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Catalyst Browse and Prepare V2019.2 Released. Includes support for FX9 Image STABILISATION.

Sony have just released the latest version of their free viewing, copying  and transcoding software Catalyst Browse and the more fully featured paid software Catalyst Prepare. These new versions includes support for the PXW-FX9’s metadata based image stabilisation. Hopefully the new Mac versions are also optimised for Catalina.

You can download Browse from here: https://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/de/download/catalystbrowse

And Prepare from here: https://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/de/download/catalystprepare

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Guess The Lens! A little bit of fun and an interesting test.

Last week I was at O-Video in Bucharest preparing for a workshop the following day. They are a full service dealer. We had an FX9 for the workshop and they had some very nice lenses. So with their help I decided to do a very quick comparison of the lenses we had. I was actually very surprised by the results. At the end of the day I definitely had a favourite lens. But I’m not going to tell you which one yet.

The 5 lenses we tested were: Rokinon Xeen, Cooke Panchro 50mm, Leitz (lecia) Thalia, Zeiss Supreme Radiance and the Sony 28-135mm zoom that can be purchased as part of a kit with the FX9.

I included a strong backlight in the shot to see how the different lenses dealt with flare from off-axis lights. 2 of the lenses produced very pronounced flare, so for those lenses you will see two frame grabs. One with the flare and one with the back light flagged off.

I used S-Cinetone on the FX9 and set the aperture to f2.8 for all of the lenses except the Sony 28-135mm. For that lens I added 6dB of gain to normalise the exposure, you should be able to figure out which of the examples is the Sony zoom.

One of the lenses was an odd focal length compared to all the others. Some of you might be able to work out which one that is, but again I’m not going to tell you just yet.

Anyway, enjoy playing guess the lens. This isn’t intended to be an in depth test. But it’s interesting to compare lenses when you have access to them.  I’ll reveal which lens is which in a couple of weeks in the comments. You can click on each image to enlarge it.

Big thanks to everyone at O-Video Bucharest for making this happen.

Lens1-flare Guess The Lens! A little bit of fun and an interesting test.
Lens 1 with flare from backlight.
lens1-no-flare Guess The Lens! A little bit of fun and an interesting test.
Lens 1 with backlight flagged to reduce the flare.
lens2 Guess The Lens! A little bit of fun and an interesting test.
Lens 2
lens-3 Guess The Lens! A little bit of fun and an interesting test.
Lens 3
lens-4-no-flare Guess The Lens! A little bit of fun and an interesting test.
Lens 4
lens-5-flare Guess The Lens! A little bit of fun and an interesting test.
Lens 5 with flare from backlight
lens-5-No-flare Guess The Lens! A little bit of fun and an interesting test.
Lens 5 with backlight masked to kill the flare.

Experimental s709 LUT Specifically for the FX9.

I’ve had a few people comment that they feel that the PXW-FX9 is a touch green when you shoot S-Log3 and SGamut3.cine and then add the standard Sony s709 V200 LUT in post. So I have created a slightly modified version of the s709 LUT that I have tweaked specifically for the FX9. You can download it using the like below. Do let me know what you think.

AC-s709-for-fx9_v1.2_experimental.cube

Pxw-fx9 Viewfinder Mounting

After playing with a number of FX9’s I have noticed that the way you arrange the viewfinder rods can alter whether the viewfinder sits level or may tilt just a tiny bit. Based on experimentation with several cameras I believe the orientation of the rods and clamps shown in the pictures here works best to ensure the VF stays level.

DSC_0623-1024x576 Pxw-fx9 Viewfinder Mounting
I believe this is the best orientation for the FX9s viewfinder support bars.
DSC_0621-1024x576 Pxw-fx9 Viewfinder Mounting
Another view of the FX9 support bars.
DSC_0619-1024x576 Pxw-fx9 Viewfinder Mounting
Arranging the FX9 support bars this way seems to minimize any VF tilt.

Broadcast safe and direct to air using S-CinEtone and the FX9

S-Cinetone is a combination of both a gamma curve and colour matrix. So you can mix different gammas with the S-Cinetone matrix to get the same colour palette but with different contrast and brightness ranges.

The FX9’s default gamma curve is labelled “original” in the camera’s paint settings. This gamma curve is the closest to the look that the s709 “Venice” LUT provides. One important thing to note about this gamma curve is that it records using full range, so it can exceed 100% and goes all the way up to 109%. This means that it may not be suitable for some broadcast applications where the footage will go direct to air without any grading or post production adjustment.

If you do need a broadcast safe output then you should consider using Hypergamma 1 with the S-Cinetone matrix. The look is very similar to the original matrix, but Hypergamma 1 never exceeds 100% so it is “broadcast safe”.

