A lot of people like to shoot anamorphic with the FX3 or FX6. And they do get great looking images. The best example of this most recently is the blockbuster movie “The Creator” which was shot with an FX3 using 2x anamorphic lenses.
But there are a couple of things to consider with Anamorphic.
The first is what aspect ratios does the sensor support and what is the aspect ratio you want to deliver. The FX3 is always either 16:9 or 17:9 so that means that if you want you final output to have that classic 2.39:1 (2.40:1) aspect ratio then you need to use a 1.3x anamorphic while shooting 16:9 as a 1.3x lens as this will allow you to use the full sensor.
If you use a 1.6x lens and do not crop the sides of the image in post you will have a much narrower 2.8:1 aspect ratio. 1.6x lenses work best with 3:2 sensors. With a 2x anamorphic lens you would end up with an extremely narrow 3.5:1 aspect ratio unless you do some serious side cropping – which will reduce the horizontal resolution of the final image. If you use a classic 2x anamorphic lens designed for 35mm film you will almost certainly have a noticeable vignette on either side of the frame as these lenses are designed for the narrow but tall frame of 35mm film. You are going to need to remove this vignette by cropping. If you only deliver in HD this may not be an issue, but for 4K delivery it means your footage is no longer really 4K. As a side note it is interesting that for “The Creator” this is exactly how they shot, using 2x anamorphics. But I am led to believe that extensive use of AI was made when scaling the image in post. If you do need to crop the image the FX9 has a bit of an advantage as the sensor operates at 6K in full frame, so the 4K recordings have higher resolution than the recordings from the FX3 or FX6 (remember a bayer sensor on actually resolves at about 75% of the pixel count, so a 4K sensor delivers a 3K image while a 6K sensor delivers a 4K image). Burano will be a good camera to use as even after you crop in to the 8K (pixel) image what is left will still be around 6K of pixels and full 4K resolution.
Then the other is de-squeeze. It can be quite challenging to focus if you have the wrong de-squeeze and if the collimation of the lens is off you may not notice that the horizontal and vertical focus points are different , so shots may not be as sharp as they should be. You could always use an external monitor with the de-squeeze you need.
So, depending on how you look at it the only lenses that might be considered to be “fully compatible” will be full frame 1.33x anamorphics as these will give the classic 2.40:1 aspect ratio without cropping and the camera supports 1.33x de-squeeze. But these are not common. Any other anamorphic squeeze ratio will require some post work. Classic 2x anamorphics were designed for super 35mm open gate 4:3 sensors and when used like this they still needed a slight side crop for 2.39:1. Use them on a FF 16:9 sensor and you will need to make a big side crop. For Full Frame anamorphic lenses these days it is common to use a 6:5 scan which is more square than 4:3 and the side crop is no longer needed. Additionally for FF, 1.8x squeeze is becoming very common and designed specifically to work with a FF 6:5 sensor. But – sadly the FX3 doesn’t really have a scan mode tall enough to fully take advantage of modern FF anamorphics. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use them, it’s just not an ideal situation.
This is another one from Social Media and it the same question gets asked a lot. The short answer is…………
Even with Sony’s earlier S-Log3 cameras you didn’t need to ALWAYS over expose. When shooting a very bright well lit scene you could get great results without shooting extra bright. But the previous generations of Sony cameras (FS5/FS7/F5/F55 etc) were much more noisy than the current cameras. So, to get a reasonably noise free image it was normal to expose a bit brighter than the base Sony recommendation, my own preference was to shoot between 1 and 1.5 stops brighter than the Sony recommended levels (click here for the F5/F55, here for the FS7 and here for the FS5).
The latest cameras (FX30, FX3, FX6, FX9 etc) are not nearly as noisy, so for most shots you don’t need to expose extra bright, just expose well (by this I mean exposing correctly for the scene being shot). This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t expose brighter or darker if you understand how to use a brighter/darker exposure to shift your overall range up and down, perhaps exposing brighter when you want more shadow information and les noise at the expense of some highlight range or exposing darker when you must have more highlight information but can live with a bit more noise and less shadow range.
What I would say is that exposure consistency is very important. If you constantly expose to the right so every shot is near to clipping then your exposure becomes driven by the highlights in the shot rather than the all important mid range where faces, skin tones, plants and foliage etc live. As the gap between highlights and the mids varies greatly exposure based on highlights tends to result in footage where the mid range is up and down and all over the place from shot to shot and this makes grading more challenging as every shot needs a unique grade. Base the exposure on the mid range and shot to shot you will be more consistent and grading will be easier.
