Tag Archives: FX9

Do I Need To Always Overexpose S-Log3?

This is another one from Social Media and it the same question gets asked a lot. The short answer is…………


Even with Sony’s earlier S-Log3 cameras you didn’t need to ALWAYS over expose. When shooting a very bright well lit scene you could get great results without shooting extra bright. But the previous generations of Sony cameras (FS5/FS7/F5/F55 etc) were much more noisy than the current cameras. So, to get a reasonably noise free image it was normal to expose a bit brighter than the base Sony recommendation, my own preference was to shoot between 1 and 1.5 stops brighter than the Sony recommended levels (click here for the F5/F55, here for the FS7 and here for the FS5).

The latest cameras (FX30, FX3, FX6, FX9 etc) are not nearly as noisy, so for most shots you don’t need to expose extra bright, just expose well (by this I mean exposing correctly for the scene being shot). This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t expose brighter or darker if you understand how to use a brighter/darker exposure to shift your overall range up and down, perhaps exposing brighter when you want more shadow information and les noise at the expense of some highlight range or exposing darker when you must have more highlight information but can live with a bit more noise and less shadow range.

What I would say is that exposure consistency is very important. If you constantly expose to the right so every shot is near to clipping then your exposure becomes driven by the highlights in the shot rather than the all important mid range where faces, skin tones, plants and foliage etc live. As the gap between highlights and the mids varies greatly exposure based on highlights tends to result in footage where the mid range is up and down and all over the place from shot to shot and this makes grading more challenging as every shot needs a unique grade. Base the exposure on the mid range and shot to shot you will be more consistent and grading will be easier.

This is where the CineEI function really comes into its own as by choosing the most appropriate EI for the type of scene you are shooting and the level of noise you are comfortable with and basing the exposure off the image via the built in LUT will help with consistency (you could even use a light meter set to the ISO that matches the EI setting). Lower EI for scenes where you need more shadow range or less noise, higher EI for scenes where you must have a greater highlight range. And there is no -“One Fits All” setting, it depends on what you are shooting. This is the real skill, using the most appropriate exposure for the scene you are shooting (see here for CineEI with the FX6 and with the FX9)

So how do you get that skill? Experiment for yourself. No one was born knowing exactly how to expose Log, it is a skill learnt through practice and experimentation, making mistakes and learning from them. In addition different people and different clients will be happy with different noise levels. There is no right or wrong amount of noise. Footage with no noise often looks very sterile and lifeless, but that might be what is needed for a corporate shoot. A small to medium amount of noise can look great if you want a more film like look. A large amount of noise might give a grungy look for a music video. Grading also plays a part here as how much contrast you push into the grade alters the way the noise looks and how pleasing or objectionable it might be.

All anyone on here can do is provide some guidance, but really you need to determine what works for you, so go out and shoot at different EI’s or ISO’s, different brightness levels, slate each shot so you know what you did. Then grade it, look at it on a decent sized monitor and pick the exposure that works for you and the kinds of things you shoot – but then also remember different scenes may need a different approach.

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.

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.

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 Free LUT for Sony Cameras -Solitude

Solitude-600x338 New Free LUT for Sony Cameras -Solitude

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/

PXW-FX9 Firmware Version 4 available for download.

FX9-Version-4-Firmware-600x373 PXW-FX9 Firmware Version 4 available for download.Sony have released the version 4 firmware update for the FX9. This update adds a number of new features related to their C3 Cloud Portal such as cloud management of LUT’s. One of the new features is included in the image above, can you spot it?

To bring the FX9 in line with the FX30, FX3 and FR7 Cinema Line cameras it gains the ability to automatically store the LUT you use when shooting in the CineEI mode on the XQD card along with the existing metadata about the EI used. This then allows the LUT to be applied to your footage automatically and with the correct exposure offset in post production. HOWEVER the only application that currently supports this is Sony’s Catalyst Browse. We can only hope that other edit and grading manufacturers will make use of the embedded LUT and metadata to do the same in future updates as it makes the post production process very easy, especially for fast turn around jobs or when handing the footage over to clients.

One issue addressed in this update is that when using proxies if you switch to S&Q recording, as before, proxy recording will stop. But now when you come back out of S&Q the proxy recording will resume automatically.

And we now get assignable buttons that light up when the function attached to them is enabled. Not every function will cause them to light up, but as an example if you enable S&Q button 1 now lights up. I have cache record assigned to button 8 and when enabled, button 8 lights up orange as in the image above. It’s a nice feature, but why has it taken so long to enable it?

As with previous FX9 firmware updates the update process can be a little nerve wracking as the LCD screen will go blank for quite a few minutes, giving the impression it may have stopped and this update sat at 57% for a very long time before continuing. Whatever you do don’t turn the camera off,  WAIT. It can take up to an hour for the update to complete. See this video on how to do an FX9 update.

You can download the firmware from here – FX9 Version 4 Firmware.

