Category Archives: FX6

What Benefits Do I Gain By Using CineEI?

This is a question that comes up a lot. Especially from those migrating to a camera with a CineEI mode from a camera without one. It perhaps isn’t obvious why you would want to use a shooting mode that has no way of adding gain to the recordings.

If using the CineEI mode shooting S-log3 at the base ISO, with no offsets or anything else then there is very little difference between what you record in Custom mode at the base ISO and CineEI at the base EI.

But we have to think about what the CineEI mode is all about. It’s all about image quality. You would normally chose  to shoot S-Log3 when you want to get the highest possible quality image and CineEI is all about quality.

The CineEI mode allows you to view via your footage via a LUT so that you can get an appreciation of how the footage will look after grading. Also when monitoring and exposing via the LUT because the dynamic range of the LUT is narrower, your exposure will be more accurate  and consistent because bad exposure looks more obviously bad. This makes grading easier. One of the keys to easy grading is consistent footage, footage where the exposure is shifting or the colours changing (don’t use ATW with Log!!) can be very hard to grade.

Then once you are comfortable exposing via a LUT you can start to think about using EI offsets to make the LUT brighter or darker. When the LUT is darker you open the aperture or reduce the ND to return the LUT to a normal looking image and vice versa with a brighter LUT.  This then changes the brightness of the S-log3 recordings and you use this offsetting process  to shift the highlight/shadow range as well as noise levels to suit the types of scenes you are shooting. Using a low EI (which makes the LUT darker) plus correct LUT exposure  (the darker LUT will make you open the aperture to compensate) will result in a brighter recording which will improve the shadow details and textures that are recorded and thus can be seen in the shadow areas. At the same time however that brighter exposure will reduce the highlight range by a similar amount to the increase in the shadow range. And no matter what the offset, you always record at the cameras full dynamic range.

I think what people misunderstand about CineEI is that it’s there to allow you to get the best possible, highly controlled images from the camera. Getting the best out of any camera requires appropriate and sufficient light levels. CineEI is not designed or intended to be a replacement for adding gain or shooting at high recording ISOs where the images will be already compromised by noise and lowered dynamic range.
 
CineEI exists so that when you have enough light to really make the camera perform well you can make those decisions over noise v highlights v shadows to get the absolute best “negative” with consistent and accurate exposure to take into post production. It is also the only possible way you can shoot when using raw as raw recordings are straight from the sensor and never have extra gain added in camera.
 
Getting that noise/shadow/highlight balance exactly right, along with good exposure is far more important than the use of external recorders or fatter codecs. You will only ever really benefit fully from higher quality codecs if what you are recording is as good as it can be to start with. The limits as to what you can do in post production are tied to image noise no matter what codec or recording format you use. So get that bit right and everything else gets much easier and the end result much better. And that’s what CineEI gives you great control over.
 
When using CineEI or S-Log3 in general you need to stop thinking “video camera – slap in a load if gain if its dark” and think “film camera – if its too dark I need more light”. The whole point of using log is to get the best possible image quality, not shooting with insufficient light and a load of gain and noise. It requires a different approach and completely different way of thinking, much more in line with the way someone shooting on film would work.

What surprises me is the eagerness to adopt shutter angles and ISO ratings for electronic video cameras because they sound cool but less desire to adopt a film style approach to exposure based on getting the very best from the sensor.  In reality a video sensor is the equivalent of a single sensitivity film stock. When a camera has dual ISO then it is like having a camera that takes two different film stocks.  Adding gain or raising the ISO away from the base sensitivity in custom mode is a big compromise that can never be undone. It adds noise and decreases the dynamic range. Sometimes it is necessary, but don’t confuse that necessity with getting the very best that you can from the camera.

For more information on CineEI see:

Using CineEI with the FX6  
 
 

Rigging the FX6 – Shoulder mounts, Rod, Brackets, etc.

In this video I take a look at all sorts of rigging options for the Sony FX6.

Some of the key areas discussed:

0:01:30 Camrade Travel Mate 360 carry-on camera wheelie bag.

0:04:30 Vocas Sliding Plate Basic.

0:06:30 Chrosziel Base Plate and Quick Lock Plate.

