Category Archives: FX6

Sony FX6 Intermittent Audio – Is Your Handle Secure?

DSC_0477-600x450 Sony FX6 Intermittent Audio - Is Your Handle Secure?There have been a few people popping up on various user groups and forums complaining of a sudden loss of audio or intermittent audio on their Sony FX6 cameras. A common cause of the loss of audio on the FX6 is a slightly loose top handle. The XLR inputs, MI Shoe and the cameras built in microphones are all part of the top handle, so if the handle is a little loose and the connection between the camera and handle isn’t perfect you can suddenly lose all your audio inputs.

As the connection between the handle and camera is a digital one you often won’t get any warning and if you are not wearing headphones you might not notice that you no longer have audio. Hint – wear headphones and monitor your audio when doing anything where the audio is even the slightest bit important 😉

So it is advisable to regularly check that the thumb screws that secure the handle are tight as if done up finger tight they do have a tendency to work lose over time. The thumbscrews have sockets for an allen key and I strongly suggest you use an allen key to tighten them up, done up this way they rarely come loose.

FX6 Fan Noise and Fan Modes.

fx6-fan-noise-600x384 FX6 Fan Noise and Fan Modes.Cooling fans (or perhaps more accurately temperature regulating fans) are an unfortunate necessity on modern high resolution cameras. As we try to read more and more pixels, process them and then encode them at ever greater resolutions more and more heat is generated. Throw in higher frame rates and the need to do that processing even faster and heat becomes an issue, especially in smaller camera bodies. So forced air cooling becomes necessary if you wish to shoot uninterrupted for extended periods..

Many camcorder users complain about fan noise. Not just with the FX6 but with many modern cameras. But fans are something we need, so we need to learn to live with the noise they make. And the fan isn’t just cooling the electronics, it is carefully regulating the temperature of the camera trying to keep it within a narrow temperature range.

The fan regulates the temperature of the sensor by taking warm air from the processing electronics and passing it over fins attached to the back of the sensor. I am led to believe that at start up the fan runs for around 30 seconds to quickly warm up the sensor. From there the camera tries to hold the sensor and electronics at a constant warm temperature, not too cold, not too hot, so that the sensor noise levels and black levels remain constant. The sensor is calibrated for this slightly warm temperature.

As well as running in the default auto mode there are  “minimum” and “off in record” modes for the fan in the technical section of the FX6’s main menu. Minimum forces the fan to run all the time at a low level so it doesn’t cycle on and off, possibly at higher levels. Off in record turns the fan off when recording – however the fan will still come on if there is a risk of damage due to overheating. Off in record can result in minor changes to noise as black levels during longer takes as the camera’s internal temperature rises, but you’ll likely only see this if you look carefully for it.

Using Auto Exposure With Cine EI.


First – What is “Exposure”

Something I find useful to consider is that “Exposure” is the amount of light that you put onto the sensor or film stock in your camera. It isn’t brightness, it is how much light. If you think about it, if you use a light meter to find you exposure settings, the light meter has no idea how bright the pictures will be, all it does is give you the shutter and aperture values needed to put the correct amount of light onto the sensor or film stock.

How Cine EI Works.

Next we need to think about how Cine EI works. You have to remember that when shooting using Cine EI the only thing that changes when you change the EI value is the brightness of the LUT and it is also worth considering that different LUTs may be completely different brightness. There is no change to the sensitivity of the sensor and no direct change to the brightness of what is recorded. To change the brightness of what is recorded YOU must change the aperture, shutter speed or ND etc. Normally you would monitor your images via a LUT and then you must adjust the exposure so the image on the viewfinder looks correct at the new Exposure Index, or use the waveform to measure the LUT and use this to set the exposure for the new EI. And by changing the exposure you are adding an exposure offset putting more (or less) light on to the sensor than would be normal at the base EI.

AE In Cine EI.

If you wish to use auto exposure in the Cine EI mode then you need to understand that the camera’s auto exposure system measures what is being recorded. It does not measure the LUT levels. The auto exposure system is unaware of your desire to expose the sensor more or less brightly than normal and will always base the exposure on the base ISO, not the Exposure Index. As a result if you are using AE and you go from 800 EI to 400 EI the image seen via the internal LUT will get darker by one stop, the AE will NOT compensate for the lower EI.  If you were to manually brighten the exposure by one stop the cameras exposure meter will think you are now over exposed – because you are!


Adding Offsets.

The only way around this is to add an offset to the AE system to account for the offset added by the different Exposure Index. For example if you want to shoot at 400EI (The LUT becoming 1 stop DARKER) then you would need to add a +1.0 stop offset to the cameras AE settings to offset the exposure 1 stop brighter. Each time you halve the EI you should add an extra +1 stop of offset. Each time you double the EI you should include an extra -1 stop offset.

