The Sony FX3 is one of our favourite small form factor cameras on the market currently. However, there are a few ways to add to it to make it even better for video productions.
Whilst the recommendations below are mainly for the FX3, a lot of them will also apply to the a7S III but let’s start off talking about rigging. There are now cage options on the market for the FX3 and a solid cage could be needed for certain configurations and for the a7S III, it’s really a must-have. I’ve seen people say ‘Why would I need a cage for the FX3, it has one built-in!’. Well, there are a few reasons, first off the camera only has a single thread on the bottom which means when attaching it to accessories like a tripod plate the camera can end up spinning on that single thread — especially if you move or carry the tripod with the camera attached to it still which we are all guilty of sometimes! The rest of the ¼” threads are also not in the best positions for various different reasons.
Smallrig’s half cage for the FX3, looks to be the most versatile solution. The 8sinn cage is a good option too, though it seems to have been designed within Sony’s G Master spec and you can run into some issues mounting some lenses with it fitted.
One big reason to pick up a cage for these cameras, however, is if you are using the cameras with wider lenses they can be difficult to mount on a tripod because the barrel of the lens will go lower than the base of the camera. That means mounting them onto long tripod plates can be a pain. Having a cage that adds height to the camera fixes this! However, if you want to keep your rig as compact as possible there are a few nice accessories worth looking at. Smallrig has the 1421, which has a ¼” cold shoe adapter that you will be able to mount straight onto the camera. These are so cheap I would grab a couple and have them in your kit bag in case you ever need them. We also really like the Kippertie Smart cable wraps which are bongo ties with a twist, the ability to be mounted to a ¼” thread; this means you can mount lightweight accessories in a pinch or tie cables up really neatly.
The FX3 comes with a fantastic top handle that features a very similar audio module to the XLR-K3M which was designed for the latest generation of Alpha series cameras. Though this audio unit is great to have, it’s worth thinking about what audio solutions you are going to be using with it. If you are using a more traditional wireless lav system, you may struggle mounting them somewhere nicely.
Sennheiser’s AVX system is great for this as it mounts directly into the XLR without needing to mount the pack. One solution I can also see being popular with the FX3 is the Rode Wireless GO II as, for its price, it provides a lot of bang for its buck. However, if you want to use this with the FX3 top handle you will need to either plug it into the 3.5mm input on the audio module or use a 3.5mm to XLR adapter such as the Rode VXLR to adapt it. Because the Wireless GO II is so small and light, mounting it will be easy. The best solution I could think of would be to mount it to a cold shoe using the clip on the back of the receiver. You can use the SmallRig 1241 that we mentioned earlier on the side of the body to do this as there isn’t really anywhere else left to mount it.
If you are planning on using your FX3 with other larger cameras you may want to sync your cameras using some kind of Timecode solution. One really nice solution for the FX3 is Tentacle’s ecosystem and the Sync E & Track E. The Sync E is great for syncing and the Track E is an awesome 32-bit float audio recorder that you can sync with the Sync E units. This is a really nice compact solution and mounting the Sync E on-camera or the Track E on talent, will be pretty easy because they are incredibly light units and feature internal batteries. You could easily mount it on top of the XLR unit using some sturdy velcro, or if you want a more robust solution Tentacle makes a bracket that will mount directly onto a ¼-20 thread. Tentacle also makes two different quick release kits, a v mount quick release version and cold shoe mount version.
If you are wanting to run a shotgun mic with the FX3 you’ll need to pick one up. The ECM-XM1 (as used on the K3M) is great but isn’t readily available, so our go-to recommendations are the RODE Videomic NTG or Deity V-Mic D3 Pro. Both of these mics come with a standard 3.5mm cable so you will need to grab a Rode VXLR adapter to plug it into one of the XLR ports. You will also need to grab a Sony microphone spacer if you are going to pick up a shotgun microphone that isn’t from Sony — without this shotgun mics will wobble around in the shock mount.
One of the features we really wanted to see in the FX3 was the addition of the same internal ND system as the FX6 but, unfortunately, we didn’t. That makes a good ND system an absolute must. There are only a few E-mount ND systems on the market, but their autofocus performance leaves a lot to be desired. So, until Sony or maybe even Sigma plug this hole in the market, our go-to recommendation is the Revoring. This simple accessory is essentially a variable step-up ring that you can mount your ND filter to and then quickly switch it between your different lenses. This is available with either an ND filter built-in or without so you can use your own filters, the latter being what I recommend as it’s much more flexible and allows you to use any filter you’d like. We’ve used the ND filter version a bunch on several shoots and have been impressed with the quality of the ND and the adapter system itself.
The back LCD is definitely handy, and the ability to use it for touch control and focus is really handy, though it does lack brightness in bright light conditions. However one of the downsides of the FX3 is the limited exposure tools — unlike the rest of the cinema line, the FX3 does not have a Waveform and also doesn’t have False Colour, which, given its “cinema” classification, is a bit frustrating. One way around this is to use an external monitor which does feature these tools, such as the Atomos Ninja V. This can mount really nicely with the correct accessory such as using the Smallrig Half cage we mentioned earlier. Smallrig also makes a HDMI protector which will also be a great purchase if you are wanting to run a monitor on your rig
The FX3 shares so much with the a7S III but it has had its EVF removed. An EVF can be really handy in certain lighting conditions, but if you want one for the FX3 there aren’t any small options on the market currently. The Portkeys LEYE is probably the best balance of cost and performance, but if you want a more traditional EVF solution you’re then looking at the £1000 plus point with the need to power and mount it differently.
The NP-FZ100 batteries that the FX3 uses are pretty great and do last a decent amount of runtime. However, they do limit what they can break out to, this means power accessories such as Anton Bauer’s Titon Base Kit or a more complex rig with a VLOCK plate. Adding a larger battery source not only means you can power the camera and accessories all from one battery, but it also adds weight. This is useful as adding weight to a nice solid rig will make your handheld footage look much smoother!
We haven’t mentioned lenses but we recently did a video looking at several general-purpose E mount zooms from Sigma and Sony and compared them to an adapted Canon zoom too to see the differences when it comes to performance and autofocus. You can check that out here . If you are looking at using more cine orientated lenses you really need to make sure you lock your lens down as much as possible as the E-mount used on the FX3 will have some play in the mount which can result in image shift when focusing or zooming, which really doesn’t look good.
The FX3 is an awesome camera and the improvements here could make using the camera even better for you or your next production. If you are looking at picking up an FX3, why not get in contact with us too so we can properly recommend all the kit you may need.
We made a video which goes into more detail, which you can watch here.
If you want to see any of the gear we feature in our videos, get in touch to book a demo – either online or face to face. We’ve got everything you need to personalise your camera and create your perfect combination of accessories to suit your operating style – talk to one of our experts on +44 (0) 208 380 7400