0:09:00 Vocas Sliding VCT Base Plate.

0:10:00 Making sure the rod height is correct.

0:12:00 Vocas Matte Boxes.

0:17:00 Using a V-Mount battery to balance the camera.

0:22:30 Paglink V-Mount Batteries and flying with large batteries.

0:30:00 Vocas Flexible Camera Rig.

0:38:30 Arms for the hand grip (Vocas and Chrosziel).

0:40:30 Viewfinder considerations and options.

0:42:00 Gratical Viewfinders with Vocas Nato Rail.

0:44:00 FX6 Screen with FX9 Loupe.

0:46:00 Adding Extra hand grips, other hand grip mounting options.

0:51:00 Using the FX6 with the FX9 viewfinder.

0:52:30 TopTeks and CVP FX6 viewfinder modification.

0:54:30 Notes on the potential for LCD screen sun damage.

0:57:00 Vocas PL Mount adapter – importance of shims.

1:00:00 Why I avoid magic arms, especially for viewfinders.

1:03:00 Atomos Ninja V discussion.

1:07:00 H&Y Variable ND filter.
1:12:00 Summary and wrap up.

3rd Party BP-U style batteries And Sony Camcorders (Update)

I wish to update and present the facts that I have regarding potential issues with mainly older 3rd party PB-U batteries. This isn’t here as a scare story, I’m not trying to sensationalise this, just present the facts that I have to hopefully clarify the current situation.

In 2019 I became aware that it was suddenly becoming very hard to buy 3rd party BP-U batteries. Dealers didn’t have any and you couldn’t find them anywhere. Talking to a couple of manufacturers I was informed that they had been told to stop making BP-U batteries.

Then I learnt from Sony that they had been getting an unusually large number of cameras in for repair, cameras that had suddenly and inexplicably stopped working. This they had traced to design issues in some 3rd party batteries. 

As a result of this Sony took action in 2019 to prevent the manufacture of 3rd party BP-U batteries and that’s why you could no longer get them.

Since then however it would appear that the manufacture of 3rd party batteries is once again in full swing. In addition I’ve noticed that some older models have been discontinued, often with new versions replacing them, perhaps a “B” version or a model number numerically higher than before.

From this I must assume that whatever the issue was, it has now been resolved and that the 3rd party BP-U batteries on sale today should be perfectly safe to use with our cameras. I would have no hesitation in today buying a brand new BP-U battery from any of the reputable brands.

I have nothing to gain here. This is not a campaign to make you all buy Sony batteries. Even though Sony do make a very fine battery, I too use 3rd party batteries as I need the D-Tap port found only on 3rd party batteries.

But clearly there was a very real battery issue. I’m led to understand that the cost to repair these damaged cameras was over $1K. While not every user of these batteries ends up with a dead camera, I think you have to ask yourself – is it worth using batteries made in 2019 or earlier? I won’t list the batteries that I know to have problems because the list may be incomplete. Just because a battery is not on the list it would not be a guarantee that it’s safe. However if any 3rd party battery manufacturer is reading this and has the confidence to provide me with a list of batteries that they will guarantee are safe, I will gladly publish that.

Clearly not everyone ends up with a dead camera, perhaps the majority have no issue, but enough did that Sony had to take action and it appears that the manufacturers responded by checking and adjusting their designs if necessary.

So my advice is: Don’t use 3rd party batteries made prior to 2020.  

If you do, then make absolutely sure the camera is completely powered down when inserting or removing the battery. 

I believe that any BP-U battery made in 2020 or later should be safe to use. So please think about replacing any old batteries with new ones, or perhaps contact your battery supplier and ask if what you have is safe. However you should be aware that since 2019 Sony’s own BP-U battery chargers will no longer charge 3rd party batteries.

The information I have presented here is correct to the best of my knowledge and I hope you will use it to make your own decision about which batteries to use.

How Do You Expose S-Cinetone with the FX6/FX3/A7SIII

exposing-cinetone-600x316 How Do You Expose S-Cinetone with the FX6/FX3/A7SIIILots of people have been asking about how to expose S-Cinetone, whether with the FX9, FX6, A7SIII or the FX3.

The short answers is:  So that it looks nice!

