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).
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.
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.
I have updated my guide to the FX6’s CineEI mode to ensure it is up to date and compatible with any changes introduced in the Version 3 firmware update. The revised and updated guide includes new graphics that I hope will make the CineEI mode easier to understand for those completely new to shooting S-Log3 and the Sony FX6.
If you are struggling to get to grips with CineEI in the guide I take a step by step approach to using S-Log3 on it’s own without any LUT’s or EI offsets, then introducing the s709 LUT at the base EI and then show how you use different EI levels to offset you exposure. There are suggested exposure levels for both white and grey cards as well as skin tones.
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!
It’s Black Friday, so here is my Black Friday offer – a new free LUT.
Solitude is a new free LUT for any Sony camera that shoots using S-Log3 and SGamut3.cine. This is the second in a series of 3 free LUTs that I am releasing between now and Christmas. The first was Elixir which gives a rich film like look. Solitude is closely related to Elixir but gives a cooler more metalic look. I believe it is suitable for gritty drama or anything needing a cooler less warm look. To see my free LUT collection and to download any of my free LUTs including both Elixir and Solitude follow this link – https://www.xdcam-user.com/picture-settings-and-luts/alisters-free-luts/
I attempts to turn the FX6 into a shoulder camera I am seeing a lot of people removing the FX6’s handgrip from the side of the camera and then attaching an extension arm to the camera body where the hand grip normally attaches, perhaps either directly with a dedicated arm or by fitting a rosette to the camera body.
I strongly recommend you do not do this!
A long arm increases the amount of force that can be applied to the body of the camera and it wasn’t designed to take the forces an arm places on it. Especially if the camera is loaded up with other accessories such as monitors, V-Lock adapters or a base plate. There have been several instances of the camera body fracturing around the hand grip mount when an extension arm has been used. Replacing the camera body is not cheap and it is unlikely to be covered under any warranty as it wasn’t designed to be used this way.
Instead mount the arm to a base plate, there are many FX6 base plates that include a suitable rosette for arms and other accessories.
I first came across the new Sony FR7 PTZ camera (Pan, Tilt and Zoom) at IBC in Amsterdam in September and at first I was a little confused by it. PTZ cameras are not new and this is a fairly big unit, so who would actually want one and what would they use it for, especially given the shorter zoom ranges possible because of the use of a large sensor. But now I am convinced that the FR7 will be a big hit – what’s changed my mind?
For those that haven’t seen it yet the FR7 is in essence a Sony FX6 camera that has been adapted and modified to fit in a remotely controlled pan and tilt head. You really do get all of the FX6’s features and performance including onboard recording to SD and CFExpress type A cards, S-Cinetone, S-Log3 and CineEI, raw output, built in variable ND filter and Sony great autofocus etc etc. But in a form factor that allows you to operate the camera remotely via either an optional control panel with a joystick or via any device with a web browser.
Remote PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) cameras get used a lot in shows like Big Brother, Love Island, First Date etc but until now, generally the image quality hasn’t been as good as most mainstream broadcast cameras. This means that when you cut between the PTZ camera and other main cameras the difference is often quite obvious. So, straight away there is the obvious use of the FR7 for these types of shows, so that the image quality will be as good as any of the other cameras being used. It may mean that more PTZ cameras will be used as quality is no longer going to be an issue.
PTZ cameras also get used a lot in wildlife productions. A PTZ camera can be placed close to an animals nest or placed closer to a feeding area without disturbing the animals natural behaviour as a camera operator might. PTZ cameras can be used to film animals that may be dangerous to a camera operator or left somewhere remote for days, weeks or even months on end. Again, often the quality of these cameras is noticably different to the main cameras used and more often than not the small sensors in most PTZ cameras don’t do well in low light. The ability to use the FR7’s high sensitivity mode and shoot S-Log3 at 12,800 ISO with a fast lens will really open up a lot of new possibilities for wildlife film makers. Because you can fit just about any reasonably sized lens to the FR7 it opens up the possibility of fitting one with an image intensifier for extreme low light work. In addition the built in variable ND filter will be a great help for wildlife film makers working in variable and changing lighting conditions. The FR7 is controlled over an ethernet connection, so with a simple 4G router and a connection to the internet the camera could be controlled from the comfort of a warm studio anywhere in the world.
But what about other applications? Would a freelance camera operator like me benefit from one? Well I think the answer may be yes.
The Ultimate “B” Camera?
For 2 camera shoots such as interviews the FR7 can be used as a second camera and you have the ability to control it from the main camera position. This would be so much easier than having to walk over to the second camera to make a simple adjustment or reframe it. Instead of being a simple locked off shot that never ever changes your B camera can be moved and adjusted more frequently to add more variety to your shots. Program in some preset positions and you can confidently reframe your shot at the single press of a button. Creating presets is quick and easy.
Placing it where you can’t normally put a camera.
And what about getting shots from places or angles that aren’t normally possible? If you shoot conferences, events or performances, being able to place the camera on the front of the stage or in front of the podium opens up a lot of new possibilities. The FR7 won’t obstruct the audiences view in the same way that a camera on a tripod with an operator will and it’s far less distracting. I’m going to be shooting some live performances with one very soon and it will allow me to get the camera into locations around the performances where you just can’t normally get a shot. You can hang it from a ceiling or a lighting truss for overhead shots. You can even mount it on a jib. Once you start thinking about all the places you can place one, places that are unsafe for a camera operator or just simply inaccessible it does start to become an interesting proposition.
Time-lapse and trick shots.
You can also use it for time-lapse or other shots where you need to repeat the same move over and over. By setting up preset positions for the start and end points and then adjusting the speed of the move you can perform extremely slow moves all the way to very fast moves from point to point and each time the move is the same. Like the FX6 the FR7 has a built in intervalometer (interval record), so shooting time-lapse is easy. You can also make it speed ramp the moves if you need to.
The big deal about the FR7 is that while PTZ cameras are not new, they have never offered the image performance possible from a large sensor camera. Because the images from the FR7 closely match the rest of the Sony cinema line it opens up more possible uses. And the cost isn’t prohibitive, it’s not that much more than a normal FX6. Its limiting factor is the range of power zoom lenses that are currently available. The 28-135mm power zoom will be the lens that most will use with it and while this is going to be very useable for many things it isn’t a vast zoom range compared to the zooms typically fitted to PTZ cameras with very small sensors. You can use the cameras clear image zoom function to extend the zoom range by up to 1.5x in 4K if you need to. If you need a longer focal lengths then I believe it is possible to use the Sony 70-200mm with the 2x extender, but this isn’t a power zoom. Hopefully we will see more E-Mount power zoom lenses coming in the future for this very interesting camera.
Come back in about a month to find out how I get on shooting a live performance with the FR7. I’m really looking forward to putting it through its paces as I’m strongly considering getting one for myself – thinks – Northern Lights remotely controlled from home??????
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