Sony Alpha 1. 8K, 10 bit Mirrorless Camera.

a1-1600.f1cb27a519bdb5b6ed34049a5b86e317-600x338 Sony Alpha 1. 8K, 10 bit Mirrorless Camera.
Sony Alpha 1. 8K 10 bit 4:2:0 Video makes this a very interesting camera.

Much rumoured for some time here it is, the Sony Alpha 1.

Some of the headlines are impressive to say the least:

  • Full Frame 8K 30fps recording from over sampled 8.6K recording using 10 bit 4:2:0 XAVC-HS.  This should be possible for 30 minutes of continuous shooting.
  • 5.8K over sampled Super35mm 4K shooting mode. Wow!!
  • 4K upto  120fps, codecs including 10 bit intraframe and long GoP 16 bit raw output. I must assume this will be oversampled from 8K, so it should look very good and have excellent color resolution.
  • S-Log3 and SGamut3.cine and YES it has S-Cinetone, so should be a good match for the FX6 and FX9.
  • 15+ Stops of dynamic range in both video mode and 15 stops in photo mode.
  • 5 Axis internal stabilisation. Built in motion detection gyros and image stabilisation as well as the ability to stabilise in post production with Catalyst Browse. 
  • Faster eye AF and improved AF – how the hell can it get any better?

Available March 2021 for $6,500 USD – A lot of money for a stills camera but not a lot for an 8K, 15+ stop video camera!

Screenshot-2021-01-26-at-17.32.56-1024x963 Sony Alpha 1. 8K, 10 bit Mirrorless Camera.
Sony Alpha 1 Full Frame 8K 10 bit video capable camera with over sampled super 35mm 4K and 120fps!



I think this is a camera that simply cannot be ignored, whether you shoot corporate videos or make Hollywood blockbusters. I have never been a fan of the ergonomics of a stills camera when shooting video. The Alpha 1 does not have ND filters and you will need to use an MI shoe adapter to get XLR audio in. Also the LCD screen on the back is quite small to use as an LCD finder for video. But it does have a nice built in OLED EVF that looks to be of exceptionally high quality. There doesn’t appear to be any LUT options or dedicated log shooting mode.

But despite these missing or not quite right for video things, you cannot ignore 8K, the over sampled Full Frame 4K and oversampled Super 35mm 4K – plus 4K 120fps. All in all, this camera ticks a lot of boxes.

It won’t be the low light monster that either the A7SIII or FX6 are. But given recent improvements in sensor technology you can bet the low light performance won’t be terrible.

I also have to wonder what this sensor and processing could do if repackaged into a video camera body. Throw in an ND filter system, a couple of SDI outs and a proper viewfinder – as done with the A7SIII – FX6 – Could this be turned into the F55 replacement many are looking for? If it was it could end up better than a Venice. Could this become the Venice II?

With many parts of Sony now coming under the Alpha Group, for example Pro cameras in the US are now sold by the “Digital Imaging” arm of Sony, the same people behind the Alpha cameras. Could we be seeing the start of a new approach for large sensor video cameras sharing a lot more common DNA than in the past and all coming from just one part of Sony. It makes sense. If they do turn this into a video camera with all the right options and ergonomics it could be an awesome piece of kit.

But let’s just slow down for a minute. I haven’t seen any footage other than via YouTube yet so maybe it’s not as good as the specs suggest. Although frankly I doubt that’s the case. I suspect this camera is going to be awesome!!

More information here on Alpha Universe: https://alphauniverse.com/




This is from Sony:

  • New 50.1-megapixel (approx., effective) full-frame stacked Exmor RS™ CMOS image sensor in combination with an upgraded BIONZ XR™ imaging processing engine with eight times more processing power[i]
  • Blackout- free continuous shooting at up to 30 frames per second[ii]
  • Fast sensor readout enables up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second[iii], double the speed of the Alpha 9 II, even during 30fps continuous shooting
  • Bright and large 0.64-type 9.44 million-dot (approx.) OLED Quad-XGA electronic viewfinder with the world’s first[iv] refresh rate of 240 fps
  • Silent, vibration-free electronic shutter
  • World’s first[v] anti-flicker shooting with both mechanical and electronic shutter
  • Electronic shutter flash sync[vi] up to 1/200 sec. for the first time in the Alpha™ series
  • World’s fastestv mechanical shutter flash sync up to 1/400 sec.
  • 8K 30p[vii] 10-bit 4:2:0 XAVC HS video recording with 8.6K oversampling for extraordinary detail and resolution, in addition to 4K 120p[viii] 10-bit 4:2:2 movie shooting capabilities
  • Wide dynamic range of 15 stops for stills[ix] and 15+ stops for video[x]
  • Improved Real-time Eye AF (autofocus) for humans and animals, and new Real-time Eye AF for birds[xi], as well as Real-time Tracking that automatically maintains accurate focus
  • 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization for a 5.5-step[xii] shutter speed advantage
  • S-Cinetone color matrix as seen in FX9 and FX6to deliver expressive cinematic look
  • Professional workflow support with the industry’s fastest[xiii] built-in Wi-Fi, SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps, 1000BASE-T Ethernet and more

