This article was written before version 2 firmware added the FF 5K scan mode. Please see this video for more information on the scan modes in version 2:
The PXW-FX9 features a 6K Full Frame sensor. With this sensor it is possible to select various scan modes and frame sizes. It is important to understand what these mean and which scan modes can be used with which frame rates and recording formats.
There are two selectable frame sizes, Full Frame (FF) and Super 35 (s35). Full Frame is the larger of the two sensor scan sizes. When Full Frame is selected the sensor area is similar to that of a Full Frame photo camera. In the Full Frame mode you will need to use lenses designed for Full Frame. The frame size in Full Frame scan mode is also similar to the VistaVision film format.
In the Super 35mm mode a reduced area of the sensor is used that is of a similar size to a frame of super 35mm movie film. In this mode you can use lenses designed for APS-C, Super 35mm movie film as well as lenses designed for Full Frame cameras. If you use a Full Frame lens in the Super35 scan mode the field of view will be narrower than it would be in the Full Frame mode by a factor of 1.5.
FF 6K Scan is the highest quality scan mode available in the FX9. The sensor operates in the Full Frame format and a full 6K scan is used, reading 19 million pixels from the sensor. The 6K image is then downsampled to UHD (or HD) for recording. By starting at 6K and downsampling the quality of the UHD recordings will be higher than possible from a 4K scan. Noise in the image is reduced and the resolution and colour sampling is maximised. However there are some frame rate limitations in FF 6K scan. The highest frame rate that can be selected when using FF 6K scan is 30 frames per second. You can record either UHD or HD from FF 6K scan.
FF 2K scan, optimised for speed, quality is reduced. Uses the same Full Frame sized sensor area as FF 6K. However, the sensor is read at 2K instead of 6K. The reduced resolution allows the sensor to be read out much faster, currently up to 120fps. However in this mode the cameras optical filtering is less optimum and this means that the image quality is somewhat reduced compared to the FF 6K scan. This scan mode is best suited to high frame rate shooting where the ability to shoot at a high frame rate is the main priority. You can only record HD from FF 2K scan. I recommend FF 2K is only used for 120fps recording.
S35 4K Medium Balance of Quality and Speed. In this mode 4K of pixels are read out. This is similar to the scan area and number of pixels of a PXW-FS7 or FS5. As a result the resolution of the recordings will be similar to that of other 4K s35 cameras. Because there is no downsampling in this mode the image quality is not quite as high as can be achieved from the FF 6K scan mode. But the reduced number of pixels that need to be read means that the S35 4K scan can be used at frame rates up to 60fps. You can record either UHD or HD from s35 4K scan.
S35 2K scan optimised for speed with s35 or APS-C lenses, quality is reduced. As above uses the smaller Super 35mm frame area. However, the sensor is read at 2K instead of 4K. The reduced resolution allows the sensor to be read out much faster. The FF 2K scan mode can operate at up to 120fps. In this mode the cameras optical filtering is less than optimum and this means that the image quality is somewhat reduced compared to the FF 6K or S35 4K scan. This scan mode is best suited to high frame rate shooting where the ability to shoot at a high frame rate is the main priority and only Super 35mm or APS-C lenses are available. You can only record HD from S35 2K scan and I recommend you only use the mode when you need to shoot 120fps with a s35 or APS-C lens.
9 thoughts on “More on the PXW-FX9’s Scan Modes.”
Hi Alister, thank you for your detailed coverage of the FX9. What type of lenses would you recommend for high speed recordings in FF 2K scan mode? I.e. what to look for and what not so much? Do you have certain go-to lenses? Best, Andreas
Is there a s35 mode ..2K scan setting.. or Im I missing something .. thanks
Will there be a s16 center scan like the fs7 has? Why not a variable scenter scan like a lot of small camera have? Even with only hd readout this will be much used in hd broadcast.
Is there any more information as to what S35 lenses will work in the 5k scan mode when it’s available in the v2 update?
There’s been mention the Fujinon MK lenses should cover the sensor in this mode.
I was wondering whether you knew if the Sony 18-110 lens would also work or not?
I really don’t know. People will need to test for themselves as different amounts of vignetting or aperture restrictions will be acceptable – or not – to different people.
Looking at a camera with the latest firmware:
– Imager Scan Mode
— FF 6K
— FFcrop 5K
— S35 4K
— FF 2K
— S35 2K
Hello Alister, and thank you for all your excellent work.
It’s greatly appreciated.
One thing I’d love to hear from your experience: Did you ever sense a greater amount of noise in 5K Crop mode compared to 6K FF? I think I do. Maybe that’s because downsampling to 4K does not work as brilliantly from 5K Crop as from 6K FF?
Thinking of getting used to film in 5K Crop only, to be able to easily switch back and forth between frame rates and not have to deal with changing crops.
Any info on this would be awesome. Thanks again, and Cheers from Germany.
Yes there is more noise in 5K scan. 5K scaled to 4K is an odd ratio and not enough surplus to really give a significant noise or resolution difference. If you feel it’s too noisy and you are shooting S-Log you can always expose a touch brighter.
Thanks so much for your reply.
That’s what I figured.
I’ll push the exposure a little then.