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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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
|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|
AtomOS 10.43 is a free update for the Shogun 7 that enables up to DCI 4Kp60 full-frame ProRes RAW recording from Sony’s FX6 camera!
The Sony FX6 joins the FX9 on the Netflix approved list. This makes the FX6 the 10th camera to be added to the list of approved Sony cameras.
Here’s the official list.
Interestingly the FX6 is specifically noted as NOT approved for anamorphic capture. I suspect this is down to the fact that this is a 4K sensor with no oversampling. While the PXW-FX9 is not listed as approved for anamorphic (only Venice is specifically approved) it does not have the anamorphic exclusion that the FX6 has. Perhaps the FX9 can be used on a case by case basis for anamorphic thanks to it’s 6K oversampling when using the Full Frame 6K scan mode?
Anyway, this is more good news for Sony film makers and shooters.
Want to know more about the FX6 – Click here.
Want to know more about the FX9 – Click here.
WHAT IS CINE EI?
The FX6’s CineEI mode is designed to make shooting using S-Log3 or raw easy and straightforward. It optimises the camera so that settings such as the recording ISO, noise reduction and sharpening are all optimised for recording either S-Log3 or raw with the best possible dynamic range.
It also makes sure that the S-Log3 or raw recordings are optimised for grading. In addition you can use a LUT (Look Up Table) in the viewfinder or on the HDMI/SDI output to provide an approximation of how your footage will look after it’s been graded as well as to assist you in getting the exposure right.
HINT: What is a LUT? A LUT is a simple Look Up Table of input values that represent different levels in the recording format (in this case S-Log3) and then converts those input values to new output values that are appropriate for the monitor or display range you are using. This conversion can included stylised adjustments to give the output image a specific look.
Once you have a LUT enabled and you are viewing the LUT either in the viewfinder or on a monitor an exposure offset can be applied to the LUT to make it darker or brighter than normal. This LUT brightness offset is used to allow you to deliberately offset how bright the recordings are, this is the “EI” or Exposure Index part of CineEI. More on that later.
BUILT IN LUTS
The FX6 has 3 built in LUTs, but in addition to the built in LUTs you can load your own “user LUTs” into the camera as what the FX6 calls “Base Looks” making this a very flexible and capable system. If you want to load you own LUTs into the camera these must be 3D Cube LUT’s and should be placed in the — Private : SONY : PRO : LUT folder of an SD card or CFExpress card that has been formated in card slot 2 of the FX6. The LUT’s should be 17x or preferably 33x cube LUT’s designed for use with S-Log3 and SGamut3.cine. They are loaded via the main menu PAINT – BASE LOOK page.
As your material will require grading in post production, if you are shooting UHD or 4K you should NOT use XAVC-L because in UHD/4K XAVC-L is 8 bit 4:2:0. A much better choice is XAVC-I which is always 10 bit 4:2:2 and/or raw.
FIXED RECORDING ISO.
Once the camera is set to use the CineEI mode the recording sensitivity is fixed to either 800 ISO when in Lo Base sensitivity or 12,800 ISO when the camera is set to Hi Base sensitivity. These values cannot be changed and your recordings will always take place at one of these sensitivity levels.
ENABLE A LUT.
To take full advantage of the Cine EI mode the next step is to enable a LUT for the viewfinder and also optionally for the HDMI and SDI outputs.
The default LUT is Sony’s s709 LUT. This is the same LUT as used by the Venice digital cinema camera. s709 is designed to be a starting point for a film style look. To achieve this film style look it uses brightness levels more commonly found in feature films rather than the levels normally used in the majority of regular TV shows.
LUT EXPOSURE LEVELS
There are some important things to understand about different LUTs and Base Looks. Each LUT/Look will have it’s own optimum brightness levels. They will not all be the same. Some will be brighter or darker than others when exposed correctly, so it’s vital that you understand what levels any LUT that you chose to use needs to be exposed at.
Another LUT that the FX6 includes is Sony’s 709(800) LUT. This LUT is more closely aligned with the levels used in normal TV productions, so it looks very different to s709 and has very different brightness levels when exposed correctly.
