SONY FX30 OVERVIEW
Sony's Cinema Line combines high-end digital cinema imagery and workflow with expanded reliability to support the most active creators. Their constant listening to feedback from demanding users end up getting applied to the most evolved technology available to fulfill creative needs. In a nutshell, the new Sony FX30 is a 26MP APS-C version of the FX3 Full-Frame Cinema Camera.
With the power of a newly-developed APS-C sensor, the Sony FX30 delivers committed visual content creators and aspiring filmmakers with an accessible yet powerful cinema camera. This camera combines a cinematic capture imaging pipeline with an intuitive operation layout to create a complete system for all levels of filmmaking. Take your cinematic journey to new heights!
Some general Key specifications of the FX30 include:
- 16-bit Raw video output
- 10-bit 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 capture in a choice H.265 or H.264-based AVC formats
- Front and rear tally lamps
- In-body Image Stabilization (IBIS)
- No mechanical shutter mechanism
- Oversampled UHD 4K (6K capture) up to 60p
- S-Cinetone color profile
- S-Log3 with uploadable LUTs for previewing or applying to footage
- UHD 4K/120p capture with additional 1.62x crop
The new FX30 makes the Cinema Line more accessible than ever. Let's dig deeper into the promises of this affordable high-end production cinema camera!
Newly-Developed APS-C Sensor
It features a state-of-the-art back-illuminated Exmor R APS-C size CMOS sensor that records industry-standard Super 35 mm movie footage. This outstanding sensor offers 14+ stops of latitude and a generous color gamut. Full pixel readout without binning plus 6K oversampling for 4K footage produces files with low noise and natural contours. The performance of the new sensor in the FX30 is optimized to support individual visions and creativity.
Flexible color grading is a key element of visual production workflows, and even subtle changes in color and contrast can dramatically alter the mood of a given scene. Achieve true-to-life skin tones and a unique look with the built-in S-Cinetone™. The S-Cinetone™ gamma curve delivers cinematic expression with natural skin tone, without the need for further complicated grading. Therefore, this camera guarantees the grading flexibility needed to accurately express the creator's intent.
Additionally, the S-Log3 gamma curve is a superb choice for creators looking for maximum expressive freedom and aiming at a unique and more personal look. And for those coming from the photographic realm, the S-Log3 gamma curve is easy to handle and provides wide latitude in workflows that include post-production color grading. For such recording, the FX30 provides the Flexible ISO mode, Cine EI mode, and Cine EI Quick mode.
About the ISO Settings
The Flexible ISO setting employs standard ISO settings for simple operation and maximum flexibility. Cine EI provides a wide dynamic range capture by recording at a manually-selected base ISO sensitivity and applying adjustments to metadata for monitoring and post-production. And the Cine EI Quick mode automatically switches between the two base ISO settings for easier operation and high-quality footage.
For general shooting, one might benefit from keeping the shutter speed and aperture fixed while adjusting ISO sensitivity for optimum exposure. Still, exposure adjustment is easy in the Flexible ISO mode, where light sensitivity is automatically compensated for changing situations. The Cine EI mode is often used in the cinema industry when in-depth post-production will be used for cinematic expression. That makes it possible to leave ISO fixed at the camera's base ISO for maximum quality while adjusting the Exposure Index so that ideal exposure can be achieved during post-processing.
Keeping ISO at base ISO enhances freedom and image quality, delivering an ideal grading baseline for cinematic standards. And here comes the interesting part for our photographer readers, the Sony FX30 has two base ISO settings, ISO 800 and ISO 2500. Both base ISO settings offer nearly identical low-noise performance; one at low sensitivity and one at high sensitivity. Cine EI is the most suitable way for achieving high image quality and engaging expression in those circumstances where the shooting scene, including lighting, can be carefully controlled.
Control your Workflow
For those in need of professional picture control, you'll be able to capture ready-to-publish images with fast turnarounds. On the other hand, you can also go for slow-cooked maximum quality and flexibility in post-production thanks to a wide array of picture control options.
The aforementioned S-Cinetone™ uses the exact color science as Sony's advanced cinema cameras, including the VENICE line, with natural mid-tones, soft colors, and smooth highlight roll-off. Built-in picture profiles, such as S-Log3 and HLG, allow us to capture images with expanded dynamic range and editing flexibility. Enhance your creativity within recorded footage to assemble a specific mood on the field and reduce editing efforts. Access to up to 16 user-created LUTs and toggle between three presets for accurately monitoring footage or previewing a specific look during shooting. These can be applied to the camera's monitor or EVF and the HDMI output.
Shooting with a log curve generally means getting a low-contrast image on the monitor, but like other Cinema Line cameras, the brand-new Sony FX30 lets us monitor an image that will be closer to the final look in terms of both color and brightness, simply by applying an internal s709 LUT to the monitor image. Finetweaked user LUTs can be imported and used too. Exposure index and LUT information used in these modes is recorded as metadata and automatically applied to the footage in any compatible editing software, allowing a seamless, efficient workflow from shooting through editing. LUTs can be applied to the image while shooting as an alternative to using the Flexible ISO, Cine EI Quick, or Cine EI mode in combination with color grading.
