Sony have today release the version 3 update for the FX9. This is a significant upgrade for the FX9 and I highly recommend all users update their cameras.
The update process is robust and provided you follow the instructions in the PDF guide that is included in the update download package you should not have any problems. Do be aware that when you start the update process the cameras LCD screen will go blank for around 10 minutes and the only clue that all is good will be a flashing red tally light. Just leave the camera alone, go and do something else and come back an hour later. The upgrade will also appear to stall at around the 80% mark. Again, just be patient and wait for the update complete message before turning off the camera.
There are a lot of new features in version 3 but the three that I think most are going to like the most are the Real-Time tracking AF (aka touch tracking), the Anamorphic monitoring modes and the Super 16mm 2K scan mode.
REAL TIME TRACKING AF
The Real Time tracking allows you to use the viewfinders touch screen to touch where you want the camera to focus. A white box will appear where you touch and then the camera will track the touched object while it stays with the frame. To cancel the touch tracking touch on the grey cancel box that appears in the top left of the viewfinder.
In the image above the camera is in Face/Eye priority mode. As the real time tracking AF over-rides the other AF modes, by touching on the book on the book shelf (circled in red) the AF is now focussing on the book and will track the book if the camera pans or if the book were to move through the shot. If the book were to move out of the shot the AF will revert to Face/Eye AF.
When used in conjunction with the Face/Eye AF, if you touch on a face the AF will prioritise that face and track it. If the person is facing the camera and can be identified as an individual face, the face gets saved and a “*” will appear next to the Face AF symbol top left of the VF.
If the person turns away from the camera the focus will then track the persons head, if they turn back towards the camera it tracks their face again. It is even possible to start by touching on the back of a persons head and then as they turn towards the camera the face/eye AF takes over.
The way the camera “registers” faces is changed from previous firmware versions. As above, to save a face simply touch on a face. Touch a different face to save a different face. When a face has been saved a * will appear next the the Face/Eye AF symbol.
In the image below the face has been selected by touching on it and is now saved (note the * symbol circled in red). Not also the tracking symbol indicating that BOTH Face/Eye AF and Tracking are in use.
Whenever you stop the real time tracking the saved face is removed from the camera.
If you are using Face/Eye ONLY AF then normally the camera will only focus on faces/eyes, but if you touch on an object that isn’t a face then the camera will focus on this object. If you touch on a face then the camera will only focus on that particular face and the AF will halt if the camera can’t see that particular face until you stop the real time tracking AF.
As well as the tracking stop button (top left of the VF, look like a grey box) If you have AF assist enabled, turning the focus ring on the lens will stop the tracking AF. Real-time tracking AF will also stop when a touched object that is not a face leaves the frame or when a button assigned with the Push AF/Push MF function is pressed.
Real-time tracking can also be used when the cameras AF switch is set to MF. If in the menu, under shooting settings, focus, the “Touch Function in MF” setting is set to ON, The real-time touch tracking auto focus will also work when the AF switch on the side of the camera is set to MF. This allows you to use an autofocus lens to focus manually but then instantly switch to real time tracking AF simply by touching the LCD screen. For this to work if the lens has an AF/MF switch the switch on the lens must be set to AF. If using the 28-135mm lense the focus ring must be in the forwards position.
Real time tracking works across the entire frame regardless of the chosen AF frame area. Any objects being tracked must be distinct from the background. Textured, coloured or detailed objects are tracked more easily than plain objects. When using Face/Eye AF not all faces can be saved. To successfully save a face it needs to be facing the camera directly and sufficiently distinct that the camera can identify the eyes, nose and mouth.
The anamorphic mode is a basic anamorphic monitoring mode for the LCD viewfinder. It has no effect on the recorded files or the SDI/HDMI outputs.
It provides a 1.3x or 2x de-squeeze. The 2x desqueeze function is tailored for 2x anamorphic lenses designed to be used with 35mm film. To use these lenses the camera must be set to 6K Full Frame scan to gain the correct sensor height. This means that when you use a 2x 35mm film anamorphic lens the sensor scan is wider than it really needs to be so there will be some vignetting at the sides of the frame. The 2x de-squeeze function takes this into account and not only de-squeezes the image but also crops the sides to emulate how the footage will look after post production.
If you are using 1.3x lenses then you can use either the Full Frame 6K scan, the FF 5k crop or the S35 4K scan modes, but for 2x anamorphic lenses you will need to use FF 6K scan.
S16 2K Crop.
The S16 2K crop mode allows you to use just the center Super 16mm sized 2K scan area. This mode is actually very useful for shooting at high frame rates above 60fps because unlike the FF 2K or S35 2K scan modes, this mode is using every single pixel within the scan area. As a result there are none of the image artefacts common when shooting at high frame rates using FF 2K or S35 2K. The 2.5x crop (compared to FF) does mean that for wide shots you will need a very wide lens. But where you can use it, this mode is great for better quality slow motion.
The other use for this scan mode is with Super 16mm lenses or with B4 2/3″ ENG lenses via suitable adapters. The image quality in this mode on the FX9 is a little better than the similar mode on the FS7. But you do need to remember that this is a 2K scan, so you will have a little under HD resolution. In addition the cameras noise appears worse in this mode because you are enlarging fewer pixels to fill the screen, so the noise isn’t as fine or refined as in FF 6K or S35 4K. So where possible you want to make sure you use a nice bright exposure for the best results.
The images below were shot with the same 16x ENG zoom lens at its widest and longest focal lengths.
Here is the full list of new features:
- S700 Protocol over Ethernet
- B4 lens support
– S16 scanning mode (up to FHD 180fps)
– B4 lens control using with LA-EB1
– ALAC (Auto Lens Aberration Correction) function
- Assignable Center Scan
- Anamorphic lens support
- Clip Naming (Cam ID + Reel#)
- Real-time Tracking (touch tracking auto focus)
- Additional items can be modified in the Status Screen
- SR Live for HDR metadata support
- Recording Proxy Clip Real-time Transfer
- Camcorder Network Setup using Smartphone App
- Remote control using smartphone over USB tethering
- USB tethering activated using iOS14 iPhone and iPad
*Network feature above also support C3 Portal (only available in specific countries)
You will find the version 3 download files here: https://pro.sony/en_GB/support-resources/pxw-fx9/software