The Sony FX3 like the A7sIII uses a dual memory card configuration where it can take UHS-II cards or CFexpress Type A cards.
Sony FX3 Memory Card Recommendations
There are three different types of cards you should look at for the Sony FX3 and it really comes down to each shooter’s use case scenario.
For S&Q high frame rate shooting, CFexpress Type A cards will guarantee performance.
To record 600Mbps with the H.264 codec, you will need V90 UHS-II SD cards at a minimum. For H.265 recording, will be able to use V60 UHS-II SD cards which are the best bang for the buck.
If you can afford it, the Sony CFe Type A is the best memory card for the Sony FX3 as it will allow you to do everything.
|Recommended Memory Cards||USB-C Write MB/s||USB-C Read MB/s||In-Camera Speeds*||See Price|
|CFe Type A|
|Sony CFe Type A||700MB/s *rated||800MB/s *rated||B&H|
|UHS-II V90 600Mbps H.264|
|Sony G Tough||229.1||270.6||184.5 MB/s||Amazon / B&H|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro||242.2||293.7||181.0 MB/s||Amazon / B&H|
|ProGrade V90||218.4||290.5||116.9 MB/s||Amazon / B&H|
|Delkin Black (Tough)||221.6||280.2||183.4 MB/s||B&H|
|UHS-II V60 280Mbps H.265|
|Sony M Tough||103.8||282.3||88.0 MB/s||Amazon / B&H|
|ProGrade V60||92.14||167.6||88.4 MB/s||Amazon / B&H|
*In-Camera Speeds are from the Sony A9 II.
Sony FX3 Memory Card Compatibility
The Sony FX3 can take two different types of memory cards in the same slot. SD cards (UHS-I and UHS-II cards), and CFexpress type A cards.
Do you need CFexpress Type A cards For the Sony FX3?
You only need CFexpress Type-A cards if you record at higher frame rates in the S&Q mode.
For all other situations, UHS-II V90 cards work fine.
Can You Use V60 UHS-II Cards?
If you’ve decided that you fall into the category of someone that is not using S&Q high frame rates, then you have a few options for UHS-II cards. V60, or v90.
Just remember, if you need to shoot S&Q with some fast frame rates, you’ll need CFexpress Type A cards. You can always shoot at fast frame rates like 120p in the XAVC modes without the CFexpress Type A cards.
V90 cards will allow you to shoot H.264 at 600Mbps, and V60 cards are all you need for H.265 video which records at 280Mbps.
What I Would Do – How To Save Money On Memory Cards
I would buy two Sony M Tough v60 UHS-II cards, 256GB in size for 4k h.265 recordings at 280Mbps. Then buy one CFexpress Type-A 80GB card for S&Q 120p if needed. Although, I would probably never use that recording mode so I probably wouldn’t bother.
How much would you save doing that?
2 x 160GB CFexpress cards = $800
2 x 256GB Sony M UHS-II cards = $260 + 1 CFexpress 80GB $200 = $460
That’s a savings of $340 – That’s a new CPU (go with Alder Lake Intel or an M1 mac)
Even if you went with two 80GB cards for redundancy, you’re still saving $140 and you get 256 cards vs 160GB cards for principal photography.
Keep an eye on prices and this formula. Eventually, It will be cheaper to just go with two CFexpress 160GB cards.
CFexpress Type A vs SD Cards, what’s the difference?
The difference between these two cards mainly comes down to size and speed. CFexpress Type A cards are much faster and slightly smaller.
CFexpres Type A cards use a PCIe 3.0 Interface with a single lane of throughput. Most CFexpress cameras today are just using a dual-lane PCIe 2.0 CFexpress Type B interface which should see similar speeds as a PCIe 3.0 camera. Which we don’t know yet if The Sony A7sIII or FX3 has such capabilities. – More tests coming this summer when I’m back in the USA.
Sony FX3 Specs
|Sensor: 12MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
Processor: BIONZ XR Image Processor
Memory Card Slots: 2 UHS-II / 2 CFe A
Continuous Shoot: 10fps
Est. Buffer Size: —
RAW Shots To Fill Buffer: 1000 Frames
Max Memory Card Size: Unlimited
4k Datarate: H.265 280Mbps / H.264 600Mbps
To see how each UHS-II memory card performs in Sony cameras, here is a speed test from the Sony A9II.
Memory Card Speed Test | Fastest Memory Cards
These tests are taken with continuous burst high at ISO 100. The buffer is filled and the time it takes to clear the buffer is calculated against the record times. USB-C read and write speeds are benchmarked with Windows 10 using crystal disk, in-camera benchmarks at taken with the Sony A9II.
