Sony releases firmware update for FX3 and FX30

Sony has released firmware updates for both its full-frame FX3 and Super 35 FX30 Cinema Line cameras. The updates are Version 3.00 for the FX3 and 2.00 for the Sony FX30. They add some of the features that have been most requested by users of the cameras.

True 24.00p

The Sony FX3 and FX30 are sold as digital cinema cameras, yet neither could record at true 24.00 fps. This frame rate is used for projects screened at a cinema rather than 23.976 fps which many video cameras use. However, the firmware updates for the FX3 and FX30 mean that the cameras can now record in true 24.00p. In addition, the updates add a new XAVC S-I DCI 4K recording format. DCI 4K has a resolution of 4096 by 2160 with an aspect ratio of 17:9. Again, this is the preferred resolution for cinema projection. It is slightly wider than the 16:9 ratio 3840 by 2160 UHD format, which is used for television and video.

Anamorphic de-squeeze

The firmware updates for the FX3 and FX30 have also added anamorphic de-squeeze. Previously, when you filmed with an anamorphic lens, the image on the LCD screen would appear squashed. This could make shot composition more challenging. However, now Sony has added an anamorphic de-squeeze option so that the image on the LCD screen or via the HDMI out appears in the correct proportions. There are settings for 1.3x and 2x de-squeeze. In addition, where the image is wider than the standard 2.39:1 aspect ratio, Sony has added frame guides to show the 2.39:1 part of the image.     

Focus breathing compensation

Firmware 3.00 for the FX3 adds focus breathing compensation when you shoot with compatible lenses. Focus breathing is when the image changes size as you pull focus. Focus breathing compensation minimizes these shifts in the field of view at the time of filming. You can also apply further correction in post-production using the Catalyst Prepare/Browse and the Catalyst Prepare Plugins. The FX30 already had focus breathing compensation.

Other improvements

With both the FX3 and FX30, you can now switch between standard and S&Q (slow & quick) filming modes with a button press. Previously you had to go into a menu system. Additionally, the file naming structure on the FX3 and FX30 is now similar to Sony’s high-end CineAlta cameras, such as the FX9, VENICE and VENICE 2. This makes for an easier workflow when the FX3 or FX30 are used with the CineAlta cameras. Finally, the new firmware also updates the smartphone connection on the cameras. This is so you can use the FX3 and FX30 with Sony’s new Creators’ Cloud platform and Creators’ App.

What we think

The firmware updates 3.00 for the FX3 and 2.00 for the FX30 add some important features that should be on all cinema cameras. The addition of a 4K DCI recording format and true 24.00p frame rate are significant advances for both cameras. The inclusion of anamorphic de-squeeze modes is also something to welcome. In addition, FX3 owners will be relieved to see focus breathing compensation arrive on their cameras after it appears on the much cheaper FX30. There are still some features that the FX3 and FX30 need, such as the ability to choose shutter angle rather than shutter speed, as well as false color for exposure. However, the firmware updates show that Sony is continuing to support their entry-level Cinema Line cameras, which is great to see.

Pricing and availability

The new FX3 Version 3.00 and FX30 Version 2.00 firmware updates are available to download now from the Sony website.

Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.

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