S-Cinetone has a variable toe and knee. So exposing it brighter results in not only a brighter image but also an image with flatter skin tones and less shadow contrast, overall looking more video like.

Exposing a little bit darker results in a more contrasty film like image. Faces and skin tones have more texture. There is no one optimum exposure level. A white card  could be anywhere between 78% and 88% depending on the look you want.  Typical skin tones will vary from between anywhere between 55% and 75%.

Personally I like the way S-Cinetone looks when it’s exposed with Skin tones at around 63% and white at around 81%.

See the video I on S-Cinetone on the FX9 for more details as it all applies equally to the FX9 and FX6 as well as the A7SIII and FX3. The only small difference is that the base ISO’s are a little different between each camera.

 

Which Sony ISO RatingS Are Correct?

In the course of my tests with the FX3 and comparing it with the FX6 and FX9 I discovered a strange anomaly with the FX3 and A7SIII ISO ratings when compared to the FX6 and FX9. 


The FX3’s default picture profile is PP11 and S-Cinetone. If you have an FX6 or FX9 these cameras also default to S-Cinetone in SDR mode. In the FX6 and FX9 the base ISO for S-Cinetone is 320 ISO. Therefore you would assume that if you also set the A7SIII or the FX3 to 320 ISO and expose all the cameras the same, same aperture, shutter etc that the exposures would match.

BUT THE EXPOSURES DON’T MATCH!!

FX6-Exposure_1.1.1-600x338 Which Sony ISO RatingS Are Correct?
The FX6 at 320 ISO, 1/50th shutter, S-Cinetone.

 

FX3-Exposure_1.2.1-600x338 Which Sony ISO RatingS Are Correct?
The FX3 with the same 320 ISO, 1/50th shutter and S-Cinetone. It’s clearly brighter.



The FX3 and the A7SIIII are just over 1 stop brighter than the FX6 and FX9 when all the exposure settings are matched. I tested all the cameras with the same lens to ensure this wasn’t a lens issue, but it isn’t the lens.

FX3-S-Cinetone-scopes-copy-1 Which Sony ISO RatingS Are Correct?
FX3 S-Cinetone is brighter compared to the FX6/FX9 and over exposed according to my light meter by just over 1 stop. The white of the white card should be at approx 83% and my skin tones are well into the highlight roll off and looking flat as a result.

 

FX6-s-cinetone-scopes-copy Which Sony ISO RatingS Are Correct?
The FX6’s exposure much more closely matches my light meter and is only a fraction of a stop under with the white card just touching the 83% exposure I would normally expect with S-Cinetone.

 

 

Screenshot-2021-02-26-at-13.16.16 Which Sony ISO RatingS Are Correct?
Here’s the FX3 again, the whites are much, much too bright when exposed against my light meter, even the middle grey is over 60%. The MM+0.7 indication means the camera thinks it is over exposed.

 

Screenshot-2021-02-26-at-13.16.49-copy Which Sony ISO RatingS Are Correct?
And the FX6 with exactly the same settings and the same lens matches my light meter very closely, white is around 83% and middle grey around 45%, as I would expect. Something odd is going on here, it’s not just my light meter it’s something else as the cameras should at least match, even if they don’t agree with the light meter.



I then went on to test other gamma/picture profile settings and I found a just over 1 stop difference between the FX3 and my FX6/FX9 in any similar combination EXCEPT S-LOG3!

Screenshot-2021-02-26-at-13.14.18 Which Sony ISO RatingS Are Correct?
The FX3 shooting S-Log3 now it matches my light meter very closely and the exposure is add I would expect.

 

Screenshot-2021-02-26-at-13.14.41 Which Sony ISO RatingS Are Correct?
This is the FX6 set exactly the same as the FX3 shooting S-Log3. Now they both match and now the both provide the same exposure and closely match my light meter.



When using Picture Profile 2 on the FX3 which is uses Sony’s “Still” gamma and then using the “Still” Profile on the FX6 there is a difference of around 1 stop. If I set the FX3 to PP3 (ITU-709) and the FX6 to ITU-709 then the difference is again around 1 stop, in every case the FX3 is brighter except when you select S-Log3 where the FX3 and the FX6/FX9 match almost perfectly!

