How to Customize Sony FX6 Settings for Shooting Video
Lots of buttons and customization is an amazing feature of a true cinema camera like the Sony FX6 . It can also be overwhelming.
Add on optional or removable accessories and now you have a control scheme that might be a bit too much to fully understand or figure out how to set up without tons of time actually operating the camera.
An alternative is to take some suggestions from other pro shooters. Jay Anthony is one of those filmmakers lucky enough to have an FX6 as part of their kit and he has a lot of notes on how to best customize your controls and settings. It is a great place to get started.
Assuming you are using Cine EI mode you can dive right into these suggestions. Looking at the top handle you’ll have custom buttons 7 and 8 to work with.
For button 7 he recommends setting it to Base ISO/Sensitivity. This will give you a quick toggle between the low and high base ISO settings. No need for additional menu diving while you are shooting.
Button 8 is set to Focus Setting. He has been relying on zone focusing for the greatest reliability. Wide sometimes work but can sometimes have a mind of its own.
In the zone mode, you’ll need control over the focus area and by pressing the custom button you can activate the position setting. Then just use the joystick right below the button to get the zone into place.
Image Credit: Sony
Not exactly a button but a setting you should definitely activate is Clear Image Zoom. This is buried in the zoom settings and what it does is allow you to do a high-quality digital punch in at up to 1.5x.
Can be very helpful. The zoom rocker will now do zoom using the Clear Image Zoom. Speaking of the rockers you can set two different speeds for better control.
Moving over to the side handle you’ll see button 5. This is set to Face/Eye Detection. When you press the button you can then cycle through the different features, such as focusing on just the face or eye.
This can help you fine tune your camera’s AF performance without having to head into the deep menus.
Button 4 gets to stay as is as the focus magnifier. An important option for checking your focus.
On the bottom of the side handle is button 6. This is set to touch sensitivity. Using the screen is very helpful for quickly setting focus as you work – unless you are holding the camera in a way where you might accidentally touch the screen.
Having the touch set to a custom button lets you quickly turn it off when you need to. Looking at the side of the camera you’ll find a good selection of buttons.
Some of these will stay the same. Button 1 stays as S&Q for slow and quick motion. Button 2 does get changed to AF speed and sensitivity and button 3 is the volume control for the headphones.
These are settings that are nice to have at the ready while you are working.
The rest of the buttons are set to specific features and aren’t that customizable. These will just be something you pick up over time.
Do you have any specific way you set up your FX6?
[source: Jay Anthony ]
- Sony FX6 Cinema Line Camera ( B&H )
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About The Author
Shawn studied both cinema and photography with a strong focus on photojournalism and documentary work. You can check out his Instagram, as well as most other social media accounts, @shawncsteiner to see more of his work.
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- Sony Manuals
- Digital Camera
- Quick start manual
Sony FX 6 Quick Start Manual
- page of 185 Go / 185
Table of Contents
- Important Features
- APR Warning
- Power and Batteries
- Recording Media
- The Kit Zoom Lens
- Menu Navigation
- Shooting Modes: Introduction
- Custom Shooting Mode Settings
- Custom Shooting Mode: Exposure
- Cine EI Shooting Mode
- Cine EI Option One: Exposing Slog
- With the S709 LUT
- Cine EI Option Two: Importing Custom Luts
- Cine EI Option Three: Exposing Slog 3 Without
- S and Q Shooting
- Attaching the Viewfinder Loupe
- Tripod Tips
- Additional Resources
Related manuals for sony fx 6.
Summary of Contents for Sony FX 6
- Page 1 Sony FX 6 firmware version 2.0 Quick Start Guide and Tips Centre for Digital Arts Concordia University 2022...
Page 2: Table Of Contents
Page 3: introduction.
- Page 4 Introduction This guide summarizes key information on the Sony FX 6 in one resource. The guide is not written for the absolute beginner but it does explain some fundamental concepts common to all video cameras. It is ideal for the somewhat experienced person who wants to quickly familiarize themselves with the camera.
- Page 5 Introduction The FX 6 is a full frame sensor Sony “cinema” camera. The image quality is fantastic and the camera can serve as a good introduction to the world of digital cinematography. If you have never used a digital cinema camera that can import LUTs, read the section on Cine EI shooting mode carefully.
Page 6: Important Features
- Page 7 There are two shooting modes: Custom and Cine EI. If you want to shoot in Slog 3 then you must shoot in Cine EI mode. This is common to all Sony cinema cameras. In this guide, the Custom shooting mode is presented first, as it is the easiest choice.
- Page 8 Important Features: Dual Sensitivity ISO Base Sensitivity Settings (higher numbers mean more sensitive to light): Low: Custom (709) Low: 320 ISO Cine EI Low: 800 ISO High: Custom (709) High: 5000 ISO Cine EI High: 12800 ISO The Base Sensitivity (ISO) settings change according to the shooting mode. See the sections on Shooting Modes and Exposure.
Page 9: Apr Warning
Page 10: power and batteries, page 11: recording media.
- Page 12 Recording Media: saving files Connect the card reader to the computer. There is a USB C and USB A cable in the bag. The .MXF video files are contained in the XDROOT/Clip folder on the card. Simply back up those files. You can also back up the accompanying .XML files.
- Page 13 Recording Media: Two Codecs The camera comes with two 160 GB CF Express A cards. These can record XAVC I 4K up to 120 fps. The camera has two internal codecs: XAVC I (I Frame) XAVC L (Long G.O.P) Always use the XAVC I codec unless you need the extra recording time. XAVC I is a 4:2:2 10 bit codec in HD and 4K.
- Page 14 Recording Media: XAVC I Recording time per card XAVC I recording times per card: XAVC I HD 24p: 207 min. 30p: 168 min. XAVC I 4K 24p: 83 min. 30p: 66 min. XAVC I File sizes: XAVC I HD 30p: 950 MB per minute XAVC I 4K UHD 24p: 1.8 GB per minute...
- Page 15 Recording Media: XAVC L Recording time per card Only use XAVC L if you require a longer recording time. The 10 bit HD 50 Mbps image quality is very good. The 8 bit 4K image will be noisier in low light. XAVC L recording times per card: XAVC L HD (35 Mbps): 500 min.
- Page 16 Recording Media: Codec Bit Rates XAVC I files are easier to play back than XAVC L. However, older computers may struggle with the XAVC I 4K higher frame rate bit rates. XAVC I bit rates: HD and 4K 24-30p: 240-300 Mbps HD and 4K 50-60p: 500-600 Mbps HD and 4K UHD 120 fps:...
- Page 17 Recording Media: Proxy recording and Simultaneous Record Proxy Recording: Proxy recording creates compressed .mp4 duplicate video files while you record. I don’t recommend it. The proxy files are not useful in an online/offline workflow as they do not have the identical file names of the full resolution files. I recommend creating offline files using Adobe Media Encoder and the Pro Res 422 Proxy codec.
Page 18: The Kit Zoom Lens
- Page 19 About the lens The included lens is a Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Lens (E-mount). F stop 4 is available throughout the range from wide to telephoto. This lens is designed for full frame cameras. Always use full frame lenses on this camera when shooting 4K. You can use APS C or Super 35 lenses when shooting HD but then you must change the Imager Scan setting to Super 35 (status page 1).
- Page 20 About the lens There is an Autofocus button on the side of the lens in addition to an auto or manual focus switch on the front of the camera (see the section on focusing on how to operate the camera in hybrid focus mode). When in manual focus you can lock the focus with the large button under the ”G”.