This is where the CineEI function really comes into its own as by choosing the most appropriate EI for the type of scene you are shooting and the level of noise you are comfortable with and basing the exposure off the image via the built in LUT will help with consistency (you could even use a light meter set to the ISO that matches the EI setting). Lower EI for scenes where you need more shadow range or less noise, higher EI for scenes where you must have a greater highlight range. And there is no -“One Fits All” setting, it depends on what you are shooting. This is the real skill, using the most appropriate exposure for the scene you are shooting (see here for CineEI with the FX6 and with the FX9)
So how do you get that skill? Experiment for yourself. No one was born knowing exactly how to expose Log, it is a skill learnt through practice and experimentation, making mistakes and learning from them. In addition different people and different clients will be happy with different noise levels. There is no right or wrong amount of noise. Footage with no noise often looks very sterile and lifeless, but that might be what is needed for a corporate shoot. A small to medium amount of noise can look great if you want a more film like look. A large amount of noise might give a grungy look for a music video. Grading also plays a part here as how much contrast you push into the grade alters the way the noise looks and how pleasing or objectionable it might be.
All anyone on here can do is provide some guidance, but really you need to determine what works for you, so go out and shoot at different EI’s or ISO’s, different brightness levels, slate each shot so you know what you did. Then grade it, look at it on a decent sized monitor and pick the exposure that works for you and the kinds of things you shoot – but then also remember different scenes may need a different approach.
So this came up on social media. Someone had been playing with some sample raw footage provided by a camera manufacturer and he/she was concerned because he felt that this manufacturer supplied footage graded much better than his/her own Sony XAVC-I footage.
There is a lot to a situation like this, but very often the issue isn’t that the other footage was raw while his/her own footage was XAVC-I S-Log. Raw doesn’t normally have more colour or more DR than log. The colour range and the shadow range won’t be significantly different as that tends to be limited by the cameras sensor rather than the recording codec. But what you might have if the raw is 12 bit or greater is a larger bit depth or less compression. Perhaps a bit of both and that can sometimes give some extra precision or finer gradations as well as a bit less noise (although compression can reduce noise). This may come into play when you really start to push and pull the footage very hard in the grade, but generally, if you can’t get the image you want out of 10 bit XAVC-I, 12 bit raw isn’t going to help you. Raw might make it a bit quicker to get to where you want to be and I do love working with the 16 bit X-OCN (raw) from Venice and Burano, but I have never really felt that XAVC S-Log3 is lacking. Even a deeper bit depth might not be all it seems. The sensors in most video cameras under $20K only have 12 bit analog to digital converters and that tends to be the main image quality bottleneck (and this where Venice really shines with its 14 bit A2D).
Sony’s XAVC-I S-log3 grades really well, really, really well. A big issue however is the reliance on LUTs. 3D LUTs divide the image up into 33x or 65x adjustment bands and then it is down to the grading software to interpolate between each band. This can introduce artefacts into the image.
Some people simply skip doing a proper colourspace transform altogether and this may introduce twists into the gamma and colourspace which then makes it hard to get the colours or contrast they really want as it can be hard to bend the colours in a pleasing way without them going “weird”.
Colour managed workflows help to maintain the full range of the original content within the correct output colourspace without any unwanted twists and are often the best way to full realise the potential of the content you have shot.
Plus not all grading software is created equal. I was an Adobe Premiere user for years until I needed to do a lot more grading. When DaVinci Resolve became affordable I switched to Resolve for grading and have never looked back – after all it is a proper grading tool, not edit software with a bunch of plugins bolted on.
But as always the real key is how it was shot. Manufacturer supplied sample content is likely to have been shot very well and highly optimised, after all they want it to make their camera look as good as possible. When comparing footage from different sources you really do need to consider whether just how well it was shot. Was the most appropriate exposure index used for the type of scene. Was it shot at the best possible time of day for the best sun positioning. How much attention went in to things like the careful choice of the colours in the scene to provide pleasing colour contrast. How much time was spent with negative fill to bring down the shadow areas etc, what filtration was used to bleed off highlights or polarise the sky or windows. What lenses were used. All these things will have a massive impact on how gradeable the footage will be.
And this wasn’t a Sony stunt. The director of this sci-Fi film Gareth Edwards chose the FX3 because he felt it was the best camera for the job. In various interviews Edwards has stated that one of the prime reasons for choosing the FX3 was its low light performance. The FX3 allowed him to shoot with real moonlight rather than bringing in complex and expensive lighting rigs. It allowed the DP Oren Soffer to move more freely with the actors as they could do more with the natural available light rather than artificial lights. This in turn led to them shooting longer takes which Edwards feels gives the film a more organic look.
For the film the FX3 was connected to an Atomos Ninja V and they recorded ProRes Raw.Of course – the film went through some extensive post production work and there is a lot that AI can now do to clean up an image or to rescale it. But, I think we are now at a stage where almost every cinema camera that is in the market today, from the FX30 to a Venice could be used to make a feature film and the audience is unlikely to be aware of whether you used a $3K camera or a $75K one. At the same time I do feel that there is a lot to be said for picking the right camera. A studio based film might be quicker and easier to shoot on a Venice. A location based film may benefit from a smaller and lighter package.
Whichever camera you choose, great story telling remains the main goal. Good lenses, lighting (or the use of the available light in a pleasing way) and composition are key elements in telling that story. Your skills as a film maker are more important than the camera you choose to use, but choosing the right camera can make the job easier. It’s a wonderful time to be a film maker.
