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.
If you have just updated your FX6 firmware and are now finding that there is an exclamation mark ! next to the LUT or base look name what this is telling you is that the LUT cannot be saved using the new Embedded LUT feature.
In previous firmware versions the camera used to save LUT’s internally using a format that would not be compatible with most edit or grading applications when saved in the cameras metadata as an embedded LUT. So, old LUTs loaded in previous firmware versions will show a ! before the LUT name. The LUT should still work, you just won’t be able to save it as an embedded LUT.
The only way to resolve this is to delete the LUT from the camera and then reload it from the original source. LUTs for the FX6 should be 33x cube LUTs.
Announced earlier in the year, Sony has now released their version 4 update for the FX6. This is a very nice upgrade for the camera adding several very useful features, some of which have been available on the FX30 and FX3 for some time.
I recommend you do this update, there is no need to go via version 3 if you are still on version 2, you can go direct to version 4.
Place the downloaded BODYDATA.DAT file on an SD card that you previously formatted in the camera. Do NOT put the file inside any other folder on the SD card then put the card in the lower of the cameras 2 SD card slots and from the full menu go to Maintenance/Version/Version Up. Like many of Sony’s camera firmware updates the camera will appear to stop functioning and the LCD screen will go blank during the update process, the only clue that it is actually progressing will be the flashing red LED next to the upper SD card slot. The update doesn’t take long, around 5 mins, but whatever you do don’t panic when you see the LCD go blank. Just wait for the update to complete at which point the camera will restart.
Benefits and Improvements
Adds support for Movie file names in the Camera ID + Reel# format
Adds a function that displays De-squeeze (2.0x, 1.3x) in the viewfinder and HDMI output
Adds more AF frame rates during Slow & Quick Motion
Adds support for Flexible ISO and Cine EI Quick in shooting mode:
Allows you to record S-Log3 content with exposure settings by adjusting the ISO sensitivity
Allows you to record at a base ISO setting the same as Cine EI, with the base ISO adjusted automatically in conjunction with EI value
When the shooting mode is set to Flexible ISO, Cine EI, or Cine EI Quick, adds support for recording a 3D LUT file to the same memory card with the base look used during shooting as the shooting data, at the same time
Flexible ISO allows you to shoot using S-Log3 while monitoring via a LUT, but it is NOT a CineEI or Exposure Index mode. In this mode when you raise the ISO above the base ISO of 800 or 12800 you actually add digital gain to the S-Log3 recordings, making them brighter (and noisier). The camera isn’t becoming more sensitive, this is just a gain increase (alternately you can add gain in post and the result is broadly similar). DO be aware that there can be a loss of dynamic range whenever you are shooting above the cameras base ISO. This will normally be a decrease in the highlight range. But, I would imagine that most people that are using this mode will be doing so because they don’t have enough light for 800 ISO. So, a loss of highlight range is perhaps unlikely to be an issue. As with CineEI you can monitor via a LUT and when exposing via the s709 LUT you should use the same levels as when shooting using CineEI (middle grey 44%, white card/white paper 78%, pale skin tones 60-65%).
CINE EI QUICK
This is the CineEI mode I use the most. It works the same as normal CineEI except in this mode the camera will automatically raise the base ISO to the high base ISO to 12800 ISO as you go above 2500 EI and then lower the base ISO back down to 800 ISO as you drop the EI below 3200 EI. I find this helps avoid ending up at a very high EI or very low EI (relative to the base ISO) by mistake and makes it quicker to work in changing light conditions.
Enabling Embedded LUT (Full Menu/CineEI/Flex ISO Set/Embedded LUT File) allows the camera to save the LUT that you are using within the metadata on the SD card. This helps keep the footage and the LUT together in the same place which can assist post production ensure the correct LUT is used. Of course – when you do your back ups you need to make sure you copy the entire contents of the card (which is best practice anyway).
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
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
For some reason many people now believe that the only way you can shoot with S-Log3 is by “over exposing” and very often by as much as almost 2 stops (1.7 stops is often quoted).
