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.
This has cropped up a few times in the comments and in various user groups so I thought I would go through what you need to do to use a B4 2/3″ lens with the FX9’s S16 2K scan mode.
Not all B4 2/3″ lenses will directly cover the FX9’s Super 16mm sized 2K scan mode as 2/3″ is smaller than S16. 2/3″ lenses are designed to cover 8.8 x 6.6mm and S16 is 12.5 x 7mm. Some lenses might just about cover this as is, with minor vignetting, but most won’t.
The Sony LA-EB1 includes an optical expander that compensates for this (I think it’s about a 1.35x). With the LA-EB1 all B4 2/3″ lenses should work without vignetting and in addition when an ALAC compatible lens is connected to the LA-EB1 the camera will support the ALAC function which reduces many of the aberrations typically seen with B4 lenses. The LA-EB1 needs a power feed (14.4v) to work correctly and to power the lens. It is supplied with a 4 pin hirose cable that is designed to be plugged into the 4 pin hirose power socket on the XDCA-FX9. This also provides the record trigger signal to the camera. If you don’t have an XDCA-FX9 then you will need to source a 4 pin hirose to D-Tap or similar power cable.
If you have a mount adapter that does not have any optical expansion such as the cheaper MTF B4 to E-Mount adapter (MTB4SEM approx $400), if the lens has a 2x extender you can use the lenses extender if the lens doesn’t cover without it. The more expensive MTF MTB4SEMP (approx $1,200) includes an optical expander and with this adapter all B4 lenses should cover the S16 area without needing to use the lenses extender. To get the zoom servo working you will need an adapter that can provide 12v to the lenses 12pin connector.
Whatever lens or adapter you choose, the lens needs to be an HD lens. The better the lens the better the end result, I know that may seem obvious but when you are using either an adapter with an included optical expander or having to use the lenses 2x extender to eliminate vignetting with a straight through adapter any imperfections in the lens and any softness becomes quite obvious. Get a really good lens on a good adapter and the images are perfectly respectable, but a poor lens on an adapter will probably dissapoint.
Here are some links to a couple of videos and some information on shooting Anamorphic with the PXW-FX9 that I prepared for Sony. The first video is a guide to how to shoot Anamorphic with the FX9 and then the second video is a short example video of som 2x Anamorphic content that I shot in some pretty grim weather conditions in the UK’s Lake District. Here’s the link to the “How To” guide to anamorphic with the FX9.
Here are the guide videos I produced for Sony about the FX9. These videos cover most of the key features of the camera whether that’s shooting using S-Cinetone or S-log3 and Cine EI, farme rates and scan modes. Each video includes instructions on how to use the different modes as well as some guidance on things to watch out for. Some of the videos were produced with version 1 firmware so there are now some changes to the base modes, previously you had Custom Mode and Cine EI, now you have SDR – HDR – CineEI where SDR mode is the same as what was previously called custom mode. Also don’t miss the two videos linked at the end which cover most of the new features added in the version 2 firmware.
I had a long, very in depth and very interesting web meeting with several members of the FX9 engineering team in Japan last week. They have been looking into the green fringing that some FX9 users have been reporting in various user groups. I have to say that this hasn’t been something that I have found to be a problem, but if you keep on reading you’ll find out why that is!
The first thing that became very clear in the discussion was that they take issues like this extremely seriously. The FX9 is their baby and they want end users to be happy with it. I was shown a lot of examples of very carefully executed tests using calibrated light sources, test charts, and various objects with different colours or reflectivity placed in extreme contrast situations.
And yes, in some cases the images would show a green edge around the high contrast edge of an extremely backlit object. Not just with the FX9 but also with the FS7 they were comparing it against.
The cause is Chromatic Aberration in the lens.
In every case the cause of the coloured edge is chromatic aberration. Chromatic aberration is an optical phenomenon cause by the way the glass in a lens will inevitably refract different wavelengths of light (and thus different colours) by different amounts. So when one colour is in precise focus, other colours may be slightly out of focus and this causes blurring of one colour and this typically manifests itself as a blue, green or red fringe – chromatic aberration.
So the root cause of this issue is not the camera, it is the lens and it will vary from lens to lens. But do keep reading – there is more you need to know…….