The chart below gives the “correct” exposure values for S-Log3 as well as some guide values based on my own measurements for the s709 and 709(800) LUTs in the FX6.
|Middle Grey||Average Skin Tones||90% Reflectivity white card (add 2-3% for white paper).|
MEASURING THE EXPOSURE.
There are many ways to measure your exposure when shooting using S-Log3 and LUT’s. You could choose to use a light meter, in which case the light meter would be set to match the EI (Exposure Index) value set in the camera. You can just look at the image in the viewfinder and judge when it looks right. Most of the time this is OK, but it isn’t particularly accurate. My prefered method is to use a white card or grey card and then use the cameras built in video signal monitor and the waveform display to actually measure the brightness of the grey card or white card.
If you are not familiar with a waveform display it actually really easy to understand. The bottom of the waveform is black and the very top is 109%, the brightest that the camera can ever record to. The left hand side is the left of the video image and the right is the right of the video image. The thin reference lines across the waveform display are at 0% (the darkest a video image should ever normally be), 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%.
In addition the FX6’s waveform display includes 2 yellow lines. The position of these yellow lines is determined to the levels that the cameras zebras are set to. By default the lower yellow line will be at 70% to match Zebra 1 and the upper line at 100% to match zebra 2.
MEASURING THE EXPOSURE.
The waveform display measures the signal that is on the HDMI and the SDI output. So once you have turned on the LUT for the HDMI/SDI it is the levels of the LUT that is being measured. What the waveform is measuring is indicated just above the waveform display.
To make it easier to understand how CineEI works and to show you how I like to have my FX6 setup, I find it easier to start off by turning OFF the LUT for the SDI and HDMI and measuring the exposure of the S-Log3. If you do this when the the Exposure Index (EI) is equal to the Recording or Base ISO then we can establish the correct exposure for the S-Log3 using a white card or white piece of paper and then also check the exposure of the LUT.
FIRST CHECK AND SET THE EXPOSURE INDEX LEVELS.
With the cameras base ISO set to low / 800 ISO I recommend that you set the EI levels in the main menu SHOOTING – ISO/Gain/EI as follows:
When using the CineEI mode you can change the EI several ways. The most commonly used ways will likely be via the L/M/H ISO/Gain switch or by pressing the ISO/Gain button and then using the multi-function dial (MFD) to change the EI. Do note that when you use the multi-function dial or Direct Menu to change the EI this new EI setting changes the preset value associated with the current position of the L/M/H switch.
I do not set an Exposure Index higher than the base recording ISO. The reason for this is that if you record using a high EI value your images will be noisy and grainy and could be very difficult to grade. Because you don’t ever see your final results until you get into post production, if you accidentally record noisy log you won’t really know how bad the footage will be until it is perhaps too late to do anything about it. So I set the EI for the Low Base 800 ISO as H>800EI, M>400EI, L>200EI. The difference between each of these EI’s is one stop and that makes it easier when you are checking any exposure changes.
For the 12,800 High base ISO I set the EI to H>12800EI, M>6400EI, L>3200EI.
FOR THIS EXAMPLE START AT LOW BASE/800 ISO and 800 EI.
By using the same EI as the base recording ISO there will be no offset or difference between the correct exposure for the LUT and the correct, or base exposure for the S-Log3. Expose the LUT corrrectly and the S-Log3 will be also be normally exposed. Expose the S-Log3 normally and the LUT will look correct.
FOR THIS EXAMPLE LET’S START WITH THE SDI/HDMI LUT OFF.
For this example I am going to start with the LUT OFF for the SDI and HDMI, this way the waveform display will be measuring the S-Log3. Just above the waveform it should say SG3C/Slog3, telling you the waveform is measuring the S-Log3.
Referring to the table of exposure levels above we can see that the correct S-Log3 exposure for a white card (90% reflectivity white) is 61% – if using a normal piece of printer paper I suggest using a value a little higher (around 63%) as white paper tends to be a little brighter than a proper white test card.
SETTING ZEBRA 1 TO 61%
To make finding where 61% is on the waveform I recommend setting Zebra 1 to 61% so that the lower of the two yellow zebra lines is at 61%.
So now when checking the exposure of a white card when the waveform is measuring the S-Log3 it is simply a case of adjusting the exposure until the white card is at the same level as the 61% line. Alternately you could use an 18% grey card, in which case you would set Zebra 1 to 41%, however there are often times when I forget my grey card but I almost always have a piece of paper somewhere.