Page 21: Menu Navigation
- Page 22 Menus: About the touch screen The viewfinder (VF) is a 720p touch screen for some functions. Because this is the only screen use it sparingly as a touch screen. Don’t use the touch screen to scroll through menus! Use the touch screen for auto focus (see section on focusing). Otherwise, I recommend keeping your fingers off the screen! If the screen becomes dirty, it can be cleaned only with a microfiber cloth.
- Page 23 Menus: Three Options There are three different menu interfaces to change the settings in the camera. There is some redundancy between the interfaces. In this guide I usually refer to one method of changing a setting. 1. The status pages give quick access to the most common settings. 2.
- Page 24 Menu navigation Once you have pressed the FULL MENU Menu dial Access to status pages and menu. button on the side the camera you can get into two of the three menus (read on). The easiest way to navigate the camera menus is to use the large dial on the side of the camera.
- Page 25 Three Menu Options: the status pages The status pages appear when you press the full menu button quickly: they look like this: This menu is convenient for changing most settings before you start shooting.
- Page 26 Three Menu Options: the direct menu Press the display button on the side of the camera. On the grip of the camera, button 5 takes you to the direct menu (or button 8 on the top handle) that allows you to change aperture, shutter speed, ND filter setting, auto exposure, gain, white balance and other things directly on the display with the dial or multi-selectors.
- Page 27 Three Menu Options: the menu The full menu appears if you keep holding down the full menu button. It looks like this. This menu has all the options. This guide will not present them all.
- Page 28 Menu/ User/Assignable Button In this guide I refer to the user assignable buttons on the camera. I am using them in their default setup but you can assign different functions to the buttons as you wish. When you get the camera from the depot it is possible that the last user has changed their function.
Page 29: Audio
- Page 30 Never use the internal camera microphone as your primary source of audio. Use the Sony ECM-VG1 super-cardioid mono condenser microphone. This is a reasonable option for recording if the subject is close to the camera (speaking no more than 6ft to 8ft away and directly at the camera).
- Page 31 Each XLR input has three options: Line, Mic, Mic +48V. Mic +48V is for condenser microphones like the Sony ECM- VG1. Mic is for dynamic microphones and Line is for an output from an audio mixer or other line level device (output from an external recorder for example).
- Page 32 Audio: Input On status page 3, change the input for the channel. In this case, I have XLR input 1 going to channels 1 and 2 for a two channel mono recording (the same sound on each channel).
- Page 33 Audio: Volume Level Controls There is a switch for automatic or manual volume level recording control. Open the door to switch from auto to manual level control and control the level.
- Page 34 Audio: Reference Sensitivity If the recording is too loud or too quiet with either auto or manual control, adjust the reference sensitivity of the channel. The default reference sensitivity is -50 dB. This is generally a good setting. Changing to a higher number like -60 dB will raise the recording level, -40 dB will lower the recording level.
- Page 35 Audio: Internal camera microphone You can record the internal camera microphone to one or more channels as a reference for synchronizing audio recorded to an external recorder (but it also helps to use a slate). By default the internal microphone level is on AUTO. The Audio Input level is the manual recording level for the internal microphone.
- Page 36 Audio: Low Cut option There is a switch on the microphone for a low frequency cut to the signal. This is not necessary unless there is a persistent low hum in the environment that you want to remove. M is no cut. V is the low cut.
- Page 37 Audio: Headphone Jack The headphone jack is placed on the side of the camera. The output level for the headphone jack is in the menu/ audio/ audio output/ volume. You can also select in that menu whether this is a stereo or mono output.
- Page 38 Audio: Fan Noise The sensor is large and requires cooling (or heating). Menu/Technical/Fan Control: AUTO mode is the default for the fan. In this mode the fan may run while you are recording. If the microphone is on the camera, or near the fan, it will record this noise.
- Page 39 Audio: Other Microphone Options The microphone wind cover on the Sony ECM- VG1 can help reduce wind noise. In the audio basic menu there is also a wind cut option for each channel. However, the CDA field recording kit is a superior option for recording audio outdoors.
Page 40: Shooting Modes: Introduction
- Page 41 Shooting Modes: Custom and Cine EI There are two shooting modes: Custom and Cine EI. This guide will explain these two options in detail. Custom mode also appears in the menu/status pages as Custom (709). Custom mode will create video files that will not require much correction in postproduction.
- Page 42 When working in Cine EI mode you can apply a LUT to the viewfinder and on the SDI/HDMI outputs. Working with a LUT makes exposing Slog 3 much easier than shooting Slog with other non-cinema Sony cameras. Slog 3 images require more work in postproduction to normalize and correct, but you can also use a LUT for correction.
- Page 43 Shooting Modes: Custom and Cine EI This guide covers the shooting modes in two separate sections, but even if you are only interested Cine EI mode also read the Custom shooting mode section. Many of the exposure controls are the same for both shooting modes.
Page 44: Custom Shooting Mode Settings
- Page 45 Custom Shooting Mode: Base Settings In Menu/User/Base Setting pick SDR (BT.709) for the Target Display. This guide only covers shooting in the Rec.709 colour space, called SDR(BT.709) in this camera. The majority of display devices in the world are Rec.709 devices. HDR(HLG) target display is chosen when you are shooting for extra bright HDR TVs.
- Page 46 Custom Shooting Mode: Project Settings Once the Menu/User/Base Setting/Target Display is set to SDR(BT.709) setting, Custom mode will appear as Custom (709) in the status pages. On status page 4, you can also change the Shooting Mode. This is the project page. Look at the other selections on this page: 4K UHD at 23.98p using the full sensor of the camera and the best internal codec (XAVC I).
- Page 47 Custom Shooting Mode: Project Menu Status page 4/ Project Settings: Shooting Mode: CUSTOM (709) Change this first! Imager Scan: FF This means full frame: using the full sensor. Always shoot full frame unless you are shooting HD with Super 35 or APS C lenses. Codec: XAVC I Always choose XAVC I unless you need more recording time.
- Page 48 Image Resolutions: three options 1. 4K UHD 3840 x 1080 is the 4K broadcast/web standard. The aspect ratio is 16:9, the same as HD video. 2. 4K DCI 4096 x 2160 is only for cinema. The aspect ratio is 17:9. Web versions will have to be cropped or pillar-boxed.
- Page 49 Frame Rates: Frequency/Scan The camera calls standard frame rates frequency/scan. For 4K UHD or HD pick one of the two NTSC frame rates: 23.98p and 29.97p. With large sensor CMOS cameras like the FX6, motion looks better when shooting at 29.97p. 29.97p also looks better on (NTSC) TVs, computer screens and data projectors.
- Page 50 Custom Shooting Mode: Main settings In this image, you can see that there is some duplication of settings from status page 4, the frame rate (frequency/scan), Imager Scan and Codec. But on this page you can set the Scene File, Base ISO/Sensitivity and the Shutter. See next page. Very important!
- Page 51 Custom Shooting Mode: Main Settings Scene File/ S-Cinetone. This is the best choice! More about this later. Shutter: always set to twice the frame rate: 1/48 for 23.98p and 1/60 for 29.97p. The ECS shutter speeds are for eliminating rolling lines when shooting monitors, screens and projections.
- Page 52 (luminance) range possible out of the sensor. The FX 6 camera is a dual sensitivity camera so it performs very well at two distinct Low and High ISO settings. There is a slight increase in image noise at the High setting.
