Category Archives: PXW-FX9

ProResRaw for Windows Released (beta)

Some time ago Atomos indicated that you would be able to use ProResRaw in Adobe Premiere. Well – now you can, on a Windows machine at least.

Apple have just released a beta version of ProResRaw for Windows that is designed to work with Adobe’s creative suite applications including Premiere, After Effects, Premiere Pro and Premiere Rush.

I haven’t been able to try it yet as I’m mainly Mac based. But if you want to give it a go you can download the beta from Apple by clicking here.

Edit: It appears that as well as this plugin you may need to be running the latest beta versions of the Adobe applications. Please don’t ask me where to get the beta applications as I have no idea.

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The PXW-FX9 is NOT made out of plastic.

I’ve been quite surprised by the number of people out there that seem to think the PXW-FX9 is made out of plastic. It isn’t. It’s made from an incredibly strong material call magnesium alloy. This metal is stiffer and stronger than aluminium. It’s highly impact and corrosion resistant but still extremely light. There are only a couple of places where plastic is used, one being the cover over the WiFi antenna where a metal cover would block the wireless signals. Here are some pictures of the FX9’s chassis. Note the box shaped areas used to isolate the electronics from the air that flows through the camera to ensure the electronics are weather sealed. Also note all the ribbing and reinforcing on the inside at the front of the camera where the lens mount an sensor block are attached keep it all very solid.

DSC_0352-1024x576 The PXW-FX9 is NOT made out of plastic.DSC_0353-1024x576 The PXW-FX9 is NOT made out of plastic.DSC_0354-1024x576 The PXW-FX9 is NOT made out of plastic.

Using User Files and All Files to Speed Up Switching Modes on the FX9.

Sometimes changing modes or frame rates on the FX9 can involve the need to change several settings. For example if you want to go from shooting Full Frame 6K at 23.98fps to shooting 120fps then you need to change the sensor scan mode before you can change the frame rate. One way to speed up this process is to use User Files or All Files to save your normal operating settings. Then instead of going through pages of menu settings you just load the appropriate file.

All Files save just about every single adjustable setting in the camera, everything from you white balance settings to LUT’s to Network settings to any menu customisations.  User Files save a bit less. In particular User Files can be set so that they don’t change the white balance. For this reason for things like changing the scan mode and frame rate I prefer to use User Files.

You can add the User File and/or All File menu items to the user menu. If you place them at the top of the user menu, when you enter the cameras menu system for the first time after powering it on they will be the very first items listed.

Both User Files and All Files are found under the “project” section in the FX9 menu system. The files are saved to an SD card in the SD Card Utility slot. This means you can easily move them from one camera to another.

Before you save a file, first you have to give it a name. I recommend that your name includes the scan mode, for example “FF6K” or “2KS35”, the frame rate and whether it’s CineEI or not.

Then save your file to the SD card. When loading a User File the “load customize data” option determines whether the camera will load any changes you have made to the user menu. “Load white data” determines whether the camera will load and overwrite the current white balance setting with ones saved in the file. When loading an All File the white balance and any menu customizations are always loaded regardless, so your current white balance setting will be overwritten by whatever is in the All File. You can however choose whether to load any network user names and passwords.

How We Judge Exposure Looking At an Image And The Importance Of ViewFinder Contrast.

This came out of a discussion about viewfinder brightness where the compliant was that the viewfinder on the FX9 was too bright when compared side by side with another monitor. It got me into really thinking about how we judge exposure when purely looking at a monitor or viewfinder image.

To start with I think it’s important to thing understand a couple of things:

1: Our perception of how bright a light source is depends on the ambient light levels. A candle in a dark room looks really bright, but outside on a sunny day it is not perceived as being so bright. But of course we all know that the light being emitted by that candle is exactly the same in both situations.

2: Between the middle grey of a grey card and the white of a white card there are about 2.5 stops. Faces and skin tones fall roughly half way between middle grey and white. Taking that a step further between what most people will perceive as black, something like a black card, black shirt and a white card there are around 5 to 6 stops and faces will always be roughly 3/4 of the way up that brightness range at somewhere around about 4 stops above black . It doesn’t matter whether that’s outside on a dazzlingly bright day in the desert in the middle East or on a dull overcast winters day in the UK, those relative levels never change.

Now think about this:

If you look at a picture on a screen and the face is significantly brighter than middle grey and much closer to white than middle grey what will you think? To most it will almost certainly appear over exposed because we know that in the real world a face sits roughly 3/4 of the way up the relative brightness range and roughly half way between middle gray and white.

