Sony is KILLING IT. New Lenses, Cameras…and well, I bought the FX3.
By Steve Huff
Ok, I give in. I admit, I have recently been a bit disenchanted with Sony. Not much of what they were offering excited me, but I admit and must apologize. I was going through a strange phrase with my photography lately. Maybe I have been cooped up too long due to this pandemic (though we now have our 1st dose of the vaccine) or maybe I was just tired of seeing new product after new product and prices going through the stratosphere from ALL companies. I don’t know but over the last 2 weeks I have really dug in and spoken to a few friends who shoot Sony. I found out what they thought of these new releases and if they were excited by them. They were, and are. After taking a real close look at it all, I really started to feel like Sony may be the hardest working company in the photo industry right now as they are putting out some pretty amazing products for photographers.
THIS VIDEO IS NOT PUBLIC on YouTube. It’s unlisted so not many views, as I want to make a longer better video about the FX3 soon. Even so, you can see it here, below. I shot it late night at ISO 12,800 and even share ISO 102k footage in darkness. Crazy!
The reality of todays life is we are always bombarded with NEW and BETTER and we are all tempted to buy the new and better each year. That will not change.
Me, I have no brand that I specifically love or am loyal to these days as they are all making great stuff. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fuji, Hasselblad, Sigma..all making great cameras and lenses. When we really look at the details though, Sony is improving their gear at a rapid pace. They have dramatically improved their color performance over the years from Disney candy coated pop to natural and deep colors with a great look. Their video specs are amazing as well, and their S-Cinetone color profile is gorgeous right out of camera for video shooters.
When the A7SIII came out, a camera I waited years for, I didn’t buy one as I expected to. I had a feeling something else would be coming from Sony that was even more video-centric. I have been searching for a perfect smaller body cinema camera. I have tried many cameras for my uses and most have failed. The Panasonic S5 while having beautiful cinematic quality and color fails in Auto Focus, and that is its only real weakness IMO. The Leica SL2-S, even worse in Auto Focus for video. The Canon R6 was hit or miss with AF as well. I even own a Canon C300 III that had the AF missing often in my video work.
I have had all of the above cameras and there is only one that rose above them all for what I do with video.
When I saw Sony release the FX3, which is basically a cinema version of the A7SIII I fell in love with the body style immediately. Very non Sony like I design and more like a large Sigma fp, it had all of the buttons, controls and features I wanted, along with Sony’s world class AF, which no one can compete with, period.
I bought one and fell in love immediately. It is the best video/cinema camera I have used, even preferring it to my $11,000 Canon C300 III which is Canon’s latest version of the C300 with a Super 35 Sensor. The Sony has a full frame sensor, much better low light, much better AF and now I feel (gulp) even better color than even the Canon. The Sony even has a better audio preamp (imo) with XLR implementation. The Canon would be better for films, and commercial work as it can shoot RAW in camera but the Sony with the addition of an Atoms Ninja V can do just as good.
The FX3 is an amazing camera for video, and I use it daily ever since it arrived. I shoot it with the 20 1.8 (which I feel is like a G Master Lite) and 35 1.8 but will eventually be upgrading to a few G Master lenses. The 16-35 GM, the 35 1.4 GM, the new 50 1.2 GM and possibly the beautiful 135 GM or something longer.
In fact the FX3 is what opened my eyes to what Sony is doing today. Sure, it IS an A7SIII in a new shell with new controls and an included XLR handle but the experience counts for me just as much as the output. Sony is taking on all competitors and releasing amazing bodies and lenses at a blistering rate to satisfy the demands of those who want it and need it.
I recently wrote an article talking of my dissatisfaction with consumerism and how it’s always about the new..but I removed it as after I wrote it I felt I should not have posted it. Just because that was my opinion doesn’t mean it is fact or what others feel. I was wrong on many points so removed it after a few hours.
With that said, yep, we live in a consumer world where we consume all that is marketed to us. We are blitzed with advertising from YouTube where reviewers get gear sent to them in exchange for a review, which in turn is indeed advertising for the camera companies. They send to those who will give them good press and that is how cameras are sold today. But that is life, how it is, and it doesn’t mean these products suck. Actually they are pretty amazing as tech is moving fast and it gets better and better each year.
Sony has released many technologically impressive products recently.
The 35 1.4 GM Lens
The 50 1.2 GM Lens
Even the small Sony A7C.
All of these are fantastic and fit in a price bracket for almost anyone. All are full frame which offers superior low light, dynamic range and color depth. I love my FX3 so much I may order a second. One for my studio and one for run and gun or shooting outside when I am out and about (for which I now use a GoPro 9 for and enjoy it). I have my FX3 set up for studio lighting, and would be nice to just keep it there on its tripod while I use another for other things. It’s THAT good which means the A7SIII is also THAT good. I have had an A7SIII here recently to compare and also loved it, but I prefer the FX3 for my video use due to the included XLR handle, the controls, the tally lights and the cage free body design which is square and stout. I like the square vibe I guess : )
While being cold on Sony for the last two years I have now warmed back up as so many things have been improved and they are working to ensure the pro market is taken care of as well as newbies and hobbyists.
