Sony EX3 Review

Although the official announcement was on the Sunday before NAB it got leaked a day and a half early. But I promised to keep it under wraps until then. So here it is…

It was very flattering to have been given the chance to do the first proper review. So take a look, there is both a written and video one.

Sony XDCAM EX3 review HD from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Also check out my new short shot using the EX3 and Letus Extreme called “3 DAYS IN APRIL”

If you have any questions about the EX3 please feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer them!

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  1. hey since your at NAB did you see the scarlet by RED??? it suppose to give the prosumers a fun for their money. what is your opninion?

  2. one general question about the depth-of-flied – without using a letus: are ex1/ex3 really that much better than z1 for example?
    i would love to use a letus but for the documentaries i usually shoot (watch the link) i just can not afford changing lenses all the time. i need to be able to zoom! i need to be quick.
    at the same time i want a more film-like depth-of-field. will the 1/2″ chips provide it? will “cinegamma” help to create a more film-like look? is there any way to use letus and be able to use zoom lenses?
    what compromise would you suggest?

    one more thing: i dont like sxs, p2 and stuff – i usually have no chance to copy the clips to a computer for a couple of days. flash xdr by convergent design could be the solution. could you perhaps check it out at nab? – thanx a lot for your blog, your time, your support!

  3. I read somewhere that there’s now a 50 mb recording mode. is this true? or is 35 mb still the most you can get out of it?

  4. 35mps only. 50mps in the F700

    The DOF is great even without a Letus or the like. Nowhere near as good of course but still way better than a z1

    Of course many people will feel annoyed that they have just bought an EX1 and now this comes out, well in July it is supposed to come out I believe. I understand how you feel very well. After all I have two EX1s. BUT, the EX1 is still an absolutely wonderful camera which delivers stunning images, the EX3 is a step up certainly but it is fairly more expensive. I think the best way to look at it is by looking at the Canon A1 and H1, same camera, different bodies. One with semi shoulder mount and interchangeable lenses the other without, but the A1 is still an awesome camera, just as the EX1 is still an awesome camera!



  6. James,

    I don’t get your logic. The EX3 is not a replacement, it is the bigger brother of the EX1. The EX1 is still amazing. Why should Sony do that?

  7. Well I’m glad I just bought my EX1 two weeks ago… 😉

    In actuality, there is no way I could have afforded this camera OR its interchangeable lenses anyway, but it does look nice! Congrats on being one of the first to play with it!

    I have not used a full-size XDCAM unit, so I’m curious if you can get lenses for those that will give you DOF like a 35mm adapter, or even then do you need an adapter to get very shallow DOF at wide angles? Also, how is the viewfinder on the full-size rigs compared to the EX1’s and the new EX3’s? I am hoping someone comes up with an attachment for the EX1’s LCD panel that would make it act as a viewfiender; that would be very cool.

  8. I agree with Adam. I just bought an EX1 and LEX. The EX3 is almost twice the price of the EX1 and the major thing you get is interchangeable lenses. Well, the LEX allows me to use interchangeable lenses also for much less money.

    If both were available today, I’d still buy the EX1 since I can’t afford to buy lenses for the EX3 anyway and I’d end up just using the stock lens.

    What I do like about this is that Sony is fully pursuing the SxS card system. This means more support for this workflow and cheaper SxS cards.

  9. phil,
    did you see the scarlet yet??? what is your take on that camera?? and would you ever be interested in getting one in 09???

  10. Phil,

    Was the 3 days in April shot with the LEX on the EX3? If not, how was the picture quality between the 2 cams? Pretty comparable?

  11. at that price. I would def buy a scarlet, wonder when it will actually be available.

    The pic quality between ex3 and ex1 is identical

  12. hi phil,
    i am interessted in that aspect as well …

    “so I’m curious if you can get lenses for those that will give you DOF like a 35mm adapter, or even then do you need an adapter to get very shallow DOF at wide angles?”

    ex3 costs a lot more than ex1. is it really worth it? maybe ex1 plus letus makes more sense???

  13. just by adding a different lens wont give you shallow DOF, you will still need an adaptor.

    The EX3 will cost £1500 more in the UK, I think it is worth it if you are buying new. If you have an EX1 already…depends on what you shoot really.

    The EX1 and Letus is a cracking combination. It’s what I have shot most of my stuff on and I love it.

  14. When I first heard about the EX3, my initial reaction was, great… why did I buy the EX1 and why was there no warning about the EX3?! After doing my research, watching Phil’s review and looking at my wallet… I realized what some of you are starting to realize… The EX3 is offering the same picture quality, the same chip… the only real features it’s offering are “comfort” features like the shoulder mount (which can be purchased for cheap on the ex1), the over/under crank wheel analog, interchangeable lens mount (nice, but I don’t have any lenses and the ones I use with the Letus I rent…)
    You’re looking at 14K when the dust settles on the EX3… I’d much rather have 2 EX1’s, so for those of you trying to ditch your EX1 for the 3, I might be looking to buy…
    But really folks, the point of my post is, with no advancement of the picture quality, is it really worth the extra cost? Does anyone watching what you shoot know or care that you have an EX3… would they be able to tell the difference of your final product? The answer is no. Save your money, keep your EX1, and stay creative (and realize you’ll never be cutting edge for more than a month)! The EX3 features are nice, but I’d rather my magic happen in front of the camera rather than on it…

    Other than that, solid review Phil, just throwing in my two cents.