I find this very strange. They should not be different. My light meter suggests to me that the FX6/FX9 are correct.

Comparing to my light meter I believe the FX6/FX9 ratings to be correct and the FX3 to be between 1 and 1.3 stops brighter than it should be when using gammas that are not S-Log3. What I really don’t understand is why the FX3/A7SIII match the FX6/FX9 when using S-Log3 but do not match when using the other profiles, normally I would expect to see a consistent offset. This further makes leads me to be sure this is not a problem with my light meter, but something else.

I would love to hear from anyone else that’s able to take a look at the ISO ratings of the A7SIII and compare it with an FX6 or FX9.

The bottom line is – DON’T EXPECT TO PUT THE SAME EXPOSURE SETTINGS INTO BOTH AN FX3 AND AN FX6/FX9 AND GET THE SAME RESULTS, because you won’t, unless you are using S-Log3, then they match. 

Also in the clip metadata I found that 0dB for S-Cinetone is 100 ISO, and whether this is a coincidence or not, if I set the FX3 to 100 ISO and the FX6 to 320 ISO and then match shutter speed and aperture then the exposures are very close.

This one has left me confused!!!!

Checking SD Cards Before First Use.

sd-card-copy Checking SD Cards Before First Use.With the new FX6 making use of SD cards to record higher bit rate codecs the number of gigabytes of SD card media that many user will will be getting through is going to be pretty high. The more gigabytes of memory that you use, the more the chance of coming across a duff memory cell somewhere on your media.

Normally solid state media will avoid using any defective memory areas. As a card ages and is used more, more cells will become defective and the card will identify these and it should avoid them next time. This is all normal, until eventually the memory cell failure rate gets too high and the card becomes unusable – typically after hundreds or even thousands of cycles.

However – the card needs to discover where any less than perfect  memory cells are and there is a chance that some of the these duff cells could remain undiscovered in a card that’s never been completely filled before. I very much doubt that every SD card sold is tested to its full capacity, the vast volume of cards made and time involved makes this unlikely.

For this reason I recommend that you consider testing any new SD cards using software such as H2Testw for windows machines or SDSpeed for Mac’s. However be warned to fully test a large card can take a very, very long time.

As an alternative you could simply place the card in the camera and record on it until its full. Use the highest frame rate and largest codec the card will support to fill the card as quickly as possible. I would break the recording up into a few chunks. Once the recording has finished check for corruption by playing the clips back using Catalyst Browse or your chosen edit software.

This may seem like a lot of extra work, but I think it’s worth it for piece of mind before you use your new media on an important job.

Atomos Adds Raw Over SDI For The Ninja V via the AtomX.

I know this is something A LOT of people have been asking for. For a long time it has always seemed odd that only the Shogun 7 was capable of recording raw from the FX9 and then the FX6 while the the little Ninja V could record almost exactly the same raw form the A7SIII.

Well the engineers at Atomos have finally figured out how to pass raw via the AtomX SDI adapter to the Ninja V. The big benefit of course being the compact size of the Ninja V.

There are a couple of ways of getting the kit you need to do this.

If you already have a Ninja V (they are GREAT little monitor recorders, I’ve taken mine all over the world, from the arctic to Arabian deserts) you simply need to buy an AtomX SDI adapter and once you have that buy a raw licence from the Atomos website for $99.00.

If you don’t have the Ninja V then you can buy a bundle called the “Pro Kit” that includes everything you need including a Ninja V with the raw licence pre-installed, The AtomX SDI adapter, a D-Tap power adapter cable, a mains power supply and a sun hood. The cost of this kit will be around $950 USD or £850 GBP + tax, which is a great price.

On top of that you will need to buy suitable fast SSD’s.

Like the Shogun 7 the Ninja V can’t record the 16 bit raw from the FX6 or FX9 directly, so Atomos take the 16 bit linear raw and convert it using a visually lossless process to 12 bit log raw. 12 bit log raw is a really nice raw format and the ProResRaw codec helps keep the files sizes nice and manageable.

This is a really great solution for recording raw from the FX6 and FX9. Plus if you already have an A7SIII you can use the Ninja V to record via HDMI from that too.

