Notes on the FX3 version 2 update.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the new FX3 firmware update. So, I thought I would put my answers to the questions here in one place. But before I get to my notes on what the firmware does, I will just say that if you are a Mac user, I recommend trying to borrow a PC to do the update. It is much much easier to do the update with a PC than a Mac! The firmware update is well worth doing. At first it might appear that the update makes it impossible to do some things the camera did before, but, if you follow my notes you will see that this is not actually the case.

What is the base ISO for S-Log3 in version 2? In the CineEI and CineEI Quick modes the base ISO defaults to 800/12800 ISO. This is different to before, but brings the FX3 in line with the other Sony Cinema line cameras and most other current digital cinema cameras. When not using the dedicated CineEI modes the base ISO for S-Log3 seems to revert back to 640 ISO as indicated by the way the camera adds a pair of bars, above and below the ISO indication from 500 ISO and down, to warn that you are below the native ISO. 

Help, I can’t output 4K/UHD and record 4K/UHD internally while using the CineEI modes! It takes a lot of extra processing power to apply the LUT’s  to the preview image while recording S-Log3. Unfortunately this seems to mean that there is no longer enough processing power to both record internal 4k/UHD and output 4K/UHD and have LUT’s at the same time. You can record internal 4K and 4K output raw, that’s one option. And you can record 4K and output HD. But if you need to record 4K/UHD internally and output 4K/UHD S-log3 you will need to come out of the cameras log mode.

How do you shoot S-Log3 when not using the Log modes? When you are not using the Log modes you will find that the old S-Log3 and S-Log2 picture profiles (7,8 and 9) are missing. However you can still go into any of the other picture profiles and change the gamma to S-Log3 and the color mode to S-Gamut3.cine or S-Gamut3. S-Log2 has been removed and is no longer available, but as S-Log2 is incapable of recording the full dynamic range of the FX3 this isn’t a big deal. Shooting S-Log3 this way allows you to record 4K/UHD internally and output 4K/UHD over the HDMI as in the previous version 1 firmware. I suspect that PP7/8/9 were removed simply to encourage users to use the dedicated log modes where everything is fully optimised for log rather than using a picture profile where any ISO can be used or other settings changed that may degrade the log.

What does “Embed LUT LUT File” do? When Embed LUT File is enabled the camera stores the LUT used in the “Private”, “M4ROOT”, “General” metadata folder on the recording card. In addition metadata about the LUT and the chosen exposure index is saved in the clip file. The LUT is NOT BAKED IN to the file, the recording remains as S-Log3. When you import the clip into the latest version of Sony’s Catalyst Browse software the LUT you used when shooting is automatically applied to the clip as well as the correct exposure offset for the Exposure Index used. The end result is the clip looks exactly the same in Catalyst Browse as it did on the cameras LCD when you were shooting. But because it is still an S-Log3 recording, you can still manipulate it as much as before and if you want you could use a different LUT in post. Hopefully in the future other edit and grading software will also read this metadata and apply the LUT automatically, this is really how this should all work (hope the FX6/FX9 get the same functionality). 

How do I load a custom LUT into the FX3 camera? Start with an empty SD card and format the card in the camera. This will create the necessary folders needed for the LUT on the card. The FX3 accepts 33x 3D cube LUTS, this is the most commonly found LUT format. Next copy your chosen LUT to the “PRIVATE”, “SONY”, “PRO”, “LUT” folder. Then put the card into the camera and go to the menu “Exposure/Color”, “Color/Tone”, “Manage User LUTs” option. From here you will first chose a User memory slot to load the LUT into. You will then be prompted to choose the SD card that you saved the LUTs to, and then LUT you wish to load from the card. The LUT will be saved to the slot chosen – the original LUT name is kept, but if the name is too long it will be abbreviated. Once the LUT has been loaded into the camera you can then select it from the new Home Menu – page 1. You can save up to 16 user LUTs.

How do I bake in a LUT? To bake in a LUT you have to come out of the cameras dedicated Log shooting mode. In the normal shooting mode if you go to the menu’s “Exposure/Color”, “Color/Tone”, “Picture Profile” page you will see that as well as the picture profiles, a little lower down you will find 4 “PPLUT” settings. These initially correspond to the first 4 user LUT memories and allow you to select those LUTs as a baked in look. But if you have saved more than 4 user LUTs do not despair. You can go into the “PPLUT” setting and if you select “Basic Look” you can select any of your saved user LUTs.

What do the Zebras or histogram measure in the CineEI mode? The Histogram and zebras measure the brightness of the LUT when using the CineEI mode. Do note that when correctly exposed the s709 LUT will be a touch darker than S-Cinetone or normal Rec-709.

  Middle Grey Average Skin Tones 90% Reflectivity white card (add 2-3% for white paper).
S-Log3 41% 48-52% 61%
s709 44-45% 57-62% 77-78%
709(800) 44-45% 65-70% 89%

Will the A7S3 get the same firmware? As far as I know, no it will not. It is my understanding that this firmware is specifically for the FX3 as the FX3 is sold as a part of the Cinema Line and primarily as a video camera. The A7S3 is not part of the cinema line and is sold primarily as a photo camera that also shoots great video.

7 thoughts on “Notes on the FX3 version 2 update.”

  1. When choosing a PP, it doesn’t seem to come up in any screen display. Is there a way of confirming the chosen PP.

  2. Not sure I’m buying into the extra processing power to get 4k with the the new LOG setting – isn’t running PP 7 (when we had it) exactly the same? I now have PP6 set to Slog -3 It’s running a 4k with an Slog3 preview recording internal 4k and exporting 4k and it can even apply that LUT to the output too if I wanted. Unless I am missing something in my understanding, it seems to me this should be hardware identical to the Flex ISO selection in the new Log settings….
    Sony even says they got rid of 7,8,9 because this is now reflected by the Log setup. I still thinking it’s either an oversight, or a price point created limitation. I’m hoping for oversight.

    1. If you select a LUT via the picture profiles it is baked into the recordings. You can’t record 4K S-Log3, have a preview LUT and output 4K S-log3 all at the same time.

  3. Hey Alister,

    If I expose for 61% white in run n gun situations. Do I want my zebras covering the whole white objects? I noticed during a hockey game I had the zebras covering the white hockey boards but the image was still under exposed.. guessing I should go for the players skin tones?

    1. The white exposure reference is very specifically a 90% reflectivity white card. Many normal things that we consider white are much brighter than this. White printer paper has a reflectivity of around 94%, so id using a piece of white paper this will be around 63%. Cars, ice, shiny surfaces will all be much brighter than a white card.

      Zebras by default have a 10% wide window, so when set to 61% they will appear at 56% and disappear at 66% which as range of almost 1.5 stops for S-Log3, so a very large margin for error. Ideally you want to use a much narrower window for zebras when using zebras for S-Log3 because S-Log3 compresses everything into a smaller range, so the zebra window should be narrower than you would use for Rec-709. Typically I use a 5% window for log.

  4. I have to say – I’m not loving the way the FX3 records proxies. If you have the LUT on it bakes it into the proxies making them useless in the editing workflow. Their should be an option somewhere to switch the LUT off for both HDMI and proxies, while retaining it on the rear screen. And not having shutter angle on a cinema line camera seems like a big miss.

    Secondly I think Sony’s argument on the A7SIII is bogus. It’s primarily sold as a video camera which you could use for emergency stills. As a stills camera the 12MP resolution makes it unsuitable for most professional work.

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