SAN DIEGO, CA – January 26, 2021 – Sony Electronics, a global leader in imaging sensor technology and digital imaging, has announced the arrival of the groundbreaking new full-frame mirrorless Alpha 1 camera  asserting their commitment to leading the industry with a stunning combination of innovative new features.

The most technologically advanced, innovative camera that Sony has ever released, the Alpha 1 combines high-resolution and high-speed performance at a level that has never been accomplished in the world of digital cameras.  With a brand new 50.1-megapixel full-frame stacked Exmor RS™ image sensor, up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second, 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 video and much more, the Alpha 1 will allow creators to capture what they’ve never been able to before.

“We are always listening to our customers, challenging the industry to bring new innovation to the market that goes far beyond their expectations.” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics. “Alpha 1 breaks through all existing boundaries, setting a new bar for what creators can accomplish with a single camera. What excites us the most – more than the extensive product feature – is Alpha 1’s ability to capture that which has never been captured before. This camera unlocks a new world of creative possibilities, making the previously impossible now possible.”

The newly developed image sensor is built with integral memory and paired with an upgraded BIONZ XR imaging processing engine, making it capable of shooting 50.1-megapixel images continuously at an astounding 30fps with up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second. The Alpha 1’s shooting capabilities are further enhanced by a 9.44 million dot OLED Quad-XGA electronic viewfinder, with a refresh rate of up to 240 fps[xiv], ensuring no black out.  Additionally, for the first time in an Alpha series camera, 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 video is available. The Alpha 1 is also capable of 4K 120p / 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 recording and includes S-Cinetone color. The Alpha 1 is also packed with features that support field professionals with faster workflow, including 3.5 times faster wireless FTP transfer speed[xv] and more.

Unprecedented Resolution and Speed

Continuous Shooting at Up to 30 Frames Per Second

The Alpha 1 captures moments that would otherwise be lost thanks to its high-speed performance, providing any photographer the speed they require to capture fast-moving objects. High speed readout from the 50.1-megapixel image sensor and a large buffer memory make it possible to shoot up to 155 full-frame compressed RAW images[xvi] or 165 full-frame JPEG images[xvii] at up to 30 frames per second with the electronic shutter while maintaining full AF and AE tracking performance[xviii].

At an astonishing calculation speed of up to 120 AF/AE per second, the Alpha 1 can maintain focus with high accuracy even for fast moving subjects. It can automatically adjust exposure, even with sudden changes in brightness, with an AE response latency as low as 0.033 secondsii.

Advanced Electronic Viewfinder with the World’s Firstiv Refresh Rate of 240 fps

Complimenting the camera’s ability to capture images at an unprecedented speed, the Alpha 1 viewfinder features the world’s firstiv 240 fps refresh ratexiv, for a super-smooth display. The viewfinder does not black out when an exposure is made to offer an uninterrupted view and allow for seamless framing and tracking, even during continuous shooting. The 9.44 million-dot (approx.), 0.64 type Quad-XGA high-definition OLED display and refined optics deliver the highest resolution in its classiv. It also offers 0.90x[xix] viewfinder magnification, a 41° diagonal FOV, and a 25mm-high eyepoint for clear, low distortion viewing from corner to corner.

Advanced Autofocus

Sony continues to push the boundaries of autofocus technology with the introduction of the Alpha 1, which can easily track complex, fast-moving subjects with high precision. The camera features 759 phase detection points in a high-density focal plane phase-detection AF system cover approximately 92% of the image area – ensuring accuracy and unfailing focus in environments where focusing might otherwise be difficult.