There are a couple of ways to do this but the quickest is to use the Quick Menu function that is by default assigned to button 5 on the hand grip or button 8 on the handle. Press the direct menu button and then use the thumbstick to go the AE+0 indication just above the shutter speed indicator and add your offset.

Or you can long press the menu button to go into the cameras main menu then go to the – Shooting – Auto Exposure page and add your offset to the Level setting.

I don’t recommend the use of Auto Exposure in Cine EI. For a start AE uses the average brightness of the scene to set the exposure level, often this isn’t appropriate for Log. When shooting with log generally you want to ensure that it is your mid range is exposed at the right level and you don’t want bright highlights to result in an under exposed mid range. Additionally if the exposure changes mid shot this can make grading very difficult. If you do use auto exposure in Cine EI, then as well as adding any necessary offsets I also recommend slowing down the responsiveness of the AE using the “Speed” setting in the Auto Exposure menu. Using a value such as -60 will slow down the rate at which the AE will change the exposure which helps avoid rapid auto exposure changes for momentary light changes within the scene.

It is really important to remember that Exposure is NOT brightness. Exposure is how much light you put on the sensor. A light meter doesn’t know how bright you want your pictures to be. All it knows is the correct amount of light to put on to the sensor for the “correct” exposure. If using an external light meter provided you put the right values into your light meter it will give you the correct exposure settings, even though it has no idea how bright your pictures will be and the camera’s internal exposure meter acts in a similar way, so offsets are needed to match each EI you use.

300x250-ad-box1 Using Auto Exposure With Cine EI.

CineEI is not the same as conventional shooting.

I’ve covered this many, many times before, but so many people still struggle to get their head around using the CineEI mode in a Sony camera.

Shooting using CineEI is a very different process to conventional shooting. The first thing to understand about CineEI and Log is that the number one objective is to get the best possible image quality and this can only be achieved by recording at the cameras base sensitivity. If you add in camera gain you add noise and reduce the dynamic range that can be recorded, so you always need to record at the cameras base sensitivity for the best possible “negative” or captured image.

Sony call their system CineEI. On an Arri camera the only way to shoot is using Exposure Indexes and it’s the same with Red, Canon and almost every other digital cinema camera. You record at the cameras base sensitivity.

It is assumed that when using CineEI that you will control the light levels in your shots to levels suitable for the recording ISO of the camera, again it’s all about getting the best possible image quality.

Then changing the EI allows you to tailor where the middle of your exposure range is and the balance between more highlight/less shadow or less highlight/more shadow detail in the captured image. On a bright high contrast exterior you might want more highlight range, while on a dark moody night scene you might want more shadow range.

EI is NOT the same as ISO.

ISO= The cameras sensitivity to light.
EI = Exposure Index.

Most cine film stocks had both an ISO rating, where the ISO was the laboratory measured sensitivity and an Exposure Index which was the recommended value to use in a light meter to obtain the best results in a typical practical filming situation. More often than not the ISO and EI values were slightly different.

EI is an exposure rating, not a sensitivity rating. EI is the number you would put into a light meter for the best exposure for the type of scene you are shooting or it is the exposure value of the LUT that you are monitoring with. The EI that you use depends on the desired shadow/highlight range and it is more often than not unwise to raise the EI in a low light situation.


A higher EI than the base ISO will result in images with less shadow range, more highlight range and more noise. This is not what you normally want when shooting darker scenes, you normally want less noise, more shadow range. So with CineEI, you would normally try to shoot a darker, moody scene with an EI lower than the base ISO.

Screenshot-2022-02-11-at-10.15.43-600x270 CineEI is not the same as conventional shooting.
In this chart we can see how at 800 EI there is 6 stops of over exposure range and 9 stops of under. At 1600 EI there will be 7 stops of over range and 8 stops of under and the image will also be twice as noisy. At 400 EI there are 5 stops over and 10 stops under and the noise will be halved.



This goes completely against most peoples conventional exposure thinking. But the CineEI mode and log are not conventional and require a completely different approach if you really want to achieve the best possible results. If you find the images are too dark when the EI value matches the recording base ISO, then you need to add light or use a faster lens. Raising the EI to compensate is likely to create more problems than it will fix. It might brighten the image in the viewfinder, making you think all is OK, but you won’t see the extra noise and grain that will be in the final images once you have raised your levels in post production on a small viewfinder screen. Using a higher EI and not paying attention could result in you stopping down a touch to protect some blown out highlight or to tweak the exposure when this is probably the last thing you want to do.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I have seen people cranking up the EI to a high value thinking this is how you should shoot a darker scene only to discover they can’t then make it look good in post production. The CineEI mode on these cameras is deliberately kept separate from the conventional “custom” or “SDR” mode to help people understand that this is something different. And it really does need to be treated differently and you really do need to re-learn how you think about exposure.