Here’s the press release from Atomos:

c6c43288-9b4b-4ac7-8889-16c01dbb6300 Atomos Adds Raw Over SDI For The Ninja V via the AtomX.
f8cd773f-872b-4e63-a7f3-a53142662664 Atomos Adds Raw Over SDI For The Ninja V via the AtomX.
The Atomos Ninja V Pro Kit is here to equip you with increased
professional I/O, functionality and accessories.

The Ninja V Pro Kit has been designed to bridge the gap between compact cinema and mirrorless cameras that can output RAW via HDMI or SDI. Pro Kit also pushes these cameras’ limits, recording up to 12-bit RAW externally on the Ninja’s onboard SSD. Additionally, Pro Kit provides the ability to cross covert signals providing a versatile solution for monitoring, play out and review.
 
7ae96b67-7f27-4f54-b637-5bed0cb685d5 Atomos Adds Raw Over SDI For The Ninja V via the AtomX.
What comes in the Pro Kit?
  • Ninja V Monitor-Recorder with pre-activated RAW over SDI
  • AtomX SDI Module
  • Locking DC to D-Tap cable to power from camera battery
  • AtomX 5″ Sunhood
  • DC/Mains power with international adaptor kit
Ninja V Pro Kit offers a monitor and recording package to cover a wide range of workflows.
097d35da-ecfb-4acd-a43f-45a0098e9907 Atomos Adds Raw Over SDI For The Ninja V via the AtomX.

Why choose Ninja V Pro Kit?
  • More powerful and versatile I/O for Ninja V – Expand your Ninja V’s capability with the Pro Kit with the ability to provide recordings in edit-ready codecs or as proxy files from RED or ARRI cameras.
  • Accurate and reliable daylight viewable HDR or SDR – To ensure image integrity, the AtomX 5″ Sunhood is included and increases perceived brightness under challenging conditions or can be used to dial out ambient light to increase the view in HDR
  • HDMI-to-SDI cross conversion – HDMI or SDI connections can be cross converted, 4K to HD down converts RAW to video signals to connect to other systems without the need for additional converters.
  • Record ProRes RAW via SDI to selected cameras*:
a9004691-3a6a-43eb-a2e3-bcced1e9fb74 Atomos Adds Raw Over SDI For The Ninja V via the AtomX.
  • Three ways to power your Ninja:
    – DC power supply – perfect for in the studio.
    – DTap cable – perfect for on-set, meaning your rig can run from a single power source.
    – Optional NPF battery or any four-cell NPF you might have in your kit bag. 
c3522982-3d97-464b-976f-50cdf918f2b9 Atomos Adds Raw Over SDI For The Ninja V via the AtomX.

The ProRes RAW Advantage
ProRes RAW is now firmly established as the new standard for RAW video capture, with an ever-growing number of supported HDMI and SDI cameras. ProRes RAW combines the visual and workflow benefits of RAW video with the incredible real-time performance of ProRes. The format gives filmmakers enormous latitude when adjusting the look of their images and extending brightness and shadow detail, making it ideal for HDR workflows. Both ProRes RAW and the higher bandwidth, less compressed ProRes RAW HQ are supported. Manageable file sizes speed up and simplify file transfer, media management, and archiving. ProRes RAW is fully supported in Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer 2020.10 update, along with a collection of other apps including ASSIMILATE SCRATCH, Colorfront, FilmLight Baselight, and Grass Valley Edius.
 
38031027-d6e9-4d58-b3aa-8672ead94c51 Atomos Adds Raw Over SDI For The Ninja V via the AtomX.

Existing Ninja V and AtomX SDI module owners
While the Pro Kit offers a complete bundle, existing Ninja V owners can enhance their equipment to the same level by purchasing the AtomX SDI module for $199, and the New RAW over SDI and HDMI RAW to SDI video feature can also be added to the Ninja V via separate activation key from the Atomos website for $99. 

Existing AtomX SDI module owners will receive the SDI < > HDMI cross conversion for 422 video inputs in the 10.61 firmware update for Ninja V update. You will also be able to benefit from RAW over SDI recording with the purchase of the SDI RAW activation key. This feature will be available from the Atomos website in February 2021.
 
ecd0a301-71e2-42ac-877a-74b52bea63a0 Atomos Adds Raw Over SDI For The Ninja V via the AtomX.
 