What about if the face is much darker than white and close to middle grey? Then it will generally look under exposed as relative to black, white and middle grey the face is too dark.

The key point here is that we make these exposure judgments based on where faces and other similar things are relative to black and white. We don’t know the actual intensity of the white, but we do know how bright a face should be relative to white and black.

This is why it’s possible to make an accurate exposure assessment using a 100 Nit monitor or a 1000 Nit daylight viewable monitor. Provided the contrast range of the monitor is correct and black looks black, middle grey is in the middle and white looks white then skin tones will be 3/4 of the way up from black and 1/4 down from white when the image is correctly exposed.

But here’s the rub: If you put the 100 Nit monitor next to the 1000 Nit monitor and look at both at the same time, the two will look very, very different. Indoors in a dim room the 1000 Nit monitor will be dazzlingly bright, meanwhile outside on a sunny day the 100 Nit monitor will be barely viewable. So which is right?

The answer is they both are. Indoors, with controlled light levels or when covered with a hood or loupe then the 100 Nit monitor might be preferable. In a grading suite with controlled lighting you would normally use a monitor with white at 100 nits. But outside on a sunny day with no shade or hood the 1000 Nit monitor might be preferable because the 100 nit monitor will be too dim to be of any use.

Think of this another way: Take both monitors into a dark room and take a photo of each monitor with your phone.  The phone’s camera will adjust it’s exposure so both will look the same and the end result will be two photos where the screens will look the same. Our eyes have iris’s just like a cameras and do exactly the same thing, adjust so that the brightness is with the range our eyes can deal with. So the actual brightness is only of concern relative to the ambient light levels.

This presents a challenge to designers of viewfinders that can be used both with or without a loupe or shade such as the LCD viewfinder on the FX9 that which be used both with the loupe/magnifier and without it. How bright should you make it? Not so bright it’s dazzling when using the loupe but bright enough to be useful on a sunny day without the loupe.

The actual brightness isn’t critical (beyond whether it’s bright enough to be seen or not) provided the perceived contrast is right.

When setting up a monitor or viewfinder it’s the adjustment of the black level and black pedestal which alters the contrast of the image (the control of which is confusingly called the brightness control). This “brightness” control is the critical one because if the brightness adjustment raises the blacks by too much then you make the shadows and mids brighter relative to white and less contrasty, so you will tend to expose lower in an attempt to have good contrast and a normal looking mid range. Exposing brighter makes the mids look excessively bright relative to where white is and the black screen surround is.

If the brightness is set too low it pulls the blacks and mids down then you will tend to over expose in an attempt to see details and textures in the shadows and to make the mids normal.

It’s all about the monitor or viewfinders contrast and where everything stits between the darkest and brightest parts pf the image. The peak brightness (equally confusingly set by the contrast control) is largely irrelevant because our perception of how bright this is depends entirely on the ambient light level, just don’t over drive the display.

We don’t look at a VF and think – “Ah that face is 100 nits”.  We think – “that face is 3/4 of the way up between black and white” because that’s exactly how we see faces in all kinds of light conditions – relative levels – not specific brightness.

So far I have been discussing SDR (standard dynamic range) viewfinders. Thankfully I have yet to see an HDR viewfinder because an HDR viewfinder could actually make judging exposure more difficult as “white” such as a white card isn’t very bright in the world of HDR and an HDR viewfinder would have a far greater contrast range than just the 5 or 6 stops of an SDR finder. The viewfinders peak brightness could well be 10 times or more brighter than the white of a white card. So that complicates things as first you need to judge and asses where white is within a very big brightness range. But I guess I’ll cross that bridge when it comes along.

FX9 footage from Norway 2020

Here’s a compilation of footage from this years winter trip to Norway. This was all shot with the PXW-FX9. Mostly with sony lenses and autofocus. The AF was great for following the dog sledding. The camera performed really well and did a great job of capturing what was a very faint Aurora display in between cloud banks.

The daytime footage was shot using S-Log3 in CineEI. I didn’t expose any brighter than base, so used 800EI or 4000EI. I used the viewfinder display gamma assist rather than any LUT’s as I know I can use gamma assist no matter what frame rate I shoot.

DSC_0899-1024x768 FX9 footage from Norway 2020
The PXW-FX9 worked perfectly even when the temperature was below -30c.

