The Sony FX30 Camera Hands-On Review | Budget Cinema Camera

An affordable cinema camera with maddening specs, the FX30 from Sony is the latest jewel to hit the market for filmmakers.

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This powerful workhorse is nearly identical to the Sony FX3 cinema camera but at a more affordable price. It's perfect for aspiring creators who want a camera to capture high-quality cinematic video with an advanced post-production workflow. Think the FX3 — but a slightly less expensive body with a slightly smaller sensor. And my gosh, does it work beautifully. Let's deep dive into who this camera is for, what the competitor cameras are on the market, and some impressive specs that any filmmaker should drool over. Be sure to watch our video to watch real-life comparison footage of the FX3 vs. FX30. Do you see a difference?

To Know:

The Sony FX30 cinema camera captures beautiful cinematic imagery with 6K oversampling, high performance, and highly efficient workflow. Enjoy hassle-free shooting with S-Cinetone™ and S-Log3 for high-level grading. Its compact size lets you take it anywhere, and sophisticated AF and stabilization make advanced filmmaking more accessible than ever for up-and-coming creators.

What We Love:

Accessible: Incredible quality at an affordable price, perfect for any beginner or advanced filmmaker needing something that can keep up with them for less.

Perfect B Camera: While it works wonderfully for anyone wanting a camera for everyday capture, it also serves as an excellent backup B camera for elevated filmmakers with a higher-end A camera.

Minimal Setup: Toss the gimbal aside with the camera's highly performative Active Mode. It utilizes an in-body 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilizer to quickly achieve increased stabilization for cinematic shooting.

The Details:

Brand: Sony

Product Type: Cinema Camera

Best For: Small-scale video and social media content creation. It's a 26MP APS-C version of the FX3 and promises high-end production values at a more attainable price.

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FX30 Digital Cinema Camera

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Who Is This Camera For?

The FX30 captures stunning images with 6K oversampling and an authentic cinematic look. Its compact size lets you take it anywhere, and sophisticated AF and stabilization make advanced filmmaking more accessible. It makes it easy to capture what you want and how you need it.

The FX30 offers a significant step up in production quality compared to smartphones. It gives access to a higher level of color grading and post-production workflow that might otherwise require a more expensive setup. Rather than trying to build a hybrid model from one of its stills cameras, Sony has opted to create a more dedicated video production camera.

The idea behind the FX30 is to provide access to a workflow that, through the flat, semi-final S-Cinetone profile or 10-bit Log options, allows users to create professional-looking color-graded results with sheer ease. It's compact with user-friendly features that make it more accessible than all of the cinema-level gear head cameras in the store.

If you're a filmmaker needing another B-cam, a beginner wanting to step into cinema-level footage, or even a novice filmmaker needing an extra tool, this is the setup for you.

Differences Between FX30 & FX3

The most significant difference between the two cameras is that the FX30 is an APSC camera, and the FX3 is a full-frame camera. The sensor is smaller than the APSC camera; therefore, it won't perform as well as a full frame in low light conditions; because the Dual-Base ISO for the FX3 is 640 and 12,800, whereas the FX30 is 800 and 2500.

Having a smaller sensor isn't always bad, though — by using APSC sensors, you'll get what's called a crop factor when attaching lenses with a 1.5x multiplier. This comes in handy for two reasons; the first is that APSC lenses are often more affordable, and if you want to shoot things at a distance, you'll get an extra 1.5x boost on that 70-200mm lens 105-300mm. What's nice here is that Sony uses the same mounting system for APSC lenses and their full-frame lenses, meaning you can use the lenses interchangeably.

Another perk of having a smaller sensor requires less battery drain, and you'll get more battery life out of your FX30 and a slightly lighter camera body (646g) than the FX3 (715g).

Finally, while many shooting specs are similar to the FX3 in 4k, 10bit, Slog3, and Cinetone, this camera has an additional crop of 1.6x when shooting in 4k 120FPS.

Overall, there's a lot of overlap between these cameras; they look identical physically. For pixel peepers, however, it's nice to dive deep and see the granular differences. All that said, we were blown away by the performance of this camera and would highly recommend it to any beginner filmmaker or even as a B-Camera to someone who is more experienced.