So now we know the S-Log3 is correctly exposed lets turn ON the LUT for the SDI and HDMI outputs and check the exposure level of the s709 LUT.
TURN ON THE LUT.
And if we refer to the exposure chart given towards the top of the page we will see that white for the s709 LUT is 77%. So now let’s set Zebra 2 to 77% to make 77% easier to find on the waveform. Do remember however that other LUTs may need different levels, 77% is just for s709, 709(800) would require Zebra 2 to be set to 89%.
SET ZEBRA 2 TO 77% FOR s709
Now with the LUT ON for the SDI/HDMI we should see the brightness of the white card line up with the upper yellow line that represents Zebra 2 and 77%.
As you can see from the above example when the Base ISO and Exposure Index are matched, when the LUT for the SDI/HDMI is OFF and the white card is at 61% on the waveform the S-Log3 is correctly exposed.
Then when the s709 LUT is ON for the SDI/HDMI and the white card is at 77% we are correctly exposed. By having Zebra 1 set at 61% (for S-Log3) and Zebra 2 set for the white level for for your chosen LUT we can check either simply by turning the HDMI/SDI LUT ON or OFF.
USING THE 709(800) LUT INSTEAD
If you want a more contrasty looking image in the viewfinder and similar brightness levels to other video cameras – for example skin tones around 70% you might prefer to use the 709(800) LUT. When using the 709(800) LUT to measure a white card you should set Zebra 2 to 89%. It’s also worth noting that with the 709(800) LUT, if you wish, you could just leave the zebras at their default settings with Zebra 1 at 70% where just like a conventional Rec-709 video camera they will appear over brighter skin tones when viewing via the LUT.
CHANGING THE EXPOSURE INDEX TO OFFSET THE LOG EXPOSURE.
Sometimes it can be desirable to expose the S-Log3 a little brighter. For example when shooting scenes with a low average brightness level or scenes with large areas of shadows. The FX6 has very low noise levels at 800 ISO base. So for most scenes with higher average brightness levels there is no need to expose the log brighter. But there is a bit more noise at 12,800 ISO base. As a result it can be beneficial to expose the S-Log3 a bit brighter when using 12,800 ISO base.
The CineEI mode makes this very easy to do in a very controlled manner. Keeping the amount of over exposure constant helps speed up the grading process as all your material can be graded in exactly the same way.
Over exposing or underexposing Log does not change the captured dynamic range, it will always be the same. However exposing log brighter will reduce the highlight range while at the same time increasing the shadow range. A brighter exposure will result in less noise after grading.
Exposing log darker will increase the highlight range but decrease the shadow range. A darker exposure will result in more noise after grading. Because under exposed log can become very noisy, very quickly I do not recommend under exposing log, because of this I strongly advise against ever using an EI that is higher than the base ISO as this will result in under exposed log.
CHANGING THE EI ONLY CHANGES THE LUT.
When you change the Exposure Index the only thing that actually changes is the brightness of the LUT. So for EI to work you must be monitoring via a LUT.
Below is what happens to the image in the viewfinder when you have a LUT enabled (s709 in this case) and you lower the EI from 800 EI down to 200 EI in 1 stop steps and make no changes to the exposure.
As we have not changed the exposure in any way, the only thing changing is the brightness of the LUT. The recording levels have not yet changed in any way.
BUT NOW WE CHANGE THE EXPOSURE
Because the image in the viewfinder is now dark and the white card no longer reaches the correct exposure for the LUT, we now adjust the exposure. In this example I simply opened the aperture by 2 stops from f8 to f4 to match the 2 stop change in the LUT brightness. Now the image in the viewfinder looks correct again and the white card is meeting the upper yellow line again (77% as set by Zebra 2 level).
BECAUSE THE EXPOSURE IS BRIGHTER THE S-LOG3 IS NOW ALSO BRIGHTER.
Because I have opened the aperture by 2 stops to make the 200 EI LUT exposure look right the S-Log3 recordings will now be 2 stops brighter. If I turn off the LUT for the SDI/HDMI we can see that the S-Log3 is much brighter 2 stops brighter like this, the S-log3 white card level becomes 79%, so it appears slightly above the 77% Zebra 1 line.