  15. I agree, as I said in my review you really have to look at why you would need it. For me it makes sense. I have a lovely 20x 1/2″ lens so it would be fantastic with it

  16. I agree as well, I am pretty happy with my ex1 (and the ex3 is great as well).

    But since both camera offer the same quality and sensitivity to light, I prefer the ex1 for being smaller and having a fixed lens for use with my Letus Extreme. I am almost done assembling my shoulder brace for run and gun with the Extreme, so size and weight is a major issue (I used to work with a PD170 and Letus EX). Most of my work is done hand held, rarely on a tripod.

    But what I am looking forward to see is the Letus Ultimate, being able to shoot at f5.6 or f8 and not having any grain, having a spinner reducing dust problems and ….just can wait to see you test that one Phil!

    BTW, thanks for sharing all this info and posting your videos Phil, it is much appreciated, great job!

  17. If the EX3 had a 2/3″ chip for around 10k then it would be a different story. For EX1 owners though, the EX3 should come as a godsend because that just means that Sony is pushing the SxS card system which means our current SxS cards won’t be obsolete any time soon.

  18. The reason I went with the EX1 over the HVX (well many reasons, but the main one) was the SxS format, considering the fact that the new macbook pros already have an SxS slot port on all new models, and Sony really worked hard to revamp and upgrade their solid state capabilities, I figured it would either take off or tail off like P2… In any case, I’m just waiting for 3rd party SxS card clones to come out… any word on this?

    Also, Phil, in your review of the EX3 you mentioned the EX3 harddrive (400gbs?) what’s the deal with that, did you get to see the physical hard drive itself or is it still in the works?

    Stay creative,

  19. Nah, the hard drive is 60gbs. It’s quite small and powered by BP batteries. Just wish it was larger capacity

  20. Phillip,

    Looking at “3 Days In April” I would never be able to tell if it was shot using the EX1 or EX3. The only thing I would like to see is footage using prime lens with the PL mount on the EX3. If you have a chance to demo that configuration I’d love to see the results and hear your opinion Phillip.

    Big fan of your work, it always looks great.


  21. I’m guessing there will be 3rd party recording devices that plug in to SxS. If not, someone wil figure out how to put a larger drive into the recorder.

  22. the hard drive in the recorder is quite special so it can write whilst running around etc…am sure they will bring out a higher capacity version…

  23. Hi Philip,
    Have been watching your videos and reviews lately about the EX1 and EX3. They are very amazing qualities pictures, I have used EX1 once and compared it with HVR-Z7E, I found the Z7’s slow/fast motion, interval functions and etc. are so cheap designed, that you cannot record as long as you want. But Z7 is much easier to operate and interchange lens.
    Anyway, most of your video are shoot with Letus adaptor, would be great to see some clips shoot with the original EX1 and EX3 lenses.


  24. how in the hell do you afford all these freakin cameras?!?!?!
    an ex1 AND an ex2?? its basically the same camera!
    you gotta be on the payroll or something, this stuff costs a bloody fortune!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

    thanks for showcasing your stuff, you’ve been a very informative help.

  25. i was only loaned an EX3 for review. I will have to buy one like the rest of you when it comes out in the Summer.

  26. Thanks for your review Philip, it’s been very useful and informative and has helped me to reach the decision to buy the EX-1 over the EX-3. I’ve watched your film ‘3 Days in April’ and particularly like the slow mo effects you have achieved. Can I ask if this was done in post or by using the vari-speed function within the camera? If you did it in camera are you shooting 720p in order to get 60fps?

    Fantastic work – every picture is like a painting. Thanks again for helping out your fellow filmmakers!

  27. Hi Phililp, love your work and thanks for sharing. Not sure if anyone as already asked this . . I will be buying a Sony EX3 when it is out later this year plus a still Digital SLR camera for a 2 year assignment in Asia. Can you confirm that the lenses I may buy for the DSLR can be easily used with the EX3 ? . . and if so would I still need something like the Letus to make that work or will they fit straight onto the EX3 body with the suitable size adaptor ?


  28. Phillip,
    I shoot Natural history and wildlife only and would like to know what is the sharpest and longet 1/2inch HD zoom I can put on the EX3????
    If you wish to see some of my work its on Exposureroom search under Wild Planet Films.
    Thanks Ray Paunovich

  29. Which Zacuto rail configuration do you use for the Ex3, Letus Ultimate and Relay rig? I want to make sure to get the same so that I can use my Redrock Micro Matte box. Thanks and keep rockin’ the Sony Ex and Letus gear:)