I guess I must have missed this while I was on holiday but Sony have now announced a small wireless microphone kit that competes with the small digital wireless microphone kits from DJI and Hollyland etc. While not intended to replace the longer range professional wireless microphones such as the UW-P series these microphones offer a very compact system at a much lower price. Being digital they offer very high sound quality.
Many of us, myself included often use a Sony camera to shoot video blogs or simple productions where we all we need is a basic radio mic system and this is where look to be ideal. The receiver connects directly to the MI Shoe of any Sony camera with an MI Shoe, so there are no wires or cables to get in the way or to get lost. Then the small clip on transmitter with its built in microphone is worn by the subject.
The single channel system costs £320 GBP ($350 USD) and the dual channel with 2 transmitters around £420 GBP ($475 USD).
The transmitter and receiver come in a small charging case and a windscreen is included for the transmitters. If you don’t have an MI shoe equipped camera there is a 3.5mm audio cable to connect between the receiver and the camera, computer or other recording device.
I was recently involved as a technical advisor for the production of this short film by James Friend ASC BSC. James is best know for his work on “All Quiet On The Western Front” which won him an academy award for best cinematography.
This film is a homage to “Top Gun”. It was hot mostly with Sony Burano’s, but there is also some Venice 2 footage in it too. It was a bit of a gamble shooting it in the UK in October, but the weather gods were kind to us and we got some really great skies. Filming took place over 3 days, mostly in Somerset. The aircraft is a Yak-50 and it was flown by renowned aerobatic pilot Paul Bonhomme. If you follow the link to the Sony website you will find a lot more information about the production as well as a BTS film and the main film. Click here to go to the Sony website where you will find the video.
Global shutter cameras are not a new thing. They have been around for a very long time. The Sony Z750 is 2.5 years old and has had a global shutter since day 1. There are also the HDC-3200 and F5500 4K global shutter cameras.
The PMW-F55 had a global shutter and CCD cameras had global shutters.
And now Sony have announced the new A9 MKIII stills camera that also has a global shutter:
So, given that it’s not really a new thing – why doesn’t every camera have a global shutter?
The main reason is noise – and in particular fixed pattern noise that will show up in blacks and deep shadow areas if you try to lift the shadows or use high levels of gain. With a global shutter the signal from every pixel is globally shifted into a memory cell at the end of each exposure period and then those memory cells are read out while the next frame is being capture. Each memory cell will have a slightly different very tiny signal offset and as the arrangement of the memory cells never changes these offsets get added to the signal and appear in the output as a fixed noise pattern. It can be harder to eliminate this fixed pattern noise in post production compared to random noise and it can look very ugly, not at all like film grain.
In addition the readout can be delayed by up to 1 frame more than a rolling shutter sensor as the readout from the sensor to the image processor must wait until after the frame has been captured and shifted from the pixels to the memory cells. This adds additional latency to the monitoring (not really an issue in a photo camera, but more of a problem in a video camera).
IQ IS A BALANCING ACT.
Image quality is never about one single factor. It is about the balance between noise, readout speed, DR, colour, artefacts. But when one issue, such as fixed pattern noise overwhelms any other benefits it tends to become a problem. The F55 was well know for it’s fixed pattern noise, so a good bright exposure was always desirable to avoid the noise. An under exposed F55 was ugly and generally you would always try to shoot 1 or 2 stops brighter than the cameras base ISO. Early tests of the A9 III appear to indicate that it is a bit noisier that other similar rolling shutter cameras and the limited ISO range suggests that the sensors DR is also a bit more limited – this shouldn’t really be a surprise as noise limits the shadow DR. Plus this is a single ISO camera, no dual ISO goodness with the A9 III.
So, a high end global shutter camera may well be good to have, but are you willing to give up dual ISO, exceptional low light performance or low noise? Given the A9 III sensor appears to have a native ISO of 250, what about needing to use an EI of 250 to get the best performance out of your S-Log3 or raw video camera when everything else can now be rated at 800 without issue? The F55 was 1250 ISO, but you needed to shoot at around 320-640 EI to get an image as clean as we can now get at 800EI with the newer cameras and there was no way you would want to shoot at 4000ISO/EI with an F55 but now we take for granted the ability to shoot at high ISOs without excessive noise.
I have no doubt that the A9 III is a great photo camera and that it’s global shutter can bring some benefits such as eliminating the need for a mechanical shutter and very high speed flash synchronisation. But these benefits are not essential for a video camera. In the future maybe all cameras will have global shutters, but we are not yet at the point where a global shutter doesn’t have any downsides. The extra memory cells, the extra transistors used to control the movement of the tiny signals on the sensor all add a little extra noise. The sensor might run hotter too especially if used for video. Plus the sensor is probably more expensive to make. So, while I think the A9 III is a welcome addition I don’t think it makes our rolling shutter video cameras obsolete. The majority of films shot on film had a small small amount of rolling shutter caused by the sweep of the cameras rotary shutter across the film.
I was lucky enough to have been involved with a couple of the Sony Burano demo films as technical consultant and in addition I have now shot with it myself a few times. You will find the main film I helped to shoot, shot with a pre-production Burano and mostly Cooke SP3 lenses here: https://alphauniverse-mea.com/burano/.