Buy making the LUT darker by 2 stops, then adjusting the exposure upwards 2 stops to return the LUT to the original brightness we have made our recordings 2 stops brighter. This is how you use CineEI to alter the brightness of your recordings.
At Low base ISO (800 ISO) the FX6 is a low noise camera, so there is no need to routinely over expose the log as there is with more noisy cameras like the FS5 or FS7. So I normally shoot at 800 EI. When using the high base ISO or 12,800 ISO there is a bit more noise and when using high base I will typically set the EI to 6400 EI as the 1 stop brighter recordings that this will result in helps compensate for the increased recording noise.
In the examples given here I have used a white card to set the exposure. This is accurate and highly repeatable. But there will be times where you may not have a white card. At these times CineEI can still be used either by setting the Zebras to the appropriate skin tone levels for the chosen LUT (see the table towards the beginning) or by carefully “eyeballing” the brightness of the LUT image – if it looks right, it probably is right. If you are eyeballing it I highly recommend a deep sunshade or other device to exclude as much light as possible from the viewfinder.
You can also use any user LUTs that you have loaded into the camera to alter the base look when you are shooting in custom mode. For more information on that please watch the video below.
Here’s a new LUT for you, inspired by a the look of the Netfix show “the Queen’s Gambit. I’ve called the LUT “Chess”. It’s designed for use with S-Log3 and SGamut3.cine and I think it works really well with most Sony S-Log3 capable cameras including the FX6, FX9, FS7, FS5, F5 and F55 etc. As well as Sony’s video cameras it will also work with the A7SIII and other Sony Alpha cameras.
In the download you will find 2 LUTs. The 65x version is for post production and grading, the 33x version is for use as a camera LUT. While I have aimed to replicate much of the look of the TV series it must be noted that grading is only a small part of the look. Set design, the colour of the sets and costume also play a significant roll.
If you find this LUT useful please consider buying me a cocktail or other beverage. Thank you! It does take a while to develop these LUT’s and contributions are a good incentive for me to create more!
I recently did a 90 minute long livestream Q&A in association with Visual Impact. Lots of topics covered from AF to S-Cinetone.
S-Cinetone, Differences between the FX6 and FX9, interlace output, AF zones and touch screen, using it in low temperatures, the LCD screen, 3rd party lenses and AF, differences between FS5/FS7 etc, Dynamic range, image quality, raw output, tuning the AF, Eye AF, Scan modes and crops, SD cards and recording media, changing the custom mode look using LUTs, Adjusting the knee to make the FX6 broadcast safe, High base ISO and noise, Scene files and Base looks, clear image zoom, base ISO levels, firmware updates.
You can watch the recording of the stream here:
The Sony FX6 offers two different ways to format the the SD cards and CFExpress cards. These are Quick Format and Full Format.
What’s the difference and which should I use?
Full Format erases everything on the card and returns the card to a completely empty state. All footage is removed/deleted from the card and it cannot therefore be recovered later should you perform a Full Format by mistake. Because Full Format returns the card to a completely empty state removing any junk or other clutter it also ensures that the cards performance is maximised. Full Format should be used whenever possible as it ensures maximum performance. However once a card has been Fully Formatted you cannot ever recover lost files from it.
Quick Format erases the cards database about what files are on the card. Quick Format is faster than Full Format, but it does not actually remove your video files. When you then start a new recording on the card the new recording will use any empty space on the card if there is any. If there is no empty space then the new file will overwrite any existing files on the card. This does mean that in some cases if you have accidentally done a quick format you may be able to use data recovery software to rescue any files that have not already been overwritten. But file recovery is not guaranteed and should not be relied upon. As quick format does not clear all data from the card, over time the performance of the card may be degraded, so a Full Format should be performed periodically to ensure the best card performance.
It’s also worth noting that if you want to load LUT’s into the FX6, the card should be formatted in Slot B so that the correct file structure including the LUT folder is added to the card. Once any LUT’s are placed in the LUT folder the card must be placed back in slot B to so you can load the LUTs into the camera. You cannot load LUTs via slot A.
For more FX6 posts and information click here: http://www.xdcam-user.com/camera-setup/ilme-fx6-sony-fx6/