When Sony introduced the original A7S, the FS5, F5, F55 and FS7 shooting S-Log3 with these cameras was a little tricky because the sensors were quite noisy when used at the relatively high base ISO’s of these cameras. When exposed according to Sony’s recommendation of 41% for middle grey and 61% for a white card the end result would be fairly noisy unless you added a good amount of post production noise reduction. As a result of this I typically recommended exposing these particular cameras between 1 and 2 stops brighter than the base level. If using the F5 or FS7 I would normally use 800EI which would lead to an exposure +1.3 stops brighter than base. This worked well with these cameras to help control the noise, but did mean a 1.3 stop loss of highlight range. In other examples I used to recommend exposing a white card at white at 70% which would equate to an exposure a touch over 1 stop brighter than the base level.
With the introduction of the original Venice camera and then the FX9 we got a new generation of much lower noise sensors with dual base ISO’s. It soon became clear to me that these new cameras didn’t normally need to be exposed more brightly than the Sony recommended levels when using their low base ISO’s and even at their high base ISO’s you can typically get perfectly acceptable results without shooting brighter, although sometimes a small amount of over exposure or a touch of noise reduction in pots might be beneficial. No longer needing to expose more brightly brought with it a useful increase in the usable highlight range, something the earlier cameras could struggle with.
Then the A7S3, FX6 and FX3 came along and again at the lower of their base ISO’s I don’t feel it is necessary to shoot extra bright. However at the 12,800 high base ISO there is a fair bit more noise. So I will typically shoot between 1 and 2 stops brighter at the high base ISO to help deal with the extra noise. On the FX6 and FX3 this normally means using between 6400 and 3200 EI depending on the scene being shot.
Even though I and many others no longer advocate the use of extra bright exposures at the lower base ISO’s with these newer cameras it really does surprise me how many people believe it is still necessary to shoot up to 2 stops over. It’s really important to understand that shooting S-Log3 up to 2 stops over isn’t normal. It was just a way to get around the noise in the previous cameras and in most cases it is not necessary with the newer cameras.
Not having to shoot brighter means that you can now use the Viewfinder Display Gamma Assist function in the A7S3, A1 or the FX9 (for those times you can’t use a LUT) to judge your exposure with confidence that if it looks right, it most likely will be right. It also means that there is no longer any need to worry about offset LUT’s or trying to correct exposure in post before applying a LUT.
Of course, you can still expose brighter if you wish. Exposing brighter may still be beneficial in scenes with very large shadow areas or if you will be doing a lot of effects work. Or perhaps simply want an ultra low noise end result. But you shouldn’t be terrified of image noise. A little bit of noise is after all perfectly normal.
And one last thing: I don’t like the use of the term “over exposing” to describe shooting a bit brighter to help eliminate noise. If you have deliberately chosen to use a low EI value to obtain a brighter exposure or have decided to expose 1 stop brighter because you feel this will get you the end result you desire this is not (in my opinion) “over exposure”. Over exposure generally means an exposure that is too bright, perhaps a mistake. But when you deliberately shoot a bit brighter because this gets you to where you want to be this isn’t a mistake and it isn’t excessive, it is in fact the correct exposure choice.
Many people wish to bake in the cameras Exposure Index settings when shooting using CineEI in order to avoid having to make an exposure correction in post production (given that the cameras are ISO invariant when shooting Log in reality it makes vey little difference whether you add gain in the camera or in post production – gain is gain). On cameras such as the FS7, FX6 or FX9 one way to do this is by baking in the built in S-Log3 LUT. To avoid confusion – that is using the CineEI mode with the “S-Log3” LUT enabled and in the LUT settings “Internal recording” set to ON so that you are recording the “S-Log3” LUT.
While this will bake in the EI change, this technique comes with many issues. For a start, just as when you use S-Log3 in custom mode and alter the ISO, whenever you move away from the cameras base ISO you loose dynamic range. When you bake in a LUT and change the EI, you are in effect changing the ISO and there will be a corresponding loss of dynamic range. When you bake in a LUT this loss of dynamic range is exacerbated by a reduced or altered recording range.
At lower EI’s the available recording range shrinks as the LUT is made darker and at the same time upper recoding level of the LUT is reduced. At 200 EI the recording range only gets to around 78%. At the bottom end the shadows are crushed and shadow information lost by the range reduction. This then causes a post production issue because LUT’s designed for the normal S-Log3 input range of 0-94% will now be applied to recordings with a much reduced range and after application of a LUT in post the final output won’t get to 100% without further complex grading where the image will need to be stretched more than normal and this degrades quality.
