Sony FX3 Review – Best Compact Video Camera of 2021?

ed here with the digital digest and today i wanted to share my full review the digitally digested segment for the sony fx3 this camera retails for a little under 3 900 us dollars i’ll include a link in the description and i’ll start off the review by letting all of you know i love this thing now many of you are already saying you reviewed the a7 s3 it’s an a7s3 with a different design you’re right it is a very different design a much better design for video shooting and the upside is it can still take the exact same stills as the a7s iii the downside you did lose the evf but i think it’s a change that is still in favor of video shooters that predominantly are going to use this for video and not still capabilities so what makes this better than the a7s iii for someone like me first and foremost the cage free design we’ve got quarter 20 mounts all over the body and that is something i really like also the grip is larger and even though my hands didn’t grow since i reviewed the a7s iii this is ergonomically speaking a far better match i think for most users in

fact i wouldn’t be shocked if sony starts implementing this design language to more of their e-mount cameras and that is where we get to touch on design this has the look and feel or really the overall aesthetic of the fx lineup but of course it’s married now to the e-mount alpha lineup in terms of form factor and that’s the beauty of this camera you don’t have that with the a7 s3 the a7s iii is still amazing but this is just better if all you plan to really do is shoot video and remember you can still shoot stills just as well as you can with the a7s iii the other big thing is the active cooling on board here now some of you may think of this as just a reliability issue but i will assure you it’s more than that it’s real and i say that because i’ve done quite a bit of traveling in my life and i’ve seen quite a few overheats and knowing that there’s active cooling on this is really important even inside studios when you think of recording with things like blackmagic cameras things get hot right this has different levels to manage that so you know in the event that you’re using this on tripod you can you know essentially turn the cooling off if you’re not worried about it because you’re not touching it but if you are you know doing some run and gun style stuff and you don’t want to get burnt and i’m not saying this camera will burn you but blackmagic users know what i’m talking about having the active cooling is going to make a difference so that’s some important stuff that you should know out of the gate it’s not just about overheating it’s about usability and form following function and not getting burnt by the equipment you’re using now just like you know many other manufacturers sony said how do we make this

different than the a7s3 when it has the same sensor same codecs even s sinotone is now available on the a7s3 so right here with the shutter button we now actually can control zoom which is great if you have powered zoom lenses like this big guy right here which i did demo with this and the 16 to 35 cinema lens from sony is great it’s also expensive but that’s to be expected it’s also not a fantastic match in terms of form factor for something this compact which is part of the beauty of the fx3 but it works really well and i may show that just the zoom capability but again this just tells you sony is aware and we’re actively thinking how can we satisfy video users and giving you power zoom control here is great it also can default to clear image zoom in the event you’re using something prime like this wide angle 14 mil g master which is also really fantastic on this camera and that’s part of the beauty is that even though i wouldn’t want to use the 12 megapixel sensor for still imaging uh you can and it still does a great job it’s just not ideal if you you know are looking to shoot landscape or something to that effect now in terms of other things that are really important you know i’m praising this camera a lot already but we know it doesn’t have the evf some people will miss that what you do need to know is that i said it

wasn’t perfect and a lot of people will argue it’s not even a true cinema camera because you know it does have the omission the lack of dci 4k it doesn’t have time code it doesn’t have waveform there’s no shutter angle and of course no nd filter the fx6 has those things and a lot of people will say how is this part of the cinema line if it’s missing that now i would argue that in spite of missing those things you have to remember its form factor it does have ibis and what other offerings in this capacity uh have ibis and and nd filter built in nothing um also the screen touch screen and fully articulating is really small this would be my biggest gripe with this camera battery life is good not amazing but i think better than pretty much anything else in its class but you know again this screen is really small the onboard audio is very good it does come with which i’ve kept out of frame of course an xlr adapter that also doubles as a handle for the camera attaches to the hot shoe eats two of the quarter 20 mounts but gives you three quarter 20 mounts as a result of being mounted on and used as a grip so i think that most users are going to love this and if you are shooting video exclusively with this you likely are shooting uh with an xlr mic and then you have the ability to switch the xlr microphones on and off because this does have an analog audio port on this side i pointed to the uh the card slots which i’ll