Sony’s advanced Real-time Eye AF improves detection performance by 30% over the previous systemi, thanks to the powerful image processing engine, BIONZ XR. It ensures accurate, reliable detection, even when the subject’s face looks away. In addition to improved Real-time Eye AF for humans and animals, the Alpha 1 employs high-level subject recognition technology to provide Real-time Eye AF for birdsxi, a first in an Alpha series camera. Optimized algorithms ensure that tracking is maintained even if a sitting bird suddenly takes flight, or the framing suddenly changes[xx].

The Alpha 1 also features AI-based Real-time Tracking that automatically maintains accurate focus. A subject recognition algorithm uses color, pattern (brightness), and subject distance (depth) data to process spatial information in real time at high speed.

Silent, Vibration-free Electronic Shutter

High-speed readout from the new image sensor has made it possible to reduce rolling shutter by up to 1.5 times when shooting stills, compared to the Alpha 9 II. It also offers silent anti-flicker continuous shooting with an electronic shutter for the first timev in the world. The electronic shutter[xxi] operates silently, without mechanical noise, and is vibration-free. Stress-free continuous shooting is now possible even when shooting in challenging lighting situations with florescent or other flicker-prone types of artificial lighting. And for the first time in an Alpha camera, electronic shutter flash sync up to 1/200 sec[xxii] is possible. The advantages of the electronic shutter advantages can now come to life even when using flash for broadly expanded shooting versatility.

Dual Driven Shutter System for 1/400 Flash Sync

The Alpha 1 boasts the world’s fastest flash sync speedv of 1/400 sec. with mechanical shutter, making it even easier to capture dynamic action. In addition to a carbon fiber shutter curtain, the Alpha 1 features the newly developed dual driven shutter system utilizing spring and electromagnetic drive actuator, offering high durability and lightness at the same time.

High Resolution Shooting Enhancements

Even with this sensor’s high pixel count, the Alpha 1 offers high sensitivity with low noise, plus 15+ stops of dynamic range for video and 15 stops for stills, for smooth, natural gradations from shadows to highlights thanks to its cutting-edge processing system, throughout a wide ISO sensitivity range of 100-32,000 (expandable to 50-102,400, when shooting stills).

Additionally, the new camera features an evolved Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode that composites up to 16 full-resolution images. In this mode, the camera precisely shifts the sensor in one pixel or half-pixel increments to capture 16 separate pixel-shifted images containing a total of 796.2 million pixels of data, which are then composited into a 199 million pixel (17,280 x 11,520 pixels) image using Sony’s Imaging Edge™ desktop application. With a flash sync of up to 1/200 sec. in this mode, it is ideal for photographing architecture, art or any other still life subject with a level of detail and color accuracy that is simply stunning. 

Professional Video Quality

8K High-resolution Movie Shooting

For the first time in an Alpha camera, the Alpha 1 offers 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 XAVC HS recording with 8.6K oversampling for extraordinary resolution. Combined with Sony’s acclaimed autofocus technology, gradation and color reproduction performance, the Alpha 1 will help the user realize their creative vision with the finest detail. It’s 8K footage can also be used for flexible 4K editing during post-production.

Supporting Various Video Formats for Professionals

The Alpha 1 offers in-camera 4K recording at up to 120 frames per secondviii which allows the user to shoot up to 5X slow-motion video[xxiii]. In addition to supporting 10-bit 4:2:2 recording, this feature can be used with efficient Long GOP inter-frame compression or high-quality Intra (All-I) intra-frame compression.

The Alpha 1 features S-Cinetone, the same color matrix that produces the highly regarded FX9 and FX6 color and skin tones. It delivers natural mid-tones, plus soft colors and gorgeous highlights to meet a growing need for more expressive depth. The S-Log3 gamma curve makes it possible to achieve 15+ stops of dynamic range, while the S-Gamut3 and S-Gamut3.Cine color gamut settings make it easy to match Alpha 1 footage with video shot on VENICE cinema camera, FX9 and other professional cinema cameras.

Heat-dissipating Structure

A unique heat dissipating structure keeps image sensor and image processing engine temperatures within their normal operating range, preventing overheating while maintaining compact body dimensions. This makes it possible to record 8K/30p video continuously for approximately 30 minutes[xxiv].

Supporting Hand-held Shooting

A high-precision stabilization unit and gyro sensors, plus optimized image stabilization algorithms, achieve up to a 5.5-step shutter speed advantage, maximizing the quality of the high-resolution images derived from the camera’s 50.1-megapixel sensor. The Alpha 1 also features an Active Mode[xxv] that offers outstanding stabilization for handheld movie shooting. When using Sony’s desktop applications Catalyst Browse or Catalyst Prepare[xxvi] for post-production, an accurate image stabilization function is available which utilizes metadata generated by camera’s built-in gyro.