The Aurora was very faint, barely visible to the naked eye, so I had to shoot using a 32 frame slow shutter (the equivalent of about 1.3 seconds at 24fps). I then used interval record with a 2 second interval to create the timelapse Aurora sequences.  As there were no dynamic range concerns I chose to shoot using the default S-Cinetone settings in custom mode so I could see exactly what I was getting. I was amazed at how many stars the camera picked up with such a short exposure, a sure sign of how sensitive the camera is. For the Aurora I used a Sigma 20mm f1.4 lens with Metabones speed booster and 4K s35 scan. I felt that the extra stop of light gained from the use of the speedbooster was better than the slightly lower noise that would have been present if I had used the 6K FF scan. I did also try S&Q at 1 frame per second with the shutter off to see how this compared to the slow shutter. The S&Q was much noisier, the cameras built in NR seems to work particularly well with the slow shutter function, so if you need a long exposure on the FX9 I recommend slow shutter and interval record over S&Q at 1 frame per second.

DSC_0887-768x1024 FX9 footage from Norway 2020For the  sunset shots I made use of the variable ND filter, set to auto to control the exposure. I used the cameras “backlight” auto exposure setting to obtain a bright exposure despite the strong sunlight. These shots were shot using S-Log3 in CineEI and it’s nice that the auto exposure functions work very well in this mode. The main lens used was a Sony 24-240mm f3.5-f6.3 zoom. Not the very greatest of lenses, but for such a zoom range the image quality is pretty decent. I used this lens because the temperature was often below -15c dipping to -34c at times. In addition there was a lot of blowing snow. I don’t like doing a lot of lens swapping in these conditions and the 24-240mm allowed me to take just one lens on most of the trips out and about on the snow scooters or dog sleds.

DSC_0856-1024x768 FX9 footage from Norway 2020
Getting ready to go and shoot with the FX9 plus Core V-Mount adapter and Core Neo 98Wh battery.

Another big help was the Core SWX V-Mount adapter. I used both the Core Neo 98Wh V-Mount batteries and some of my Pag Paglink 150Wh V-Mounts. They all worked very well in the harsh conditions and a great feature of the Core Neo’s is the run time indicator that gives an accurate time remaining readout based on the batteries capacity and the cameras power draw. This is very handy when using a V-Mount adapter as all the adapters currently on the market convert the battery voltage up to 19.5 volts to feed the FX9. As a result you don’t get any form of capacity or run time indication in the viewfinder. The Core V-Mount adapter also incorporates an LED indicator that turns red as the battery voltage gets low and then flashes red when it’s about to run out – a very nice touch. I did use a loose fitting insulated cover that I made myself. It’s not heated but does have a fleece lining so helps keep the heat generated by the camera when it’s operating in the camera. Where this really helps is to keep the lens warmer than the ambient air and this helps stop the lens from frosting over when shooting the aurora at night (see the picture at the top of the article where you can see just how frosty things can get at night).

DSC_0874-768x1024 FX9 footage from Norway 2020
Miller CX16 tripod head and solo legs works extremely well even in very cold conditions.

As usual on these trips we had one guest break a tripod. A lot of materials that are normally solid and robust become very brittle at temperatures below -15c. I was using a Miller CX18 tripod head with Miller Solo legs and once again this proved to be a great combination. The fluid damping of the head remain almost completely constant all the way down to -34c. A lot of other heads become unusable at these sorts of temperatures.

For file backup and file management I use the Nexto DI NPS-10. This is a relatively new device from Nexto DI. Designed to offer a robust backup solution at a much lower price than similar previous Nexto DI products it too worked very well even in these harsh conditions. I have a 1TB SSD in mine and I can backup a 128GB XQD card in around 5 minutes. I can’t recommend the Nexto DI products enough for those that need to have a simple, reliable backup on location.

The workshop shots are part of a sequence of shots for another video I am working on. For these I used Sony 85mm f1.8 FE and 24mm f2 FE lenses. The sequence is mostly available light but I did have a Light & Motion Stella 5K on hand to add a little extra light here and there.

Post production was done using DaVinci Resolve and ACES.

Base ISO Levels for the FX9

First of all. Unless you are actually using a lightmeter to determine your exposure, in custom mode it is far, far easier to use dB of gain. 0dB is always optimum and each time you go up 6dB the picture gets twice as bright (one stop brighter) and the noise doubles. ISO is in most cases nothing more than a rating to use in conjunction with a lightmeter to get the right picture brightness, it will not tell you how much noise you have or whether the camera is at it’s optimum setting. So don’t use ISO just because “ISO is cool and make me sound like I know what I’m doing, it makes me a cinematographer”. This isn’t a film camera, no matter how much you dress it up it is a video camera and dB tells you exactly what it is doing.

