Category Archives: FX30

Timecode and external record run for the FX3 and FX30 from Mutiny

mutiny-fx-io2-500x500 Timecode and external record run for the FX3 and FX30 from MutinyThis is a really useful teeny tiny input/output box from the guys at Mutiny. It allows users to input timecode into the FX3 or FX30 as well as connect a remote rec run control to start or stop recording. This will be so useful for those using the camera on a crane or jib as well as many other applications where the camera needs to be controlled remotely.

mutiny-fx-io1-500x500 Timecode and external record run for the FX3 and FX30 from Mutiny

The Mutiny TC-R/S for Sony FX3 and FX30 camera, feeds Timecode IN and R/S (remote triggering) via the multi-terminal (Multiport). Works with every FIZ wireless follow focus system (Preston, Arri, C-Motion, Nucleus, Heden, etc) as well as every timecode generator (Tentacle, Deity, Deneke, Ambient, etc). Orders start shipping Monday in the order taken. https://mutiny.store/products/tcrs

New Firmware Coming For The FX3, FX30 and FX6 – Shutter Angle for FX3/30.

FX-Firmware-Version5-600x470 New Firmware Coming For The FX3, FX30 and FX6 - Shutter Angle for FX3/30.

Before you get too excited – these firmware updates are not coming just yet. But they are coming.

FX6

The FX6 will get an update to Version 5  to quote Sony “in May 2024 or later” which will include:

–  The addition of 1.5x setting to the De-squeeze function

– Monitor & Control app compatibility (ex. Waveform, False colour such as FX3/30 already supported)

–  A new preset 709tone to support to colour match multiple cameras  (I assume this is to match the older Sony Rec-709 look)

– The expansion of supported lenses, such as the SEL100400GM & SEL200600G, for breathing compensation.

FX3 and FX30.

Then later in the year, in September 2024 or later the  FX3 and FX30 will get:

– A Shutter Angle option

– 709tone support

– SRT/RTMP/RTMPS support for Live streaming demand

The addition of shutter angle in the FX3 and FX30 is going to please a lot of owners of these 2 cameras.

 

 

How I shoot the Northern Lights

460x150_xdcam_150dpi How I shoot the Northern Lights

Every year as many of my regular readers will know  I run tours to the very north of Norway taking small groups of adventurers well above the arctic circle in the hope of seeing the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. I have been doing this for around 20 years and over the years as cameras have improved it’s become easier and easier to video the Aurora in real time so that what you see in the video matches what you would have seen if you had been there yourself.

In the past Aurora footage was almost always shot using long exposures and time lapse sometimes with photo cameras or with older video cameras like the Sony EX1 or EX3 which resulted in greatly sped up motion and the loss of many of the finer structures seen in the Aurora. I do still shoot time lapse of the Aurora using still photos, but in this video I give you a bit of behind the scenes look at one of my trips with details of how I shoot the Aurora with the Sony FX3 in real time and also with the FX30 using S&Q motion. The video was uploaded in HDR so if you have an HDR display you should see it in HDR, if not it will be streamed to you in normal standard dynamic range. The cameras used are Sony’s FX3 and FX30. The main lenses are the Sony 24mm f1.4 GM and 20mm f1.8 G but when out and about on the snow scooters I use the Sony 18-105 G power zoom on the FX30 for convenience.

I used the Flexible ISO mode in the cameras to shoot S-Log3 with the standard s709 LUT for monitoring. I don’t like going to crazy high ISO values as the images get too noisy, so I tend to stick to 12,800 or 25,600 ISO on the FX3 or a maximum  of 5000 ISO on the FX30 (generally on the FX30 I stay at 2500). If the images are still not bright enough I will use a 1/12th shutter speed at 24fps. This does mean that pairs of frames will be the same, but at least the motion remains real-time and true to life.

If that still isn’t enough rather than raising the ISO still further I will go to the cameras S&Q (slow and quick) mode and drop the frame rate down to perhaps 8fps with a 1/8th shutter, 4fps with a 1/4 shutter or perhaps all the way down to 1fps and a 1 second shutter.  But – once you start shooing at these low frame rates the playback will be sped up and you do start to loose many of the finer, faster moving and more fleeting structures within the aurora because of the extra motion blur. 