However there are other factors at play. One is the way a bayer sensor works. There is a huge resolution difference between the green channel and the red and blue channels. A lot of complex processing is used to compensate for this and that processing is optimised for what you might call “normal” or “typical” scenes. So when presented with a shot that has extreme contrast and a lot of optical chromatic aberration sometimes this processing isn’t going to deliver a fully optimised image and it may reveal the differences in resolution between the 3 colour channels. This is particularly the case with green CA as the green channel has much greater resolution than the others.
But the FS7 doesn’t do it….
But this bayer/processing issue will be broadly similar between the FX9 and FS7, so why are more FX9 owners reporting a problem than FS7 owners?
The answer it seems is white balance!
All the reports of this issue have occured when the camera has been set to a daylight white balance, most of the time it has been when the camera has been set to it’s default 5500K daylight preset.
When comparing the FX9 with the FS7 with both set to 5500K the FX9 has a small but noticeable bias towards green. I and many others have been aware of this from the launch of the camera, especially when you use the camera in the CineEI mode and use the standard s709 LUT from Sony. The images are distinctly more green than any other Sony camera and a fair bit more green than the FS7, FS5 and Alphas.
It’s not that white objects won’t be white, it’s just that overall the image looks a bit green. This is easily dialed out by adding a +20 offset to the cameras tint control and that is how I have been using my camera pretty much from day one.
When you think about it – or when you analyse the situation carefully as Sony have, if the camera has more green, what will happen if you have green CA? Well it’s going to be much more pronounced. And that is what we are seeing. The way the colours in the FX9 are tuned has an unfortunate side effect of making green CA much more obvious.
This explains why I have never really had an issue with green CA. I’m normally running a +20 tint offset which reduces the green in the camera plus I tend to use my own less green versions of the s709 LUT or I use ACES which is also less green than Sony’s own s709 LUT. So overall I have already dialed out the green and unknowingly fixed an issue I didn’t know I had.
So the engineers in Japan are currently recommending adding a +20 tint to the camera when shooting daylight. In particular instead of using a preset of 5500K to use 5000K and +20 tint to achieve the same white balance but a less green image. They are also assessing whether the camera needs to have it’s processing adjusted so that it is less green when using the 5500K preset. At warmer colour temperatures this issue does not seem to ever be a problem, it’s only with daylight.
Push Auto White Balance.
Further to this it’s also worth noting that if you use the cameras Push Auto white balance to set the white balance with a white or grey card then this will normally deliver the optimum white balance for the scene you are shooting and it won’t be biased towards green. And we should remember that Push Auto white balance works correctly in both the CineEI mode and Custom mode. If you use Push Auto WB there is no need to add a +20 Tint and the pictures should look natural and well balanced. Having become used to using preset white balance values when shooting S-Log with Sony cameras for so many years I keep forgetting that you can now do this.
Another benefit of Push Auto WB is that as it balances the camera correctly it also helps bring the FS5, FS7, F55 etc and FX9 closer together if you are using a mix of different cameras. I was recently shooting with a Venice and FX9 side by side and by using the Push Auto WB on both Venice and the FX9 it became extremely hard to tell one from the other. Previously when using the presets the FX9 always looked a touch green.
Also – if you are using daylight balanced LED or fluorescent lights using Push Auto white balance will help correct out any tendency towards green that the lights may have. So really Push Auto White Balance is a win-win situation and let’s face it a lot of you have been asking for it in CineEI for a long time – so now we have it, let’s use it.
What about Aperture Correction?
In my own experiments I found that in Custom Mode turning off the cameras Aperture correction (https://www.xdcam-user.com/2020/07/reducing-ca-artefacts-in-the-sony-fx9/) can help reduce the visibility of the CA. As CA is an optical edge effect, anything that enhances edges will also enhance the CA and turning off aperture correction prevents the CA from being boosted by the aperture correction. Overall I personally prefer the images you get from the FX9 with aperture correction off anyway, they are a little bit less sharp and more rounded.