Special Offer for Pro Kit buyers
The first batch of Ninja V Pro Kits will include a FREE Atomos CONNECT in the box.
Connect allows you to start streaming at up to 1080p60 directly from your Ninja V!
Learn more about Connect here.
 

Availability
The Ninja V Pro Kit is available to purchase from your local reseller.
Find your local reseller here.

$949 USD
EX LOCAL TAXES

*Selected cameras only – RAW outputs from Sony’s FS range (FS700, FS5, FS7) are NOT supported on Ninja V with AtomX SDI Module and RAW Upgrade. Support for these cameras is ONLY available on Shogun 7.

FX6 Guide to Cine EI – Update To Include StRange PlayBack EI Levels.

I’ve added some updates to my guide to using the Cine EI Mode in the FX6 (towards the bottom) to cover the strange playback behavior where the EI levels are reversed.  This can result in some very misleading brightness levels during playback that might make you think you exposed incorrectly. 
http://www.xdcam-user.com/2020/12/a-guide-the-the-fx6s-cineei-mode/

Rugged, Lightweight Mic Mount for the Sony FX6.

AJC09657-600x401 Rugged, Lightweight Mic Mount for the Sony FX6.
Rugged replacement microphone mount for the Sony FX6

I have designed a custom, robust, yet lightweight microphone mount for the Sony ILME-FX6 camcorder (it will also fit the FS5). It’s low cost and it replaces the existing microphone mount and provides a strong and flexible mounting solution for a wide range of microphones with very good vibration and handling noise isolation properties. It is fitted to the camera by unscrewing the two screws that attach the factory supplied mic mount and using the same screws to attach this mount in the same place (do not over tighten the screws). 

AJC09659-600x401 Rugged, Lightweight Mic Mount for the Sony FX6.
Front view of the custom FX6 mic mount.



This mount will take heavier microphones than the standard mount which is prone to becoming floppy and breaking over time.

There are two sets of mounting holes so you can have the microphone at two different distances from the carry handle to suit your individual needs. The microphone mount will not obstruct or block the MI Shoe as many other 3rd party mic mounts will.

You can order the mount from Shapeways where they are made to order in a wide range of colours out of a very tough plastic material with a textured finish. https://www.shapeways.com/product/JKWA72Y6T/fx6-rugged-mic-holder-fit-sony-ilme-fx6-camcorder?optionId=193365147&li=marketplace

AJC09661-600x401 Rugged, Lightweight Mic Mount for the Sony FX6.


This mount will take any microphone up to approx 32mm in diameter. You will need 4 “O” rings to loop over the slots in the mic holder to act as the suspension for the microphone. these should be 2 or 3mm thick with an inside diameter of between 28mm and 32mm (30mm recommended). The O rings will not be supplied by Shapeways, you must source these for yourself. These are very cheap and are normally available on ebay, from car spares stores, plumbing suppliers and DIY stores. If you can’t find the right O rings it is also possible to use elastic bands, but these don’t tend to support the microphone as well as O rings.

Yes, You Can Use The FX9 Viewfinder With The FX6

FX6FX9VF1 Yes, You Can Use The FX9 Viewfinder With The FX6
The viewfinder assembly from the FX9 fitted to the FX6

 

Good news, you can use the FX9’s viewfinder assembly on the FX6. Not just the loupe/magnifier, but the entire viewfinder including the LCD. It all fits straight on to the FX6 and is full functional. Overlays, menus and the touch screen are all good. The only small thing is the display is initially upside down, but that is easily resolved using the “rotate” switch that is at the bottom of the FX9’s LCD screen.

So – if you have an FX9 and an FX6 you can swap viewfinders between both cameras. We already know that if you simply add the loupe/magnifier from the FX9 to the FX6’s LCD that it fits, but tends to be a bit “droopy” because of the weak hinges on the FX6 LCD.  You can  buy the FX9 LCD as a spare part along with the loupe if you want, but it won’t be cheap!

FX9-LCD-on-FX6-600x401 Yes, You Can Use The FX9 Viewfinder With The FX6