So I though I would take a look at what it is and who it’s for. Everything written here is based on my experience with a pre-production camera, so there may be some small differences in the final release cameras.
What is Burano?
Sony’s Burano camera is a digital cinematography camera with an 8.6K sensor. It records to 3 different codecs, 16 bit X-OCN, and 10 bit XAVC-H and XAVC-I. It’s smaller than a Sony Venice and bigger than a Sony FX6. Overall, it is a similar size to the Sony FX9 and just a touch heavier. It has a PL lens mount and behind the PL mount there is a locking Sony E-Mount. It is expected to have a list price of 25,000 Euros.
The 8.6K sensor more than likely shares the same DNA as the sensor in the 8.6K Venice camera, but it is not the same sensor as Burano includes phase detection autofocus pixels and has a little more rolling shutter than Venice. Perhaps the Burano sensor is the same sensor as used in the Sony A1 camera. It’s no secret that the Venice 8.6K sensor and the Sony A1 sensor are very closely related. The autofocus in Burano is assisted by a dedicated AI processor.
Burano has one of Sony’s very handy variable ND filters that smoothly goes from ¼ ND to 1/128th ND (2 to 6 stops). There is also a clear position where a clear optical flat replaces the ND.
Variable ND AND IBIS!
A first in Burano is the combination of both a variable ND filter and IBIS (In Body Stabilisation). The in body stabilisation is capable of working in conjunction with almost any lens attached to the camera including PL lenses.
CFExpress Type B.
Burano records to readily available CFExpress Type B cards, it is recommended that VPG400 cards are used but I have been able to use other fast cards not certified to the VPG400 standard (400MB/S sustained write speed). This represents a tremendous cost saving over the ultra expensive AXS cards required for Venice and while more expensive than SD cards, CFExpress cards are not crazy money. I successfully shot using 512GB Sabrent and Integral cards that cost around £150 ($200) each (the camera flashed up an unsupported media message, but I was able to record at all frame rates and resolutions including 4K 120fps and 8.6K 30fps X-OCN). The officially recommended cards are Sony’s VPG400 “tough” cards along with other brands of VPG400 cards, but these are more expensive.
It is supplied with a good quality touchscreen LCD that can be used “as-is” or with a loupe attached to it. The optics in the loupe are pretty good and it uses a mirror to fold the optical path making it less long than the Loupe found on the FX9. BUT this mirror is in my opinion a very odd choice, more on that later. The LCD screen can be mounted to its mounting hardware in quite a few different ways allowing the camera to be adapted to many different shooting styles, again more details on this later.
V-Mount and 14 volts.
The camera has a V-Mount for V-Mount batteries as well as a 4 pin XLR input. No silly voltages here, it’s all industry standard 12v-16v. But one small omission is a complete lack of any DC out connectors on the camera body other than a USB-C port.
The bottom and top of the camera are completely flat, so it is very easy to add various base plates and I am sure there will be plenty of 3rd party cheese plate options etc. At IBC there were options from Vocas, Chrosziel and Tilta and I know there are accessories from Wooden Camera and Bright Tangerine in the pipelines.
WHAT CAN IT RECORD?
8.6K Full Frame X-OCN-LT (and 8K XAVC-H + 4K & HD XAVC-I)
Burano has a few different scan sizes. The largest is an 8.6K scan of the full frame sensor at up to 30fps and this can be recorded to 16 X-OCN-LT or to the new H265 based XAVC-H codec. X-OCN is Sony’s raw codec, it takes everything the sensor captures, compresses it and records it in a very computer friendly 16 bit file.
This is the same codec as used by the Venice cameras. On a Venice there are 3 versions, XT (eXtended quality) ST (Standard Quality) and LT (Light). Even though LT is the smallest version of X-OCN the quality remains exceptionally good and I’ve used X-OCN-LT when shooting with the Venice cameras many times because my experience is that for most types of production the difference between LT and XT is so small that LT is more than enough. Shooting at 8.6K and 30fps it is around 1.5Gb/s so you will get around 30 minutes on a 512GB card.
XAVC-H is only for 8K recording. There are three versions of XAVC-H, all are 10 bit 4:2:2 and based on H265. XAVC-H-I-HQ is I frame only and goes up to 1200Mbps offering very high quality recordings. XAVC-H-I-SQ is the standard quality version going up to 800Mbps. Even at this bit rate the image quality remains very high, but if I wanted to shoot S-Log3 and grade, I would prefer XAVC-H-I-HQ. Shooting at XAVC-H-I-HQ you will get a little over an hour of 8K 30fps footage on a 512GB card when using the 8.6K scan mode.
In addition there is a long GoP version, however the Long GoP version only supports 16:9. XAVC-H-L has a maximum bit rate of 520Mbps and actually the image quality is exceptionally good, comparable to the XAVC-H-I-HQ. But this codec need a lot of processing power in post production so may not be suitable for complex productions or anything where you have layers of clips.