Sony offers an extensive range of prime and zoom lenses which literally change the way images are captured and presented. One might choose between a bright prime lens to create beautiful background bokeh or a wide-angle lens for more storytelling images. Or one might also decide to shoot with a powerful zoom lens for a precise angle of view or some smoothly dolly-zoom effects. And if you are looking for top-notch quality, then there are full-frame G Master series lenses, perfect for those shooters craving the ultimate in resolution and smooth bokeh.
By combining the FX30 with any of Sony's high-performance lenses, one gets the very best Autofocus performance, image stabilization, and other functionalities that both body and lens can deliver. For example, Real-time Tracking focuses on moving subjects and stays locked on. And when framing people, birds, or animals, real-time Eye AF ensures that focus is precisely and reliably maintained even as the subject moves.
Outstanding focus tracking means consistent, pinpoint focus, in situations where AF is required, such as when using a gimbal for shooting 4K 120p footage with rich background bokeh while leaving the focus to the camera and giving full attention to framing and composition. Built-in, there's also an Active Mode which contributes to smooth, stable footage when handheld shooting while walking around. And with compatible lenses from Sony, the Breathing Compensation function can effectively eliminate focus breathing; this can even be applied during post-production, providing even grander shooting freedom.
How it Behaves
Built in the FX30, several features aid shooting in various situations. Significant refinements have been made to the camera's controls, interface, and expandability, packing extraordinary operability into a compact, rugged body. Commonly used parameters and settings are all visible and directly accessible via the Main Menu screen. And the "Function Menu", can be called up at any time simply by swiping up on the screen. Key settings and information are shown in the black frame on the monitor, so the user can concentrate on the image without being distracted by the settings. Tally lamps that are visible from just about any angle show when recording is in progress, preventing uncomfortable mistakes while shooting. Wi-Fi on the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands, plus Bluetooth, allows recorded data to be quickly transferred to a mobile device after shooting.
And speaking of which, the Sony FX30 comes with a wide array of connections to ensure maximum customization and flexibility on set. A full-size HDMI output features clean output up to 4K 60p as well as 16-bit raw video. Audio is supported on the body with a 3.5mm headphone output and a 3.5mm microphone input, and a USB-C connection can be used for high-speed data transfer or for powering the camera. The Multi-Terminal (Micro-USB) supports various accessories, such as remotes, for expanded functionality, and timecode sync is available through the use of the separately available VMC-BNCM1 Timecode Adapter Cable. Multi Interface Shoe supports advanced accessories, including the optional XLR Handle Unit.
A durable magnesium alloy chassis has five 1/4"-20 threaded mounting points for accessories and a Multi Interface Shoe for convenient mounting of gadgets such as high-performance microphones. An XLR Handle Unit provides extra handling ease for low-angle shots, as well as the direct connection of XLR microphones for enhanced sound quality. The FX30 offers the kind of reliability users expect from the Cinema Line, with extraordinary operability and toughness in a lightweight body.
Two slots that are compatible with CFexpress Type-A cards as well as SD memory cards provide extra data security through simultaneous recording. 320-gigabyte and 640-gigabyte CFexpress Type-A cards can be used for high performance and extended recording time. Heat is effectively managed by a fan and heatsink system so that recording can continue throughout extended shooting sessions. An HDMI terminal allows connection to an external monitor or RAW recorder. Last but not least, the Sony FX30 can even be connected to an XPERIA PRO-I smartphone which works as a large external display via USB. The camera's USB terminal can be connected to other devices allowing it to be used as a high-performance webcam for live streaming.
Our Final Thought
Diving into this camera has certainly been fun, but there are some important things we need to mention before wrapping it up. At a glance, this is Sony's FX3 but with an APS-C sensor instead of a full-frame one. The same body, same connections, and slots, but with a generous price cut and a smaller sensor of course. Even the menu interface is the same, which tells us something about Sony's mindset, they truly believe in the power of delving into professional workflows from the very early stages of any film-maker's career; hence the "Leap into the world of film-making" motto accompanying the FX30's release. Therefore, it might seem that the FX30 is an accessible way of getting an FX3, but some nuances might make you consider it over the full-frame FX3 even if you are a professional shooter or on the road to becoming one.
On one side, we have the 26MP resolution which means this camera is capable of shooting 6K via 4k oversampling. And on the other hand, we notice that this camera is super 35mm lens friendly, which means a wider array of optical solutions on the field. So if your workflow benefits from tighter crops or a wider range of lenses, then you might as well consider an FX30 instead of an FX3. The only reason why we think one might benefit from shooting with full-frame rather than APS-C is if the depth of field and wider shots are crucial for your video shooting workflow.
Yes, this is perhaps the best cinema camera one can get under $2,000.00 (some might argue the same for some of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras), but remember that cinema isn't just about the camera, is also about fast cine lenses, steady shooting, crisp and clean audio and above all, workflow. So expect some extra expenses while leaping into the world of filmmaking.