The CineEI mode in some regards emulates how you would shoot with a film camera. You have a single film stock with a fixed sensitivity (the base ISO). Then you have the option to expose that stock brighter (using a lower EI) for less grain, more shadow detail, less highlight range or expose darker (using a higher EI) more grain, less shadow detail, more highlight range. Just as you would do with a film camera.

Should You Use In Camera Noise Reduction Or Not?

This is another common question on many user groups. It comes up time and time again. But really there is no one clear cut answer. In a perfect world we would never need to add any noise reduction, but we don’t live and shoot in a perfect world. Often a camera might be a little noisy or you may be shooting with a lot less light than you would really like, so in camera NR might need to be considered.

You need to consider carefully whether you should use in camera NR or not. There will be some cases where you want in camera NR and other times when you don’t.

Post Production NR.
An important consideration is that adding post production NR on top of in-camera NR is never the best route to go down. NR on top of NR will often produce ugly blocky artefacts. If you ever want to add NR in post production it is almost always better not to also add in camera NR. Post production NR has many advantages as you can more precisely control the type and amount you add depending on what the shot needs. When using proper grading software such as DaVinci Resolve you can use power windows or masks to only add NR to the parts of the image that need it.

Before someone else points it out I will add here that it is almost always impossible to turn off all in camera NR. There will almost certainly be some NR added at the sensor that you can not turn off. In addition most recording codecs will apply some noise reduction to avoid wasting data recording the noise, again this can’t be turned off. Generally higher bit rate, less compressed codecs apply less NR. What I am talking about here is the additional NR that can be set to differing levels within the cameras settings that is in addition to the NR that occurs at the sensor or in the codec.

Almost every NR process, as well as reducing the visibility of noise will introduce other image artefacts. Most NR process work by taking an average value for groups of pixels or an average value for the same pixel over a number of frames. This averaging tends to not only reduce the noise but also reduce fine details and textures. Faces and skin tones may appear smoothed and unnatural if excessively noise reduced. Smooth surfaces such as walls or the sky may get broken up into subtle bands or steps. Sometimes these artefacts won’t be seen in the cameras viewfinder or on a small screen and only become apparent on a bigger TV or monitor. Often the banding artefacts seen on walls etc are a result of excessive NR rather than a poor codec etc (although the two are often related as a weak codec may have to add a lot of NR to a noisy shot keep the bit rate down).

If you are shooting log then any minor artefacts in the log footage from in camera noise reduction may be magnified when you start grading and boosting the contrast. So, generally speaking when shooting log it is always best to avoid adding in camera NR. The easiest way to avoid noise when shooting with log is to expose a bit brighter so that in the grade you are never adding gain. Take gain away in post production to compensate for a brighter exposure and you take away much of the noise – without giving up those fine textures and details that make skin tones look great. If shooting log, really the only reason an image will be noisy is because it hasn’t been exposed bright enough. Even scenes that are meant to look dark need to be exposed well. Scenes with large dark areas need good contrast between at least some brighter parts so that the dark areas appear to be very dark compared to the bright highlights. Without any highlights it’s always tempting to bring up the shadows to give some point of reference. Add a highlight such as a light fixture or a lit face or object and there is no need to then bring up the shadows, they can remain dark, contrast is king when it comes to dark and night scenes.

If, however you are shooting for “direct to air” or content that won’t be graded and needs to look as good as possible directly from the camera then a small amount of in camera NR can be beneficial. But you should test the cameras different levels to see how much difference each level makes while also observing what happens to subtle textures and fine details. There is no free lunch here. The more NR you use the more fine details and textures you will lose and generally the difference in the amount of noise that is removed between the mid and high setting is quite small. Personally I tend to avoid using high and stick to low or medium levels. As always good exposure is the best way to avoid noise. Keep your gain and ISO levels low, add light if necessary or use a faster lens, this is much more effective than cranking up the NR.

ILME-FX6 Version 2 Firmware Update

Coming soon, very soon is the version 2 firmware update for the FX6. Like the recently released version 3 update for the FX9 this update is a significant upgrade for the FX6 adding lots of new and very useful features.