Full Frame Scan – 6K recording. Full Frame crop 6K
The next smaller scan size in what Sony rather confusingly calls Full Frame crop 6K. Unlike most other cameras the “6K” refers to the size of the recorded file, not the sensor scan. Sony haven’t publicly stated the number of pixels used, but according to my calculations it appears to be an 8K scan and the crop from Full Frame is very, very small. Only about 1.07x, less than 10%. The scan is then downsampled to 6K for recording.
For me this is a really nice option. The file sizes are half the size of the 8.6K scans, but because this is a downsample from the bayer sensor there is very little, if any, resolution loss (8K bayer resolves around 6K). I’m going to guess that this downsample to 6K is necessary to make recording X-OCN to CFExpress cards at 60 fps reliable. Recording X-OCN LT using the 6K scan mode at 30fps you will get around an hour of footage on a 512GB card.
From the FF Crop 6K mode you can also record in 4K or HD using the XAVC-I codec.
Going smaller, there is a Super35 mm 5.8K scan, recorded at either 5.8K with X-OCN or 4K or HD with XAVC-I. The image quality is not compromised in any way at any of the scan sizes, so there are no extra aliasing issues, no loss of dynamic range, no extra noise. So, this means that Burano is an excellent Super 35mm camera. At 5.8K using X-OCN LT at 30fps you will get a touch over 1 hour on a 512GB card.
In a future firmware update we are promised a 4:3 scan mode. 4:3 scan is the normally used aspect ration for classic super 35mm 2x anamorphic lenses. In addition we will get extra de-squeeze modes including 1.5x and 1.8x.
4K Scan and 120fps.
To shoot at more than 60fps we need to go down to a 4K scan. This is quite a small part of the sensor, the crop is around 2.15x from Full frame. The good side is the image quality is no different to any of the other scan modes (other than resolution). The down side is you will need some pretty wide lenses for wide shots. But, for wild life shooters this will allow you to get closer to the action when shooting at up to 120fps.
As you can see from the table above, XAVC-H is only available for the FF 8.6K scan mode. Once you drop down to the FF Crop 6K scan mode you can use XAVC-I to record in DCI 4K, UHD or HD.
It’s exceptionally good. And this is the thing, despite some of the cameras limitations and oddities (more on them later) Burano produces a beautiful image. The 16 bit X-OCN gives incredible post production flexibility and this is the codec you are going to want to use if you really want to get the best out of the camera. The subtleties the camera captures when shooting faces are sublime. The colour range is staggering and the linearity, the way colours don’t change or shift with brightness allows you to capture vast amounts of colour information from the deepest shadows to the brightest highlights.
The performance when shooting with XAVC-H is also very good, but you do loose some of the wonderful grading flexibility of the X-OCN.
When shooting at 8.6K with X-OCN-LT the images are almost indistinguishable from the images from a Venice 2, perhaps the only giveaway being slightly more rolling shutter from Burano than Venice 2.
Burano’s sensor is a dual base ISO sensor, the base ISO’s are 800 and 3200 (the same as the 8.6K Venice 2). There is very little difference between the noise at each ISO and what noise there is very fine, almost film like. I actually like seeing the noise from Burano, it adds a subtle texture to the images that looks very nice.
Cameras like Sony’s FX6 already produce very good images, so, other than perhaps resolution, what is different about Burano’s images that makes me prefer it over the others? Frankly not a vast amount, we are already seeing the FX3 and FX6 being used on feature films, so we know they are very good. But what Burano has over the FX6 (like Venice) is an image that for me is more organic. It looks less electronic, less processed and there is a subtle richness to the colours not there in the FX3 or FX6. It is not a night and day difference, but it is a difference that makes me want to shoot with a Burano or Venice whenever I can. I suspect some of this comes from shooting at 8.6K or 5.8K and then down sampling to 4K, the extra resolution really helps with fine textures, colour resolution is greatly improved over a 4K sensor and the noise has a fineness to it that is very organic.
One thing I discovered when using Burano to shoot X-OCN is that there are some output limitations. The camera has 2 SDI outputs, the top one is 12G and the lower one is 3G plus a 4K capable HDMI output. But when shooting using X-OCN these outputs are limited. You can’t have both SDI and HDMI at the same time and there is no way to get a 4K SDI output when shooting X-OCN. You can have 4K HDMI, but if you output 4K HDMI, you can’t have a LUT on the HDMI. In addition, if you are using the other codecs and want a LUT you can only get a LUT on the output when outputting HD. I was really surprised by these limitations.
This isn’t a cheap camera and the FX6 can output 4K and a LUT no matter how it’s setup. I had hoped that the FX9 was going to be the last camera with these sorts of restrictions, but alas no, Burano has them too. It’s very disappointing. But, I also acknowledge that not many people actually monitor on set at 4K (although 4K on a big monitor does make it much easier to see focus issues) and seeing as you have extremely high quality 16 bit internal recordings there isn’t really the need to output at 4K for an external recorder.
Better news is that even though there is no dedicated anamorphic scan mode the camera does support 2x and 1.3x monitoring De-Squeeze (with 1.5x and 1.8x to come in later firmware updates). But this is limited to when using the X-OCN codec. For anamorphic, until the 4:3 scan mode gets added via a later firmware update you should use the 8.6K FF scan modes wherever possible as this will be the correct height for super 35mm anamorphic lenses.