Whats included in Version 4 for the FX9.
– C3 Portal integration improvements
    Cloud service management of 3D LUT files is supported.
    Cloud service management of ALL files is supported.
    Uploading an original file automatically is supported.
– Shooting workflow improvements
    LUT data (Cube data) can now be recorded as metadata.
– Audio level meter CH1/CH2 and CH3/CH4 indicator switching support
– Assignable button support for switching the audio monitor channel
– Assignable button flashing indication support
– Changes to proxy recording control when switching Slow & Quick Motion settings

Using Auto Exposure With Cine EI.

First – What is “Exposure”

Something I find useful to consider is that “Exposure” is the amount of light that you put onto the sensor or film stock in your camera. It isn’t brightness, it is how much light. If you think about it, if you use a light meter to find you exposure settings, the light meter has no idea how bright the pictures will be, all it does is give you the shutter and aperture values needed to put the correct amount of light onto the sensor or film stock.

How Cine EI Works.

Next we need to think about how Cine EI works. You have to remember that when shooting using Cine EI the only thing that changes when you change the EI value is the brightness of the LUT and it is also worth considering that different LUTs may be completely different brightness. There is no change to the sensitivity of the sensor and no direct change to the brightness of what is recorded. To change the brightness of what is recorded YOU must change the aperture, shutter speed or ND etc. Normally you would monitor your images via a LUT and then you must adjust the exposure so the image on the viewfinder looks correct at the new Exposure Index, or use the waveform to measure the LUT and use this to set the exposure for the new EI. And by changing the exposure you are adding an exposure offset putting more (or less) light on to the sensor than would be normal at the base EI.

AE In Cine EI.

If you wish to use auto exposure in the Cine EI mode then you need to understand that the camera’s auto exposure system measures what is being recorded. It does not measure the LUT levels. The auto exposure system is unaware of your desire to expose the sensor more or less brightly than normal and will always base the exposure on the base ISO, not the Exposure Index. As a result if you are using AE and you go from 800 EI to 400 EI the image seen via the internal LUT will get darker by one stop, the AE will NOT compensate for the lower EI.  If you were to manually brighten the exposure by one stop the cameras exposure meter will think you are now over exposed – because you are!

Adding Offsets.

The only way around this is to add an offset to the AE system to account for the offset added by the different Exposure Index. For example if you want to shoot at 400EI (The LUT becoming 1 stop DARKER) then you would need to add a +1.0 stop offset to the cameras AE settings to offset the exposure 1 stop brighter. Each time you halve the EI you should add an extra +1 stop of offset. Each time you double the EI you should include an extra -1 stop offset.

There are a couple of ways to do this but the quickest is to use the Quick Menu function that is by default assigned to button 5 on the hand grip or button 8 on the handle. Press the direct menu button and then use the thumbstick to go the AE+0 indication just above the shutter speed indicator and add your offset.

Or you can long press the menu button to go into the cameras main menu then go to the – Shooting – Auto Exposure page and add your offset to the Level setting.

I don’t recommend the use of Auto Exposure in Cine EI. For a start AE uses the average brightness of the scene to set the exposure level, often this isn’t appropriate for Log. When shooting with log generally you want to ensure that it is your mid range is exposed at the right level and you don’t want bright highlights to result in an under exposed mid range. Additionally if the exposure changes mid shot this can make grading very difficult. If you do use auto exposure in Cine EI, then as well as adding any necessary offsets I also recommend slowing down the responsiveness of the AE using the “Speed” setting in the Auto Exposure menu. Using a value such as -60 will slow down the rate at which the AE will change the exposure which helps avoid rapid auto exposure changes for momentary light changes within the scene.

It is really important to remember that Exposure is NOT brightness. Exposure is how much light you put on the sensor. A light meter doesn’t know how bright you want your pictures to be. All it knows is the correct amount of light to put on to the sensor for the “correct” exposure. If using an external light meter provided you put the right values into your light meter it will give you the correct exposure settings, even though it has no idea how bright your pictures will be and the camera’s internal exposure meter acts in a similar way, so offsets are needed to match each EI you use.

300x250-ad-box1 Using Auto Exposure With Cine EI.

Sony FX9 Error Codes.

Fortunately issues with Sony’s cameras are rare, but should you encounter a serious issue with your FX9 it will more often than not display an error code on the LCD screen. This will typically start with an E12,  E91 or  E95 prefix followed by 3 more numbers or letters.

E12 errors are normally related to the ND filter or the mechanism that moves the ND filter in and out of place (there is a screw accessible from the underside of the camera body that can be used in an emergency to wind the ND filter – DO NOT USE THIS – except in a get me out of jail at all costs situation).

E91 errors are generally related to the cameras main DPR394 board and in particular the main video and audio Input/output  and coded chip. Or communications between the main board and other sub units within the camera.

E95 errors are generally related to the cameras CPU/DSP and PCIe bus (again on the main DPR394 board).

Sometimes a non Sony lens or Lens adapter can cause the camera to throw up an error code, so one thing to try if you see an error code is to remove the lens or lens adapter to see if the error goes away. 3rd party batteries can also sometimes lead to an error code. 