get to shortly and i think that’s really convenient now whether or not you use a sony mic is another question altogether but not really getting into that so this is great to have i wish that sony gave us an option on the xlr handle on the grip because that would just make this camera even more affordable if you don’t plan on using it because remember they still have their little digital shotgun which of course works with this and works really well but is no true substitute for an xlr mic now beyond that another important thing to know is that uh when going over the feature set the specifications that you know you would want to think about when saying well why not save the money with an a7s iii uh the audio on here you know with the xlr adapter you’re going to get 24-bit sound that you’re not going to get with the a7 s3 obviously and in addition to that i think the preamps are better here also another thing that you want to be aware of are all of the tally lights having a tally light here when it’s recording as well as on the front of the camera even the record button uh lighting up are all things that signal to you again this is a very video centric camera you’re not going to get that with the a7s iii now some of you may not care about that i’m not one of those people and just to show you that there it is hot so i really like that um an interesting thing though is that you know you also get a record button on the front of the camera which i think is great so there’s no question whether this is recording and you know on camera right now as i record this the lights are looking a little bit yellow but they do appear as red i can assure you of that

i’ll go ahead and stop that right now but that’s another critical feature to me um i think it’s really important to know whether or not you’re recording both for your subject and for whoever is doing the filming and that’s something you’re getting with the fx3 that you aren’t going to see on the a7 s3 in addition to that you know the zoom rocker that i mentioned already i think people think that’s not a big deal but it is and a lot of people think that because they’re using prime glass to do all their recording but because the auto focus system here is so good i i think you’re going to be more inclined to use power zooms than you may have thought originally so that’s another thing to take into account and you know having uh basically enough batteries is something i highly recommend you know you’re going to probably want to pick up three batteries if you’re planning to do a decent amount of shooting with this because you’re going to get a little over an hour of 4k at least 10 bit internally on this thing one thing i do wish that this support which it does not is uh writing to an external disk drive so using an nvme uh like a lot of the severance that i’ve featured on my channel you can’t do it um and being that this does have a cage free design i really would welcome that without any issue another thing is that you know if you haven’t noticed very video centric on the back of this camera so peaking

display shutter zebra these are things that you wouldn’t necessarily expect or you’re not going to get at all on the a7 s3 and this camera top to bottom has been designed to shoot video however when it comes to the mode i wish we had a dial instead we are relying on a touch screen and you know i it leaves a bit to be desired so maybe next gen we’ll get a larger touch screen that also uh we hopefully will have an actual mode dial i think that could have been incorporated here but maybe uh it was in part because sony wanted to give us the cage free design and any mode dial would have gotten in the way that’s all i can think of we have programmable buttons we have the same white balance in the uh that you’ll find in the a7s iii basically all the niceties but again with a design that is completely video centric that leaves really nothing left out you know again the lack of 24p and dci 4k i think are the biggest gripes that you can have with this from a video perspective because how can a cinema camera be missing those things that means it’s not really a cinema camera but when you see the quality that this camera outputs and again the auto focus prowess a7 s3 but with all of the design language pointing to video usage it really makes this thing hard not to love now the i o pretty straightforward uh microphone and headphone jack type c and uh the multiport which believe it or not i still use here in 2021 it still happens some people i guess think it’s ridiculous it still gets used full-size hdmi port again the same thing you’d find on the a7 s3 the menu system same as the a7 s3 and a1 and you do have some of the

niceties from the a1 on here that you don’t have on the a7s iii like the ability to leave the camera on and stand by infinitely as opposed to it timing out after 30 minutes and going into power save and shutting off but we don’t get any brackets to protect the hdmi like you do with the a7 s3 which is a little bit of a head scratcher considering this is supposed to be the exclusively video centric version really of the a7s iii but remember this is gen one and i think that for a gen one camera sony did a fantastic job and that’s not something you can always say about gen 1 products single mount point on the bottom of this brick that’s another thing build quality here is fantastic you know if you thought the a or alpha line of cameras had good build quality wait until you hold one of these because the grip is better and it just feels like a tank in a way that i can’t say even the a1 that i have here which is a 6500 body and it’s really solid but it’s just overall the fx3 does have a tank-like build that i would love to see across the entire uh alpha line of cameras i love the record button up here the joystick up here is clearly designed for a top-down user experience you would traditionally find that on the back of the camera like with the a7s iii but if you’re using the included handle which is what this is literally designed for then obviously you now see why the joystick is here and the expectation is for the camera