- Page 53 When in Custom(709) Shooting Mode, there are four preset Scenes ( looks) to choose from: Still, Standard, ITU 709 and S-Cinetone. S-Cinetone is a new gamma curve and color matrix based on the look of Sony’s Venice cinema camera. The look is similar to shooting Slog 3 with the s709 LUT applied.
- Page 54 Custom Shooting Mode: the other Scenes Still is high contrast Scene with saturated colours. Avoid it! Superficially it can look great but it gives you no room to adjust in post if the exposure is incorrect. Oversaturated colours will also look noisy in the shadow areas. Standard is a lower contrast, less saturated look than S-Cinetone but with aggressive highlight compression.
Page 55: Custom Shooting Mode: Exposure
- Page 56 Exposure: Base ISO/Sensitivity As explained in the section on Custom mode settings, the FX 6 camera is a dual sensitivity camera so it performs optimally at two distinct Low and High ISO settings. These settings change with the Shooting Mode. The ISO settings...
- Page 57 Exposure: Base ISO/Sensitivity When shooting in Custom mode, Base Low is the lowest ISO possible on the camera. You can only add ND to cut sensitivity. Always try to start with this ISO setting when shooting outdoors or in bright settings. Ideally, try to shoot with either the Base Low or High setting without GAIN or ISO adjustments.
- Page 58 On a video camera, ISO and GAIN adjustments do the same thing: amplify the signal from the sensor. Most video camera sensors have one sensor rating, one sensitivity. The FX 6 has two: Base low and high. Any ISO setting below or above those two base sensitivities is an adjusted signal.
- Page 59 Exposure: Gain Preset Settings Menu/Shooting/ISO/Gain/EI: This sets whether the L,M,H switch on the side of the camera uses GAIN or ISO presets settings. Change the Mode to dB for GAIN. The image on the left shows how I like to set the GAIN presets for the three options.
- Page 60 Exposure: GAIN settings 3 dB of GAIN has been applied to this shot. The base ISO is low (320 ISO) and the lens is wide open at f 4.5. The best option would be to increase the amount of light on the subject but if this cannot be done, then a small amount or GAIN can be applied.
- Page 61 Exposure: ISO Preset settings (really important) Using ISO is more complicated. Look at these examples for Custom Shooting mode: When using ISO at the Base Low setting (320 ISO), try not to amplify the signal to more than double the base ISO: 640. 800 ISO can look OK too. When using the Base High setting (5000 ISO): try not amplify at all or beyond 10000 ISO.
- Page 62 Exposure: Changing GAIN and ISO in smaller increments The L,M,H switch provides an easy way to change your GAIN or ISO in presets but you can also change in smaller increments using the direct menu. The ISO/GAIN button on the side of the camera will allow you to adjust in smaller increments in the direct menu.
- Page 63 Exposure: Judging Image Noise Be strict about your use of GAIN or ISO for optimal image quality. You cannot judge image noise in the 720p LCD viewfinder. It is too small. Image noise appears first in the shadow areas of an image. If you are working in a studio consider attaching a large HDMI screen to the camera to judge noise.
- Page 64 Exposure: White/Gray card A really useful item, that you can purchase cheaply at a camera shop, is a white/gray card. It is a 90 percent white card and 18 percent (middle gray) gray card. The white side reflects 90 % of the light hitting it and the gray card only reflects 18 %. Both sides can be used for setting exposure and the white side for white balance.
- Page 65 Exposure: Manual White Balance Once your Shooting mode, Scene, Base sensitivity and Shutter speed are set, set the White balance. To perform a manual white balance, switch the setting on the side of the camera to A or B. Set the iris exposure to auto (in the direct menu) or expose correctly and hold a white card in front of the lens.
- Page 66 Exposure: White Balance You must perform a white balance each time your lighting source changes. The colour temperature remains stored in the A or B setting and is indicated in the display. As an aside, note the information in this display: 4K UHD at 29.97p, Full Frame, XAVC I, Custom shooting mode with S-Cinetone scene, Base High sensitivity, 1/60th shutter speed and...
- Page 67 Exposure: Preset White Balance Turn the switch on the side to Preset. Go into the Full menu: Shooting/White/Preset White and set the color temperature to your liking. Common Color Temperature Settings: LCD monitor: 6500K Daylight (at mid-day): 5500 K Florescent indoor: 4300K Tungsten Indoor light: 3200K Street lights (not LED) : 3200K Incandescent indoor light: 2500K...
- Page 68 Exposure: Iris control Manual control of the iris (aperture) can be quickly performed by pressing the iris button on the side of the camera and then using the wheel on the handgrip, handle or dial on the front of the camera. Shifting slightly to the left with the multi-selector or dial will highlight the M next to the iris setting.
- Page 69 Exposure: AUTO Iris There is no “one button” AUTO exposure mode with this camera but that is not a bad thing! When shooting video we don’t want the camera to randomly change shutter speed since this will change how motion appears. The shutter should remain at twice the frame rate unless you want a motion special effect.
- Page 70 Exposure: AUTO ND instead of AUTO Iris Another good option is to automate the ND filter instead of automating the iris. ND filters are used to cut light to the sensor. They are mostly used when you cannot lower the exposure in any other way. Make sure that you never have any GAIN applied before using ND filters.
- Page 71 Exposure: ND Presets The traditional way to work with ND filters is by selecting a preset. There is a section for ND on the side of the camera. Turn ND ON Press ND AUTO button until it goes off (if a light was on). Switch to ND PRESET: this allows you to toggle between the three ND preset settings (made in the Full Menu/Shooting menu/ND Filter).
- Page 72 Exposure: ND Presets The ND preset settings can also appear in the display and can be changed with the direct menu as well. Changing presets in the middle of a shot will be noticeable. Don’t do it. Presets are not the best way to work with ND.
- Page 73 Exposure: Variable ND filter adjustment This is the best way to work with the ND filters. Sony developed this technology. Press the ND ON button Turn the ND switch to ND Variable and then adjust the dial. This way you can maintain the manual iris setting you want while applying incremental amounts of ND.
- Page 74 Exposure: ND Auto The best way to maintain a consistent manual iris setting is to use ND Auto. Keep the iris on Manual. Press the ND ON button, switch it to ND Variable and then hold down the AUTO ND button until AUTO ND appears in the LCD display.
- Page 75 Exposure: the Waveform Monitor I don’t tend to display the vectorscope or histogram in the VF. But I often use the waveform monitor. The waveform monitor shows luminance values in the image. It can be read from left to right, exactly like the subjects in the image. The lines on the waveform monitor from bottom to top are: 0, 25, 50, 75, 100.
- Page 76 Exposure: Zebra Zebra stripes and levels are used to judge overexposure. They can be turned on with Zebra button on the side of the LCD. Striped lines appear over the image to indicate overexposure at 100 percent IRE or at another value. Button 9 turns on the waveform monitor (or histogram or vectorscope as you keep pressing it) in the display.
- Page 77 Exposure: Zebra Stripes Menu/Monitoring/Zebra: There are two Zebra levels. Zebra 2 level should always be at 100 percent to judge overexposure. But Zebra level 1 can be set to another amount to judge exposure. For example, here I have set level 1 to 81 percent for exposing a white card in Custom shooting mode using the S- Cinetone scene.
- Page 78 Exposure: Zebra Level In this image, the white card is being exposed at 81 percent. the white card 81 %...