Even though you do need to do some cropping in post production, shooting 2x Anamorphic with a sensor that is nearly 5K tall and after cropping will be around 6K wide is absolutely fine for any type of delivery.
Cache Record, Interval Record and S&Q
Like most of Sony’s professional cameras Burano has cache record giving up to 30 seconds of pre-record cache and an interval record function. The cache can be combined with the S&Q mode (slow and quick) for slow motion and at 120fps is still a very decent 10 seconds (immediately I start thinking about shooting lightning and thunderstorms at 120fps using the cache).
And for those that don’t want to shoot X-OCN (raw) or S-Log3 Burano does have a full custom mode with S-Cinetone and Rec-709 gamma, pretty much the same as the FX6.
It’s a box, slightly smaller than the FX9. An almost square box, no weird curved base or odd shapes. Overall the camera body seems well laid out. The flat top and bottom makes mounting base plates and top plates easy. There is a V-Mount on the back, so no silly power adapters needed. On the right side of the camera there are 2 SDI connectors and HDMI connector plus connectors for genlock and timecode. You also have 2 full size XLR inputs. But there are a couple of omissions.
There is no DC power output other than a USB-C port. On a cinema camera you normally want a power output for accessories such as a follow focus or perhaps 3rd party monitor. But Burano has no power output. This means most will need to either use batteries with D-Taps or some sort of power module between the battery and camera. For the filming I’ve done with Burano I used a power breakout module between the battery and v-mount as this is a little bit safer than using D-Taps on a battery that you have to reconnect every time the battery has to be changed.
As an option you can buy an arm (Sony GPVR100) with a handgrip that is very similar to the arm used on the FX9. But the new arm includes a small lever that releases the arms pivot making it quick and easy to adjust the angle of the arm. This is a very big improvement over previous Sony arms. The new arm is also compatible with the FX6, but not the FX9.
Top Handle and LCD Mounting.
The camera is supplied with a very solid all metal top handle that bolts onto either the front or rear of the top of the camera. The handle then has a 15mm rod running through it for the viewfinder mounting system.
This IS an improvement over previous similar mounting systems as now the main support bar for the viewfinder is compatible with the Nato standard rather than Sony’s unique square rod or worse still the round rods that were in the FS7. But I do feel that the viewfinder mounting and ergonomics do let the camera down a bit, especially at the target price of 25K Euro/USD. There are certainly some odd design decisions.
The LCD itself has two mounting points, one on it’s rear and one on the end. It attaches to a swivel joint and then the swivel attaches to the Nato rail. The swivel joint has a fixed level of tension, it’s pretty stiff, so won’t droop or sag, even with the eyepiece attached.
The combination of 2 different mounting points on the LCD screen and two different ways the swivel can be attached to the Nato rail allows you to mount the LCD on either side of the camera, either parallel with the camera body or sticking out at 90 degrees from the body.
So far, so good. By mounting the LCD on the right side of the camera it can be used by an assistant or AC much like the assistants control panel on a Venice. When you press the large “Home” button you get what Sony call the “Big 6” controls for frame rate, ISO, white balance, ND filter, shutter speed and monitoring.
When the Big 6 are being displayed the overlays on the SDI and HDMI are reduced to minimise clutter on an external monitor. Around the screen there are 6 buttons, one for each of the big 6 oryou can touch the screen to change the settings.
I expect most users of Burano will have the LCD screen mounted on the left side of the camera. If you attach the LCD parallel with the camera body you can then attach the high quality magnifier. This incorporates a mirror to keep the viewfinder assembly nice and compact. The housing is metal and the optics are high quality which is great. But why does it have a mirror?
You see – the LCD is a touch screen and I am sure there will be many times when you will want to use the magnifier/loupe as the screen is totally shaded from the sun so you see the correct contrast and you can see focus more easily. But with the LCD screen parallel with the camera body, when you flip the screen up, if the camera is on your shoulder, you can’t see the LCD making it impossible to use the touch functions or menus.
I know a lot of people don’t like the FX9 loupe because it’s long and plastic. But at least you could flip that up and see the screen. This one doesn’t make any sense. And what’s worse is that when you attach the viewfinder magnifier the buttons for the “Big 6” functions are inside the magnifier housing so can’t be used! Instead you’ll need to use the thumbstick which is on the far side of the LCD, hidden by the loupe assembly and tricky to get at. None of this makes any sense.
Which is such a shame, because on the LCD screen the information overlays are no longer over the image, they are around the edge of the screen and the screen itself is of reasonable quality. When used with the loupe it is a nice viewfinder and I am sure many will want to use it this way. I suspect we will see some 3rd party adapters to eliminate the mirror or allow the screen to flip out and then all these issues go away. One note is that the overlays are only around the edge of the image on the LCD screen. If outputting to an external monitor the overlays are over the main image (I believe there will be a later firmware update to allow the output of a monitoring image with the overlays around the outside of the image via the HDMI at some point).
