Own the Sony FDR-X3000R 4K-capable action cam? Here are 15 essential tips and tricks to help you get the best from it, including what external mics to consider and the best accessories for vlogging.
The Sony FDR-X3000R has been with us a few months and already it has gained itself a reputation as the camera that could knock the GoPro Hero 5 off its perch. Or at least give it a serious run for its money.
Whether that ends up being the case can be debated until the cows come home, but it would make more sense to educate you on how to get the best from it. So here is a round-up of tips and tricks you may not know, served in a handy Q&A format.
If you have any further questions about the Sony FDR-X3000 and FDR-X3000R, which comes with the LiveView Remote seen below, feel free to leave a comment.
1) Sony FDR-X3000R: How do I get the most detail?
You have a few options to choose between when it comes to video quality, the most detailed of which is 4K at 30 frames per second (fps). The 60Mbps option is going to pack a lot of detail, but the 100Mbps is as good as it gets.
Press menu, then use the up or down buttons to navigate to the picture of the film reel with the spanner in the top left then scroll down to where it says MP4, HD or 4K. If it says 4K already, there is no need to change anything.
After this, press enter to confirm your selection then press up to click on the bit that says ‘2160’ then something else. Here you can go between 2160 30p 100M, 2160 30p 60M, 2160 24p 100M and 2160 24p 60M. 24 gives a more film-esque visual but is less smooth.
Alternatively, you can change the settings to full HD (1,920×1,080 pixels) and ramp up the frame-rate to 60fps at 1080p for the best setting for fast movement, but less detail than 4K.
2) What about slow-motion shots?
You have a few options to let you slow down a video without the footage getting jumpy. For the best mix of detail and smoothness, you can go for 1080p at 120p at either 100 or 60Mbps. The settings for doing this are in the same place as above, except you need to swap from 4K to HD XAVC S HD.
Take a hit in video quality down to 720p (1,280×720 pixels) and you access 720p at 240 frames per second, which means you can slow the footage down even more before it loses smoothness.
It is probably best to keep a consistent frame rate and detail level, but the visual interest of a particularly exciting slow-motion shot will keep people from noticing a jump between 1080p and 720p, if at all. A drop from 4K will obviously be more noticeable.
3) How can I reduce the FDR-X3000R fisheye effect?
A limitation of the Sony FDR-X3000R is that there is only view size in 4K 2160p. But at 1080p HD you can access three different fields of view. W is short for wide and gives the most fisheye prone but widest field of view. Useful for car interiors or landscapes.
Then there is M for medium, which sits somewhere between the two. This is useful for a mixture of scenery and putting the focus on your subject while reducing the bendy lines caused by the fisheye effect.
Last but not least is N for narrow, which has the narrowest field of view unsurprisingly. This is best for shots where you want a close-up of a particular object or person. The least fisheye distortion happens at this point.
To change the field of view, press menu, then scroll down to the reel and spanner picture (middle on the left), hit Enter and then select the picture of the triangle in the top right.
4) Can I use the external case with a microphone?
With a DIY modification, you can. But it means you can no longer use the waterproof case in water, which means buying another or knowing you will never want to film fish in the sea. We will let the following video guide demonstrate.
5) Can I take time-lapse shots?
You sure can and all you need to do is press Menu, then hit Enter on Mode. Now scroll down three and hit Enter on the third option (the one with the circle). Now wait until the time-lapse mode has loaded.
Like with the 4K and 1080p video modes, you can adjust the level of detail within the Menu to either 4K or 1080p. You can also adjust the timing between photos from one second to 60 seconds, the photo limit (300, 600, 900 or unlimited) and, where applicable, change the field of view.
6) Using the FDR-X3000R with a microphone?
Improving the sound quality of the Sony FDR-X3000 can be done with an external microphone. Rode makes a number of options and all will record better quality than the in-camera microphone while giving you flexibility on positioning.
External microphones can also be customised with the fluffy thing known as a windscreen or windshield for protection from wind noise. Generally, the more expensive the Rode microphone the better the audio quality. But even the most basic VideoMicro will see an improvement.
The problem is that the case has nowhere to fix a microphone, unlike a DSLR, and the 3.5mm port is at the back. So you will need to buy a microphone grip with a horseshoe and a grip with a 1/4-inch screw at the bottom (such as this one) to then use a camera hot shoe mount adapter.
This works because it ends up creating a sort of gun setup that looks like it came out of Star Trek, but it means you need to make the case modification above or go without any case protection, which is scary when the FDR-X3000R costs£500.
