The PXW-FX9 in the real world.

There are already a few setup and staged video samples from the new Sony PXW-FX9 circulating on the web. These are great. But how will it perform and what will the pictures look like for an unscripted, unprepared shoot? How well will the autofocus work out in the street, by day and by night? How does the S-Cinetone gamma and colour in custom mode compare with S-Log3 and the s709 Venice LUT compare?

To answer these questions I took a pre-production FX9 into the nearby town of Windsor with a couple of cheap Sony E-Mount lenses. The lenses were the Sony 50mm f1.8 which costs around $350 USD and the 28-70mm f3.5-f5.6 zoom that costs about $400 USD and is often bundled as a kit lens with some of the A7 series cameras.

To find out how good the auto focus really is I decided to shoot entirely using auto focus with the AF set to face priority. The only shot in the video where AF was not used is the 120fps slow-mo shot of the swans at 0:53 as AF does not work at 120fps.

Within the video there are examples of both S-Cinetone and S-Log3 plus the s709 LUT. So you know which is which I have indicated this is the video. I needed to do this as the two cut together really well. There is no grading as such. The S-Cinetone content is exactly as it came from the camera. The CineEI S-Log3 material was shot at the indicated base ISO and EI, there was no exposure offset. In post production all I did was add the s709 LUT, that’s it, no other corrections.

The video was shot using the Full Frame 6K scan, recording to UHD XAVC-I.

For exposure I used the cameras built in waveform display. When in CineEI I also used the Viewfinder Gamma Display assist function. Viewfinder Gamma assist gives the viewfinder the same look as the 709(800) LUT. What’s great about this is that it works in all modes and at all frame rates. So even when I switched to 2K Full Frame scan and 120fps the look of the image in the viewfinder remained the same and this allowed me to get a great exposure match for the slow motion footage to the normal speed footage. 


There are some great examples of the way the autofocus works throughout the video. In particular the shot at 0:18 where the face priority mode follows the first two girls that are walking towards the camera, then as they exit the frame switches to the two ladies following behind without any hunting. I could not have done that any better myself. Another great example is at 1:11 where the focus tracks the couple walking towards the camera and once they exit the shot the focus smoothly transitions to the background. One of the nice things about the AF system is you can adjust the speed at which the camera re-focusses and in this case I had slowed it down a bit to give it a more “human” feel.

Even in low light the AF works superbly well. At 1:33 I started on the glass of the ornate arch above the railway station and panned down as two people are walking towards me. The camera took this completely in it’s stride doing a lovely job of shifting the focus from the arch to the two men. Again, I really don’t think I could have done this any better myself.


Also, I am still really impressed by how little noise there is from this camera. Even in the high ISO mode the camera remains clean and the images look great. The low noise levels help the camera to resolve colour and details right down into the deepest shadows. Observe how at 2:06 you can clearly see the different hues of the red roses against the red leather of the car door, even though this is a very dark shot.

The reduction in noise and increase in real sensitivity also helps the super slow motion. Compared to an FS7 I think the 120fps footage from the FX9 looks much better. It seems to be less coarse and less grainy. There is still some aliasing which is unavoidable if you scan the sensor at a lower resolution, but it all looks much better controlled than similar material from an FS7.


300x250_xdcam_150dpi The PXW-FX9 in the real world.

And when there is more light the camera handles this very well too.  At 1:07 you can see how well S-Cinetone deals with a very high contrast scene. There are lots of details in the shadows and even though the highlights on the boats are clipped, the way the camera reaches the end of it’s range is very nice and it doesn’t look nasty, it just looks very bright, which it was.

For me the big take-away from this simple shoot was just how easy it is to get good looking images. There was no grading, no messing around trying to get nice skintones. The focus is precise and it doesn’t hunt.  The low noise and high sensitivity means you can get good looking shots in most situations. I’m really looking forward to getting my own FX9 as it’s going to make life just that little bit easier for many of my more adventurous shoots.

For more information on the PXW-FX9 click here. 

Or take a look at the Sony website.

20 thoughts on “The PXW-FX9 in the real world.”

