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Sony Cameras Explained


What’s the difference between a “cine” camera and a “camcorder”? Why are TV cameras so big and the rest so little? Most of the time the camera you buy is based on how much money you have to spend on it and what you need it for. Do you need it for photos or video? Do you have $300 or 40K? Also, what are the differences between the higher-end cameras? Which one is the best?


This article breaks down the different types of cameras Sony offers, what they do and why people use them. Here is the order in which I will explain them. The list is arranged by camera “size.” Also, please keep in mind that this a shortlist and that Sony offers many more cameras than are on this list

• WX350 Compact Camera

• PXW-Z90

• a7 lll

• a7R lll

• a7S lll

• Sony FX3

• PXW-Z190

• PXW-FX9

• Sony Venice

• HDC-5500



WX350 Compact Camera

Easy to use, simple point and shoot camera, no complicated menus or settings, low price, very compact.


These cameras are good for beginners or people who don’t need to take a professional photo exactly. They usually don’t have a lot of the setting pro cameras have and don’t do well in low light. Sometimes better than a phone's camera they are good for taking snapshots of events, parties, and vacations. Can cost anywhere from $100 to $500


Specs:

18.2MP Exmor R CMOS Sensor

Optical Zoom f3.5/6.5

Records HD video 1080/60p

Cost: $288




PXW-Z90

This is a hybrid camera between a camcorder and a professional camera. It’s a basic easy-to-use camera but with pro controls. It's good for shooting events, interviews, or documentaries, anything that needs to be shot quickly.


What makes it easy to use is that it takes zero accessories, it's lightweight and the lens, the audio, and the settings are all there for you out of the box.


What makes it professional is the pro audio input, BNC output, long recording time and battery life, and good autofocus.


Maybe this isn’t best for shooting a movie because of the fixed lens and image quality, and dynamic range but if you wanted to you could. All in all, it’s a great little camera.


Specs:

1-Chip 1" CMOS Sensor

29 to 348mm zoom lens

3840 x 2160p 8-bit at 23.98/25/29.97 fps

1 x HDMI Output

1 x BNC Output

2 x XLR Inputs

Cost: $2,800




a7 lll

A professional still photography camera. Can be customized in hundreds of different ways with many accessories. This camera is pretty much the standard nowadays with DSLRs. Everybody uses them because they are small, lightweight, produce a sharp high-quality image, and don’t break easily.


There is also an a7R lll and a7S lll. The differences between them are small, mostly for technical and marketing reasons.


The a7 lll is an entry-level camera that cost the least of the three (around $2000) and is the happy medium spec-wise between them. The a7R lll does better photos at 42.4MP at 7952px X 5304px. The a7S lll does better video, shooting 4K slow-mo at 119.88p with 10-bit color. That is the difference.


Specs:

24.2MP Full-frame CMOS sensor

6000x4000 Resolution

4k video at 23.97/29.97

1080 video at 119.88/59.94/23.97/29.97 fps

Recording time non stop 29 minutes

Great Autofocus

Cost: $2000





a7R lll

A professional camera that is more for photographers. It takes very high rez pictures and costs a little more than the a7 lll. For serious still photography people.


Specs:

42.4MP Full-Frame CMOS sensor

7952x5304 Resolution

4k video 23.97/29.97

1080 video at 119.88/59.94/29.97/23.97 fps

Recording time non stop 29 minutes

Great Autofocus





a7S lll

A professional camera produces a great image, has a ton of great features. This version focuses more on video. It records in 10bit at 4K in slow-mo witch is huge. This camera cost about double what the a7 lll does so keep in you could get a fully dedicated video camera for that price.


Specs:

12.1MP Full-Frame CMOS sensor

4240x2832 photo resolution

4k video 10-bit, at 119.88/59.94/29.97/23.97 fps

Recording time Unlimited

Great Autofocus

Cost: $3500




Sony FX3

A new camera from Sony that claims to be a low-budget cinema camera. It's almost exactly like the a7S lll however here are the differences.


-The FX3 shoots in S-Cinetone color space.

-It comes with a top handle with 2 LXR inputs and a microphone holder.

-The video capabilities are the same as the a7S lll.

-The FX3 does not have a viewfinder, only an LCD display.


This camera is a little bit of red-headed stepchild of the a7S lll a lot of people wonder why Sony couldn't have offered this, instead of the a7S lll. They are almost the same but the FX3 does offer pro audio and better color science.


Specs:

35.6 x 23.8 mm Full-Frame CMOS sensor

10.2 Megapixel sensor resolution

3840 x 2160p 10-bit at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94/100/119.88 fps

Still Image support in EXIF / JPEG / MJPEG / Raw

External Recording 4264 x 2408 16-Bit at 24/25/30/50/60 fps

1 x HDMI Output

2 x XLR inputs on Included Top Handle

Cost Body Only: $3,900




PXW-Z190

This is a professional camcorder. What makes it a professional camcorder is its attached fixed zoom lens, pro audio imports, and advanced controls. It's better than a camcorder but not as advanced as a professional ENG or Cinema camera.


It’s a dedicated video camera. Where the mirrorless Sony cameras have video options they are more suited for photography. PXW-Z190 video cameras are more suited for shooting video.


What separates this from DSLR cameras like the a7S lll are the pro audio interfaces and controls, the sensor size, recording time, build in ND filters, Battery life, SDI video output, duel recording in 4K and proxies, video setting like zebra stripes, histogram, waveform, etc. It's good for anything as long as its settings meet your needs


Specs:

3-Chip 1/3” CMOS Sensor

3840 x 2160 Resolution

28.8 to 720mm Focal Length

3840 x 2160p at 8 bit at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps

1920-1080p at 10bit at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps

2 x 3-Pin XLR inputs

1 x BNC input/output

Cost: $3,750




PXW-FX9

A full-fledged video camera with every feature you could want. It shoots on a 6K Full-Frame CMOS sensor but outputs it to a 4K image. The idea behind this is that a higher resolution sensor will capture more light and produce a cleaner image.