Now, just because I am praising Sony here doesn’t mean I am saying the others are bad, not at all. They are all doing great things and offer each of us a solution that may speak to you more than Sony does. All I am saying is Sony is killing it. The new 50 1.2 GM lens looks amazing. I was briefed on it before it was announced and was in awe of the samples and fast AF and silent performance with video. I will buy this lens. The 24 GM is also fantastic, and the best 24 I have used. The 35 1.4 GM, while I had it here for a bit, I did not have much time at all with it, but from what I saw it was fantastic as well.
In fact, I am selling all of my camera gear (besides my 907x) and will now be locked into Sony from this point on for my personal uses and work. The reasons are above but they just work and works well without frustration. They have improved their color, speed, AF and well, everything. I remember when my old A9 would overheat with video within minutes in the AZ heat. That was part of what started my love for Sony to fade some. Today though they have fixed just about everything. They are making strides and make no mistake, no one can get close to the Sony Auto Focus. Their Eye Detect is astonishing with video or photo.
There is a reason Sony sells more mirrorless cameras than anyone else. They are technically as good as it gets. While their bodies are still “meh” IMO, my guess is that they will soon improve that again as well, soon.
I can HIGHLY recommend the FX3 and A7SIII if you shoot video. Not so much for stills as the 12MP resolution today is kind of low res. My pref is still 24 MP but todays 50 is also looking pretty darn good. To me, the FX3 is a cinema camera masterpiece and while many will overlook it due to the A7SIII, if you are mainly a video or cinema person, it’s up there with the FX6 in quality but in a small package that can go anywhere easily.
Can’t wait to see the 35mm & 50mm GM reviews.
Are you also selling Leica kit?
I agree with you 100% about Sony. Although personally the 36mm sensors are not my cup of tea – I am a Micro 4/3 shooter primarily. I also believe that 12Mpx is enough for photography, although 24Mpx is the ‘sweet spot’ as you say. (Side note: the X1D has way richer files than the SL-2).
One thing that baffles me is that people who know less than I do about optics were saying that Sony can’t make super-fast lenses due to the FE mount’s diameter. Like, what? Hello? People were adapting the Noctilux to the A7 ever since the A7 was new. Sony’s 50/1.2 is lighter and faster than Canon’s. Add that kind of product to better AF and better sensors, and the choice is very clear.
Speaking of GAS, I’m leaning a bit the other way. After I build my Micro 4/3 kit, I’m looking at an M8/9 kit with a few CV lenses. 🙂
Like you, I’ve just returned to Sony after a burn out sabbatical from photography/videography and trying to give GAS a backseat.
Having said that with the pandemic I recently got back into playing with some video of my family. Nothing really special but it’s dark here 5 months of the year in early afternoon, so I wanted something that could focus in low light on my puppy running around the garden.
I have to admit that I completely agree with your assessment on Sony. They are killing it. I picked up the A7siii and the colours are rich, the focus in low light is great and video has that lovely cinematic look (I use a 1/4 mist filter and S-cinetone)!
What has surprised me is that I purchased the A7siii for video, but I find myself taking it out more for stills than any other camera that I own.
There is something to the look of the files that I cannot put my fingers on. Most of my output for both myself and clientele (used to shoot weddings) are for web. So the 12mp is plenty for instagram, Facebook, website, and I’ve printed a few landscape to 13X19 with no problem. I’d happily go to 20X30 for portraiture and even a well captured landscape.
I guess my point is, don’t forget to try and take some photos of Debbie with your new FX3… you might be surprised…. the files have a certain look to them that I think you get with BIG FAT pixels!
Interesting Tom : Big Fat Pixels
” FX3… files have a certain look to them that I think you get with BIG FAT pixels!”
Fx3 (and A7s series) Big Fat Pixel pitch 8.40um size very similar to
Nikon D700 pixel pitch 8.42um
Even larger Pixels :
Sigma SD10 pixel pitch 9.16um
Nikon D2H pixel pitch 9.58um which I think Steve had I remember Orangutan photo I think Steve photographed with D2H.
Largest Pixels :
Canon 1d pixel pitch 11.57um
this is even larger than medium format digital backs as PhaseOne P25 9um pixel pitch.
I’ve actually been looking into 3CCD video camera as Sony Z1E
Werner Herzog’s documentary Encounters at the End of the Word in 2007
was filmed solely on this Sony Z1E (dv tapes).
I understand keeping Hasselblad 907x and selling sigma fp.
I would do same for photography.
For small rig video Fx3 also I would keep and sell sigma fp.
I would recommend camcorder as Fx3 for Vlogging to anyone.
Not stills cameras A7s3 S1 S5 R5 Z6 Z7 that take videos.
FYI, the new Sony 35/1.4 is reported to breath heavily, which is bad for video. I expect the same from the new 50/1.2. Maybe stick to Sigma. The Sigma 28, 40, and 105 don’t breathe at all and are much better lenses especially for video
Hi Steve, Dont you miss an EVF on the FX3? (in bright sunlight its useless for example). There isnt even an accessory for it.
And what about the sigma fp? Have you compared these two on IQ front?
The fp can shoot raw internally (even 4k on 8 bit) which this one cant.
For what I use the FX3 for I do not need an EVF. I do not use it for photos at all, and the little LCD is plenty for me for what I use it for. I have a Atomos Ninja V but have yet to attach it. I will soon though as the FX3, for me, is set up mainly as a studio camera that lives on a tripod. As for the fp, I will have more on that this week ; )