At high EI’s the LUT becomes brighter but the clip point remains the same. So for each stop you go up, 1 stop of highlights just disappears beyond the LUT’s hard clip point and can’t be ever recorded. Again in post this can cause issues because when you apply a normal S-Log3 LUT the heavy clipping in the recording causes the highlights to look very heavily clipped (because they are). Again, for the best results you will need to grade your footage to allow for this.
So, in practice the idea of baking in the S-Log3 LUT to eliminate the need to do any post production corrections doesn’t work because the addition of the S-Log3 LUT introduces new limitations that will need to be corrected if you want good looking images. Plus adding the S-Log3 LUT in camera and then adding another LUT on top in post is never going to deliver the best results due to the way LUT’s divide the image into brightness zones.
And – if you are baking in the S-Log3 LUT, then really this is no longer EI as there is now no longer an offset between the exposure and the recording, you are simply recording at a higher/lower ISO.
Sony’s Cinema Line cameras all have the ability to record metadata from inertia and gyroscope sensors about the way the camera moves while shooting. This metadata can then be used to stabilise your footage in post production. The stabilisation that this can provide is normally very good and tends to look a lot more natural than using post production stabilisation that looks at the footage and tries to hold it steady. However, until recently the only way to make use of this metadata was via Sony’s Catalyst Browse software.
Now however an Open Source project known as GyroFlow has made it possible to use the Sony metadata in FCP-X and DaVinci Resolve via an OpenFX plugin and a FCP-X plug-in. In addition there is a standalone GyroFlow application that can stabilise the footage and then export a stabilised version of the clip.
GyroFlow is a collaborative Open Source project, so different developers are working on different aspects and plug-ins, so it is a bit more disjointed than a lot of commercial products. But, it is free and it will get better, so why not give it a try. The main website for the project is here: http://gyroflow.xyz/
I’ve noticed some users concerned or confused by the R and B gain values that they see in the cameras white balance settings after dialling in a custom white balance and tint, or after taking a white balance from a white card. The R and B gain values indicate the offset that is being applied to the Red and Blue channels relative to the Green channel and in fact they are perfectly normal.
Typically the concern occurs when someone has used a white card to set their white balance and then these seemingly random numbers appear against the Red and Blue gain. But they are not random, they are expected, normal, and not normally something to every worry about.
The FX6 and FX9 are set up such that the indicated Red and Blue gains will only ever both be 0 when the white balance of the camera is at exactly 3200K. At any other white balance there will be an offset to the R and B gain – and that is completely normal. It is these offsets that balance the Red and Blue levels so that the white balance appears correct. At a lower colour temperature you will see a positive blue value and a negative red value. Above 3200K there will be a positive Red value and a negative Blue value. A positive tint value will make both the Red and Blue more positive and a negative tint value will make both the Red and Blue values more negative.
All of this is perfectly normal and perfectly expected. If you have taken a white balance off a white card and then dial in a preset value you might find that the you can’t get the last 2 digits back to a zero.
For example after white balancing off a card you have 3653K but you then try to dial in 3200K, but the closest you can get is 3193K or 3213K. This is because the smallest steps the colour temperature changes in is 20K (on the FX6 above 5640K the steps gradually get larger and larger). But this really isn’t something to worry about 3193K or 3213K are both so close to 3200K that either will do and calibration and temperature differences will mean that the actual variations between different cameras or the camera and a colour meter will be greater than this error anyway. No two cameras will ever be truly identical and differences between lenses will cause add to this normal variation. There is no need to worry about the last 2 digits not being zero’s.
At the end of the day, these tiny differences are not something to worry or be concerned about. But if you do want to return the last digits back to zero you can do this by dialling the white balance all the way down to 2000K.
Bright Tangerine are a UK manufacturer of very high quality camera accessories such as matte boxes, base plates etc. They are based not far from me and I have know them for many years. They also happen to be a sponsor of this site. They may not be a company that some of you have come across before as traditionally their products have been aimed at high end users of cameras such as Venice as well as the Arri and Red digital cinema cameras. But they are now producing some very nice products for lower cost cameras such as the Sony FX6.
