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.
The FX3’s larger brothers, the FX6 and FX9 have a function called “APR” that is used to periodically inspect every pixel on the sensor and normalise or map out any out of spec pixels. With modern 4K cameras having at least 8.8 million pixels the chances of a few going out of spec or being damaged by cosmic rays from time to time is quite high. So on the FX6 and FX9 you will get a reminder to perform the APR process around once a week.
From what I understand, the Alpha series cameras and FX3 also periodically perform a similar process automatically. Because these camera have a mechanical shutter to shut out any external light there is no need for any user intervention to perform this process so you will not be aware that it’s happening. On the FX6 and FX9 the user has to place a cap over the lens or sensor, hence why the camera asks you before it can happen.
But what if you find you have some bright or hot pixels with the FX3? Perhaps you have just travelled on a plane where the high altitude reduces the atmospheres damping effect of the high energy particles from space that can damage pixels. Well you can go into the camera’s menu system and force it to run its pixel mapping process which does the same thing as APR on the other cameras.
You need to go to:
MENU: (Setup) ? [Setup Option] ? select [Pixel Mapping] and then select OK. It doesn’t take long and I would recommend that you do this after flying on a plane or prior to any shoot where you will use large amounts of gain as this is when hot pixels are most likely to show up.
Lots 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.
I’m putting these notes here for my own reference. I will add to them as I find new things to remember. They may help others too. As I already have a Sony FX9 and an FX6 I thought it would be a good idea to have some notes about some of the difference I need to remember when using an FX3 (and A7SIII) alongside the FX6 or FX9.
S-Cinetone Low Base
S-Cinetone Hi Base
S-Log3 Low Base
S-Log3 High Base
ISO RATING: The FX3/A7SIII ISO ratings are just over 1 stop brighter than the same ratings on the FX6/FX9 except when using S-Log3 which matches correctly. So if using 320ISO for S-Cinetone on the FX6/FX9 use 100ISO on the FX3/A7SIII for the same brightness of recording.
HDMI: To use both the HDMI out and the camera’s LCD screen at the same time you have to turn off the HDMI Info in the External Output settings.
To use post production stabilisation you must turn off Steadyshot in the menu.
XAVC-S-I Codec has the same bit rates and appears to be the same quality as XAVC-I.
FX3 Uses “Imaging Edge” app and FX6/FX9 use “Content Browser Mobile” app.
The FX3 can be powered externally via the USB-C port. With a compatible USB-PD power source the camera can be run continuously.
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!!
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.
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!
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.
What do I think about the new Sony FX3. It’s certainly an interesting camera because it seems to be a bit confused about what it is. It’s isn’t a mirrorless stills camera like the A7SIII, but it’s very, very like the A7SIII. It isn’t a cut down FX6 or FX9, it’s very different to them.
So what is it and who is it for? Personally I see the FX3 as a great B camera option to pair with an FX6 or FX9. The FX3’s flat top and additional 1/4″ mounting points on the top and sides will making rigging it in more unusual situations much easier. It’s a camera I would use to rig in cars like a giant Go-Pro, perfect for any Top Gear or motoring shoots. It’s a camera I would use on a gimbal, it’s a camera you could sling from a drone.
In most cases it would not replace any camera I currently have, but instead compliment it. It could be a good option for FX9 owners in particular as it would give them 4K 120fps as well as a second camera when needed.
The FX3 is not much more than an A7SIII in a different housing, with the EVF removed, new mounting points added and an removable handle with XLR connectors. There are some changes to some of the button positions and these make it easier to use when shooting video providing direct access to ISO, IRIS and White Balance. The flat top makes it easier to mount in different ways and the built in 1/4″ mounting threads make it easier to mount accessories such as monitors.
Really the FX3 is an alternative version of the A7SIII biased more towards video than photos. It doesn’t replace the A7S, just gives potential owners the ability to choose between the two different form factors depending on individual preferences.
For more information why not watch this recording of my Facebook live stream on the FX3.
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