- Page 79 Exposure: S-Cinetone Exposure With the S-Cinetone gamma curve, contrast changes occur with exposure: contrast increases in the shadows and decreases in the highlights (starting at 70 IRE). Underexposing will create an more contrasty image, and overexposing will create a less contrasty, more subdued, image. You can judge exposure simply by looking in the viewfinder.
- Page 80 Exposure: S-Cinetone Exposure For a slightly underexposed image, Alister Chapman suggests exposing a white card at 81 percent. The white card can be exposed as high as 88 percent and as low as 78 percent on the waveform monitor. Skin tones can be exposed as low as 60 percent and as high as 70 percent.
- Page 81 Expsosure: S-Cinetone Exposure This image was exposed in a mixed lighting situation in Custom Shooting Mode with the S- Cinetone scene. Middle range skin tones were exposed at 65 percent on the waveform monitor. Avoid overexposing or blowing out highlights, especially on skin tones. There are tools to diffuse lighting in the EV Depot.
Page 82: Focusing
- Page 83 Focusing: Manual, Hybrid and Total Auto With the Sony kit lens (or other Sony lenses) working in conjunction in the camera, there are three possible focus “modes”: manual, hybrid, and total auto. Leaving aside the “total” manual option, because it is largely redundant, this section will concentrate on the Hybrid and Total Auto Focus modes.
- Page 84 Focusing: Menu Settings Here are the menu settings in Menu/Shooting/Focus for the options discussed in this section. There are many more options but I am concentrating on one method. I will look at some of these settings in detail but take the time to enter these settings if you want to follow this method.
- Page 85 Focusing: Hybrid Focus In Hybrid mode, leave the lens on AF and change the focus switch on the front of Focus switch on MAN the camera to MAN. You can focus manually with the focus ring on the lens and also use the PUSH AUTO button when you want to auto focus.
- Page 86 Focusing: Manual Focus In Hybrid mode, simply turn the focus ring on the lens to begin focusing manually. There are two aids to help. Button 7 on top handle enables the focus magnifier in the VF. Push twice to increase magnification. The Focus Peaking button is on the side of viewfinder (VF), if you prefer that aid.
- Page 87 Focusing: Total Auto Focus mode AUTO on camera. If you have the lens on AF and the Focus switch on the camera on AUTO, then you are in TOTAL AUTO FOCUS. In this mode, it is not practical to manually focus. You can push the PUSH AUTO button on the front of the camera to temporarily enable manual focus but as soon as you stop pushing it, the camera goes back to auto focus.
- Page 88 Focusing: Two Types of Auto Focus With the menu/shooting/focus settings, that I showed on page 84, there are two types of auto focus: flexible spot auto focus and auto focus tracking. Button 3 on the side of the camera toggles between the two auto focus types, flexible spot and focus tracking, whether you are in Hybrid or Total Auto Focus mode.
- Page 89 Focusing: Flexible Spot Auto Focus Flexible spot Pressing button 3 will highlight the focus area. It will appear as an orange square. This flexible spot can be moved with your finger on the LCD screen or simply tap the screen to move it to a different part of the image.
- Page 90 Focusing: Default Flexible Spot Area Menu/Shooting/Focus/Focus Area (AF-S) sets the default target area for the flexible spot in auto focus and PUSH AUTO. But if you move the flexible spot with your finger it stays at the last spot. It does not return to this default location unless you press and hold one of the multi- selectors on the camera (handle or the grip).
- Page 91 Focusing: Other focus area options The Menu/Shooting/ Focus/Focus Area specifies the target for the auto focus operation (and PUSH AUTO focus in Hybrid mode). By default it is set to Wide. This is the least precise option. You can also specify a Zone, that is somewhat more precise. Specifying a zone might be a good idea when filming a stage, for example, where all the subjects are on the same plane.
- Page 92 Focusing: Auto Focus Tracking The second type of auto focus is auto focus tracking. To auto focus track objects, you first have Tracking box to exit the flexible spot auto focus by pressing button 3. When the flexible spot square is not orange, then you have exited that type of auto focus.
- Page 93 Focusing: Auto Focus Tracking AF Trans. Speed The Menu/Shooting/Focus/AF Trans. Speed determines how quickly the focus changes from one object to another when you select that new object in the touch screen. A faster setting is good for sports. A slower setting is good for a “pull focus”...
- Page 94 Focusing: Difference in Auto Focus Tracking when in Hybrid Focus and Total Auto Focus There is a major difference between auto focus tracking in hybrid focus mode and total auto focus mode. The settings I have chosen in Menu/Shooting/Focus give you a choice of how you want to handle the auto focus tracking by selecting Hybrid or Total Auto focus.
- Page 95 Focus Tracking: Difference between Hybrid Focus and Total Auto Focus In hybrid focus mode, the camera can track any object and the focus will remain on that object. In total auto focus mode, faces and eyes have priority. You can initially track any object but as soon as a person enters the frame, the camera will automatically shift focus to their face and eyes.
- Page 96 Focusing Recap: Two Auto Focus Types When you see the orange square in the VF then the camera is in flexible spot auto focus, or, if you like, the regular auto focus with the flexible spot option chosen. When you see the white square following an object, or the white squares following a person’s eyes, then the camera is in auto focus tracking.
Page 97: Cine Ei Shooting Mode
- Page 98 Cine EI Shooting Mode Most of the previous section on Custom Shooting Mode Exposure applies to Cine EI mode. The controls for iris, white balance, and ND filters are the same. However, Cine EI is for exposing Slog 3 images so there are differences in how you arrive at the optimal exposure.
- Page 99 Cine EI is for shooting Slog 3 Exposing Slog 3 in Cine EI mode is different from how you may have exposed Slog 3 in other “non-cinema” Sony cameras. This section goes through the details of how to expose Slog 3 correctly with the FX6.
- Page 100 Cine EI is for shooting Slog 3 Cine EI shooting mode is for exclusively shooting Slog 3. Slog (pronounced “S Log”) is Sony’s LOG format which has (optimally) 15 stops of dynamic luminance range, preserving detail in shadows and highlights.
- Page 101 Cine EI: Slog 3 and LUTs Slog video images must be “normalized”. They appear low contrast on more linear displays (like TVs and computers) as they perceive brightness in a logarithmic way, the same manner as our eyes. The quickest normalization method is by applying a LUT, a look-up table: a file with a .cube extension that will apply color and contrast transformations to the file.
- Page 102 Cine EI: Slog 3 and LUTs The great advantage of shooting Slog 3 with the FX6 (rather than the FS5 or Z90) is that you can import a LUT or use one of the built-in LUTs to correct the image in the viewfinder (and the SDI and HDMI outputs). Working with a LUT makes exposing the image much easier.
Page 103: Cine Ei Option One: Exposing Slog
- Page 104 Cine EI: Project Status Page Settings In Menu/User/Base Setting pick SDR (BT.709) for the Target Display and Cine EI as the shooting mode. You can also go to status page 4 and change the shooting mode to Cine EI. Always choose the XAVC-I codec in Cine EI.
- Page 105 Cine EI: choose the built-in s709 LUT Choose the s709 LUT on status page one. This is the default LUT. Base Look/LUT...
- Page 106 Cine EI: Turning on a LUT in the viewfinder Go to status page 5 to turn on the LUT for the viewfinder and the SDI and HDMI outputs. Always turn on the LUT for the SDI/HDMI outputs when you are using the LUT in the viewfinder (even if you are not using an external monitor or recorder).
