In the world of Sony digital cameras, things are becoming a little perplexing. If you bought the fantastic Sony a7S III recently, you undoubtedly felt extremely delighted and confident in your purchase until now. It’s a real winner, with dependable autofocus, buttery-smooth image stabilisation, solid ergonomics, long battery life, and stunning full-frame 4K footage up to 60p and 4K 120p with a slight crop.
When it comes time to announce a successor to the Sony a7S III, Sony surprises everyone by unveiling the Sony FX3. So, what were Sony’s thoughts? Is the FX3 a better video camera? Should you make the change? Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about the FX3 vs. a7S III debate.
Let’s start by comparing the pricing of the two cameras because that’s what we do when evaluating them side by side. The debate over the Fx3 vs. a7S III is no different. Here’s how they look:
$3,898 for the FX3.
$3,498 for the a7S III
You’ll pay $400 more for the FX3 than you would for the a7S III. What will you get with an extra $400?
If you only looked at the sensor and image quality, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is the same camera. The a7S III and the FX3 perform the same function. Internally, the maximum 4K resolution for both is 3840×2160. Externally, both cameras have a resolution of 4264×2408. Full-frame 4K is possible up to 60 frames per second, and 4K 120 frames per second is possible with a slight crop. Additionally, both cameras are capable of shooting at 240 frames per second in 1080p and will feature a 10% crop at both 120 and 240 frames per second.
Both have a dynamic range of 15 stops and an ISO range of 80-102, 400. What about RAW and codec data? Yes, you guessed it. They’re both in possession of the same thing: AVCHD, XAVC S-I, and XAVC HS 4K RAW 16-bit In addition, the colour data is the same: a RAW format of 10 bits by 2 bytes by 8 bits by 2 bytes by default For ProRes RAW recording, you’ll need the Atomos Ninja V regardless of the camera you’re using.
As expected from a Sony digital camera, the FX3 and a7S III deliver superb (and similar) image quality. You’ll have a hard time distinguishing between the two here.
So, how about ergonomics? The size and weight difference is insignificant. The FX3 weighs 715g with batteries loaded, while the a7S III weighs just under 699g. That insignificant difference will have no effect on how you shoot.
In general, both cameras perform admirably. However, there are some significant design differences. The a7S III is a much more ‘traditional’ Alpha series camera. The shape and overall finish reflect Sony’s flagship models’ gradual evolution over the last few years. Many people may find this more comfortable and familiar. The a7S III also has the desirable swivel-and-tilt LCD monitor.
The FX3, on the other hand, has some significant differences. Regrettably, the monitor only swivels. Sony has also removed the viewfinder, which may irritate some of you. Where the viewfinder used to be, you can now attach the top handle that comes with the camera. In addition to allowing you to hold the camera more steadily from above, it also includes twin XLR/TRS connectors, which are the industry standard for professional audio in filmmaking. This is a great addition.
While the a7S III can be equipped with an XLR adapter kit, it’s good to have balanced audio on the FX3. Sony clearly intends to position the FX3 as the go-to camera for high-quality videography and filmmaking.
The thread holes on the body have advanced that ambition even further. There are five 14-20 UNC threads on the body and three more on the handle. These effectively convert the camera into a ready-to-go cage. Again, the Sony a7S III has the option of purchasing a cage, so having these features built into the camera gives the FX3 a slight advantage here.
Specifications for audio
The Sony FX3 includes balanced audio right out of the box. Sony.com is the source.
As previously stated, it appears that the FX3 has an advantage in terms of audio right out of the box. The FX3 comes with 2x XLR/TRS, 4ch 16-bit 48 kHz LPCM + 1x 3.5 mm jack (2ch), whereas the a7S III has 1x 3.5 mm jack, 2ch 16-bit 48 kHz LPCM. Of course, once you get the XLR adapter kit for the a7S III, the two are virtually indistinguishable.
According to the storey of this FX3 vs. a7S III battle, there isn’t much of a difference between the two when it comes to autofocus. Both perform admirably, as we’ve come to expect from Sony digital cameras. Both make use of the same focus aids, including the tried-and-true zebra markings, histogram, and in-camera metre.
However, if Sony truly intends to position the FX3 as the go-to choice for professional filmmakers and videographers, they could have included something extra, such as built-in false colours and waveforms. Perhaps a future firmware update?
Stabilization of images
There are no surprises here. Both have excellent image stabilisation in-house. The FX3 has one advantage in this regard: it generates gyro information. However, in order to stabilise the footage using that data, you’ll need to use Sony’s Catalyst software, which can be time-consuming.
There is no apparent winner when it comes to battery life when comparing the Sony FX3 vs the Sony a7S III. Both use the same battery, and the FX3 will last 5 minutes longer, which is a negligible difference.
Sony FX3: $78 for 95 minutes
Sony a7S III: $78 for 90 minutes
So far, there isn’t much of a difference between the FX3 and the Sony a7S III. However, upon closer examination, there are a few key differences that may sway you one way or the other.
Is the F-X-3 capable of shooting stills?
As previously stated, the FX3 lacks a viewfinder, making it a video-only camera. It also has a top handle, which indicates that it was specifically designed for videography and filmmaking. The a7S III does have a viewfinder, which gives it an advantage when it comes to still photography.
The Sony a-7S III. Sony.com is the source.
An additional feature of the FX3 is a tally lamp, which is a small light that lets the user and the subject know when the camera is taking pictures or video. There’s also a zoom lever. Depending on how you use it, it may or may not be useful.
Is the F-X3 prone to overheating?
There’s one more thing to consider: the true, key differentiator between the two. While the FX3 does not have a viewfinder, it does have a fan for overheating issues. Overheating is a well-known issue with some Sony digital cameras, and the a7S III is no exception. It will overheat after 1 hour of shooting at 60fps ALL-I. It also overheats after about 30 minutes of shooting ALL-I 120fps.
Sony boasts that the FX3, with its built-in fan, can record continuously at 4K 60p without limit or overheating. This is unquestionably a winning point.
Is the Sony FX-3 worth the money?
Ultimately, it’s clear that Sony designed the FX3 with video and filmmaking in mind. However, are there enough differences to distinguish it from the a7S III when the latter’s advantages for photography are considered?
Apart from the one genuine standout feature of the fan addressing overheating issues, we’re not sure if Sony needed to introduce the FX3 when the a7S III already serves this market so well. With some firmware updates, it might be able to become the game changer Sony hopes it will be. But we can’t shake the feeling that the FX3’s few distinguishing features could have been incorporated into the a7S III. Perhaps the raging FX3 vs. a7S III debate was unnecessary.