Sony has whipped the covers off a new 4K Super 35 compact cinema camera, the FX30, that looks to be trying to muscle firmly in on the territory currently occupied by the BMPCC.
Sony’s new FX30 is a 4K Super 35 compact cinema camera with big ambitions as confirmed by a Sony statement that it is considered to be the newest addition to the brand's prestigious, not to mention expensive, Cinema Line. Perhaps what’s unusual about it though is that it is decidedly not expensive.
Sony’s pitch is that this is a camera for future filmmakers and thus offers a lot of the pro features that you would expect from something much higher end. So you have Dual Base ISO, Log shooting modes, and user-imported LUTs, all for a mere £2,100 / €2,300 all in (which works out at £1749 ex VAT).
So, diving straight in, the FX30 features a new back-illuminated 20.1 megapixels APS-C Exmor R Super 35 format CMOS sensor with a dual base ISO (800/2500) to deliver high sensitivity, low noise, and what the company says is 14+ stops of latitude.
The ILME-FX30 (to give it its full name) supports a variety of video recording codecs and can shoot 4K Super 35 (16:9) by oversampling from 6K at up to 60fps. A sister model, the ILME-FX30B, is yours for an extra £400 / €500 and adds high frame rate functionality and can step up to 4K at 120fps and full HD at 240fps. Both 16:9 recording modes can shoot at 10-bit 4:2:2 while an HDMI Type-A connector can be used to output 4K, 16-bit RAW to an external recorder.
In common with the rest of the Cinema Line, it features Log shooting modes by enabling Cine El, Cine El Quick, and Flexible ISO modes for recording with the S-Log3 gamma curve, which allows more flexibility when you get to the grading stage. Sony says all three modes allow video shooting while monitoring with an appropriate LUT to preview the final image. In addition, and very much in keeping with the target market of aspiring filmmakers, the FX30 includes a selection of built-in cinematic looks, such as Sony's S-Cinetone, and can shoot single stills. Additional image processing capabilities with the BIONZ XR processing engine for natural gradations and realistic colour reproduction.
Two memory card slots are compatible with both CFexpress Type A cards and SDXC/SDHC cards, while it is also compatible with the newly announced large capacity CFexpress Type A memory cards.
It has a flat-top design with threaded accessory attachment points, making it easy to use for shooting handheld, capturing low-angle shots, mounting on a gimbal, or adding accessories. An XLR handle unit can be used to capture low-angle shots and also allows filmmakers to capture audio through various audio inputs, including two XLR audio inputs and a 3.5 mm stereo mini jack for 4-channel recording. External microphones can be connected directly to the camera via the Multi Interface Shoe or microphone jack. The FX30 also features an internal stereo microphone for audio recording.
Sony’s AF is, of course, very much present in a variety of different flavours, while features such as Focus Map make it easy to visualise depth of field, and Breathing Compensation offers a stable angle of view when focusing. The camera also includes effective stabilisation for run and gun shoots using Active Mode thanks to optical in-body 5-axis image stabilisation and time code sync.
Other cinema-esque features include a new customisable list-style main menu screen, and a new standby movie screen that provides an unobstructed view of the subject. As well as being ergonomically designed for shooting video, it also extends its functionality into post with embedded LUT and EI metadata.
All looks good to us and that price looks very interesting. We'll tell you more when we get our hands on one...