And slightly off topic, what about image quality at FF and S35 2K scan? This was discussed as well, the engineers want people to be happy with the camera. The issue is that this is a camera with a 6K sensor and an optical system designed around that 6K sensor. So if you then reduce the resolution of the sensor readout the optics are no longer optimised (mainly the Optical Low Pass Filter). As a result there is an inevitable increase in aliasing and moire. Unfortunately this is just the way the physics works and there is not much that can be done about it. But the engineers know that the FX9 will be compared with the FS7 – which also has similar issues in it’s S35 2K scan modes. The goal of the engineers is that the FX9 should not be worse than the FS7 and there are some tweaks in the pipelines to the image processing that will bring some improvements to the FX9 when using 2K scan. But let’s be realistic, this will always be a camera with a 6K sensor and a 6K OLPF, so the Full Frame and Super 35mm 2K scan modes will never match the quality of the 6K and 4K scan modes, it just isn’t possible so don’t expect miracles. These tweaks may take a bit of time to be finalised, so I’m not sure when we will see them. I think what we should see however is the 2K scan from an FX9 being indistinguishable from the 2K scan of an FS7.
This came up during a Facebook discussion. Can you use a light meter with the FX9 and will the exposure be correct?
When I first met the FX9 at Sony’s Pinewood Studios facility we tested and checked all sorts of different aspects of the cameras performance against various light meters and test charts. I found that the camera matched what we expected perfectly well.
But just to be sure I have just tested my own example against my trusty Sekonic light meter and once again I am happy to say that everything seems to match as expected.
In this simple setup I used a couple of different charts with middle grey and 90% white – I do find that there is some variation between charts in how reflective the 90% and 18% reflectivity areas are. So I’ve used a couple here and my main reference is the large DSC Labs white and middle grey chart.
I used the dimmers on my lights so that my metered exposure reading for 24fps 1/48th shutter came to exactly f5.6. Then I set the lens to f5.6 (Sony 24-70mm GMaster).
The result is pretty much as close to a perfect exposure as one can expect. So don’t be afraid to use a light meter with the FX9.
I’ve been experimenting a bit trying to reducing the effect of Green/Cyan CA with the FX9. I have discovered a couple of things that can help reduce interactions between the cameras processing and areas of high contrast that may be exhibiting bright green/cyan fringes.
First thing to note is that a lens with less or no CA will not have the same issue. But as no lens is totally CA free the below settings can help.
These changes are for Custom Mode Only.
1: Turn OFF the aperture correction in the paint menu. Turning off the aperture correction noticeably reduces the cameras tendency to create black halos in areas of extreme contrast and it also reduces the enhancement of areas of strong CA. This has a softening/smoothing effect on bright CA making it much less noticeable. There is very, very little loss of sharpness in the rest of the image and I actually prefer the way the camera looks with this turned off.
2: Use the Multi-Matrix to reduce the brightness of Green/Cyan CA. The most common examples of CA causing an issue are with background out of focus high contrast areas. In this case the CA is normally Green/Cyan. It’s possible to tune the cameras multimatrix to reduce the brightness of these green/cyan edges. If you turn ON the mutli-matrix and then select CY+ and set this to -30 you will see a very useful reduction in the intensity of the CA. For a stronger reduction in addition select CY and set this to -15. Changing these setting will have an impact on the reproduction of other cyan objects in your shots, but you should see this in the VF and testing various scenes these changes are typically not noticable. In some cases I am finding I actually like this slightly modified look!
Use both of the above together for the strongest impact. But if you are only going to use one, turn off the aperture correction.
In case you missed the live stream I have uploaded the recording I made of my almost hour long video with hints, tips and ideas for rigging the PXW-FX9. In the video I cover things like base plates including VCT and Euro Plate. I look at hand grip options, rod rails and matte boxes as well as power options including V-mount adapters and the XDAC-FX9. Of course everything in the video is based on my own personal needs and requirements but I think there is some good information in there for anyone looking to accessorize their FX9, whether for working from a tripod or handheld.
Sony have released the PXW-FX9 user guide that I wrote for them. The guide is in the form of a searchable PDF designed for reading on a mobile device. The idea being that you can keep it on your phone in case you need to reference it on a shoot. It’s not meant to replace the manual but to compliment it and answer questions such as – what is S-Cinetone?
To download the guide go to the main Sony PXW-FX9 landing page and scroll down towards the bottom. There you should find a link that will take you to the guide download page as well as other resources for the FX9.