Other features that the Alpha 1 offers include; 16-bit RAW output[xxvii] to an external recorder[xxviii] via HDMI for maximum post-production flexibility, a digital audio interface has been added to the camera’s Multi Interface (MI) Shoe for clearer audio recordings from a compatible Sony external microphone, 5.8K oversampled full pixel readout without pixel binning for high-resolution 4K movies in Super 35mm mode and more.

Enhanced Workflow with Network Technologies including Connectivity to 5G Compatible Devices

The Alpha 1 has been designed and configured to support photo and video journalists and sports shooters who need to deliver stills or movies as quickly as possible with advanced connectivity options. It offers several features for fast, reliable file transfers. Industry’s fastestxiii built-in wireless LAN allows communication on 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz[xxix] bands with dual antennas to ensure reliable communications. 5 GHz includes 2×2 MIMO support (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac) offering 3.5 times faster wireless FTP transfer speed than the Alpha 9 II – a notable advantage for news and sports shooters who need to deliver with reliable speed. There is also a provided USB Type-C® connector to support fast data transfer when connected to a 5G mmWave compatible device such as Sony’s Xperia PRO and makes high-speed PC Remote (tethered) data transfer available for smooth handling of large image files. The Alpha 1 also has a built-in 1000BASE-T LAN connector for high-speed, stable data transfers, including remote shooting. FTPS (File Transfer over SSL/TLS) is supported, allowing SSL or TLS encryption for increased data security.

In addition to compressed and uncompressed RAW, the Alpha 1 includes efficient lossless compression with no quality degradation, Lossless Compressed RAW. There is also a new “Light” JPEG/HEIF image quality setting that results in smaller files than the “Standard” setting, allowing faster deliver for news and sports photographers who depend on speed. Along with a versatile range of RAW and JPEG formats, the Alpha 1 includes the HEIF (High Efficiency Image File) format for smooth 10-bit gradations that provide more realistic reproduction of skies and portrait subjects where subtle, natural gradation is essential. Images shot on the Alpha 1 can be trimmed in-camera to a desired aspect ratio, size, or position for versatile usage.

The Alpha 1 is also compatible with a variety of apps, add-ons and tools. With Imaging Edge Mobile and Imaging Edge Desktop[xxx], professionals can easily transfer RAW files and files that use lossless compression and remotely control Touch Tracking and Touch Focus for convenient AF operation. The Transfer & Tagging add-on (Ver. 1.3 or later) can automatically covert voice memos attached to image files to text captions or transfer the files to an FTP server from a mobile device. Desktop applications Catalyst Browse/Catalyst Preparexxvi allow professionals to browse and manage video clips shot by Sony’s camera. In addition, the Remote Camera Tool[xxxi] can remotely change camera settings and shoot from a computer connected via LAN cable and feature a number of refinements for the Alpha 1: faster transfer, touch response, dual slot and HEIF support, and more.

Reliable and Easy Operability

Professional users need more than just refined features and performance. They also need the reliability and durability demanded of any professional tool. The Alpha 1 has two media slots that both support UHS-I and UHS-II SDXC/SDHC cards, as well as new CFexpress Type A cards for higher overall capacity and faster read/write speeds. It also features a durable magnesium alloy chassis, long battery life with the Z-battery which can be extended using the optional VG-C4EM Vertical Grip (sold separately), an improved dust removal feature, shutter close function on power-off? to protect image sensor, plus dust and moisture resistance[xxxii] that maximizes reliability in challenging environments. It includes a durable, reliable HDMI Type-A connector, and USB PD (Power Delivery) support, allowing higher power to be supplied from an external source so that users can record for extended periods with minimal internal battery usage.

A revised menu structure provides easier navigation, and touch-responsive menu operation offers fast, more intuitive control with Touch Focus and Touch Tracking on its 3.0 type 1.44 million-dot (approx.) LCD monitor. For easy customization, a subset of the camera’s shooting settings now changes according to the selected shooting mode, making it easier than ever to use different aperture, shutter speed and other settings for shooting stills and movies.

Pricing and Availability

The Alpha 1 Full-frame Interchangeable-Lens Camera will be available in March 2021 for approximately $6,500 USD and $8,500 CAD. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.

Exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new camera and Sony’s other imaging products can be found at www.alphauniverse.com, a site created to educate and inspire all fans and customers of Sony ? – Alpha brand cameras.