AF Touch Tracking:

The big feature that almost every FX6 user has been wanting since the day it was launched is touch tracking AF.  This feature allows you to touch the LCD screen where you want the camera to focus. The touch tracking AF works in conjunction with the cameras face detection AF to provide what Sony are calling “Advanced AI based AF”. If you touch on a face for example, that face is then prioritised and tracked by the AF. If the person turns away from the camera so the face can no longer be seen then the AF will track the side or back of the persons face. If they leave the shot and then come back into the shot, provided the AF can see their facial features the AF will pick up and focus on that face again. When touching on an object that isn’t a face the camera will focus on the touched object as it moves around within the frame. Touch AF makes it very easy to perform perfect pull focusses between different objects or characters within a shot or scene. It’s a very clever system and a welcome addition to the FX6.

Breathing Compensation:

Another new feature that will be of assistance when using the AF is the addition of the Breathing Compensation feature first seen in the Sony A7IV. This feature works by electronically adjusting the size of the recorded frame to minimise any any lens breathing while changing the focus distance. This helps to mask and hide focus changes made during a shot. It is a nice feature, but I will say that sometimes when you pull focus for example, that slight change in the image size can be nice as it re-enforces the focus change and gives the viewer a visual clue that something about the shot has been changed. If the only thing that changes in a shot is the point of focus, sometimes it can look odd or perhaps electronic rather than the more natural focus changes we are used to seeing. Of course the feature can be turned on or off, so you are free to decide whether to use it or not depending on what you are shooting. 

The breathing compensation only works with certain Sony lenses, mostly GM lenses and a few G series lenses. The lenses include: SEL14F18GM, SEL20F18G, SEL24F14GM, SEL35F14GM, SEL50F12GM, SEL85F14GM,  SEL135F18GM, SEL1224GM, SEL1224G, SEL1635GM, SEL2470GM, SEL24105G, SEL28135G, SEL70200GM (NOT with a teleconverter), SEL70200GM2, SEL100F28GM (NOT when the macro switching ring is set to “0.57m–1.0m.”).

Bokeh Control:

While I’m on the optics, another change is what Sony are calling “Bokeh Control” .  You have already been able to do this on most of Sonys cameras with the variable ND filter by turning on the auto gain/ISO function while using the auto ND filter. Set this way when you change the aperture, the ND filter and auto gain/ISO will maintain a constant image brightness allowing you to use the aperture as a bokeh and DoF control. This is now all rolled into a dedicated new feature to make it easier to achieve the same result, so it’s not really new, but it is now easier to do. The brightness of the image is held constant as you change the aperture, so the aperture becomes a  bokeh and DoF control.  This works best with the Sony lenses that have a stepless aperture ring. A word of warning however is that you will need to keep a close eye on what the ISO/Gain is doing to avoid an excessively noisy image if you don’t have sufficient light for the aperture you are using as the camera will add lots of gain and the images will become noisy very quickly if you are not careful. In practice, while I do like the concept behind this it is only really useful when you have lots of light as you want the ND filter to be doing the work, not the auto gain/ISO so this tends to limit you to exteriors or when using the FX6’s high base ISO which is already a bit noisier than low base.

Cache record in both normal modes and  S&Q.
This is a great new feature. You now have a recording cache that can be used in both normal modes and S&Q motion. The recording cache allows you to capture things that have happened prior to the moment you press the cameras record button. Of course the camera has to actually be pointing in the right direction, but this allows you to capture unexpected events such as lightning in a thunderstorm.  I often find cache recording useful for interviews in case the interviewee suddenly starts talking when you are not expecting it. For many applications this will be a very useful function. Depending on the resolution and frame rate you get a cache period of up to 31 seconds available by selecting short/medium/long and max. 

4 Audio Meters:

This is something almost everyone asked for from day one. You can now monitor channels 1 & 2 as well as 3 & 4  on the LCD when shooting. Hooray!

Raw out via HDMI. 

As well as outputting raw via SDI you can now output the raw signal via HDMI. This will be very useful for those that already use the HDMI raw out from their FX3/A7S3 etc as now you won’t need to have the extra SDI adapter for the Ninja V. You will need to update the firmware for your Ninja V or Ninja V+ and the update from Atomos is already available for download.

SR-Live HDR workflow.

Like the FX9 the FX6 gains the ability to change the viewfinder monitoring mode when shooting with HLG. Using Viewfinder Display Gamma Assist and monitoring in SDR the image in the viewfinder can have a dB offset applied. This offset allows you to expose the HLG such that it is fully optimised for HDR viewing while seeing a correctly exposed SDR image. The details of the offset are stored in the cameras metadata and then in post production as well as your already optimised HDR stream you add the same dB offset to the HLG to gain a stream that will look much better in SDR than it would do without any offset. This way it becomes much easier to deliver great looking and better optimised content for both HDR and SDR audiences.