Another oddity is that it isn’t easy to get more than 2 channels of audio into the camera. I have become used to having my external mics on channels 1 and 2 and then using the cameras internal mic on channel 3 and 4 as a backup. But with only 2 analog XLRs you only have 2 inputs! The camera does have a small scratch mic on the operators side, but there is no other microphone built in to the camera. There is a way to get more than 2 channels of audio in and it and it involves the use of the top handle from the FX9. On the top of the Burano camera there is a little cover and under the cover there is the same connector as there is on the top of the FX9. And, Burano can take the FX9 top handle instead of the suppled handle. This then gives you the ability to use the MI Shoe on the FX9’s handle to feed 2 more channels of audio into the camera. The FX9 handle can be purchased from a Sony dealer as a spare part. But I have to say, when you are spending 25K Euro/USD on a camera this is a bit disappointing. Please Sony, make a small breakout box.
Variable ND and IBIS.
Burano has Sony’s Full Frame variable ND filter system. This is so easy to use and a great feature. There is a clear position and then when the ND filter comes in the minimum ND is 2 stops going all the way to 8 stops. There is a rotary dial on the left side of the camera for variable ND, or you can set the ND filter to work in 1 stop steps which can then be controlled via the Big 6 home menu or the plus and minus buttons. The variable ND can also be controlled automatically by the cameras auto exposure system which is an interesting option particularly when shooting with PL lenses. In addition when using a Sony E-Mount lens and the variable ND is engaged you can use the “Bokeh Control” function that ties the ND filter and the lenses iris together to maintain a constant image brightness. By turning the iris control you can alter the depth of field and Bokeh while the brightness stays the same.
IBIS One of the big surprises though is the addition of IBIS in body stabilisation because for a long time Sony said that having both together wasn’t possible. IBIS works with any lens, including unstabilised PL lenses. What’s more it’s really good. There are a couple of different levels of stabilisation including an off setting. When shooting in Full Frame you are limited to the Low setting – which works very well at removing low levels of camera shake, its great for steadying up a handheld shot. When using a PL (or other non Sony E-Mount lens) you must set the focal length of the lens manually to get the best results. Set too long a focal length setting and the image will be over stabilised, making it more jittery and wobbly. Set a shorter focal length than that of the lens and you get less stabilisation, this might be handy if you want only a very small amount of stabilisation.
When shooting using the s35 5.8K scan mode and XAVC-I there is a high setting for PL and other non Sony lenses as well as an active setting for Sony E-mount lenses. This does introduce a small additional crop into the image but is very good at taking out a lot of camera shake. These modes only work when recording XAVC-H or XAVC-I, the high and active modes don’t work with X-OCN. However active mode does tend to “grab” a little bit, taking out a lot of shake and wobble until it can’t take any more out and then suddenly the image jerks a bit and then grabs a new stable position. I myself am not a big fan of the active mode, but its handy to have it in reserve for those times you are really struggling to get a stable shot, perhaps from a helicopter or boat.
One small issue with adding IBIS to a digital cinema camera is that because the sensor can move there could be small image shifts when the camera is used locked off, shut down and then restarted.
AS well as IBIS Burano has gyro sensors and the gyro data is recorded as metadata to allow footage to be stabilised in post production. To use the Gyro data IBIS should be turned off or you should use the PL Hi or E-Mount Active modes.
One note here – when you remove or refit the PL mount you MUST turn the camera off. When you turn the camera on it checks to see whether the PL Mount is fitted or not and then makes adaptations to the menu options based on whether the camera thinks you have the PL mount attached or not.
Autofocus with AI processing.
Burano has autofocus. It has Sony’s excellent fast hybrid autofocus system and we all know how good that is. It even has a new AI based processing chip to assist with the object tracking and human detection. The autofocus can be driven using the LCD touch screen, simply touch where you want the camera to focus and it will then track that object. It can be set to recognise “Humans” and will prioritise Humans over anything else in the shot, focussing on the profile of a human, even if they are not facing the camera and then when they turn towards the camear it will focus on the persons face or eyes. It works exceptionally well. It is also highly programmable with the usual settings for responsiveness and focus speed that we see in cameras like the FX6 and FX3.
I think it will be quite interesting to see whether high end film makers will, or will not, use autofocus. Burano gives Venice image quality but with the ability to use AF if you want. It might end up used on very big features for action scenes or other shots where focus is particularly challenging. It will be great for use on gimbals and stabilisers. The projects I have been involved have used gimbals and drones. Burano balances really easily, much more easily than a Venice on most drones and gimbals. And for drone work it is so much lighter than a Venice or most other 8K digital cinema cameras. I’ve even managed to get it balanced on a DJI RS3 (using the Cooke SP3 lenses).
So, who is it for?
Burano seems to me to be the Sony F55 replacement that so many have been looking for since the F55 was discontinued. But it’s more than that. We have seen that it is possible to shoot a big budget feature film with the Sony FX3, so there really is no reason why you can’t use Burano on very high end features. Burano isn’t that much heavier than a Sony Rialto, so I can see some productions that might have had a Rialto on set swapping the Rialto for a Burano – with Burano there is no umbilical cable to worry about.