For detailed coverage on the new product on Alpha Universe, please visit this LINK.

The new content will also be posted directly at the Sony Photo Gallery.

For detailed product information, please visit:

Additionally, a product launch video focused on the Alpha 1 can be found at this LINK.

###

[i] Compared to the BIONZ X imaging processing engine.

[ii] “Hi+” continuous shooting mode. In focus modes other than AF-C, effective at 1/125 sec. or higher shutter speed. In AF-C mode, effective at 1/250 sec. or higher shutter speed, and the maximum continuous frame rate will depend on the shooting mode and lens used. 20 fps max. when shooting Uncompressed or Lossless compressed RAW.

[iii] At shutter speeds of 1/125 sec. or higher. The number of AF calculations will depend on the lens used.

[iv] As of January 2021, Sony survey. Among full-frame mirrorless cameras.

[v] As of January 2021, Sony survey. Among full-frame interchangeable-lens digital still cameras.

[vi] Up to 1/200 sec. Synchronization via the sync terminal is not available for electronic shutter.

[vii] [APS-C S35 Shooting] is fixed [Off] when shooting 4K 120p and 8K movies.

[viii] 10% image crop.

[ix] Sony internal tests.

[x] When recording with S-Log3. Sony internal tests.

[xi] Still images only.

[xii] CIPA standards. Pitch/yaw shake only. Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA lens. Long exposure NR off.

[xiii] As of January 2021, Sony survey. Among interchangeable-lens digital still cameras.

[xiv] Field of view is fixed at 33° and resolution is UXGA when selecting frame rate at 240 fps.

[xv] 3.5 times faster when compared against the Alpha 9 II.

[xvi] “Hi+” continuous shooting mode, compressed RAW, CFexpress Type A memory card. Sony tests.

[xvii] “Hi+” continuous shooting mode, CFexpress Type A memory card. Sony tests.

[xviii] At 20 frames per second, users can shoot up to 238 full-frame compressed RAW images or 400 full-frame JPEG images.

[xix] 50mm lens, infinity, -1m-1 diopter.

[xx] Accurate focus may not be achieved with certain subjects in certain situations.

[xxi] Shutter speed slower than 0.5 sec. cannot be set while continuous shooting. Tracking performance and max. aperture differs by settings and lenses.

[xxii] Up to 1/200 sec. Synchronization via the sync terminal is not available for electronic shutter.

[xxiii] Post-production editing and S&Q mode recording required. Data must be recorded to a CFexpress Type A memory card when the frame rate is 120 (100) fps or higher.

[xxiv] Sony internal tests with [Auto Power OFF Temp.] set to [High].

[xxv] Active Mode is not available for 8K recording.

[xxvi] Catalyst Browse™ version 2020.1 or later, Catalyst Prepare version 2020.1 or later are required.

[xxvii] 8K is not applicable.

[xxviii] Compatible recorders to be announced.

[xxix] 5 GHz communication may be restricted in some countries and regions.

[xxx] The Imaging Edge (Remote/Viewer/Edit) desktop application Ver. 3.1 or later is required for compositing. 

[xxxi] Remote Camera Tool version 2.3 or later is required.

[xxxii] Not guaranteed to be 100% dust and water resistant.

Rugged, Lightweight Mic Mount for the Sony FX6.

AJC09657-600x401 Rugged, Lightweight Mic Mount for the Sony FX6.
Rugged replacement microphone mount for the Sony FX6

I have designed a custom, robust, yet lightweight microphone mount for the Sony ILME-FX6 camcorder (it will also fit the FS5). It’s low cost and it replaces the existing microphone mount and provides a strong and flexible mounting solution for a wide range of microphones with very good vibration and handling noise isolation properties. It is fitted to the camera by unscrewing the two screws that attach the factory supplied mic mount and using the same screws to attach this mount in the same place (do not over tighten the screws). 

AJC09659-600x401 Rugged, Lightweight Mic Mount for the Sony FX6.
Front view of the custom FX6 mic mount.



This mount will take heavier microphones than the standard mount which is prone to becoming floppy and breaking over time.

There are two sets of mounting holes so you can have the microphone at two different distances from the carry handle to suit your individual needs. The microphone mount will not obstruct or block the MI Shoe as many other 3rd party mic mounts will.