Because different gamma curves produce different brightness images the ISO rating will change depending on the gamma curve being used, this isn’t a sensitivity change, it’s an optimum brightness change. Because of this, even when you are at 0dB gain (the native setting) when you switch between different gammas the ISO rating changes. In addition because you have two different base sensitivity modes on the FX9 there are a lot of different base ISO’s (all of which are 0dB gain). I’ve prepared a table of the different base ISO’s.

Screenshot-2019-12-30-at-11.00.53-1024x295 Base ISO Levels for the FX9

In addition if you are not careful it’s possible to end up using too much gain to achieve a certain ISO as many ISO ratings can be realised at both Hi and Low Base sensitivity. You don’t want to be at 2500 ISO in Low Base for example, you would be better off using High base. The table below should help you understand when to switch up to High base from Low base. If you use dB gain, then it’s easy. More than +11dB – switch up. Don’t forget in dB mode you can also go down to -3dB.

Screenshot-2019-12-30-at-12.26.58-1024x342 Base ISO Levels for the FX9

Core FX9 V-Mount Adapter and Core Hypercore Neo Mini Batteries.

DSC_0691-2-1024x768 Core FX9 V-Mount Adapter and Core Hypercore Neo Mini Batteries.
Core FX9 V-Mount adapter with a Hypercore Neo Mini battery on my PXW-FX9

One of the things about the FX9 that makes no sense is it’s external DC input. When you are using just the camera body the FX9 requires a rather odd-ball 19.5 volts to power it via it’s DC in connector. Most cameras have a 12v to 16v input range so they can be used with the multitude of V-Mount or Gold Mount batteries that are common place in the world of professional video. But not the FX9.  The FX9 is also fairly power hungry so the standard BP-U batteries can be a little limiting, especially if you also need to power any accessories as the camera doesn’t have a power output. A V-Mount battery will run the camera for a long time and they generally have D-Tap power outlets, but they are the wrong voltage for the FX9s external input. So if you want to use a V-Mount battery, as I do, then you need not only a mounting plate but also a voltage converter.

The adapter I have chosen to use is manufactured by Core. Why this one? One thing that was important for me is not only to be able to power the camera from a V-Mount battery, but also to be able to power it from a standard external 12 volt power supply such as found in most studios, or something like a car battery. The Core CXV-FX9 adapter includes a voltage regulator that takes the 12 to 16 volt range of a typical Lithium battery and converts it to the 19.5v needed by the FX9. It also has an industry standard 4 pin XLR connector that you can use to power the camera from a 12v external power supply.

DSC_0681-1024x768 Core FX9 V-Mount Adapter and Core Hypercore Neo Mini Batteries.
The Core FX9 V-Mount adapter has an industry standard 4 pin XLR input for standard 12v power supplies.

Hot Swap:

If you have a power supply connected to the 4 pin XLR you can hot swap the V-Mount batteries. If you have a battery on the adapter you can hot swap to and from the external power. During hot swapping the adapter not only continues to feed the camera with power but also the 2 D-Tap ports on the adapter remain powered.

Low Battery Warning:

One issue that all these adapters have is that they have to convert the battery voltage up to 19.5 volts and this is what is fed to the cameras DC in connector. This means that the camera has no direct connection to the battery, so it has no way to know the charge state of the battery. All you will see in the viewfinder as an indication of the output of the voltage converter. This will remain at a constant 19.5v all the way until the battery is flat and cuts off, at which point the camera will just die. That’s not good, if you are halfway through recording something it could corrupt your media. You won’t have any warning in the camera of the battery going flat.

To try to address this at least in part the Core adapter has an LED light on the operators side that is green when the battery is well charged, but turns to red when there is only around 10% of the batteries capacity left. This does at least give some warning of a battery about to die.

DSC_0689-1024x768 Core FX9 V-Mount Adapter and Core Hypercore Neo Mini Batteries.
The Core FX9 adapter has an LED battery status indicator that turns red and flashes when the battery voltage gets low.

As well as the adapter, I’m trying out a couple of Core’s Hypercore Neo Mini batteries. These are nice, compact 98Wh batteries. They are UN Tested and certified so meet all the requirements for air travel. These batteries have a clever LCD display that displays the available run time of the battery. This is much more advanced than a simple charge indicator (it has one of those too). The battery actually detects the load being drawn from it. It also knows the exact state of charge of the battery.

DSC_0680-1024x768 Core FX9 V-Mount Adapter and Core Hypercore Neo Mini Batteries.
Core SWX Hyoercore Neo Mini 98Wh battery with incredibly accurate run time display giving the time in minutes until the battery will be flat based on the cameras power draw.