It will be a great camera for documentary production where you want Venice image quality but without the expense or weight. Although it is worth noting that it is bigger and heavier than an FX6 (but very slightly smaller than the FX9), so it won’t suit every production. Wildlife productions will likely be very happy to get a camera that can deliver both 8K resolution for re-framing as well as offering different crop modes for when tighter shots are needed. The ability to switch near instantly between the different crop modes will be highly beneficial as will the speed at which the camera turns on.
A key Burano strength is its ability to shoot over sampled super 35. I think we will see a resurgence in the use of Super 35 especially for productions that need zoom lenses. There are far more lens options for Super 35 than full frame. Super 35mm lenses have been around for a very long time so there is a wealth of lenses to choose from. So, for anyone that needs a really good s35 camera Burano will be a great option. And compared to other cameras that shoot at s35, as well as the oversampling there is the dual ISO performance, Burano is great in low light. The base ISO’s are the same as Venice 2, 800 ISO at low base and 3200 ISO at high base. Even at high base the noise is minimal and quite pretty looking.
Burano will be a lower cost, high quality option for anyone that needs to deliver in 8K (as long as you don’t need to go above 30fps). Although I don’t think there are many actually doing this right now and it will be some time before 8K delivery becomes common (if it ever does). I’ve had to deliver a couple of 8K productions but they are the exception, most of what I deliver is 4K and its likely to stay that way for some time yet.
I think Burano will have a very broad appeal. It is perhaps a bit on the expensive side for a lot of those that currently use the FX6 or FX9, and let’s face it, the FX6/FX9 does produce really nice pictures. I think it only has limited appeal for TV News, but for those shooting docs it will be a really nice choice.
But what about some of the negatives I have pointed out?
Well, I really wish they weren’t there and they are frustrating. But none of them are show stoppers. I really want the flexibility to shoot from 8K full frame to super 35, to record with 16 bit X-OCN at up to 120fps. I want the colour response and dynamic range. I love the idea of IBIS with PL lenses and autofocus with Sony lenses. I can live with only a HD SDI output when shooting full frame X-OCN, after all I don’t need to record externally when the internal X-OCN is so good. I’ll figure out how to get around the strange LCD/Loupe situation, I’m sure there will be some 3rd party solutions. I can perhaps live with only 2 channels of audio (unless I add the FX9 top handle). So, overall I am really am excited about doing more with Burano. It fills the gap that was left when the F5 and F55 were discontinued and will be a great option for a lot of productions looking to bridge that gap between the FX9 and Venice. For many people, myself included Venice is out of my price range, Venice is a camera I rent when I need it. Burano offers most of the same image quality but at a much more affordable price, especially when media costs are factored in (the AXS cards for needed for the 8K Venice are around £4K each). Burano’s FF Crop 6K scan modes are going to be perfect for documentary productions allowing you to benefit from the near full frame 8K scan to 6K recording, it’s oversampled while halving the file size compared to recording at 8K.
When can you get one? Originally it was going to be available very early 2024, but in the last few days this has been put back to Spring 2024 – It’s going to be a long wait, but I think well worth the wait.
Switching base ISO mid recording in Cine-EI is causing some metadata issues in Resolve and perhaps other applications, so I strongly recommend you do not switch the base ISO mid shot.
DaVinci Resolve now reads the metadata from footage shot by the FX6 and FX9 in the Cine-EI mode to automatically add the correct exposure offset. So, shoot at 800 ISO base with the EI set to 200 and Resolve will add a -2 stop offset to the footage so that it looks the same as it did when you shot. Shoot at 800 ISO base and 3200 EI and again the correct +2 stop offset is applied.
However if you shoot at 800 base ISO, perhaps with 800 EI and then half way through the shot change the base ISO to high and 12,800 ISO, perhaps with 12,800 EI Resolve gets a bit confused. It will use the new base ISO but the original EI and as a result from the point where you switch base ISO the footage will look extremely under exposed.
So, if you must change the base ISO, it is better to stop recording, switch base and start recording again.
Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.
WP GDPR Cookie Consent Preferences
YouTube session cookie.
Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.
Analytics cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.
Google Analytics long-term user and session tracking identifier.
Legacy Google Analytics short-term technical cookie used along with __utmb to determine new users sessions.
Google Analytics campaign and traffic source tracking cookie.
Google Analytics technical cookie used to throttle request rate.
Google Analytics short-term functional cookie used to determine new users and sessions.
Preference cookies enable a website to remember information that changes the way the website behaves or looks, like your preferred language or the region that you are in.
Generic CloudFlare functional cookie.
Google unique id for preferences.
Unclassified cookies are cookies that we are in the process of classifying, together with the providers of individual cookies.
Cookies are small text files that can be used by websites to make a user's experience more efficient. The law states that we can store cookies on your device if they are strictly necessary for the operation of this site. For all other types of cookies we need your permission. This site uses different types of cookies. Some cookies are placed by third party services that appear on our pages.