to be used in this capacity now another thing and part of the reason i keep mentioning i wish we had a larger display besides the fact that it’s touch screen and it’s a little bit small to navigate is that of course if you’re using an external monitor with this which you’re going to without hesitation and likely will mount it here or if you’re not using the xlr adapter of course you’ll have it mounted on the top of the unit you are somewhat undoing the form factor but anyone who’s going to tell me that this undoes the camera and you know they prefer an fx6 i think you’ve lost your mind a little bit because this is still infinitely smaller than an fx6 even with uh of course an external monitor on here having a little trouble threading that but at any rate that’s something that i i want to dispel the myth of that you know if you put an external monitor on here you’ve blown up the form factor you haven’t this is still incredibly small if you want to put this on a gimbal this is ideal an fx6 is not ideal and anyone who’s looking for again a video beast to put on a gimbal this is going to be better than the a7s iii uh in my opinion and then having the active cooling just puts it over the top again from a usability practical standpoint of actually handling the camera now when we talk about you know what lenses to put on here let me actually unthread that because i did thread one side and again i think that if sony really intends to bring people on board that generally shy away from the fx lineup and this is

the entry point rather than it just being a b cam for existing fx users then i think excluding the xlr would be in sony’s favor because again that just would make this camera you know possibly 3500 and put it right there next to the a7s iii and there wouldn’t be any cannibalization of either product line in my opinion but just to give you an idea of what this looks like obviously with lenses on it because i’m assuming you’ll want to see that again i did shoot quite a bit with the 16 to 35 in fact my review of the hp omen 30 l was shot with this combo uh the lighting wasn’t perfect but it was still incredible uh because without even pulling focus it pretty much kept everything in focus a little bit of breathing here and there but completely on auto and that is amazing and again battery life was really solid one thing you should know about battery life that i almost forgot to mention as i’m zooming inadvertently with the zoom toggle right there you can see it moving which is another thing i love about this camera this part not so much if you want to use a dummy battery there is no good way to do that because there is no way to no eject button for the battery cover so be aware of that that’s something that i think is important if you think you’re going to use dummy battery you can but this is not going to go away so it’s just something to be aware of i don’t know if that is something that can be addressed in the aftermarket but right now you can see there is no way to

release that so something to be aware of when using a dummy battery and i didn’t want to forget that and i don’t have any written notes here so that’s just the way i shoot figuratively and literally so this was a great pairing again having control of your zoom is phenomenal you’re not going to get this out of the a7s3 a lot of you are going to say and i shoot with primes i don’t care i get it um but for those of us that like to use a power zoom occasionally create a little more dramatic cinematic shots that you can’t accomplish um with static prime lenses this is going to change the game and that’s really the whole beauty of this camera it is from a run and gun standpoint it changes the game in many ways so i use this lens quite a bit i’ll put that over there another lens i used a lot was the kit cinema lens which i think doesn’t get the street cred it deserves it isn’t quite wide enough at 28 but the 28 to 135 range is pretty damn good and at 2 500 bucks it’s very affordable and does well on stills not just video so i still really like this lens i don’t see myself giving it up the 16 to 35 is wide enough but you know again the price is a tough one to swallow i think the most popular lens to use with this camera is the one that i primarily shot with the majority of the time which i don’t own but is incredibly popular for good reason incredibly versatile great uh image quality across the board the 28 or excuse me 24 to 70 g master and you know it’s it’s a solid performer uh retails now for around two grand and i don’t think you can go wrong with this kit i mean

you’re going to be able to shoot anything you want and get the monster out of the way with this lens and the image quality again both of course on the video side is stellar um everything i shot was 10 bit uh 4k 60 but of course you know 4k 120 you want to do it you can do it uh full hd you want to go up to 240 just like the a7s iii you can do it but again you’ve got a video centric body uh that knows you want to shoot video and uh there is something to be appreciated about that um not perfect i’ve mentioned the things that are missing but of course you know things like waveform thing that are missing as soon as you put on an external monitor what you’re going to do let’s be real you gain that now uh the card bay here has two slots just like all of the modern current alpha bodies and it does support of course compact flash express type a cards sony’s tough cards uh this is a 160 gig card i think it runs about 400 bucks and so while i wish that this body supported uh nvme ssds like most cinema cameras and this is food for thought sony uh sony is selling these so this is basically a portable nvme except the pricing is not similar i mean 400 bucks for 160 gig card 400