So much of all of this will depend on the brightness of the Aurora. Obviously a bright Aurora is easier to shoot in real time than a dim one. This is where patience and perseverance pays off. On a dark arctic night if you are sufficiently far north the Aurora will almost always be there even if very faint. And you can never be sure when it might brighten. It can go from dim and barely visible to bright and dancing all across the sky in seconds – and it can fade away again just as fast. So, you need to stay outside in order to catch the those often brief bright periods. On my trips it is not at all unusual for the group to start the evening outside watching the sky, but after a couple of hours of only a dim display most people head inside to the warm only to miss out when the Aurora brightens. Because of this we do try to have someone on aurora watch.

During 2024 we should be at the peak of the suns 11 year solar cycle, so this winter and next winter should present some of the best Aurora viewing conditions for a long time to come. My February 2024 Norway trip is sold out but I can run extra trips or bespoke tours if wanted so do get in touch if you need my help. There is more information on my tours here: https://www.xdcam-user.com/northern-lights-expeditions-to-norway/

Don’t forget I also have information on filming in cold weather here: https://www.xdcam-user.com/2023/12/filming-in-very-cold-weather/

I will be back in Norway from the 1st of February, keep an eye out for any live streams, I will be taking an Accsoon SeeMo to try to live stream the Aurora.

Do I Need To Always Overexpose S-Log3?

This is another one from Social Media and it the same question gets asked a lot. The short answer is…………

NO.

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.

Sony ECM-W3 MI Shoe wireless microphone kit.

Screenshot-2023-11-20-at-12.40.02-600x469 Sony ECM-W3 MI Shoe wireless microphone kit.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. 

Screenshot-2023-11-20-at-12.39.37-600x469 Sony ECM-W3 MI Shoe wireless microphone kit.
Sony ECM-W3S single channel wireless mic kit.

 

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.

Sirui Night Walker APS-C/Super35 mm t1.2 Lens review.

Shortly before my annual trip to film the Theatre and Circus fields of the Glastonbury festival I was offered the use of a set of pre-production Sirui  Night Walker lenses. Currently one of my favourite cameras to shoot with is my FX30, so the opportunity to use a set of fast, mini prime lenses, purpose made for APS-C/Super 35 was an offer to good to refuse.

IMG_0481-Large Sirui Night Walker APS-C/Super35 mm t1.2 Lens review.
Sirui Night Walker 55mm t1.2 lens on my FX30

 

The Night Walkers are small lenses, only 84mm long. But the have a very nice weight and feel to them. They are constructed out of aluminium and feel solid and robust. They have good quality gear rings for a remote follow focus and a pretty decent 270 degree focus throw (although the scale does get a little cramped from 9m to infinity). The drag of the focus ring and iris rings gives a nice feel and for me seems just right. Holding them in your hand they certainly feel like a quality lens. They all have the same front diameter and all take a 67mm filter. 

Currently there are 3 focal lengths, a 24mm, 35mm and a 55mm. It would be nice to have a wider lens in the set at some point but this is a pretty good place to start. 

IMG_0485-Large Sirui Night Walker APS-C/Super35 mm t1.2 Lens review.

I didn’t do any scientific testing, instead I just dived straight in to the shoot. I started by shooting some of the preparations that go on inside the circus big top. We were supplying footage for the BBC to use in a special feature about the circus at Glastonbury and they were very keen to get some behind the scenes footage. During the build it is often very dark inside the big top tent as there is very little external light. So, having very fast lenses was a big help.

I have to admit that I have been shooting a lot with autofocus recently and it took me a little while to get back into the swing of shooting gun with a manual lens. But it really was worth the extra effort and there is something nice about  that very positive connection you get between yourself and the camera when a good quality manual focus cine lens that you just don’t get with most lenses designed primarily for autofocus.

These really are mini cine lenses, designed for video, designed for manual focus.

So, the BIG question – how do they look?

Well, the images they produce looks really nice. At t1.2 they are a touch soft, but not in a nasty way, I think this slight softness actually helps to take the edge off the extreme sharpness of a 4K camera like the FX30. As you stop them down a bit they do get sharper and from around t3.5 they are very sharp. But overall on my FX30 I liked they way they looked wide open. It’s very cliché but I guess I would describe it as a vintage look. I did a lot of pull focusses with them and the breathing is extremely well controlled and barely noticeable across all 3 lenses in the set. 

Flare is also well controlled, although if you really push them shooting directly into the sun or another extremely bright light shadows may become very slightly elevated, but certainly not anything to worry about. Chromatic aberrations are also well minimised. As you would expect there is a bit more when wide open, but stop down a bit and there is barely any CA. 