PXW-FX9 Things that might trip you up.

Using the FX9 more and more in many different configurations I do every now and again come across things that can perhaps don’t work quite as expected. So I thought I would list them here and I will add to the list as I come across anything else.

 

When using an external recorder connected via HDMI: To remotely control the record function of the external recorder you have to enable the record control via HDMI in the Project Menu. But you ALSO have to enable the HDMI timecode output in the Timecode menu. This is not obvious and took me a while to figure out. Also remember to turn off the text overlays via “Monitoring – Output Display – HDMI” if you want a clean output.

Unable to change the SDI or HDMI output format? If Picture Cache is turned on you may not be able to change the monitoring output format settings. Temporarily turn off the picture cache function to change the output settings.

Can’t access any network functions.  Before you can use any of the cameras network capabilities you must first set up a password. Until you set up a password you will not be able to access any of the other network functions.

No Hi/Lo Key Function in CineEI: Currently there is no assignable Hi/Lo Key function in CineEI  (even though the user manual suggests that there is). The workaround is to simply raise and lower the EI to see what’s going on in the highlights and shadows. So if shooting at 800EI, temporarily lowering the EI to 200 allows you to see what’s going on in the highlights. Don’t forget to put the EI back to 800 when you are done.

I Can’t Select MLUTS For Just The Viewfinder or Outputs: A limitation of the FX9 is that you cannot have MLUTs on only the outputs and VF when the main recording format is not UHD.  You can select a global MLUT by selecting MLUT ON for Internal Rec and then the LUT is applied everywhere but this is not what you typically want. The workaround is to not use the MLUTs but instead to use Viewfinder Display Gamma Assist which is the direct equivalent of the 709(800) LUT but it can only be applied to the viewfinder itself. 

As always let me know if you feel there is anything else you would like to add. I will be creating a separate page about the cameras LUT options and limitations which are somewhat confusing. 

Shooting S-Log3 on the PXW-FX9 – Do I need to expose bright?

Having shot quite a bit of S-Log3 content on the new Sony PXW-FX9 I thought I would comment on my exposure preferences. When shooting with an FS5, FS7 or F5, which all use the same earlier generation 4K sensor I find that to get the best results I need to expose between 1 and 2 stops brighter than the 41% for middle grey that Sony recommend. This is because I find my footage to be noisier than I would like if I don’t expose brighter. So when using CineEI on these cameras I use 800EI instead of the base 2000EI

However the FX9 uses a newer state of the art back illuminated sensor. This more sensitive sensor produces less noise so with the FX9 I no longer feel it is necessary to expose more brightly than the base exposure – at either of the base ISO’s. So if I am shooting using CineEI and 800 base, I use 800EI. When shooting at 4000 base, I use 4000 EI. 

This makes life so much easier. It also means that if you are shooting in a mode where LUT’s are not available (such as 120fps HD) then you can use the included viewfinder gamma assist function instead. Viewfinder gamma assist adds the same 709(800) look to the viewfinder as you would get from using the cameras built in 709(800) LUT.  You can use the VF gamma assist to help judge your exposure just as you would with a LUT.  Basically, if it looks right in the viewfinder, it almost certainly is right.

Testing various FX9’s against my Sekonic light meter the cameras CineEI ISO ratings seem to be spot on. So I would have no concerns if using a light meter to expose.  The camera also has a waveform scope and zebras to help guide your exposure.

VF Gamma assist is available in all modes on the FX9, including playback. Just be careful that you don’t have both a LUT on and gamma assist at the same time.

Which Lenses work well with the FX9’s Autofocus?

Below is a list of lenses that have been tested with the FX9’s advanced autofocus system. Generally any Sony E-mount lens will work just fine. The Sony G series lenses are good and the G Master series tend to be even better. 
For third party lenses and adapters the situation is much less clear, so I have decided to list the lenses I have tested and invite others to contribute to this list via the comments area. The list is not exhaustive at this time but I will try to keep adding to it as I am able to try more lenses and and different adapter combinations.

Inclusion of a lens on this list is not a guarantee that it will or will not work, it is simply an indication of how it worked for me or anyone else that adds information about their own experiences. I welcome updates and any further information from any lens or adapter manufacturer.

If there is a lens you have tested on an FX9 please let me know via the comments how it worked so it can be added to the list.

KNOWN TO WORK WELL:

Sony E (super 35mm) FE (full frame) lenses, G and G-Master including Zeiss ZA series. G and G Master  tend to have the best AF performance.

Tamron 28-75 f2.8 Di III RXD E-mount.