bucks will buy you you know several terabytes of nvme storage this is more practical but not from a cost perspective and then you’ll also want to pick up uh sony’s card reader for this but you can use uh s2 cards and capture 4k at 60 frames 10 bit without any issue and that’s another thing i mean established with the a7 s3 codec support is great so you’re not going to have any issues but i would really like a bigger screen i’m going to say that over and over again because when you jump into the menu system and really start to go to work things are just really cramped you have to have small hands i i mean i can’t imagine with large hands which i do not have i’ll go with medium size here folks i don’t know how you would really sort through things it would be tough but the menu system redo that we got previous gen cameras a7s iii a1 is here alive and well and it does a good job so all in all uh who do i think this is for um i think that you know sony got it right uh this is for people that are video centric um the a7s iii again i think wet the appetite i think that people had they had a choice had they known that this was going to be an option would have waited i’m glad i did because while the a7s iii is an amazing camera this one is better for my use and if you go to user reviews of this camera across the board i don’t think

i’ve ever seen a satisfaction rate as high as this maybe the a7s iii but this didn’t exist now that it does i think things are kind of moot i think that anyone who didn’t buy the a7s iii will prefer this and i think anyone who did will kind of wish they had waited but you know i can’t do anything other than blame sony the power button is slightly problematic you know it’s just i wish they had extended the actual switch here a little bit more but that’s really nitpicking kind of like a lot of the other things that i’ve done in this review because uh for me to really say that battery life could be better is a major nitpick for me to say that the lcd should be bigger is also a nitpick um the lack of evf again if you really need it go with the a7s3 you’ll save money and you’ll get a feature that isn’t here but if you want to shoot video i just don’t know why you would pick the a7s3 over this other than the pricing and again you’re getting this so that kind of makes up for things unless you don’t plan to use this at all and again all the design elements are much better for shooting video whether this is sitting on a tripod or your running gun ergonomics are better the buttons are dedicated to video use i just

don’t see why you wouldn’t want it and again you can always shoot stills with this and the 12 megapixels well it’s not going to compare to my a7r iv but it will still outperform anything else that you know i might have in my gear bag other than my a7 r4 so that’s the pro it’s got going for it so while i don’t see myself using this that much outside of the studio for the channel i might be shocked and i might end up using this as a travel camera that’s the beauty of the fx3 is that it’s a video tool but i like it so much i could see myself shooting with it and i did shoot some stills but again that wouldn’t be my primary use for it so i wouldn’t pitch it as a still camera ever but sony did a great job here i mean video quality is phenomenal thanks to the autofocus system and years of work you’ve got a wide array of lenses that’s the other beautiful thing you don’t have to use cinema lenses um i think this is really more appealing to people coming from a black magic camera that didn’t feel even the a7 s3 was competition for it but now with a body like

this cage free and yeah you come on cages are not that expensive they’re not a big deal but that’s another way to reduce the footprint and it’s built like a tank you’ve got so many lenses to choose from really like this one on it by the way the 14 mil g master brand new offering 1 600 bucks you want a wide shot with this you’ve got it i think sony hit it out of the park with the fx3 i don’t think this camera is getting the respect it deserves and yes it does have the guts of an a7s iii but it has the body if an fx were to exist in the alpha lineup sony did exactly that and that’s why i like it so much and that’s likely why it will be my next camera and you know even though cameras like the sigma fpl exist which are smaller and have a higher megapixel count and actually do have dci 4k and actually can record to an nvme drive it doesn’t have the autofocus system it doesn’t have the lens lineup it doesn’t have the overall performance that this camera has it does have active cooling though and it doesn’t have to flip out screen which is another great thing but i love this thing if that didn’t come across then you weren’t listening or watching the fx3 is a winner and i highly recommend it and i likely will pick one up very soon if you have any questions or comments please feel free to post them hit that like button and as usual please feel free to subscribe and please stay safe did i already say that maybe later