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APS-C Lens Differences

The Sony FX30 camera rocks the APS-C lens mount system, meaning the sensor's physical dimensions indicate a different pixel count. A full-frame sensor has 36mm by 24mm in size based on the traditional 35mm film format. An APS-C sensor is 1.5 times smaller, 25.1mm by 16.7mm, and named after the Advanced Photo System type-C film format, hence its abbreviation.

This term – full-frame – was defined in contrast to more minor, or APS-C, camera sensors. A full-frame lens is roughly equivalent to a 35mm film frame, while an APS-C sensor is slightly smaller. When you mount a full-frame lens on a camera with an APS-C sensor, you will get a crop factor; your camera's APS-C-size sensor magnifies the scene to produce an image that will match the lens's full-frame image circle.

The effect is that a 50mm full-frame lens mounted on an APS-C body with a 1.5x crop factor will capture a field-of-view that is the same as a 75mm on a full-frame body.

35mm film has historically been the more popular format due to its near-perfect size for capturing almost anything under the radar. In the analog world, it's much easier to carry a 35mm camera than a medium or large format camera, no? While more compact, they're seemingly large enough to produce high-quality photos making them a highly desirable piece for professional and amateur photographers alike.

There are a few disadvantages of paying the higher price for a full frame, as with anything. Along with the more shiny price tag, full-frame cameras and lenses are heavier in size and weight, thus much more cumbersome to carry for travel enthusiasts. Additionally, if you're looking to shoot far away subjects or wildlife, you'll need a ton of extra reach. Because of the crop factor, an APS-C camera will give you a 1.5x or 1.6x extension on your lens focal lengths, which is invaluable for achieving the close-up shots that sports or wildlife photographers adore. And finally, because of how an APS-C crop factor works, it's easier to gain a deeper, richer depth of field. If you want to capture an entire scene sharply, you won't have to stop down as much–which is fantastic for shooting in low-light situations.

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E 15mm F1.4 G Lens

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In Detail

Sony's acclaimed image sensor technology in a new back-illuminated 20.1 megapixels APS-C Exmor R™ CMOS sensor (Super 35 format) achieves impeccably high sensitivity, low noise, and wide dynamic latitude. The camera body's 6K oversampling compresses a vast amount of information into 4K output, delivering 4K movies with overwhelming resolution quality. Each clip provides an expressive depth of field, stunning bokeh, and cinematic freedom of an APS-C size sensor. The image sensor maximizes light collection efficiency with a standard ISO sensitivity between 100 to 32000 and latitude at an impressively wide 14+ stops.

The camera's active mode utilizes an in-body 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilizer and provides increased stabilization for movie shooting. A precision gyroscope sensor accurately measures camera shake and compensates optically, making stable video possible even when shooting handheld without a gimbal, while walking, and at 4K high resolution.

When recording with the S-Log3 gamma curve, the low-contrast image displayed on the monitor can make it difficult to judge how the final image will look. The FX30 allows custom LUTs to be applied to the LCD monitor and HDMI output, providing a more accurate preview of the final image. LUTs can also be embedded in clips to facilitate post-production processing. The FX30 includes a new s709 preset LUT that can provide a more cinematic look while monitoring. In addition to the preset LUTs, up to 16 user LUTs (.cube format) can be imported into the camera via memory card.

What It Does

  • Flexible ISO, Cine EI Quick and Cine EI Log shooting modes

  • User LUTs can be applied to the LCD display and HDMI output and embedded in clips

  • Dual Base ISO and a 14+ stop range

  • Log recording for smooth cinematic image quality when color grading

  • Dependable, accurate autofocus with Real-time Eye and Real-time Tracking AF

What It Has

  • Image stabilization Active Mode

  • Uninterrupted 15 4K 60p recording with cooling fan ventilation

  • Proxy recording for efficient editing workflow

  • Time code input synchronization capability

  • Still image shooting function

  • Dual card slots

  • Recording (tally) lamps

  • USB PD support

Specs

  • 20.1 MP Exmor R™ APS-C (Super 35mm format) image sensor with wide dynamic range

  • S-Cinetone TM for a cinematic look straight out of the camera

  • Up to 4K (QFHD) 120p with autofocus

  • 4K 16-bit RAW output 10 from HDMI terminal