You can order the mount from Shapeways where they are made to order in a wide range of colours out of a very tough plastic material with a textured finish. https://www.shapeways.com/product/JKWA72Y6T/fx6-rugged-mic-holder-fit-sony-ilme-fx6-camcorder?optionId=193365147&li=marketplace

AJC09661-600x401 Rugged, Lightweight Mic Mount for the Sony FX6.


This mount will take any microphone up to approx 32mm in diameter. You will need 4 “O” rings to loop over the slots in the mic holder to act as the suspension for the microphone. these should be 2 or 3mm thick with an inside diameter of between 28mm and 32mm (30mm recommended). The O rings will not be supplied by Shapeways, you must source these for yourself. These are very cheap and are normally available on ebay, from car spares stores, plumbing suppliers and DIY stores. If you can’t find the right O rings it is also possible to use elastic bands, but these don’t tend to support the microphone as well as O rings.

Yes, You Can Use The FX9 Viewfinder With The FX6

FX6FX9VF1 Yes, You Can Use The FX9 Viewfinder With The FX6
The viewfinder assembly from the FX9 fitted to the FX6

 

Good news, you can use the FX9’s viewfinder assembly on the FX6. Not just the loupe/magnifier, but the entire viewfinder including the LCD. It all fits straight on to the FX6 and is full functional. Overlays, menus and the touch screen are all good. The only small thing is the display is initially upside down, but that is easily resolved using the “rotate” switch that is at the bottom of the FX9’s LCD screen.

So – if you have an FX9 and an FX6 you can swap viewfinders between both cameras. We already know that if you simply add the loupe/magnifier from the FX9 to the FX6’s LCD that it fits, but tends to be a bit “droopy” because of the weak hinges on the FX6 LCD.  You can  buy the FX9 LCD as a spare part along with the loupe if you want, but it won’t be cheap!

FX9-LCD-on-FX6-600x401 Yes, You Can Use The FX9 Viewfinder With The FX6

FX9 ISO Rating Confirmation Test

While I had the light meter and exposure test chart out for the FX6 I decided to do the same exposure level confirmation test for the FX9. No nasty surprises, the FX9’s ISO ratings certainly appear to be correct. Again using a DSC Labs exposure reference chart with 18% middle grey and 90% white plus my trusty Sekonic I tested the FX9 at both 800 ISO and 4000 ISO and my light meter and the camera were in good agreement. At 800 ISO the light meter was saying f4.01 while the camera was at f4, I suspect this tiny difference is probably down to transmission losses in the lens.

FX9-Exposure-Test-800_1.2.1 FX9 ISO Rating Confirmation Test
FX9 Exposure rating test at 800 ISO.
FX9-Exposure-Test-4000_1.1.1 FX9 ISO Rating Confirmation Test
FX9 Exposure ISO rating test at 4000 ISO.

FX6 ISO rating Confirmation Test

I have already done this a few times, but having seen some other tests suggesting the FX6’s ISO ratings were incorrect. So I decided to re-confirm my previous findings, which is that the ratings Sony give their cameras is correct. For the test I used a DSC labs exposure calibration chart which is an extremely accurate 18%/90% reflectivity chart and my trusty Sekonic light meter. As you can see at both 800 ISO and 12,800 ISO the light meters indicated exposure settings perfectly match the camera’s ISO ratings, shutter speed and aperture. For the 12,800 ISO test, as my light meter doesn’t go up to 12,800 ISO  I set the light meter to 6400 ISO which is one stop lower than the cameras 12,800. The light meter indicated f11 which is one stop below the f16 required by the camera – confirming that the ISO rating is correct.

FX6-Exposure-test-800_1.2.1 FX6 ISO rating Confirmation Test
800 ISO FX6 exposure calibration test.
FX6-Exposure-test-12800_1.1.2 FX6 ISO rating Confirmation Test
FX6 12,800 ISo exposure calibration test.

XAVC-I v ProResHQ, multi-generation test.

I often hear people saying that XAVC-I isn’t good enough or that you MUST use ProRes or some other codec. My own experience is that XAVC-I is actually a really good codec and recording to ProRes only ever makes the very tiniest (if any) difference to the finished production.

I’ve been using XAVC-I for over 8 years and it really worked very well for me. I’ve also tested and compared it against ProRes many times and I know the differences are very small, so I am always confident that when using XAVC-I that I will get a great result. But I decided to make this video to show just how close they are.