Starting at the top of the camera we have a very nice top plate with an optional center section. The center section as well as the sides sections of the cheese plate are all Nato rail compatible and you can attach a Nato rail handle should you wish to use a different handle to the sony one. Like the majority of Bright Tangerine products the 1/4″ and 3/8″ holes are fitted with stainless steel inserts and are surrounded by holes to the Arri anti-rotate standard.
Moving to the side of the camera there is the option to attach a side plate to the top plate. This side plate provides plenty of mounting space for things like radio mics or timecode boxes. It is mounted sufficiently far from the side of the camera body that the SDi and HDMI connectors are still easily accessible but not so far out that it gets in the way with the handgrip.
Viewfinder attachment and bracket.
Bright Tangerine make a very nice viewfinder bracket that replaces the Sony one as well as a support system for the LCD screen that eliminates the sagging issues that typically occurs if you want to add a loupe or magnifier to the LCD screen. The LCD bracket uses a clever folding nato rail design that makes it easy to move the mounting point forwards and backwards as well as up and down.
As well as attaching to the Sony handle the mount has an extra support piece that goes down to the Bright Tangerine top cheese plate. This extra support piece not on helps to support the LCD bracket but it also helps to stabilise the Sony handle.
Viewfinder support System.
The viewfinder support system includes a frame that the LCD attaches to that has a fluid damped tilt mechanism. An easy to grip orange knob is used to adjust the tilt tension of the viewfinder.
When supported by this bracket it is very easy to use an additional viewfinder magnifier or loupe. One of the nice features of the Bright Tangerine FX6 viewfinder support is that it still allows the LCD to be folded flat against the side of the camera when it is not in use.
Left Field Base Plate.
Moving to the bottom of the camera and we have the Bright Tangerine Left Field base plate system. This is quite different to most other base plates. It doesn’t use a VCT plate and as a result it doesn’t suffer from the almost inevitable slight play and wobble that comes with most VCT based systems (perhaps the only exception to this is the Chrosziel QuickLok plate). Instead of using a VCT plate it mates with a standard sized Arri dovetail plate or with Bright Tangerines own light weight dovetail plates.
The Left Field has a very secure clamping system that uses a single lever to clamp and release the plate from the dovetail quickly and easily. When releasing there is an initial lock catch that is released to open the latch and at that point the base can be slid along a normal dovetail plate but won’t lift off or fall off it. To fully release there is a second push button at the base of the release lever that allows the clamp to be completely released and then the camera just lifts off the dovetail.
Once you have used it a couple of times you can release the camera in one single motion by pressing the release button as you open the catch. But it can’t accidentally come undone. To attach the camera to a dovetail you simply slot it on to the far side of the dovetail, and then close the catch, it’s very quick and very easy. The Left Field system creates a very low profile, very stable mounting platform for you camera. Being low profile, when using a tripod it keeps the cameras center of gravity lower allowing you to use less counterbalance and keeps the lens closer to the tilt pivot point.
If you want to add a shoulder pad, one of Bright Tangerines very clever Kasbah pads can be attached to the back of the plate via a quick release bracket. The Kasbah pad is constructed out of a special material that allows the internal structure to be varied to allow for differing levels of firmness across the pad. This makes it very comfortable while offering very stable shoulder support.
BUT when the Kasbah pad is mounted to the rear of the very low profile Left Field it won’t then go on to a normal dovetail as the pad gets in the way. So, you have 2 options. One is to only mount the shoulder pad under the Left Field as and when you need it. The top of the Kasbah pad has a small Arri dovetail so it is very quick to attach to the Left Field. The other option is to use a small riser that raises the Left Field and shoulder pad clear of the dovetail.
One of the great things about the Left Field system is that should you ever change camera all you need to replace is a small mounting adapter that inserts into the top of the Left Field base plate. These means the same Left Field can be used with many cameras, protecting your investment.
I really like the bright Tangerine products. They are a little bit different, quirky perhaps. But it’s only by thinking outside of the box that we get new products that really do work. So, if you are looking for a cheese plate, base plate or LCD support system for your FX6 do at least take a looks at their offerings.
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