|Memory Card||Speed Class||Sony A9 II MB/s||USB Read||USB Write|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro 300MB/s||UHS-II||181.0||293.7||242.2|
|Toshiba Exceria Pro||UHS-II||166.8||259.6||218.1|
|Sony G Tough*||UHS-II||184.5||270.6||229.1|
|Delkin Power v90||UHS-II||183.4||280.2||221.6|
|Delkin Prime v60||UHS-II||88.9||252.8||89.1|
|Fujifilm Elite II||UHS-II||138.7||290.3||173.2|
|Hoodman Steel 2000x||UHS-II||136.4||280.7||169.1|
|Hoodman Steel 1500x*||UHS-II||88.9||289.2||105.8|
|Amplim 1900x V60*||UHS-II||87.8||289.3||104.2|
|Angel Bird V90*||UHS-II||116.0||290.4||219.5|
|Angel Bird V60*||UHS-II||87.7||166.5||104.5|
|FreeTail Evoke Pro V60*||UHS-II||87.0||287.5||103.1|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro 170MB/s||UHS-I||60.9||99.2||88.3|
|Sandisk Extreme Plus||UHS-I||62.8||99.3||88.2|
|Sandisk Extreme U3||UHS-I||48.5||99.3||56.8|
|Sandisk Ultra U1||UHS-I||26.6||99.5||34.3|
|Kingston Canvas React A1 U3*||UHS-I||67.4||99.6||82.5|
|Kingston Canvas Go! U3*||UHS-I||63.9||99.6||74.0|
|Lexar 633x U1||UHS-I||33.1||95.0||54.6|
|Sony Professional U3*||UHS-I||74.7||98.5||60.2|
|Sony U3 94MB/s||UHS-I||56.8||96.7||57.5|
|Sony U3 95MB/s||UHS-I||67.1||96.6||85.4|
|PNY Elite Performance U3||UHS-I||57.1||96.7||66.9|
|Delkin Advantage U3*||UHS-I||67.9||99.6||78.8|
|Toshiba Exceria Pro U3*||UHS-I||66.4||97.8||74.7|
|Toshiba Exceria U3*||UHS-I||30.0||97.2||29.9|
|Verbatim Pro+ U3*||UHS-I||69.7||98.5||83.7|
|Verbatim Pro U3*||UHS-I||56.8||96.6||68.0|
|Amplim 667x A1 V30*||UHS-I||47.1||99.6||52.2|
Best Memory Cards For 4k Video
Sony FX3 Video Specs & Recording Modes
With the Sony FX3, there are various record modes using different codecs. It gets a little complicated so here is the breakdown.
What’s new to the Sony FX3 compared to older Sony cameras is the XAVC HS and the XAVC S-I.
Should I Shoot XAVC HS, XAVC H-I, or XAVC S?
People often the different XAVC settings confused with codecs. They are not the same. XAVC HS, or H-I, or S are just containers that allow for different specs and capabilities.
These new containers you’re seeing in the FX3 can record 10-bit 4:2:2, with the main difference being the codec they allow, H.265 or H.264.
XAVC HS allows for H.265 recording.
XAVC S and S-I still only record to H.264.
XAVC S-I allows for all Intra recording. Meaning keyframes on every frame, which is ideally what you want.
Today you should record in H.265 if your computer can handle it. H.265 offers better compression with smaller file sizes. This is why you see the camera only outputting 280Mbps H.265 files, vs the 600Mbps H.264 files.
New CPUs are getting better at encoding and decoding H.265. You may need to switch over to an M1 mac or a new Intel processor (Alder Lake, possibly Tiger Lake) to edit H.265 with smooth performance. – I’m not sure where AMD is here. I haven’t heard anything about them supporting H.265 10-bit 4:2:2 yet.
Be careful when using Hardware encoders with your editing system. Your GPU or CPU might only support H.265 4:2:0 encoding.
If you shoot your movie at H.265 4:2:2 then export it with all the hardware encoder settings turned on, you likely be outputting a 4:2:0 file without knowing it. Test this, colors in the shadows will look very blotchy with 4:2:0. If this is happening to you, you need to switch to software encoding on your exports.
Also, be careful not to accidentally export 8-bit.
Sony FX3 Recording Specs & Details
Record Limit: Unlimited
Audio FIle Format: AAC, Linear PCM
4k Recording Modes
Sony FX3 Record Times – Memory Card Capacity
This table shows the different recording modes and how much time they use for different card sizes. To get your own numbers, I have to build a bitrate to time converter.
|Sony FX3 Record Times||64GB||80GB||128GB||160GB||256GB||512GB|
|4k 600Mbps | 75MB/s H.264||14min||18min||28Min||36min||57min||114min|
|4k 280Mbps | 35MB/s H.265||30min||38min||61min||76min||122min||244min|
|4k 200Mbps | 25MB/s||43min||53min||85min||107min||171min||341min|
What Size Memory Card Is Best?
If you’re coming from older Sony cameras that have a max bitrate of 100Mbps, you’ll quickly notice the higher bitrates of the FX3 just devour data and you’re going to need to get bigger cards.
I recommend starting with 128GB cards. I also recommend recording at H.265 if you can so you can save money with V60 UHS-II cards. Then grab a CFexpress card for S&Q 120fps if you need it.
This alone could save you hundreds of dollars that you could put towards a new computer. An M1 mac, or new Intel. And more cores won’t help you here since these processors have special hardware built into them that takes care of H.265 for you. This is why you might notice on export, your CPU or GPU is barely being used.
Avoiding Counterfeit Memory Cards
Be careful when buying memory cards from strange stores or untrusted online retailers. Always try to buy memory cards for BHphoto, Adorama, or trusted stores if you’re shooting on eBay or Amazon.
How to test for counterfeit memory cards?
Often counterfeit memory cards have hacked memory controllers. They might pack 32GB of flash in a 128GB labeled card, then the memory controller tells your computer that the card is 128GB in size. You might use the card for a month with everything running fine, then the minute you cross 32GB of data, the card will crash.
To test for this, just fill the card when you first buy it.
Best Memory Cards Sony FX3 Conclusions
Buying memory cards for the FX3 is a little tricky since there are so many codecs and specs. It’s a bit of a mess.
But the takeaway is, shoot H.265 if you can and this will allow you to use V60 UHS-II cards. Then maybe pick up a smaller CFexpress card to shoot 120p S&Q for those times you need that type of footage.
UHD 4k H.265 XAVC HS, v60 UHS-II cards are fine.
UHD 4k H.264 XAVC S-I, you will need v90 UHS-II cards.
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