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Is the Sony FX3 just a Sony A7S III designed for drones?

Sony FX3 leaked – and looks set to bring the fight to Canon once again
(Image credit: Nokishita)

UPDATE: The Sony FX3 has been officially announced and we can confirm that much of the leaked information has proved true. However, there has been no information so far to suggest a connection between the FX3 and Sony's Airpeak system. The new camera has no special capabilities for drone use and is, in fact, heavier than the existing A7S III.

Read the Sony FX3 announcement

Sony

(Image credit: Gaston Shutters)

UPDATE (15 Feb): Meanwhile, a new report claims that the upcoming Sony FX3 "is a Sony A7S III in a square boxy design and features still capabilities. The reason being: Airpeak new drone."

If true, the Sony FX3 would mark the second time that the video-oriented Sony A7S III  has essentially been repurposed for the FX cine line – the first being the Sony FX6, which gave the A7S III a traditional cinema camera form factor.

Now, according to YouTuber Gaston Shutters, the manufaccturer is repeating the exercise to produce a camera that pairs with its new Sony Airpeak drone system (revealed for the first time at CES 2021 in January). 

"While this will be a refined version of the Sony A7S III and a strip down version of it as well, this camera nails it when it comes to what it was designed for," writes the content creator (sentence structure left intact). 

"Also the Sony FX3 could be the most perfect camera for Gimbal work ever created. If you think about it, being minimalistic in size has advantages when flying a camera in gimbals or drones and Sony capitalizes in this fact with the Sony FX3.

"Now what we do know is that the camera will feature basically the same specs of the Sony A7S III this means that the features of the Sony FX3 will be as follow: full frame sensor 12MP , IBIS with Active mode, No ND, same NPFZ 100 battery, CFXpress Type A, but at the same time no EVF which it was necessary to make the Sony FX3 very compact."

He further reports that the Sony FX3 will possess the same codecs and stills capabilities as the A7S III, but will not support RAW capture. With the purported 23 February announcement date just over a week away, we shouldn't have to wait long to find out more. 

UPDATE (12 Feb): More pics of the Sony FX3 have leaked online, along with purported specs, giving us a better feel for the mysterious new camera. 

These new images of the Sony FX3 reveal a cine camera that seems to have a lot in common with the modular Sigma fp, with a form factor similar to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

However, where previously we suspected that the top joystick might be so positioned due to a potentially huge screen that filled the camera rear, it now seems that the LCD screen has conventional dimensions – and the expected rear controls seem to be present and correct.

While these should be taken with a grain of salt, a set of specs leaked by Sony Alpha Rumors confirms that the FX3 will not be an 8K and may indeed occupy a similar position in Sony's lineup to that enjoyed by the Canon EOS C70 in Canon's. 

According to the website, "The reliable specs so far" are as follows:

• Price is €3,795 [approximately $4,600 / £3,320 / AU$5,929]
• Takes CFexpress A cards
• Records 4k 120p and not 8k
• Preorders start on 23 Feb

In addition, the site also quoted a new source providing the following specs:

• "New fx3 is littlebit same as a7s3"
• Active cooling
• XLR adapter in box
• S-Cinetone
• "No overheating after 13hours 4K all-in 10bit 422"
• "3/4 holes on top 2 for xlr adapter 1 free"
• 3/4 on both sizes
• Price is €4,500

It certainly looks like Sony will be unveiling the FX3 at CP+ 2021 on 25-28 February, and we'll no doubt be seeing more leaks before then! 

(Image credit: Sony Alpha Rumors)

(Image credit: Sony Alpha Rumors)

ORIGINAL STORY (11 Feb): Just weeks after the Sony A1 bombshell, another camera has been leaked – and the Sony FX3 could be poised to fire another salvo across Canon's bow.

Much as the Sony A1 launched as a direct competitor to the Canon EOS R5, it looks like the newly revealed Sony FX3 might be set to challenge the Canon EOS C70 – as well as other compact cinema cameras like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

• Read more: Sony A1 vs Canon EOS R5

What's confusing about the Sony FX3 is that it carries the FX designation – making it part of the manufacturer's cine camera series, which includes the Sony FX6 and Sony FX9. However, it also bears the Alpha mark ("α") that suggests it is part of Sony's conventional mirrorless camera range. 

Still, the "Cinema Line FX3" branding on the camera's top plate betrays that Sony is positioning this as another contender for the best cinema camera crown. And the top plate also reveals something else very interesting: a top joystick, which is something we've never seen before.  

This could be incredibly significant. It's entirely possible that a top joystick is simply an added bonus to improve ergonomic handling. However, it's also possible that Sony has delivered a monster 5-inch rear screen (similar to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Cameras, and the increasingly mythical Sharp 8K Video Camera), which means there's no room on the back of the camera for a joystick. 

Further questions are raised by the camera's supposed specs, along with its naming convention. While uber-leaker Nokishita posted the image of the FX3, Mirrorless Rumors shared purported specs that this is "A New 8K ILME VIDEO CAM! It Can Shoot UHD 8K, Oversampled DCI 4K, HFR UHD 4K."

On the one hand, this is entirely possible; this could be the cine camera equivalent of the 8K Sony A1. And, much like the A1 bucked Sony's convention of lower numbers signifying more junior models, this could indeed mean that the FX3 is actually a technically senior camera than the FX6 and FX9.

So where does the truth lie? At the moment, between this and the A1, the video-focused Sony A7S III might just have become completely redundant. Of course, the specs could be incorrect and this could be, like the Canon EOS C70, a hybrid DSLR-styled cine camera that bridges the gap between mirrorless and cinema cameras.

With Japan's CP+ 2021 trade show taking place from 25-28 February, we're willing to bet that we'll find out the answers very soon.

Read more: 

Sony FX6 review
Sony FX9 review
Canon EOS C70 review

James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Phot0: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.