- Page 107 Cine EI: Turning on a LUT for the viewfinder (VF) VERY IMPORTANT! It helps to use the waveform monitor in the VF to judge Slog 3 exposure. The waveform in the VF measures the output from the SDI and HDMI outputs, even if there is no recorder or monitor attached. So, to avoid confusion, even if you are not using an external recorder, turn on the LUT for the SDI and HDMI outputs if you are turning on a LUT for the viewfinder.
- Page 108 Cine EI: Turning on a LUT for the viewfinder From top to bottom on the right hand side of the display it is indicated that you are recording in Slog 3 (because the camera is in Cine EI mode), that you have the s709 LUT applied (the selected LUT) and the waveform is measuring the signal adjusted by the s709 LUT because you have a LUT turned ON for the SDI/HDMI outputs.
- Page 109 Cine EI: Slog 3 exposure with the s709 LUT With the s709 LUT applied, you can judge the exposure by eye in the viewfinder. For more accurate exposure, follow these instructions from Alister Chapman: expose a white card at 77 percent or expose a gray card just below 50 percent.
- Page 110 Cine EI: Slog 3 exposure with the s709 LUT Here is the setting in Menu/ Monitoring/Zebra. Zebra Level 1 is set to 77 percent. A line will appear in the waveform monitor at the 77 percent level. I keep Zebra 2 Levels at 100 percent to judge overexposure.
- Page 111 Cine EI: Slog 3 exposure with the s709 LUT In this image the white card is lined up with the 77 percent line in the waveform monitor. This is the optimal exposure for Slog 3 with the s709 LUT applied. 77 perc.
- Page 112 Cine EI: Base Sensitivity and EI When you are exposing Slog3 images with a LUT applied, it is easiest to keep the EI preset at the same value as the base sensitivity ISO value. In the image you can see that the Base High Sensitivity ISO and the EI preset value are the same: 12800.
- Page 113 Cine EI: What is EI? ISO is the camera’s sensitivity to light. The camera has two ISO (Base Sensitivity) settings in Cine EI: Base Low (800 ISO) and Base High (12800 ISO). You cannot change the ISO (or add GAIN). The ISO will always be one of these two settings.
- Page 114 Cine EI: EI Presets PRESET SWITCHES In Cine EI mode, you have to use the Base Low (800 ISO) or Base High sensitivity (12800 ISO). You cannot change the ISO as you can in Custom shooting mode. In Cine EI mode, the L,M and H ISO/GAIN preset switches on the side of the camera control EI (exposure index) ratings.
- Page 115 Cine EI: EI Presets Alister Chapman suggests the following setup for the L, M, H EI presets. Preset H setting exposes Slog 3 normally: using the same EI setting as the same Base Sensitivity (ISO) setting. Preset M or L changes the brightness of the LUT. Lowering the EI value below the Base Sensitivity value will lower the brightness of the LUT, you will then have to increase exposure (open up the iris) to expose the Slog 3 image correctly.
- Page 116 Cine EI: EI Presets Here is how the presets have been entered in Menu/Shooting/ISO/Gain/EI: At Base Low ISO (800 ISO): At Base High ISO (ISO 12800):...
- Page 117 Cine EI: EI Presets and Overexposure When working with all Sony cameras, you can always slightly overexpose Slog 3 images but you never want to underexpose them. Overexposing slightly can diminish image noise, since it increases the shadow luminance range, or pushes the image information out of the image shadow areas that have the most noise.
- Page 118 Cine EI: EI Presets Once you have the EI preset applied you can then determine the correct exposure using the 77 percent line for the white card. In these VF details you can see how the iris value changes as the EI preset changes. Also, the luminance values become a little more compressed in the waveform monitor as you increase the exposure.
- Page 119 Cine EI: EI Presets and Image Noise Base High 12800 ISO, EI Preset 12800 300 percent enlargement...
- Page 120 Cine EI: EI Presets and Image Noise Base High 12800 ISO, EI Preset 3200 300 percent enlargement...
- Page 121 Cine EI: auto exposure and Cine EI It is better to use manual exposure when shooting in Cine EI. The camera’s auto exposure does not take into account the EI rating, so if the EI preset value is different from the Base Sensitivity ISO rating, the auto exposure will be incorrect.
- Page 122 LUT, another LUT, or correcting the image from scratch. The s709 LUT is available from Sony on this page: https://pro.sony/en_CA/technology/professional-video-lut-look-up-table The s709 LUT is not completely neutral. It has a certain look. Shooting with the S- Cinetone look in Custom mode will make images similar to Cine EI mode with the s709 LUT.I don’t recommend it, but you can shoot in both modes in the same...
- Page 123 Cine EI: Applying the s709 LUT in Adobe Premiere Here I have applied the s709 LUT to a clip using the Lumetri Color tool. LUT applied If you want to normalize an entire sequence in Premiere you can add an adjustment layer and apply just one instance of the Lumetri color tool to that layer (see next page).
- Page 124 Cine EI: Adobe Premiere adjustment layer Here I have an adjustment layer with the s709 LUT LUT applied applied. I am using only one instance of the Lumetri color tool to normalize all the clips underneath the layer. When making an adjustment layer, make sure to have Adjustment layer...
- Page 125 Cine EI: Premiere 2022 colour management Premiere 2022 now interprets the colour space of a clip when it is imported into the software. So, in addition to a sequence having a specific working colour space, a clip also has an assigned colour space: HDR or Rec.709. In this guide we have been focused on shooting videos in the Rec.709 colour space, whether in Custom or Cine EI mode.
- Page 126 Cine EI: Premiere 2022 colour management The FX 6 can shoot Rec.709 and HDR video. On page 45 of this guide I described the following setting: In the Menu/Project/Base Setting there are two important settings: the Shooting Mode, that you can set to Custom or Cine EI and the Target Display.
- Page 127 Cine EI: Premiere 2022 colour management Premiere 2022 should interpret Rec.709 video files from the FX6 correctly. When you make a sequence from an imported video clip, the sequence settings should have Rec.709 as the working colour space. Then you can apply the LUT to the file or to multiple files (as I have just described) to normalize the image(s).
- Page 128 Cine EI: Premiere 2022 colour management Premiere 2022 should also correctly interpret the colour space of the video file. If for some reason the file is incorrectly interpreted it will look overexposed with “blown out” highlights. Right click the file in the Premiere project window and go to “Modify/Interpret Footage”.
Page 129: Cine Ei Option Two: Importing Custom Luts
- Page 130 Cine EI: Using other LUTs If you apply other built-in LUTs or custom LUTs, they will have different brightness levels and will have to exposed differently than the built-in s709 LUT. Once a LUT is applied, you should be able to judge exposure by eye but if you want to be more accurate, look for any documentation that comes with the LUT.
- Page 131 Cine EI: Loading Custom LUTs You can load your own LUTs into the camera. The LUTS must be 3D .cube LUTs: 17x or preferably 33x cube LUT’s designed for use with S-Log3 and SGamut3.cine. It is even better if they are designed for use with the FX6. Put the LUTS in the location shown below on the media card in Slot B of the camera.
- Page 132 Cine EI: Loading Custom LUTs Put card B in the camera and then go to Menu/Paint/Look/Base Look/Import. There are several free spaces for loading LUTs. Pick one of them (it will say NO LUT). Here I am loading a LUT for a sci-fi look called “Space Adventure Final”.
