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Sony FX30 Camera - Part 1

In late October 2022 Sony announced the FX30 as part of its so called 'cinema line'. I had intended buying a Sony FX6 - to upgrade my FS5 - but instead I pre-ordered the FX30. It arrived a month later - in fact I think I was one of the very first in the UK to have one. Now in August 2023, after owning it for quite some time, did I make the right decision in buying it? Read more to find out…

PART 1 - My Initial FX30 Set-Up

Like many service businesses, the Covid Lockdowns hit my videography business very, very hard. A near full order book of interesting industrial/commercial projects evaporated overnight and, as a sole owner/director of a small Limited company, I then had practically zero financial support/UK Government hand-outs.

My Sony FS5 has been a great camera (still is in many ways) but since I got it in 2015 many improvements have occurred in camera sensors, codecs and (deep breath) autofocus features. For many reasons I needed a camera that would shoot UHD in 10-Bit 4:2:2 and occasionally at high frame rates for some of my corporate clients too. I also needed a small, low profile/inconspicuous video camera for personal travel/vacation shooting. The FX30 seemed to fit the bill and was priced keenly, so I thought, why not give it a try - and so the CVP order went in!

Initially, I just bought the body, as I was not keen on spending extra for the XLR handle unit - unless I thought the camera had real merit. Soon after getting the FX30 I realised it was indeed a highly capable little bit of kit and I could see how useful it could be in my work. I already owned the Sony SELP 18-105mm OSS G F4 lens (as it was bought with my FS5). It is a reasonable and flexible lens for run-n-gun (and the power zoom feature works well with both the FS5 and FX30) but far too slow for some shots. I already have an extensive range of fast, high quality Canon glass and a super fast Tokina wide angle, all used on my FS5 with Metabones adapters, including the speed booster when needed for some of the full frame glass.

FX30 600px

However, if I was to use the much talked about autofocus features of the FX30 then I would need to buy more native Sony lenses. So I set about buying a couple of decent, fast ones. My budget was tight as very little money was being earned at that stage - see second paragraph! Thus, I decided to risk buying good 'pre-loved' lenses on on eBay.

The first purchase was a Sony Zeiss FE 55mm F1.8. This full frame lens was chosen as a potential portrait/interview lens and was obtained for a super price. It arrived well packaged and was exactly as described, in mint condition!

The second purchase was a Sony 20mm FE G F1.8 lens. Again a super example of a full-frame lens arrived in perfect, essentially mint condition for a couple of hundred quid less than a new one might have been. By the way, I looked hard at the Sony 24mm FE G F1.4 but decided (on crop sensors like the FX30 and my FS5) that this 20mm would be much more useful for my needs - as well being much more affordable!

So why buy full-frame lenses? Simple, one day I may also buy a Sony FX6…although more and more I'm thinking I'd buy a crop sensor FX60, if Sony ever produce it!

I also bought a variety of good quality (fixed) ND filters to fit these lenses as well as a NEEWER variable one (1-5 ND stops).

The FRAGILE FX30 Top Handle

Next I decided to buy the Sony XLR handle for the FX30. Few were available used but I did find a seller of brand new ones on eBay. To my horror it arrived badly damaged! It was packaged in a tight fitting box with little to no padding by the seller - and at some point it seems the box got crushed a bit! Luckily, the seller was a genuine guy and sent me another one at no cost - once I'd shown him the pictures of the damage directly below.

FX30TopHandle BROKE A 600px

FX30TopHandle BROKE B 600px

The replacement was also brand new and it arrived in perfect condition - since it was packaged far better! This really does highlight just how weak the XLR handle's mounting area is, in particular, on this plasticky unit. I'll be treating mine very, very carefully from now on. I see many pictures on the web of all sorts of heavy monitors and other stuff bolted to/hanging off these handles and wonder just how long those XLR handle's will last. Seems many FX30 owners really don't realise just how fragile the unit is - You've been warned!

FX30TopHandle B 600px

I also bought a Peak Design wrist strap (excellent, and well worth the high price - the previous one I tried was immediately sent back to the amazon seller as it was far too flimsy). I bought two more (genuine) NPFZ100 Sony batteries and an aftermarket charger for them too. I already had an excellent, small Petrol/Satchler camera ruck sack type camera bag.

FX30TopHandle 600px

I now had the basics of a small and light FX30 shooting kit and I'm mostly loving it. Hopefully, I'll write a few more blog posts on how I've been getting on with the FX30 as soon as I next have time. Part 2 will probably cover what I've found to be its good and bad points.