Other new features:

The A and B recording slots can be individually assigned to the record buttons on the camera handle and body record button so that each button controls the recording of one slot. This allows you to record some shots to one slot and other shots to the other slot depending on which record button you press, or by pressing both buttons you can record to both slots.

The Multi-Function dial settings can be assigned to the hand grip dial so that the hand grip dial behaves in the same way as the muti-function dial.

FTP transfer speeds are improved.

More functions can be controlled via the touch screen.

Increased control functionality when used with Content Browser Mobile version 3.6 (you won’t be able to use earlier versions of CBM with the version 2 firmware). Content Browser Mobile version 3.6 is already available for download. 

This new version 2 firmware update is out just yet, but it will be available by the end of January.

 

 

New Arri-Look LUT

Arri-Look1_1.16.1-600x338 New Arri-Look LUT
Arri-Look LUT V1
Arri-look-V1-sample-2_1.23.2-600x338 New Arri-Look LUT
Arri Look V1 Sample 2
s709-sample-1_1.23.1-600x338 New Arri-Look LUT
s709 Sample

 

UPDATE – Some issues with the original version of the LUT were found by some users, so I have created a revised version and the revised version is now linked below.

Arri Look LUT’s are clearly very popular with a lot of Sony users,  so I have created an Arri-Look LUT for the FX3/FX6/FX9/Venice that can be used to mimic the look from an Arri camera. It is not designed to pretend to be a real Arri camera, but to instead provide an image with the look and feel of an Arri camera but tailored to the Sony sensors.

As usual the LUT is free to download, but if you do find it useful I do ask that you buy me a coffee or other drink as a thank you. All contributions are always most welcome. Additionally do let me know what you like about this LUT or don’t like, so I can look at what LUTs may be good to create in the future.

Click Here to download my Arri-Look LUT (latest version 2C),

And here is a warmer version (may be very slightly too warm), version 2B.

Click below to buy me a thank you drink if you like it and use it.


 

Your choice:


Free Sony FX6 and FX3 Tutorial Videos

Screenshot-2021-10-15-at-17.58.11-copy-600x328 Free Sony FX6 and FX3 Tutorial Videos

Hidden away in the Sony Alpha Academy are 6 tutorial videos that I made for the the Sony Cinemaline cameras, most notably the FX6 and FX3. These videos mainly cover the FX6 but information on the FX3 (and FX9) is also included in several of the videos..

The 6 videos cover the following subjects:

FX6 – Scan Modes and Codecs (including information of recording media)
FX6/FX3 – What is S-Cinetone.
FX6 – How to use the Cine-EI mode to shoot S-Log3.
FX6/FX3 – Slow Motion and Timelapse.
FX6/FX3 – Exposure tools (covering waveform and histogram as well as Zebras)
FX6/FX3 – Post Production Stabilisation.

To watch these video you will need to setup a free account with Sony. Then go to the Alpha Academy page linked below and scroll down to the FilmMaking section and then open the My Sony Expert tab.

https://www.sony.co.uk/alphauniverse/alpha-academy/videos

DaVinci resolve Frame Rendering Issue and XAVC

There is a bug in some versions of DaVinci Resolve 17 that can cause frames in some XAVC files to be rendered in the wrong order. This results in renders where the resulting video appears to stutter or the motion may jump backwards for a frame or two. This has now been fixed in version 17.3.2 so all user of XAVC and DaVinci Resolve are urged to upgrade to at least version 17.3.2.

https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/uk/support/family/davinci-resolve-and-fusion

New LUTs from Sony

Side-by-Side2_small-600x338 New LUTs from Sony

 

I was asked by Sony to produce a couple of new LUT’s for them. These LUT’s were inspired by many recent blockbuster movies and have been named “Space Adventure” and “Super Hero”.

Both LUT’s are available for free and there is a link on the page linked below that will allow you to obtain them.

Rather than explain the two different looks here go to this page on the Sony website https://pro.sony/en_GB/filmmaking/filmmaking-solutions/full-frame-cinematic-look

Scroll down to where it says “Stunning Cinematic Colour” and there you will find a video called “Orlaith” that shows both LUT’s applied to the same footage.

Orlaith is a gaelic name  and it is pronounced “orla”. It is the name of a mythical golden princess. The short film was shot on a teeny-tiny budget in a single evening with an FX3 and FX6 using S-Log3 and SGamut3.cine. Then the LUTs were applied directly to the footage with no further grading.