Using these it is able to calculate with great accuracy how long it will be before it will be flat. I have found this to be remarkably accurate, typically to within just a few minutes. I’ve been using this display to let me know when I need to start thinking about changing the battery. It’s accuracy gives me the confidence to continue shooting until I’m down to the last few minutes of run time. Typically I’m getting around 2.5 hours without the Atomso Ninja recorder and just under 2 hours with the Ninja from one of these excellent little batteries.

DSC_0666-scaled-e1578517846130-955x1024 Core FX9 V-Mount Adapter and Core Hypercore Neo Mini Batteries.
Core V-Mount plate for the FX9 showing the lugs that lock into slots in the camera battery compartment to eliminate any flex or wobble.

DSC_0686-scaled-e1578517993169-1024x935 Core FX9 V-Mount Adapter and Core Hypercore Neo Mini Batteries.
There are two D-Tap power outlets at the top of the Core FX9 V-Mount plates as well as 3 1/4″ mounting holes for accessories.

Attaching the adapter:

Attaching the adapter to the camera is easy. It uses the same mounting points as Sony’s XDCA extension unit. So there are lugs that slide into slots inside the FX9’s battery compartment as well as two small bolts that attach it to the top of the camera. This makes it incredibly secure with no wobble or other movement. I would have no concerns about supporting the entire camera rig from the battery adapter or adding perhaps a V-Mount wireless video link and then large or heavy batteries behind that. It’s very secure and it looks like it’s meant to be there. Another nice touch is that as well as the 2 D-Tap power ports on the top of the adapter there are also 3 additional 1/4″ mounting points for accessories such as monitors or wireless receivers etc.

I do have one small criticism. The position of the D-Tap ports is quite close to the edge of the adapter. If you are using a tall battery and you have a very fat D-Tap plug they can interfere with each other.

Despite this the Core V-Mount battery adapter gets a big thumbs up from me. The voltage indication is most useful as is the ability to use a normal 4 pin 12v XLR feed.

DSC_0684-2-1024x768 Core FX9 V-Mount Adapter and Core Hypercore Neo Mini Batteries.
The Core FX9 V-Mount battery adapter gets a big thumbs up from me.

PXW-FX9 Launch Event In Dubai. This Is Going To Be Fun!

FX9-Dubai-576x1024 PXW-FX9 Launch Event In Dubai. This Is Going To Be Fun!Really excited about this PXW-FX9 event in Dubai on the 14th of January at 5pm. Garage Studios are  building us 3 amazing film sets full of props, great actors with great period costumes. This won’t be a PowerPoint presentation, we will shoot a short film, grade the material, showing all the FX9’s key features. It will challenge the camera. It will probably challenge me! It will be fun, you will be surprised. I’m not going to reveal the film subject yet, so come join us if you can.

For a little insight into what we are planning – it won’t be this but it’s similar – Here’s a video of a previous Sony event at Garage Studio: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=716820215493428

New s709 LUT For The FX9 That’s Less Green Than The Sony LUT.

Many users of the FX9 that have been shooting S-Log3 are finding that when they add the standard Sony version of the s709 LUT that their pictures have a slight green tint. I believe that this is because originally the s709 LUT was designed for the Sony Venice camera and the FX9 is very slightly different.  I recently created an experimental LUT to minimise this tint but some people found this tended to push some images slightly magenta.

So I now have a new version of the LUT which really does help combat the green tint. The difference between this LUT and Sony’s original s709 LUT is very small. The idea isn’t to create a new look, just to help get rid of the tint. So you won’t see a big difference, it’s subtle, but I think it really is better.

Click Here to download the ACs709 For FX9 LUT set.

Note: These LUTs are for S-Log3 and SGamut3.cine from the FX9. As usual I have include different versions of the LUT. There are 65x LUT’s suitable for grading as well as 33x LUT’s for monitors or grading software that doesn’t support the higher quality 65x LUTs. There are also minus1 and minus2 LUTS that have 1 and 2 stop exposure shifts for footage that has been shot brighter than the base exposure. In addition I have include the same LUTs but with Legal range input levels for use on Atomos and other recorders that record ProRes in using Legal Range.

Please feel free to share a link to this page if you wish to share these LUT’s with anyone else or anywhere else. But only share via a link to this page please.

If you find these LUT’s useful please consider buying me a coffee or other drink. To make a contribution please use the drop down menu here, there are several contribution levels to choose from.


 

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pixel New s709 LUT For The FX9 That's Less Green Than The Sony LUT.