It can shoot 24p, 30p, up to 180p at 4K 10-bit 4:2:2. It has 3-SDI ports, professional audio control, and build-in XLR, the buttons are laid out in a clear and easy-to-use way, build in ND filters, has dual ISO’s of 800 and 4,000 that both look clear and very low noise.


It's designed for serious professionals and can be used for TV and movies and ENG.


Specs:

35.7 x 18.8 mm Full-Frame CMOS sensor

4096 x 2160p 10-bit at 23.98/24/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps

External Recorder In Raw Mode: 4096 x 2160 16-Bit at 23.98/24/25/29.97 fps

1 x BNC (12G-SDI) Output

1 x BNC (3G-SDI) Output

1 x HDMI (HDMI 2.0) Output

1 x BNC Genlock Data Input

1 x BNC Timecode Data Input/Output

1 x 2.5 mm LANC Control

1 x USB Micro-B USB 3.1 Gen 1 Data

2 x XLR imports

Cost: Body with lens $13,500



Sony Venice

Yup this is it the Daddy of the Sony Camera Line. What makes this camera so good is its big image sensor, high dynamic range, anamorphic settings, connection with Cooke I lens, and build quality. Digital Cine cameras have more powerful image processing hardware and software, record in codecs with higher bit rates, and have better sound capturing features. However, two key factors when choosing a cine or movie camera are the sensor size and resolution. Also even if you only need 1080p footage (YouTube), downscaling a 4K video produces better results than shooting with a camera that tops out at 1080p resolution.


This camera was built to last and the body is very durable, the button layout and menus are very easy to use and are on the side of the camera for easy viewing, and have all the settings you could ever want. It has 4 SDI outputs, 1 4K HDMI output, 1 Monitor out output and 1 VF output. There is also a second smaller menu on the other side of the camera to see and adjust your setting.


This camera has an 8-step ND filter witch means you get more control over the amount of light that hits the sensor and for detailed video work it's very important. If your using this kind of camera then audio usually recorded separately but there is a 5 pin XLR input on the camera if you need it.


It has a dual native ISO of 500 and 2500 witch is common with most high-end cameras nowadays. The “look” of the image is organic and similar to the Arri Alexa cameras that make skin tones rich but natural.


This camera shoots better in low light than other high-end cameras like it, has good color science, all the pro inputs and outputs you could ever need on the other had its heavy, expensive and needs a lot of accessories and you can not burn in a LUT or output a LUT.


Specs:

36.2 x 24.1 mm Full-Frame CMOS sensor

500 and 2500 native ISO

Built-In ND Filter

4096 x 2160p 10-bit at 23.98/24/25/29.97/50/59.94 up to 72 fps

External Recorder In Raw Mode: 4096 x 2160 at 23.98/24/25/29.97/50/59.94 up to 72 fps

External Recorder In X-OCN Mode: 6048 x 4032 at 23.98/24 fps

4 x BNC (12G-SDI) Output

1 x BNC (HD-SDI) Monitor Output

1 x HDMI Output

1 x 5-Pin XLR Mic

Weight 5.8kg (12.81 lbs)

Cost: $40,000~


HDC-5500

These types of cameras are called TV cameras or Live broadcast cameras or studio cameras or ENG cameras. It designed to designed for television productions that might require super tight turnaround times of large amounts of data, sports shows, concerts, late-night shows, etc. These cameras have to meet specific technical and usage needs usually resulting in a large array of settings and configurations.


Television usually requires more the 2 cameras, maybe 3 or 5 or more. This requires a live feed from all the cameras at once and these feeds are connected to a large computer. These cameras usually don’t have to record to a card but to a dedicated very large hard drive or usually, only send a feed to a monitor many meters away.


Because of their size, they usually require a big tripod to support their weight and can be wheeled around easily. They can be controlled remotely from a control room or by hand by the operator. These cameras usually have an exceptionally large lens that allows them to zoom far far in from a distance.


Most of these types of cameras have a fiber connection that allows a lot of data to be transmitted consistently for a long time, where a movie camera might have to record for a few minutes or maybe an hour or two at a time.


Specs:

3 Chip 2/3-inch type CMOS sensor

Zoom lens 8.2 to 164mm

3840 × 2160 resolution

5-step ND filter

Over a dozen I/O input and outputs

1 x LC Fiber LAN output

7” LCD screen

Weight: 9.5kg (21lbs)

Price: $67,500~


Conclusion

Well, I hope that makes it easy for you when buying or renting a camera for your next camera. One big thing to note about buying a camera is that the “body” of the camera is one cost and the accessories that you need with it is another big cost. The SD cards, monitor, batteries, hard drives, the mic the lenses, the case, can add up quickly. So keep that in mind when buying these things.


The point of this breakdown was to help you get a better understanding of what different types of cameras do and why some cost more or less than others. Knowledge is power and money doesn’t grow on trees so it's good to know what your buying. I try to find a camera that shoots 10-bit color or more because I like the flexibility in post. For anyone not knowing where to start, a DSLR is the best place, with good video and good photos, easy to use pro controls all for an affordable price.


We here at Temple Studios love our Sony cameras and have a few of the models listed above available for you to look at and rent. Drop us a line and we’ll give you a special deal.


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