The bokeh from these lenses is very pleasing. I didn’t notice anything nasty or unpleasant in the out of focus areas, something that often spoils many other budget lenses. The bokeh is smooth and uniform.

Take a look at this video shot entirely with the Night Walkers to get an idea of how they look.

I have to say that shooting with these lenses was a delight. A few years ago I shot in the big top with a Venice and Cooke Anamorphics. Since then I have wanted to get a similar look but without the bulk (or cost). The Night Walkers went a long way towards getting that look.

The best bit about these lenses however is the price.  At the moment  Sirui are offering a very special price of only $309.00 per lens via their Indigogo campaign. After that they will be $349.00. Even at that higher price these lenses are an absolute bargain if you have a camera with an APS-C sensor camera such as the FX30 or a camera with a super 35mm scan mode.

Are you confused by the Sony Cinema Line?

Screenshot-2023-07-10-at-15.56.31 Are you confused by the Sony Cinema Line?Don’t know which camera from the cinema line to use for what? When would the FX30 be a good idea and when would the FX9 be better? I’m hosting an interactive webinar on this on Wednesday the 12th of July. Please – ask questions, this free session is an opportunity for you to ask those questions about which to use and the pro’s and cons of each. https://www.visuals.co.uk/events/events.php?event=eid1991778057-924

Super simple FX30 time-lapse.

Those of you that follow me on facebook will know that recently I have been travelling a lot. A couple of days ago I arrived in Dubai and I have been staying on a pretty high floor of the  Dusit Thani hotel. I didn’t ask for a room with a view, but I got one. From my bedroom window I could see the iconic Burj Kahlifa tower and parts of one of Dubai’s major roads.  I also had my FX30 with me, so I felt I should take advantage of this view and shoot a time-lapse going from day to night.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

Fortunately this is a pretty easy thing to do with the FX30. I didn’t use the cameras video modes, instead I used it in the “P” program auto photo mode. In this mode the camera automatically sets the aperture and shutter speed to suit the available light levels. As the light level decreases the aperture will open up until it can’t open any more and then the shutter speed will become longer. 

So, all YOU need to do is determine the ISO at which you want to shoot. I chose 125 ISO (I used picture profile 11 – S-Cinetone) as this will give the lowest possible noise level and in addition for shots at night it will force the shutter speed to become quite long as the light levels fall. The longer shutter will then cause the lights of any cars on the roads to become blurred and form pleasing trails. 

To shoot the sequence of still frames that would ultimately be turned into a video clip I used the FX30’s built in time-lapse photo mode (Menu – Shooting – Drive Mode – Interval Shoot Function). I set the start time to 1 sec which is the minimum and means the the camera will start shooting the sequence 1 second after you press the shutter release. I set the shooting interval to 3 seconds and the number of shots to 3000 as this would cover the full duration of the day to night shot that I wanted (about 2.5 hours).

To power the camera for a couple of hours I used my Macbook Pro’s power supply with a USB-C cable going to the FX30’s USB-C port. As an alternative you could also use a  powerbank that has a USB-C PD port (USB-C Power Deliver). 

To position the camera I used a soft pillow (I didn’t have a tripod with me). I used manual focus and double, triple checked the focus with the lens wide open to ensure it was sharp.

A common issue when shooting through a window is reflections of objects inside the room or light from in the room falling on the often dirty window. Unless the rooms curtains are black, closing the curtains doesn’t help as the outside light tends to reflect back off the curtains onto the window. To prevent this I used a couple of black T-Shirts wrapped around the camera and lens to block any light from reflecting off the window and kept the room lights off.

All that was then left was to press the shutter release and allow the camera to take the  images that would make up the sequence. I shot both raw an jpeg. The jpegs would allow me to very quickly preview the end result (and in fact the jpegs were used for the video linked here). The raw frames can be used when you need the very highest quality and will give you greater grading flexibility compared to the 8 bit jpegs.

Once the sequence was shot I then dropped the jpegs into a DaVinci Resolve project, Resolve will bring in sequentially numbered jpeg and tiff files as a single video clip, so editing and grading is easy. I haven’t yet worked on the raw files, but my workflow with these normally involves using Photoshop to adjust and grade a single frame and then use Adobe Bridge to batch process and then export all the frames as tiff files using the same grading settings.

