How timecode sync works with the Sony FX3

Sony FX3 and timecode

Sony’s description of how the new timecode sync functionality works in firmware Version 2.00 with the FX3 was very vague and it left a lot of people with more questions than answers.

In Version 2.00 firmware for the FX3 gained the ability to input timecode by using a dedicated adaptor cable. The cable needs to be purchased separately and it is called the VMC-BNCM1. The VMC-BNCM1 is 0.2 m (0.6 ft) long and it retails for $169.95 USD. You can match the FX3’s time code with devices equipped with a time code output terminal by connecting the camera and the device. You connect the Multi/Micro USB terminal of the camera to the BNC output terminal of a commercially available BNC cable.

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Here is how it works once you have the VMC-BNCM1 adapter cable:

Firstly you need to go to MENU (Shooting) then TC/UB and set Time Code Make to Preset and Time Code Run to Free Run.

You then connect the BNC output terminal of your timecode device or TC out from another camera to the Multi/Micro USB terminal of the camera with the VMC-BNCM1 adapter cable.

The time code of the camera will then synchronize with the time code of the connected device (external lock state), and EXT-LK will appear on the screen. Once the external lock state has been set for approximately 10 seconds, it will be maintained even after the device on the time code output side is disconnected.

When you set the camera to the external lock status, the time code is instantly locked to the external time code, and the same value as the external time code appears on the time data display. However, Sony does warn that you should not start recording for a few seconds until the time code generator stabilizes. If the frequency of the reference time code and the frame frequency of the camera are not the same, the time code cannot be locked correctly and the camera will not operate normally.

What is slightly alarming is that Sony states that the video recording may be off by one frame per hour with respect to the reference time code.

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The illustrated image Sony has used clearly confused a lot of people, as it doesn’t show a BNC on one end of the cable and it shows the FX3 connected to an FX6. However, there is actually a BNC on one end of the cable so you can attach something like a Tentacle Sync E MKII or a Deity Microphones TC-1 Wireless Timecode Generator Box.

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