The alternative is to buy something like the Rode SmartLav+, which you can either clip to yourself and plug into the camera (no case option) or, even better, use your smartphone as the audio recording device and you are effective wireless.
There are digital dictaphone apps and even a Rode app if you have an iPhone for adjusting audio settings to help you record audio on your phone. Plus a lavalier microphone helps remove external noise.
7) Can I turn the FDR-X3000R on from my wrist?
Yes you can and this is the default setting. For most users, it makes sense because you may want to save battery and wearing the display on your wrist lets you do that without having to unmount or gain access to the camera. You can change this setting, though.
To do this go into the menu, scroll to the top right icon with a picture of the FDR-X3000 and a spanner, press Enter and then the top left option has two settings. The top setting lets you switch the camera on with the remote, the other disables it.
8) Do I need a fast MicroSD card for recording 4K video?
It is worth getting a card capable of 100Mbps because without it the Sony FDR-X3000 will disable the 100Mbps shooting modes. Be sure to choose an SD card wisely as manufacturers like to use numbers everywhere, but it is the Mbps one that matters. Amazon UK is worth a look for the faster SDXC cards.
9) Can I mount the action camera upside down?
Absolutely because often it can be a useful way to mount a camera in a place that would be otherwise off limits. We shoot most of our Recombu Cars videos upside down when in a car. Obviously this can be a pain when using the watch so it may help to reorient the display.
To turn the image upside down so it appears normal to you, go into video menu, then scroll to the bottom right of the first display page. It has a picture of the camera and two arrows indicating rotation. On means upside down, off turns it the right way.
You could also wear the watch accessory upside down but doing it up takes more dexterity. Or you can rotate the LiveView Remote itself by going into the Menu, then the middle right option with the LiveView Remote and spanner icon. Press Enter on the icon with the arrows and set to off or on, depending on what you want.
10) Best accessories for vlogging?
Besides a proper microphone (see above), there are a few really useful accessories that can be bought from Sony or, in some instances, bought from a third-party manufacturer at a cheaper price.
At least one spare battery is essential and the Chilli Power double set and charger works nicely and is relatively cheap compared with the official battery, especially as you don’t get an external battery charger with the FDR-X3000.
Then there is the Finger Grip, which lets you hold the action camera like a gun for point and shoot simplicity, and a pricier grip that doubles up as a tripod called the VCT-STG1 Shooting Grip. Both of make it possible to film yourself and what is going on around you.
It may also be worth buying the MC Protector because it allows you to protect the Zeiss Tessar lens but without blocking access to the microphone. It is a tad pricey at £30, but a lot cheaper than a lens repair.
11) Can I record GPS data?
A feature built within the FDR-X3000 is a GPS file that can be used to overlay useful telemetric data such as the route you took, speed and distance. It can add to a video in the case of, say, a car racing event but it can also be used to retrace your steps to a sight you want to revisit.
To view the GPS stuff, you need to use the Action Cam Movie Creator, which is available as a free download for Windows and Mac.
12) Can I zoom in with the FDR-X3000R?
The up and down arrows allow you to jump between shooting modes, which is handy. But you can also head into settings to change their purpose to zooming in.
To do this, go into the Menu, then press Enter on the middle right film reel and spanner icon. Now scroll to the magnifying glass icon with a plus and switch to On.
13) How do I review video footage?
Because there is no screen on the back of the FDR-X3000, you need to use the LiveView Remote. To review footage you have already shot, press the Menu button and then select the icon at the bottom left with a triangle inside a rectangle and an arrow next to it.
To go back into the camera mode, press Menu and then press Enter on the top left icon with the arrow and image of the camera.
14) What setting is best for grading on the FDR-X3000R?
Grading a video adds in a particular colour scheme to enhance a certain mood. It is no consequence the Matrix was very, very green. To make this easier, you can switch to a colour mode called ‘Neutral’, which dulls the colours so you can fiddle about with them later.
To switch away from the more emphasised colours of Vivid, press Menu then select the film reel icon. Now scroll up or down until you reach the second page of options and you should see the word Vivid. If so, press enter and change to Neutral. If it is on Neutral, do nothing.
15) Can I reduce microphone wind noise?
To make the action camera’s microphone cope better in wind (results may vary), press Menu then press Enter on the film reel. Now scroll through to the second page of options and click the one at the bottom right with a mic and arrows indicating wind. Switch it to On to enable.