It was shot with a Sony FX6 using internal XAVC-I (class 300) on an SD card alongside an external recording using ProResHQ on a Shogun 7. I deliberately chose to use Cine EI and S-Log3 at the cameras high base ISO of 12,800 as noise will stress any codec that little bit harder and adding a LUT adds another layer of complexity that might show up any issues all  just to make the test that little bit tougher. The slightly higher noise level of the high base ISO also allows you to see how each codec handles noise more easily.

A sample clip of each codec was place in the timeline (DaVinci Resolve) and a caption added. This was then rendered out, ProRes HQ rendered using ProRes HQ and the XAVC-I files rendered to XAVC-I. So for most of the examples seen the XAVC-I files have been copied and re-encoded 5 times plus the encoding to the file uploaded to YouTube, plus YouTubes own encoding, a pretty tough test.

Because in most workflows I don’t believe many people will use XAVC-I in post production as an intermediate codec I also repeated the tests with the XAVC-I rendered to ProResHQ 5 times over as this is probably more representative of a typical real world workflow. These examples are shown at the end of the video. Of course the YouTube compression will restrict your ability to see some of the differences between the two codecs. But, this is how many people will be distributing their content. Even if not via YouTube, via other highly compressed means, so it’s not an unfair test and reflects many real world applications.

Where the s709 LUT has been added it was added AFTER each further copy of the clip, so this is really a “worst case scenario”. Overall in the end the ProRes HQ and XAVC-I are remarkably similar in performance. In the 300% blow up you can see differences between the XAVC-I that is 6 generations old compared to the 6th generation ProRes HQ if you look very carefully at the noise. But the differences are very, very hard to spot and going 6 generations of XAVC-I is not realistic. It was designed a s a camera codec. In the same test where the XAVC was rendered to ProRes HQ for each post production generation any difference is incredibly hard to find even when magnified 300%. I am not claiming that XAVC-I Class 300 is as good as ProRes HQ. But I think it is worth considering what you need when shooting. Do you really want to have to use an external recorder, do you really want to have to deal with files that are 3 to 4 times larger. Do you want to have to remember to switch recording methods between slow motion and normal speeds? For most productions I very much doubt that the end viewer would ever be able to tell the difference between material shot using XAVC-I class 300 and ProResHQ. And that audience certainly isn’t going to feel they are watching a substandard image, and that’s what counts. 

There is so much emphasis placed on using “better” codecs that I think some people are starting to believe that XAVC-I is unusable or going to limit what they can do. This isn’t the case. It is a pretty good codec and frankly if you can’t get a great looking image when using XAVC then a better codec is unlikely to change that.

Sony Launches Airpeak Drone – Designed to carry Alpha sized cameras.

slide_aid_01-600x338 Sony Launches Airpeak Drone - Designed to carry Alpha sized cameras.
Sony Airpeak Drone

 

Sony has launched an entirely new division called Airpeak. Airpeak have produced a large drone that can carry an Alpha sized camera. They claim that this is the smallest drone capable of carrying an Alpha sized camera. It’s unknown at this time whether the Airpeak division will purely focus on larger drones capable of carrying non integrated cameras or whether they will also produce smaller drones with integral cameras. It would certainly make sense to leverage Sony’s sensor expertise by creating dedicated cameras for drones and then drones to carry those cameras. 

The drone market is going to be a tough one to make inroads into. There are already a couple of very well regarded drone manufacturers making some great drones such as the DJI inspire or Mavic Pro. But most of these are small and cannot carry larger external cameras. However the cameras that these drones are equipped with can deliver very high quality images – and they continue to get better and better. The use of larger drones for video applications is more specialist, however globally it is a large market. Whether Sony can compete in the more specialist area of larger drones that carry heavier payloads is yet to be seen. I hope the succeed.

One thing I intend to do in the next few years as the Sun enters the more active phase of it’s 11 year solar cycle is to shoot the Aurora from a drone and a camera like the A7S III and a larger, stable drone would be perfect. But there is no indication of pricing yet and a drone of this size won’t be cheap. So unless I decide to do a lot more drone work than I do already, perhaps it will be better to hire someone with the right kit. But that’s not as much fun as doing it yourself!

For more information on Airpeak do take a look at their website. There is already some impressive footage of it being used to shoot a Vision-S car on a test track.

Sony Airpeak Website.

 

Chrosziel FX6 kit and Chrosziel Quick lock Plate

25-11-20201606323662401-fx6-kit_light-weight-support_topplate-fx6_02-600x400 Chrosziel FX6 kit and Chrosziel Quick lock Plate
Chrosziel FX6 Kit. Top plate, base plate and arm for the FX6

 

In the video below I take a look at the Chrosziel FX6 kit as well as the Chrosziel Quick Lock plate. The FX6 Kit includes a very nice lightweight top cheese plate that doesn’t get in the way of the existing handle.