- Page 133 Cine EI: Loading Custom LUTs In this particular case, I chose the first free space with No LUT. The custom LUT will now appear in this list when you select a LUT on status page 1. It will appear in the VF in Cine EI mode once you have the LUT turned ON for the VF and for the SDI/HDMI outputs (as described in Cine EI: Option One).
- Page 134 Cine EI: Custom LUTs from the Sony site The custom LUT that I use in this example was taken from the Sony site. There are a few interesting LUTs to download here: https://pro.sony/en_GB/technology/professional-video-lut-look-up- table...
- Page 135 Cine EI: Gamma Display Assist If you are using a LUT, then you don’t use the Gamma Display Assist. You can use the Gamma Display assist if you wish, instead of the a LUT. Turning on Gamma Display Assist will make Slog 3 images look normal in the camera viewfinder.
Page 136: Cine Ei Option Three: Exposing Slog 3 Without
Page 137: lut.
- Page 138 Cine EI: Slog 3 exposure without a LUT In this case, in Cine EI mode status page 1 choose the No LUT option under Base Look/LUT. There are several choices with No LUT since these are empty fields into which you can load custom LUTs.
- Page 139 Cine EI: Slog 3 exposure without a LUT In status page 5, choose SG3C/Slog3 for the SDI, HDMI outputs and the VF. This means that no LUT is applied to the viewfinder and the outputs. It is very important that the settings are the same for the outputs and the VF.
- Page 140 Cine EI: Slog 3 exposure without a LUT With the s709 LUT off, no LUT at all, Alister Chapman suggests exposing a white card at 61 percent. You can make these values zebra settings that will appear on the waveform monitor: Menu/monitoring/zebra/zebra level 1 Keep zebra level 2 at 100 percent if you need to judge overexposure.
- Page 141 Cine EI: Slog 3 exposure without a LUT In this image the white card is exposed at 61 percent. The waveform monitor is reading the signal from the Slog 3 image, not the applied LUT, because there is no LUT applied to the SDI/HDMI outputs. Note that the Base Sensitivity (ISO) and EI preset match: 12800.
- Page 142 Cine EI: Slog 3 exposure without a LUT In Cine EI mode, shooting without a LUT applied, you are restricted to shooting at Base Low (800 ISO) and Base High (12800 ISO) sensitivity. There is no way to change ISO or GAIN. The L, M and H preset switches control EI values but changing these values has NO EFFECT because there is no LUT to adjust.
Page 143: S And Q Shooting
- Page 144 S & Q shooting S & Q shooting is for shooting slow motion or fast motion and time lapse: something other than a standard frame rate. S and Q slow motion shooting works by capturing the video at a different frame rate than the frame rate at which the video clip will be played back.
- Page 145 S & Q: slow motion shooting When shooting in S & Q for slow motion, the video is captured at a higher frame rate than the frame rate at which it is played back. The length of the clip is extended on playback. For example, if the project frame rate is 29.97 fps (30p) and the S &...
- Page 146 S and Q: frame rates In 4K, you can set the frame rate between 1 fps (frames per second) to 120 fps (there is a 10 percent image crop at 120 fps). In HD, you can set the frame rate up to 240 fps in HD but there is some image quality loss above 120 fps.
- Page 147 S & Q: menu settings 1. The base frame rate: On status page 1, the frequency/scan has been set to 29.97 fps. This is the project frame rate and the rate at which all clips will be played back. 2. The S & Q frame rate: In Menu/Shooting/S &...
- Page 148 S and Q: button 1 Enable S and Q motion by pressing button 1 on the side of the camera. This button toggles S and Q mode on and off.
- Page 149 S and Q: shutter speed VERY IMPORTANT When you switch to S & Q mode it does not pick the correct shutter speed for you. The shutter speed will match the frame rate. This is not correct! Change the shutter speed. Remember that when shooting standard motion or slow motion, the shutter speed should be set to double the frame rate for a normal amount of motion blur in the image.
- Page 150 S & Q: shutter speed The camera will initially pick a shutter speed that matches the frame rate. For slow motion, change the shutter speed to double the S & Q frame rate. The S & Q frame rate is indicated in the top left, followed by the base (project) frame rate.
- Page 151 S & Q: Time Remaining The time remaining on the media cards changes once S & Q motion is ON. This is based on the number of frames that are being captured. In this case, the remaining time is simply divided by four.
- Page 152 S & Q: shutter speed After exiting S & Q mode, remember to change the shutter speed back to the normal setting!
- Page 153 S & Q: fast motion and timelapse Setting a lower S & Q rate than the frequency/scan rate will result in fast motion. A S & Q rate of 1 fps will be timelapse. For example, if your base (project) frame rate is 24p and you record 10 minutes at the S &...
- Page 154 Interval Recording and Time Lapse You can also use interval recording to create timelapse sequences. Menu/Project/ Interval Rec The interval time is the amount of time between each exposure. The number of frames is the amount of frames that the camera takes during the interval time.
- Page 155 S & Q: Interval Recording and Shutter Speed For this image, the interval rec. settings were as illustrated below. The shutter speed was 16 F with a base frame rate of 23.98 fps. Note the motion blur on the pedestrians.
Page 156: Attaching The Viewfinder Loupe
- Page 157 Viewfinder (VF) Specs. The camera’s viewfinder (VF) is a 720p Rec.709 screen. Slog 3 images look low contrast in this screen unless a LUT is applied. The VF cannot show all the highlight detail in uncorrected Slog 3 images. You need to apply a LUT and “normalize” the image to see the highlight details inside the Rec.709 colour space.
- Page 158 Viewfinder: Flipping and Rotating Image On the bottom of the VF there is a switch for rotating and flipping the image (very convenient if you are shooting yourself). The shade can be detached if necessary.
- Page 159 Viewfinder: Buttons and Shade Three buttons on the side: display focus peaking and zebra stripes and the custom 9 button displays the waveform monitor and other scopes by default. The shade provides sunlight protection in many situations but you may want to use the loupe in extremely bright situations or situations where you need to see details and focus manually.
- Page 160 Viewfinder: Attaching the Loupe The Sony bracket is too weak to support the loupe so first attach the more sturdy Vocas bracket. Do not attach the loupe to the VF without attaching the Vocas bracket first. The Vocas bracket allows the VF and loupe to be tilted but the VF will not have the same range of vertical positions.
- Page 161 Viewfinder: Attaching the loupe Detach the cable for the VF from the right side of the camera. Press the sides of the plug to detach it. Be careful as there are many small pins on this plug.
- Page 162 Viewfinder: Attaching the loupe Now that the VF cable is free, detach the VF from the camera handle by Leave this in place turning the dial. Leave the post that is mounted to the handle in place. Turn this dial...
- Page 163 Viewfinder: Attaching the loupe Attach the Vocas viewfinder bracket to the same post that you just removed the VF from. Tighten with the red Tighten with red handle handle.
- Page 164 Viewfinder: Attaching the Loupe Slide the VF into the bracket. See the following pages for more detail on this part.
- Page 165 Viewfinder: Attaching the Loupe This image from Vocas, gives you a better idea of how the FX6 VF fits into the bracket. Ignore that a loupe is already attached to the VF in this image. The VF pictured is a Sony FX6 VF.
- Page 166 Viewfinder: Attaching the Loupe Tighten the VF on the bracket with the dial. Plug the VF cable back into the camera taking care to line up the pins correctly.
- Page 167 Viewfinder: Attaching the Loupe Remove the shade from the VF and attach the Zacuto loupe on to the VF using the top clasp on the loupe. Be careful not to scratch the VF screen.
