compensation
  • Camera rotation
  • Shot mark

By using this information in Catalyst Browse and Prepare, you can make tweaks after shooting to optimize each shot. This can mean faster editing workflows, better image quality, improved stabilization, and more.

To help creators integrate these benefits into their existing workflows, there will be a future Catalyst Prepare Plug-in released for Adobe Premiere Pro that is able to offer editors these controls within their current NLE.

All The Lenses

Over the past couple of years, Sony has laid the groundwork for the FX30 with the release of a handful of new APS-C optics. Even without options specifically designed to work with the Super 35mm system, Sony’s E mount has plenty of full-frame options, plus a ton of support from third parties. If you are looking, there is going to be something out there for you.

Still, let’s highlight a few recommended choices.

The E PZ 10-20mm f/4 G is a great place to start because it features Power Zoom, which can be conveniently controlled from the lens or the FX30’s zoom rocker. The wide equivalent zoom range of 15-30mm is ideal for handheld shooting and vlogging.

For primes I would recommend two up front: the E 11mm f/1.8 and the E 15mm f/1.4 G. You may have noticed that the first three lenses were all recent releases—and that’s no accident. These two primes bring fast, wide options to the APS-C line are well worth a look since they are so small and ideal for the FX30.

Other lenses to consider:

And APS-C/Super35 opens up the door to many third-party cinema glass. You can find fun, new options like affordable anamorphics in this area. There are plenty of options for all types of filmmakers.

Bigger CFexpress Type A Cards

Sony’s CFexpress Type A TOUGH Memory Card series
Sony’s CFexpress Type A TOUGH Memory Card series

Alongside the FX30 announcement was the reveal that two larger sizes of Sony’s CFexpress Type A TOUGH Memory Card series are on the way: 320GB and 640GB. This has been one complaint about the relatively new format, and this release should help users looking for speed and long recording times.

Even though Sony has dramatically increased the sizes of these cards (the original release included 80GB and 160GB versions), the speeds have remained the same. This series has rated read and write speeds of up to 800 MB/s and 700 MB/s, respectively.

If you have been looking for bigger cards for your a1, a7S III, FX3, FX6, or now the FX30, these will do the trick.

The FX30 appears to be a very compelling option for content creators looking to get started with a more serious cinema kit while having room to grow in the future. It will definitely be a great place to start if you aspire to use Sony’s Cinema Line cameras later on, or perhaps as rentals on current jobs.

What do you think about the FX30? How does it compare to similar options in the market? Let us know your thoughts and please feel free to ask us any questions in the Comments section, below!

Comments

21 Comments

Hi all!

Please, let me know your advice between bmpcc 6k pro and this new sony FX30... I'm in a dilema now.

Hi Mario - 



Do you already own lenses?  Which ones?  Consider the cost of acquiring new lenses fo the SONY if you already own compatible lenses for the BMPCC. If you have additional questions, please e-mail us:  [email protected]

Just preordered a few days ago. Where can we find how many day to wait for shipment/inventory??

 

Hi Christian - 

Please contact our Customer Service Team for the status of your order:

 

B&H CUSTOMER SERVICE:

800.221.5743 or 212.239.7765

[email protected]




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Saturday

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The FX30 or the A7 IV… now I don’t know which one to get :-) 

Do you shoot significant amounts of photographs? If so the a6600, a7III, a7IV, etc. are better options.

Video would be primary, I was waiting for the Sony A7 IV because the better video specs of the A7 III. I do want to learn some more about photography and that's why I was looking at this camera as it seams to be a great hybrid. But now with the FX30 I'm doubting because they position it so much as a real cinema camera :)

Video being primary would push towards the FX30 in my opinion. However, if you do hope to take photos seriously then you might want to consider the a7 IV. The FX30 does not have nearly as good photo skills as the a7 IV has video skills. The FX30 doesn't even have a mechanical shutter.

This camera and it’s price are just right ! I wouldn’t mind having a couple . I shoot live music events and more angles is better for me . We run 6-8 cameras now on the biggest shows , 5 being standard. 

a few of these could replace a couple older dslrs I’m using for the price of the fx3 . I had been trying to get the fx6 and it became almost impossible to get . Went with the a7siii. . I could use the ability in that camera to compensate for the focus breathing. Now wish I’d got the fx3 even though it’s not quite as useful for live music photos too but same everything almost . That alone would steal too many sales from the fx3 . 

All and all Sony has built a workhorse lineup of cameras with just what you need . Not about and beyond just solid useable video cameras from a good entry price up . All are priced very good for what you get . Day in day out creating 

 

I'm debating on either THIS or the A7C. Of course the A7C is a FF camera and the FX30 is not but it would go GREAT with my Already have Sigma APS-C lens. Both are priced the Same but  the FX30 is more Video then Photo which I don't really care much for as I have a ZV-1 that can Do My Photos just fine. But it's a tough one of Couse FF Lens are much more expensive new or used so that's another thing I have to consider.

Interesting debate here. If you are looking for something mainly for video, the FX30 will be the far better choice. It has far superior video recording features and formats like 10-bit, 4K 120p, the optional XLR handle, and loads more that will benefit video. The a7C I would say is a photo-first camera with good video, but even with the full-frame sensor I think the FX30 would be better for video.

There's so much emphasis on "Entry level," "getting started," "camera you grow with." This leaves me with the impression that no one would be happy using this camera as a final solution...say, for documentaries, news, or blogs. I'd rather aim for something a bit higher, like the Blackmagic line, and have something I'd be happy with for years.

Sony offers many "final solution" cameras that are very popular in the industry. For example, the Sony FX9, FX6, and FS7. Not to mention the very impressive Sony VENICE.



This is not that camera. This is an entry level camera for independent filmmakers on a budget. Seasoned professionals will continue to use Sony's higher end offerings. But, there is a demographic of people out there who will be very excited about this camera. It offers a lot of bang for the buck. Cheap large sensor 4K video cameras like this one help democratize the industry by making creative cinematography possible for low budget filmmakers who otherwise couldn't afford it. Like the FX3 and the A7S, this camera is going to make a real impact.

I'm ready to sell off my BMPCC4K'S & 6k for the Fx30 

Another way to look at it: The footage from this camera can easily be cut with footage from the FX3 and FX6 because they are using the same profiles and color science. Someone could start out with one of these, then add the FX3 or FX6 later, while still using the FX30 as a B or C cam. They could rent the more expensive cameras when they need to scale up for a particular shoot, while relying on the FX30 for smaller scale productions. I wouldn't go too crazy with apsc glass if you're eventually going to get a full frame camera but apsc lenses have an advantage of being smaller and lighter, which would make sense for handheld gimbal shots.

That isn't the marketing logic. They just don't want to undercut the value of more expensive Sony cameras by pitching this as an alternative rather than an entry level option. Feature-wise it's the same as the FX3 and Super35 is a very standard sensor/film size for filmmaking. There's no reason you couldn't use this for documentaries or narrative films. People won Academy Awards with technically inferior DSLRs.

Great. Another Sony camera that will be impossible to actually buy due to their endless chip shortage.

Endless chip shortages are everywhere in every industry and every manufacturing company

Point is, Why would B&H even get this since they can't get the FX6 or FX9?  They're announcing a camera that will probably just be listed as "Backordered" like all the others.

Not true. Sony sells cameras that they earn the most profit on and that includes their cinema line. Sony cameras including the a6600 are coming back into stock which suggests the shortage is easing.