There is a lightweight base plate with a highly adjustable soft and comfortable shoulder pad specifically designed for the FX6 that is compatible with Sony VCT type quick release plates (but can also be used with other base plates)  as well as an extension arm and extension cable for the hand grip. 

This versatile kit will be great for anyone wishing to shoulder mount the FX6 as well as those that like to use a VCT quick release plate on a tripod etc. 

401-150-04-e1610475844598-600x183 Chrosziel FX6 kit and Chrosziel Quick lock Plate
Chrosziel Quick Lock Plate and superior alternative to a VCT type QR plate.

 

As an alternative to the usual slightly wobbly Sony VCT quick release plate I also take a look at the Chrosziel Quick Lock Plate. This is designed to replace the Sony style tripod plates and is a significant upgrade. It is vey light but far, far more rigid than a normal VCT plate thanks to a completely redesigned locking system. The Quick Lock Plate is fully compatible with all shoulder mounts and base plates that you would normally use with a VCT plate, not just Chrosziel. While expensive it is a piece of kit that will last for years and years and if you use long lenses or simply want an exceptionally stable mounting system worth every penny.

 

FX6 Card Recording Times

How much can I fit on a SD card or CFExpress card is a question that comes up regularly. So I have prepared a table of the typical record times for most of the different codecs and frame rates for the ICME-FX6 camcorder. Do note that the times given are approximate and do not include proxies.  Not every frame rate and codec is included but you should be able to figure out the approximate record time for most cards, codecs and frame rates using this table.

The times for the codecs up to 60fps would also apply to the FX9 or any other Sony camera that uses the same codecs.

CODEC/FRAME RATE 32GB 64GB 80GB 128GB 256GB
UHD/4K XAVC-I 24/25p  16 32 40 64 128
UHD/4K XAVC-I 30p  13 26 33 53 106
UHD/4K XAVC-I 50p  8 15 19 31 62

UHD/4K XAVC-I 60p

6 13 15 26 52
UHD XAVC-I 100fps  4 7 10 15 30
UHD XAVC-I 120fps 3 6 8 12 24
UHD XAVC-L 24/25/30p 39 79 96 158 315
UHD XAVC-L 50/60p  8bit 26 51 63 103 206
UHD XAVC-L 24/25/30p 100fps S&Q 8 bit 10 19 24 39 78
UHD XAVC-L 50/60p 120fps S&Q 8 bit 8 16 20 32 64
UHD XAVC-L 50/60p 100fps  S&Q 8 bit 15 30 37 61 122
UHD XAVC-L 50/60p S&Q 120fps  8 bit 13 25 31 51 102
HD CODEC/FRAME RATE 32GB 64GB 80GB 128GB 256GB
HD XAVC-I 24/25/30p 34 67 83 135 270
HD XAVC-I 50/60p 17 35 43 70 140
HD XAVC-I 100fps 10 21 26 42 84
HD XAVC-I 120fps 8 17 21 35 70
HD XAVC-I 240fps (lower quality) 4 8 10 17 35
HD XAVC-L50 24/25/30p 75 150 180 300 600
HD XAVC-L50 50/60p 72 144 175 288 576
HD XAVC-L50 24/25/30p S&Q 120fps 36 72 88 144 288
HD XAVC-L50 50/60p S&Q 240fps 18 36 44 72 124
HD XAVC-L30 24/25/30p 101 201 250 405 810
HD XAVC-L30 50/60p  96 193 237 387 774
HD XAVC-L30 120fps  48 96 118 193 387
HD XAVC-L30 240fps 24 48 59 96 193

Using 2x Anamorphic lenses with the FX9

peter1_1.19.1-copy-600x338 Using 2x Anamorphic lenses with the FX9
Frame grab from Anamorphic footage from the FX9.

 

Here are some links to a couple of videos and some information on shooting Anamorphic with the PXW-FX9 that I prepared for Sony. The first video is a guide to how to shoot Anamorphic with the FX9 and then the second video is a short example video of som 2x Anamorphic content that I shot in some pretty grim weather conditions in the UK’s Lake District.
Here’s the link to the “How To” guide to anamorphic with the FX9.

And here’s the link to the footage from the lake district.

 

Camera setup, reviews, tutorials and information for pro camcorder users from Alister Chapman.