All in all it took me about 15 to 20 minutes to set the camera up. Most of that was time spent figuring out how to best place the black shirts to prevent reflections. Then I went out for diner while the camera shot the sequence over a couple of hours and finally I spent about 45 minutes doing a bit of an animation and a few colour tweaks in Resolve. Because the FX30 still frames are 6.2K x 4.1K there is plenty of resolution to crop in a bit and create a move within the image, even when delivering in 4K.  So, for very little actual time spent, I got a quite nice little time-lapse sequence.

The Sony FX30 is really growing on me. I also own the FX3, the FX6 and the FX9. But when I am travelling the FX30 is now my go-to camera. When combined with the 18-105 power zoom lens you have a low cost and lightweight package that really does deliver great looking images. The 6K oversampled to 4K recordings have a texture and quality to them that I find really pleasing. In the Venice workshop we did here in Dubai we put my FX30 side by side with the Venice and the audience members were quite shocked by how close they are. But then this is the whole point of the cinema line – to provide a range of cameras to suit all budgets and a vast range of applications that all look more or less the same.

Of course the Venice image is that bit better, the 16 bit encoding and X-OCN makes the footage a delight to grade and the textures in the deepest shadows are clearer and finer. The way Venice handles highlights is just that little bit better. All around there are very subtle things about the Venice image that are better. But the FX30 really does produce a remarkably good image for very little money.

Updates for Catalyst Browse and Resolve 18.5 Beta

This is just a quick heads up as I’m on the road right now.

Sony have released a major update for Catalyst Browse and Catalyst prepare that is packed full of bug fixes.  https://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/catalystbrowse
 

In addition Black Magic design have just release the public beta of DaVinci Resolve 18.5. With this update you can now use the Raw controls in the Grading room to control the ISO/White Balance/Tint etc of S-Log3 footage from the FX series cameras. This makes it so easy to adjust for any exposure offsets.  https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/support/family/davinci-resolve-and-fusion

Sony FX3 and FX30 get a major firmware update. Adds Anamorphic and 24p.

Sony have just released new firmware for the Sony FX3 and FX30 cameras  that adds the ability to shoot 24P DCI 4K and in addition adds 1.3x and 2x desqueeze for the LCD screen and HDMI output.

For the FX3 this is firmware version 3.00  and for the FX30 it is version 2.00.

This new firmware also makes some changes to the way the sensor in the FX3 is readout, eliminating the crop that used to occur when shooting using 4K DCI.

I have had a beta copy of the firmware for a few weeks, but unfortunately it came at a time when I have been extremely busy working on some special shooting techniques for a Warner Brothers feature film as well as running Venice workshops across the Middle East. So I didn’t really get as much time as I would have liked to play with it.

What I can say is it is a very welcome update. The 24P 4K DCI mode is a special fixed recoding mode that uses the XAVC-SI codec and the anamorphic desqueeze is found under the monitor options. There are only 1.3x and 2x desqueeze options, so it’s only going to work correctly with lenses designed for these squeeze ratios.  Because the sensor and shooting scan modes remain fixed to 16:9 or 17:9, if you use anything with more squeeze than 1.3x you will end up with an extremely wide final aspect ratio compared to the normal 2.39:1 unless you crop a lot off the sides of the image. Some might like this, but for me it really does seem to be a bit of a waste having an ultra wide aspect ratio with screens and displays that are designed for 16:9.

As well as the above the update includes support for Sony’s new “Creators App” which will replace the Imaging Edge app. In addition you can assign the ability to switch between the normal movie shooting mode and the S&Q mode to one of the custom keys.

You will find the updates here:

https://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/support/interchangeable-lens-camcorders-ilme-series/ilme-fx3/downloads

https://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/support/interchangeable-lens-camcorders-ilme-series/ilme-fx30/downloads

DO NOTE FOR THE FX30 that if the camera is on Version 1.02 or earlier that you will first need to update to version 1.05 before doing the version 2 update.

I’ll try to upload some anamorphic footage shot with my FX30 very soon. The older Sirui 1.35x anamorphic lenses are a great match for the FX30’s super35 sized sensor. The cameras 6K down sampled to 4K means that the footage is packed with texture and detail and the 1.3x squeeze gives a 2.39:1 final aspect ratio without needed additional cropping or re-sizing (although if you use the 4K DCI mode you will need to make a very small side crop if you want 2.39:1).