- Page 168 Viewfinder: Attaching the Loupe Here is another view with the loupe attached to the VF and the VF secure in the Vocas bracket.
- Page 169 Viewfinder: Take apart before packing up Follow the procedure in reverse to detach the loupe. When remounting the VF to the camera, once the Vocas bracket has been removed, secure the VF right at the end of the rod. This way the VF has room to turn towards the camera when it is stored in the bag.
Page 170: Tripod Tips
- Page 171 Tripod Tips: basic advice Tripods, having three legs, can tip. Follow this advice to avoid accidents: Always take the camera off the tripod when moving it. The quick release plate makes this easy to do. If you do need to shift the tripod slightly while the camera is on it, make sure you have one hand on the camera handle as you are shifting the tripod legs.
- Page 172 Tripod tips: the Sachtler tripods The EV depot staff will give you one of the Sachtler tripods for the Sony FX 6. There are two models, the newer model called ACE is pictured to the right. The ACE model is lighter and has a simpler quick release plate mechanism.
- Page 173 Tripod tips: older model Sachtler base plate The older, heavier, Sachtler tripod model has a very powerful quick plate release spring. Before removing the plate, make sure the tilt and pan are locked. To remove the quick release plate you must pull down on the small red disk attached below the red lever.
- Page 174 Tripod Tips: Newer Sachtler tripods • The newer Sachtler ACE tripod has a much simpler quick release mechanism. Tighten/loosen the plate with the side screw. Press the red button to release the plate. The plate can only go into the tripod in one direction (look for the arrow).
- Page 175 Tripod Tips: ACE plate In addition to a screw, the quick release plate of the ACE tripod has a pin. You can adjust the position of this pin to make sure it aligns with the hole for the pin on the bottom of the FX6. You can also remove the pin when using the tripod with a DSLR.
- Page 176 Tripod Tips: adjusting the tripod head The whole tripod head is on a bowl that can be adjusted. This is for small adjustments that cannot be done by adjusting the height of the legs. Make sure the pan and tilt are locked. Adjust the handle at the bottom of the tripod head. Use the spirit level to ensure that the tripod is level.
- Page 177 Tripod tips: legs Once the legs are at the correct height tighten the supports between the legs. This step is easy to forget. It increases stability and is important!
- Page 178 Tripod Tips: Pan and Tilt Both models have similar pan and tilt controls. Unlock the pan and tilt before adjusting. Keep one hand on the tilt handle. The fluid head has three drag levels for tilt and pan. Zero is no drag.
- Page 179 Tripod Tips: counter balance Adjust the tension on the counter balance to change how the head springs back when tilting. Counter balance...
Page 180: Additional Resources
- Page 181 Additional Resources: Sony User Manual The first place to go is the Sony User Manual. The manual defines all the aspects and options that this guide has overlooked. Unfortunately, the language is somewhat opaque on the actual operation of the camera.
- Page 182 Additional Resources: tutorials Alister Chapman is a British cinematographer who has a lot of information on his site about the FX6 and other Sony cameras. The exposure level advice in this guide is from his tutorials. https://www.xdcam-user.com/category/fx6/ Doug Jensen is a nature cinematographer in the U.S. He has a lot of concise and clear video instruction on the FX6.
- Page 183 Additional Resources: reviews Philip Bloom is a filmmaker from the UK who offers idiosyncratic but always informative reviews on cameras with lots of scenic imagery. These are meandering but entertaining. I have not watched them all. His review of the camera before the firmware update: https://philipbloom.net/blog/sonyfx6review/ His review following the firmware version 2 update: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vy0LwZqsAws...
- Page 184 Additional Resources: LUTs Sony LUTs: https://pro.sony/en_CA/technology/professional-video-lut-look-up- table Sony LUTs for the Venice camera. You can try them on Slog 3 images shot with the FX6: https://sonycine.com/resources/luts/ Overview of other LUTs for the FX6: https://filmplusgear.com/fx6-luts/...
- Page 185 Thank you for reading this guide. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions please email: [email protected]...
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Sony FX6 Review
Released in the fall of 2020, Sony’s FX6 is a full-frame cinema camera developed to offer high-end image quality in a truly compact form. It’s a camera poised between the A7S Mark III and the higher-end FX9 and VENICE. But, one that comes to market to flush out Sony’s current cinema lineup.
It shares many of the high-end capabilities from the FX9, namely the full-frame sensor, S-Cinetone Profile, and professional interface. But, in a form factor that matches its predecessor, the FS5 Mark II. Even so, it appears to be largely similar to the A7S Mark III, given their similarities in underlying imaging features. But, that doesn’t appear to be a bad thing.
Table of Contents
On paper, it strikes an interesting balance between mobility, functionality, and control. And its leaps and bounds improved over its predecessor. So much so, Sony aims this camera to supplement existing FX9 or VENICE owners wanting a capable b-cam for run-and-gun applications. And it’s a camera they aim to compete with Canon’s C70. But how does it stand up in this ever-competitive segment? Let’s find out.
“The FX9 finally meets the A7S.”
What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Sony FX6?
- Image Quality
It obtains a similar full-frame 10.2-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor and the BIONZ XR processor from the A7S Mark III. And this combination produces 4K resolution at a 1:1 ratio, rather than oversampling from a 6K readout like the FX9. Even so, the camera still has an outstanding dynamic range boasting 15+ stops in the Cine EI Mode with S-Log3. This outdoes the human eye’s perception and provides unprecedented freedom in shooting high contrasting scenes.
Additionally, the updated processor also offers 4x better processing than the FS5 Mark II. The enormous processing power also improves the sensor scan rates. But the camera uses the same outstanding rolling shutter as the A7S Mark III. And combined, they virtually eliminate the presence of rolling shutter distortion when tracking fast-moving subjects.
The video capabilities are notably improved and match the higher-end FX9 in several aspects. It records DCI 4K 60p and 1080p FHD 60p to the XAVC-I codec in 10-bit 4:2:2. And it now becomes Sony’s first compact full-frame cinema camera to debut 4K UHD 4:2:2 in this XAVC-I codec. But it does so with a maximum data rate of 600 Mb/s for 4K and 222 Mb/s for 1080p.
Both resolutions also record to the MXF wrapper rather than the consumer-oriented MP4 format of the A7S line. But, the camera also offers the XAVC-L codec, reducing the data rates by recording in 8-bit 4:2:0. There, the maximum data rate for 4K UHD drops to 150 Mb/s and 50 Mb/s for 1080p. Getting the All-I codec is a substantial update in itself and one filmmakers will appreciate. It captures complex motion more accurately and provides far greater flexibility in grading and post-processing. But, having Long-GOP will surely be a hit for those not always needing the better compression.
Overall, the image quality is excellent. It produces rich film-like images with great detail and dynamic range. And you can capture beautiful imagery with an immensely shallow depth of field and great bokeh. It genuinely delivers a cinematic look. And it’s sure to be a hit as a b-camera for Sony VENICE shooters, consider its outstanding image quality.
It obtains the same built-in electronically variable ND filter from the FX9. This electronic ND filter uses a step-less design to expose for changing lighting conditions automatically. And it smoothly adjusts the density from increments of 1/4-1/128 ND (1-7 stops) without affecting the depth of field or camera settings. It also doesn’t impact the color accuracy or focus whatsoever. As such, it’s a standout and unique feature that significantly improves the camera’s usability outdoors. And it’s one of its key selling features over rivals since you don’t need to worry about adding ND manually or camera settings outdoors.
