Category Archives: PXW-FX9

Don’t switch base ISO mid shot if using Cine-EI!

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.

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.

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.

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.

You Don’t Always Need To Over Expose S-Log3!

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.

Using The S-Log3 LUT To Bake In The EI

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.

FX6 and FX9 R and B Gain values – don’t worry about the odd numbers.

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.

Improve the accuracy of manual white balance with the FX6 and FX9.

Have you ever struggled to get a decent white balance from a white or grey card with the Sony FX6, FX9 or in fact many other cameras (this method works equally well for the FS7, FS5, F5 and F55 etc)? Well here is a very simple trick that can really help, especially for those situations where the camera is a long way from the scene and a white card is too small in the frame for an accurate reading.

All you need to do is to cut a square hole in a piece of black card or plastic. Then when you want to take your white balance simply hold the mask in front of the lens so that it masks out the background of the shot leaving just your white card visible. It’s really simple, really easy and it really works! 

New LUT for Sony cameras and S-Log3 – Elixir

Elixir-600x338 New LUT for Sony cameras and S-Log3 - Elixir

I’ve added a new LUT for S-Log3 and SGamut3.cine to my free LUT collection. The new LUT is called Elixir and is the first LUT from a collection of 3 new LUTs with similar contrast and brightness but quite different colours that I will be releasing between now and the end of the year.  Elixir is designed for short film projects and drama to provide rich colours with pleasing skin tones. Blues are shifted slightly teal, but there is no distracting colour cast, just pleasing colours with mid to high contrast. The LUT can be used with any Sony camera that has S-Log3 and SGamut3.cine, so that includes the whole of the Cinema Line including the FX6, FX3 and FX30 as well as cameras like the FS5 and FS7. For more information and to download this or any of my free LUTs please go to the LUT page:

Removing Screws From Sony Cameras

Although I wouldn’t normally recommend removing the screws from Sony cameras there are times when this is something you need to do, for example to remove the microphone mount on an FX6.

Most of the small screws have a thread locking compound applied to the threads to prevent them from shaking or vibrating loose. This can make them hard to unscrew. 

JIS NOT Phillips!!

The main issue is that most cross of the commonly found small and miniature head screw drivers are manufactured to the “Philips” standard. But the screws used on the Sony cameras are manufactured to the JIS standard. The differences between these two very similar looking standards means that you will not get a secure and tight fit between a Philips screw driver and a JIS screw head. The edges of a Philips screwdriver are at an angle that is too shallow to properly engage with the full depth of a JIS screw head. So when you try to undo a tight screw the head of the screw will deform or strip, often  to the point where it can’t be undone.

Whenever working on Sony cameras you should use JIS standard screwdrivers and ensure the screwdriver is the correct size for the screws you are working with. The smaller screws used for thing like the microphone mount on the FX and Alpha series cameras are JIS size +0 or +00. A JIS size +0 seems to fit most but I would also get a +00.

Don’t try to use a miniature Philips screwdriver on a tight JIS screw. It might look like it fits, but only a very small part of the screwdriver head will be correctly engaged with the JIS screw and once the screw head is damaged you can’t undo the damage and it may become impossible to remove the screw without drilling it out. 

If you search for “Vessel JIS” you should be able to find good quality small and miniature JIS  screwdrivers on Amazon, ebay or from other suppliers.