Netflix has just approved the Sony FX3 to be used for its 4K Netflix Originals. This approval is a result of the latest Firmware 2.0 that constitutes a major upgrade to the FX3 capabilities regarding cinematography and workflow. 

While some of you might not care too much about Netflix approving the Sony FX3, you should be aware of the changes that made Netflix excited to add the Sony FX3 to its list of approved cameras. 

What Changed in the Sony FX3? 

The FX3 was announced in February 2021 and titled “Alpha on Steroids.” It takes the post as the “low-end” camera in Sony's Cinema Line, making it the smallest and most affordable camera for Sony solo shooters. At least from a cinema standpoint.

We have covered the camera in depth, but the thing to know is that the latest firmware update added even more advanced functionality to the camera’s 4K full-frame sensor, which offers 15 stops of dynamic range with sensitivity (and 16-bit RAW via an external recorder). These features include new log shooting modes, user LUT importing, and timecode sync.

Seems these updates were also enough to meet Netflix’s requirements for a stamp of approval.

Sony_fx3_featureThe Sony FX3Credit: Sony

Approved by Netflix

But what does it mean to have a Netflix-approved camera? Netflix wants to create a compelling visual experience for its subscribers and has several requirements for cameras used on their original films and series. 

Not only does the camera need the ability to record in 4K, but it also has to have a bit depth of 10-bit or higher, a data rate with a minimum of 240Mbps at 24FPS, a screen-referred color space, a scene-referred transfer function, and a timecode written as metadata, and it has to be capable of jamming to an external source. And this is just the start of the list, as ergonomics, durability, and usability also come into play. 

Sony FX3The Sony FX3Credit: Camera Jabber

However, this doesn’t mean that cameras that don’t have these features cannot be used on a Netflix production. Netflix is open to navigating those specific image capture decisions, but they do recommend sticking to their list. 

Netflix has stated that its approval process collaborates extensively with the creative community, camera manufacturers, and globally recognized experts to approve cameras that support reliable and flexible production workflows.

Why Netflix Approval Matters

Netflix's overall goal is to help the creatives working on Netflix projects “know they’re using the best and most appropriate capture technology when telling their stories.”

Sure, that might just be some marketing spin, and if you're not shooting Netflix originals, you can probably just ignore the whole thing. But we think it's important.

Why? Standards. Not in the biblical sense, but in manufacturing. Most camera brands (save for maybe Sony) aren't building their next camera with a specific exhibition in mind. Codecs are all over the place, not all sensors are the same, and sometimes you even have to worry about overheating. Those kinds of issues on a film set can break your film. So if an exhibitor sets some standards for camera manufacturers, we're inclined to support it, whether or not we're shooting for Netflix.

It's also nice to see more affordable camera options approved by Netflix. But, as I’ve stated earlier, just because Netflix wants their filmmakers to use cameras approved by the streaming service, that doesn’t mean you can’t use the camera you want. In the end, this isn’t an issue to stress about, but it is interesting to see where the upcoming trend of firmware updates may lead. 

Check out our article to get the full breakdown of Netflix's approval process.

If your kit isn't on the list, what camera would you like to see get Netflix approved? Let us know in the comments below!

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Source: Netflix Studios