With the holidays coming up, it’s a great time to think about video—whether it’s because you’ll have some downtime, because special things are happening, or because you’d like to really treat an aspiring filmmaker, we know it to be true! Sony has developed quite a following in the videography and content-creation communities, and for good reason. They have several great video-centric camera models, and even the footage from their stills-oriented bodies can look amazing.
Two of their best hand-held options, the FX3 and the Alpha 7S III (α7S III), share a very similar form factor but have some key differences. (Click those names to see our in-depth coverage of their announcements.) Here’s a quick run-down to help you decide which one is right for you.
(And once you decide, don’t delay—global tech supply is still pretty shaky and we are guaranteeing our prices through Christmas, so you won’t have to worry about missing a sale by shopping too early.)
First, of course, we should enumerate the baseline of features shared by both cameras. They are certainly both capable of cinema-quality capture!
- ILC form-factor (the α7S III is slightly taller to accommodate its EVF and the FX3 is slightly thicker to accommodate its cooling fan; their weight is comparable with the FX3 weighing about 25 grams more)
- The same 12 MP BSI CMOS sensor specifically designed to reduce rolling shutter
- BIONZ XR processors—that’s a big brain
- 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 120p internal video recording
- 16-bit RAW external recording
- S-Cinetone, S-Log3 & HLG gamma curves (among others; S-Cinetone one α7S III requires firmware 2.0)
- 15+ stops of dynamic range
- 5-axis IBIS and Active Mode stabilization
- 759-point PDAF and 425-point contrast-dection AF coverage (with Sony’s attendant venerable AF technology like real-time Eye AF)
- Dual SD/CFexpress Type A card slots
- Fully-articulated screen
- Full-size HDMI output
- ~95 minutes continuous video recording or ~600 still images on one Z battery
Not bad, eh? The power is palpable! Now, let’s take a look at what makes each one unique.
|EVF||None||9.44 million dot EVF|
|Cooling system||Passive heat sink + cooling fan (allows unlimited recording)||Passive heat sink (allows up to 1 hour of max-quality video)|
|XLR compatibility||Via included handle||Via separate purchase of XLR-K3M|
|Mounting points||Five ¼-20 screw mounts on body, |
three ¼-20 screw mounts on XLR handle, tripod mount on bottom
|Tripod mount only—cage required for accessory mounts|
|Tally lamps||Front, top, & rear red lights to indicate recording||None|
|Control next to shutter||Power zoom rocker||On/off switch|
That’s about it! If you are absolutely attached to a viewfinder or find yourself capturing stills and video equally, then the α7S III might be the better choice.
On the other hand, if you are looking to go all-in on movie-making, the modest extra cost of the FX3 might be worth it for features like active cooling, the included XLR input/stability handle, and the ¼-20 mounts for cage-free operation. (And, in fact, it’s actually cheaper than the α7S III with an XLR adapter.) For almost all video recording situations, you won’t miss the viewfinder at all.