KNOWN TO WORK, BUT NOT AS GOOD AS ORIGINAL SONY:

Sigma 20mm f1.4 ART with Sigma MC11 adapter. Works, but a little slow and occasionally hunts.

KNOWN TO NOT PERFORM WELL:

Sigma 20mm f1.4 ART native E-mount (very slow AF, hunting, contrast only?).

Sigma 85mm f1.4 ART native E-mount (very slow AF, a lot of hunting).

Sigma 20mm f1.4 ART Canon EF mount on metabones, comlite or viltrox adapters. Very slow AF, not really useable.

NO GOOD, NO AF:

Tamron EF 16-300mm

Sigma EF 18-250mm

 

PXW-FX9 Feature Wish List

While my website is not officially sanctioned or endorsed by Sony, I do know that many Sony people read it. In addition I often meet members of the Sony design team. So I thought I would create a page where I can collate the features and changes that us users would like to see in future firmware updates. 


This will be a wish list. We may not see anything requested come, but then again maybe we will. Who knows. Some of these may  already be in the pipelines, but until we see a roadmap of some form I will include all wishes that have not already been confirmed as features due to come. So just because something is in the list it doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t already planned.

Add a comment if there is a feature you feel this camera should have and I’ll add it to the list. I will try to keep the list in order of popularity with the most requested at the top.

PXW-FX9 Feature Wish List:

LUT’s off for record but on for SDI/HDMI/VF when shooting HD (currently LUT’s can be off for record and on for SDI/HDMI/VF when recording UHD, but not HD).

Make it possible to assign the switching of scan modes to an assignable button.

User 3D LUT’s.

2K Center Scan Mode.

Addition of the the higher quality XAVC Class 480 codec.

Anamorphic De-Squeeze.

Ability to add letter box (black bars) to the recordings at 2.39 aspect ratio.

Full Frame 6K 2.39 aspect ratio shooting mode at 50/60P Similar to the Venice full frame 2.39 aspect ratio mode.

The ability to choose the bit depth of the raw output. Currently we know that Full Frame 16bit 24/25/30p is planned. It would be good if you could also choose 12bit for use with legacy raw recorders.

Alternate viewfinder options. Ability to purchase a higher quality viewfinder, perhaps OLED.

Smaller version of the XDCA-FX9 with just the raw option.

VF Overlays outside of the image area (my comment – this I think is unlikely as you need extra processing power to re-scale the image, in addition the resolution of the image will be reduced making focus harder etc. Really you want a higher resolution VF to do this).

Internal raw recording (probably not going to happen due to Red patents).

MI-Shoe to XLR breakout cable or alternate handle with 2x extra XLR connectors on the rear of the handle (note: the XLR-K3M kit includes an MI-Shoe extension cable)

Ability to use CFexpress cards (same slot and similar interface as XQD so might be possible).

Menu option to turn off all viewfinder overlays when recording. Currently 2 options for each overlay, on or off. Suggest third option, off in record so the VF is less cluttered while recording.

High/Low Key function for CineEI as on the F5/F55/Venice (Note: this is listed as an assignable function in the manual, but currently the camera doesn’t have this function).

4K 120fps internal recording (lower bit rate acceptable, similar to FS5 or Alpha cameras).

Add the ability to set the tint to the assignable functions.

Autofocus at all S&Q frame rates.

Assignable button to switch audio monitoring between 1/2 and 3/4.

Audio level meters for channels 3 & 4 on the LCD without having to use the status pages.

Menu option to reverse the direction of the NF filter control dial.

Menu option to set the ND wheel to show stops or ND range 0.6-0.9 etc.

Option to format both XQD cards at once (I have added this as it has been requested but personally think this is quite a dangerous option).

24p as well as 23.98p

 

 

 

 

Sony’s XLR-K3M Includes an MI Shoe relocation cable!

Screenshot-2019-11-29-at-17.19.55 Sony's XLR-K3M Includes an MI Shoe relocation cable!
Sony’s XLR-K3M kit includes an MI Shoe relocation cable.

This is something a lot of people have been asking for. An extension or relocation cable that allows you to place devices that will be connected to a camera via the MI Shoe away from the shoe itself.

But in order to get the MI Shoe relocation cable you have to buy the whole XLR-K3M XLR adapter kit, you can’t get the cable on it’s own. This is a shame as I would like to use the cable with my UWP-D series radio mics. I’m not a fan of having the radio mic receiver right on top of the handle as it tends to stick out and get in the way when you put the camera into most camera bags. But, I don’t really need the XLR adapter.

Anyway, here’s a link to the XLR-K3M for those that really need that cable (or the new XLR adapter).