Unfortunately other than lens/lens adapter or battery issues an error code will typically mean the camera needs ro be looked at by Sony or an authorised service center, but there are a few error codes that you might be able to deal with yourself:

E91:1D0 : This error is a communication error between the main board and the GPS unit in the cameras handle. Check that the handle is correctly attached and not lose. If you remove the handle you will get this error unless you turn off the GPS in the menu.

E91:360, E91:367, E91:36C are caused by faults in the XDCA-FX9, so if you have an XDCA-FX9 on the camera, removing the XDCA will normally clear these error – but your XDCA will need to be repaired.

Sony FX9 DPR-394 Board Failures, my thoughts.

We all fear the failure of any expensive electronics, especially if it is out of warranty. So when a user reports that their FX9 has failed, seemingly for no reason and that it is the very expensive to replace DPR-394 board it causes a lot of concern for not only the unfortunate owner, now faced with a huge repair bill but also for other FX9 users.

Failures are not common.

The first thing I will say is that there are thousands and thousands of FX9’s out there being used every single day.  Over the last 2.5 years, across all of the user groups I monitor I have probably seen less than 20 instances of people reporting the unexplained failure of their FX9 ( I think I’ve seen about 15 that I can remember). But, it must be said that the most common unexplained failure does seem to involve the DRP-394 board. But, this isn’t really all that unexpected as the DPR-394 is the heart of the camera. It manages everything the camera does, performs all of the image processing, manages the power supply, provides the signals that go to the HDMI, SDI and VF.

A problem we have today with modern camera repairs is that repairs are normally done by swapping out faulty boards. Because the majority of service centers only ever go so far as to determine which board is faulty it is nearly impossible to understand what caused the problem.

Some things I have observed:

Amongst the reported failures some appear to be directly related to the use of D-Tap connectors to power monitors or other accessories. D-Tap connectors can very easily connected the live side of the connection before the negative side and this leads to power surges through the HDMI/SDI  that has quite likely taken out the DPR-394 board. There is also what appears to be a higher instance of cameras powered by V-Lock adapters that suffered DPR-394 failures. It might be that this is also related to D-Tap power issues as I think a big reason why many use V-lock batts is to power not only the camera but also accessories, most commonly via the dreaded D-Tap plugs, but it could be many things and unless you isolate exactly which bit of the board has failed it’s impossible to say why it has failed.

Because the DPR-394 board does virtually everything and represents most of the cameras electronics, it is not a surprise that it is also the most common point of failure. While any failure is unwelcome, the number of failures I have seen is not in my opinion an indication of a design issue. If there really was a design flaw I believe we would be seeing a lot more failures given the thousands of cameras in use. I suspect that in many cases some external factor may have led to the failure of the board.

My advice is to take great care when using D-Taps to power accessories off the cameras battery. Always do all your power connections first, then check any accessories power up correctly before finally connecting the SDI or HDMI cables. And then do the reverse when disconnecting, SDI/HDMI disconnected first, power down the camera and accessories properly, remove the power connections  last. It’s worth pointing out that many cameras from many manufacturers, including Arri, Canon etc have suffered damage due to power surge issues related to D-Tap connectors.

Additionally always power the camera up from the on/off switch and then switch it off and allow it to power down properly. Never remove or restore the power to a camera that is turned on. The cameras power switch does not connect/disconnect the power, it is a switch that instructs the camera to boot up or power down in a specific order and it needs the power to the camera to be correctly connected and stable to ensure this all happens in the right order. If using a V-Lock adapter you really need to avoid the camera suddenly losing power when the battery shuts off without warning.

EDIT: Quite a few people have been commenting about failures of boards in other cameras including Venice, failures that are often directly attributed to the use of D-Tap or other power cables powering externally attached devices off the same power source as the camera. This is not a camera design issue, it’s a connector design issue. It should be noted that Sony don’t make batteries with built in D-Tap sockets for this very reason and that Sony don’t include D-Tap sockets on their camera bodies. There is one on the XDCA-FX9 but this is a current and voltage limited, protected socket with current and voltage limiters and trips and many connected devices will cause this to trip.  The one common thread across a very large number of these failures is the use of D-Taps. The issue with D-Taps is that very often the positive power pin makes contact before the negative pin and this causes power to run the wrong way through various circuits trying to find a way back to the missing ground/negative causing havoc with the sensitive electronics inside the camera. 

This is an issue for Arri, Panasonic, Canon and just about every camera manufacturer.


FX9 Guide: Videos And PDF Updated For Version 3

The FX9 Guide series of videos and the downloadable and searchable PDF guide that I created for Sony’s PXW-FX9 camera have been updated to cover the new features in the version 3 firmware. 

There are 6 new videos including a short film called “I-Spy” that makes use of almost all of the new features.

The full set of FX9 guide videos can be found here on the Sony website: 


If you are unable to access the videos via the link above they can also be found on YouTube on the Sony Camera Channel:


Below is the “I-Spy” short film that I made to generate the sample material needed for the tutorial videos. Every shot in I-Spy uses at least 1 of the new features included in the version 3 update.