  1. Hi Alistair,
    So only a ‘little bit easier’ than the FS7? Is it worth the upgrade? I was hoping for a bit more enthusiasm!

    1. You can make an FS7 look very good if you know how to grade properly. If you want an instant great look OOTB then get the FX9. Very few people actually know how to grade properly, including many so called “colourists”.

  2. I swore I wasn’t going to buy another camera, but this is so tempting. I dumped my Nikon and Leica M lenses and now have a full set of GM e-mount lenses– they are fantastic. With the FX9 they would be a great matchup. Thanks for the news A>C>

  3. In a situation where you want to decide to pull focus from one face to another.. you can do this with the joy stick.. ? presumably selecting a “new” face from the one thats currently in focus ..
    Do you have any inside info re the new Sony cine lenses..I know there is the 16-31, as these would seem to be the the only game in town , at the moment , to have full manual and the very best of the AF function ,when you want to use it instead .. thanks ..

  4. Alister. What is this s709 LUT that you refer to? Is this a new LUT that comes with the FX9? That being so is the ‘S’ derived from the new S-Cinetone look, curve name?

    1. s709 is the standard Sony Venice LUT that works with S-Log3 material that has been available for about 2 years now. The “S” stands for Sony.

      1. Thanks for that Alister. Is there or will there be an S-Cinetone look LUT available any time? Or could you be tempted into creating one for the FS7s 🙂

        1. s709 gives the same look as S-Cinetone, so just use the s709 LUT or my slightly tweaked Venice LUT for the same look as S-Cinetone.

          1. Thanks again Squire. I thought that might be the case and yes I have been using the s709 one and have been pretty happy with that one.

  5. Hi Alister,
    Can you bake in the s709 LUT withs log3 in camera?? Also does the FX9 have horizon line indicator like the FS7 and the alpha series?? Thanks

  6. Alister, do you know if the FX9 supports Rec.2020 ? I went to a talk recently where they a point that Venice supported Rec.2020 but the FX9 talk never mentioned the topic.

    1. I don’t think 2020 or HLG etc is there as a matrix in custom mode. But really if shooting for 2020 your best option would be S-Log3/SGamut3 anyway as there is no real world benefit to 2020 unless working in HDR and exporting the final output as HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision or Rec2100. All of these are best shot S-Log3/SGamut3.

  7. I never did like the images coming out of any Sony camera, and truth be told, not even the Venice with it’s great color pallet, and whatever Sony tried to make the Venice look like cinema. It still looks like video. If you like video you cannot beat a Sony. That Sony video look was Sony’s classic signature.
    Until now!!
    Whatever Sony did to the Exmore-R sensor puts the FX9 – by an order of magnitude – above the Venice. It’s not just the colorimetry or dynamic range, but that elusive filmic, cinematic look and feel that Sony finally nailed with the FX9.
    This not to mention all the other innovative amenities that come with this camera.
    One complaint though – the FX9, I’m sure, has enough sophisticated processing power to handle internal RAW recording. There is really no reason to record RAW externally nowadays.
    But…..Finally! Hurrah for Sony!! Keep it up.
    A prognostication…….Sony will never be able to produce enough of this camera to meet demand.
    Thank you, Alister!!

    1. Put a Venice and an FX9 side by side and the output colour and tonal range is almost identical, so I don’t understand why you feel that the FX9 is somehow an order of magnitude better?

  8. Hello Alister,
    Sorry for my bad english
    thanks for this great video and information about the new Fx9.
    For info I have receive my Fx9 à great Christmas gift..
    I made one shooting of fireworks the 31.
    For you what it’s the best setting for this ” special” shooting. Colors of the days for the fireworks and effects arroung 5000 Kelvin, S-log 3 use one basic lut 709 for check into the monitor, and for a great deep black it’ s better to use one ISO to 200-300 or its better to use 4000.
    Thanks for your analyse
    Best regards and have a great 2020 years. And thanks for your great info into your site.

    1. I would probably use the CineEI mode and most likely 4000 Base ISO and 2000EI monitoring via the s709 LUT. White balance will depend on what other lights are in the shot. If there are a lot of city lights you may want to set the WB around 4000K.

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