It obtains the Slow And Quick (S&Q) recording mode. Here, the camera captures slow and quick motion effects at 1-60p in DCI 4K, 1-120p in 4K UHD, and 1-240p in full HD. And it tops the FX9 in this regard, which only offers S&Q for full HD. There are some minor crops to be aware of, however. In this case, DCI 4K has a 5% crop, and 4K UHD 120p has a 10%. But, both of these are quite mild during use. And the camera maintains autofocus through all recording modes, plus the XAVC-I codec is available for use.
It obtains several scene files, including S-Cinetone, S-Log3, S-Gamut3, and S-Gamut3.Cine, ITU709, and two HDR (HLG) modes. The S-Cinetone is the main highlight. This profile was first introduced on the FX9 and is based on the VENICE cinema camera. It delivers pleasing film-like color, softer tones, and skin tones with a gradual highlight roll-off.
And it removes much of the need for post-processing altogether. And it offers a nice compromise between dynamic range (11.5 stops), accuracy, and color rendering. It is similar to the standard profile but offers a similar dynamic range as S-log3, making it ideal for quick turnarounds. Overall, you have several options to make it easy to match this camera’s footage with the VENICE and FX9.
Taken together, though, this new model sports a larger sensor, 4K 120p recording, 16-bit RAW, and better dynamic range. It’s quite an overhaul. And it matches the FX9 in video capabilities, picture profiles, outputs, and the ND filter.
It outputs a clean 4K DCI 60p 16-bit RAW signal to the SDI connector to compatible recorders. And this is a notable update over the FS5 Mark II, which offers only 12-bit by contrast.
- It has zebras for highlight clipping indication.
- It has Gamma Display Assist to gauge the footage better when recording in a log profile.
- It has Proxy Recording to record a low-resolution proxy file and the high-resolution file simultaneously.
It has Video Signal Monitors, which include waveforms, vectorscopes, and a histogram. With these, you can monitor the recorded footage to ensure accurate exposure and color judgments.
- Low Light Performance
Low light performance is excellent and mostly matches the A7S Mark III. It features an ISO range from ISO 320 to 409,600 (-3 to 30 dB Gain). And the camera informally has dual native ISO capabilities, with a base ISO of 800 and a high-sensitivity setting of 12,800 for lower-lit scenes. This Enhanced Sensitivity setting, as Sony calls it, achieves a better signal-to-noise ratio and improves the light collection efficiency. As such, users can expect usable footage up to ISO 25,600 with minimal issues. But, if necessary, you can record at ISO 51,200 with minor processing if needed.
- Focusing Performance
For focus, it features a 627-point hybrid phase-detection AF system with 89% coverage of the image area. It also obtains both Real-time Eye AF and Face Detection to ensure accurate and reliable focus on the subjects faces. It’s a broadly similar autofocusing system available on the A7S Mark III. Even so, compared to its predecessor, the autofocusing system is enormously improved. And it’s now thoroughly reliable enough to be the go-to choice amongst most users.
The autofocus tracking is precise, intelligent, and quick but not jarring, making it a good option when shooting at shallow depths of field. Plus, the camera can recognize multiple faces within the scene and pinpoint the eye of the primary subject, even when they’re turned slightly in profile. And when it does so, it’s pretty tenacious at maintaining a positive lock. As such, it’s likely to be a hit for the target demographic, who mostly rely on manual focusing. And it will significantly simplify capturing sharp footage for single operators.
Sony even carried over the AF Transition Speed and AF Subject Shift Sensitivity settings from other Alpha models. Here, you can adjust the AF transition speed between 1-7 levels and the Subject Shift Sensitivity from 1-5 levels to tailor the AF to the shooting demands. It’s a great option to configure the camera’s AF performance to suit the situation better.
It also debuts some interesting Face-detection options. Namely, Face/Eye Only AF. This mode focuses only on the subjects face and stops the AF when faces aren’t detected, leaving the camera to MF. It’s effective if you only want to focus on the subject’s face and prevent hunting. It also brings Face/Eye Priority AF. This mode is similar, but focusing remains in AF when a face/eye isn’t detected. And both options are quite helpful in-field.
It has manual focus aids too, namely focus peaking and magnification, if you prefer doing this manually.
- Battery Performance
It uses the Sony BP-U series batteries. And battery life is excellent. Expect upwards of 2-3 hours on a single charge, depending on the size of the battery installed.
- Display & Viewfinder
It obtains the same 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD monitor with a resolution of 2.76M dots (720p SD) from the FX9. And this LCD connects using a 1/4-20-inch thread to 9 different mounting points on the camera body. The LCD itself is relatively large, bright, and versatile. And as a touchscreen, it supports some touch functionality such as tap, drag, and flick/swipe gestures.
Sony also includes a viewfinder sunshade for the LCD, which helps block incoming sunlight when filming outdoors.
- User Interface
It features a new multi-page touch interface, a Quick Menu of sorts. Recalling this menu opens ten pages of the most used functions. And you can quickly change various camera settings by touch. It’s helpful and saves trips to the main menu.
- It features ten assignable buttons around the body for unrivaled customization. And you can map these buttons to 55 total options.
- There’s more regarding the user interface. But, we will touch on these in the con’s section below.
- Physical Layout & Ergonomics
Physically, it follows a similar design principle as the FS5 Mark II and the FX9. But weighing just under 2 lbs at 890 g, it’s a full 2 lb lighter than the FX9 and only slightly heavier than the FS5. Yet, it features a durable magnesium alloy chassis around the main body, covers, and top handle for high durability, and dust and weather resistance. Plus, the exterior seams, buttons, and physical interface are treated and sealed. And it does so with a custom ventilation system with several heat sinks and an active cooling low-noise fan for heat dissipation to prevent thermal shut down. As such, it’s unlikely the device will overheat during extended recording sessions.
Even so, the device is quite modular and compact. And you can easily pare it down to attach it to a gimbal or fly on a drone. But, built up, it provides a largely similar button layout as the FS5 Mark II and FX9 with access to all key parameters. Overall, though, the physical design is excellent and well-executed. And the camera is lightweight and durable without compromising on functionality in the process.
The body also offers several tripod screws (¼-20-inch as well as ⅜-16-inch) to connect various accessories and rigs.
Sony includes the detachable Smart Grip handle, which rotates 90º towards the lens and 83º backward for comfortable low or high-angle shooting. This grip also puts several key functions at your fingertips, such as zoom, record, a joystick, assignable buttons, and a function dial. It’s an excellent accessory that’s comfortable, well-designed, and thoughtful. And it also uses a new bayonet mount design that clips in, rather than the older ratchet style design. So it’s even easier to attach and streamlines the process.
It features one-touch NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity, with both the standard 2.4 GHz and newer 5 GHz bands. With Wi-Fi, you can remotely monitor the camera to create a stream, control its operations, and even transfer files to smartphones, tablets, or computers.
It features an included top handle that provides two 2-channel XLR audio inputs to interface with professional microphones or mixers. The top handle also has an integrated multi-interface hot shoe to connect Sony’s proprietary accessories without cables. Plus, it has a built-in stereo microphone for scratch, ambiance, or reference audio.
It features a single BNC combo input/output port that’s selectable from 12G/6G/3G-SDI. And here, you can interface with professional monitoring tools.
It has a Timecode input/output connector to sync multiple cameras using a timecode generator.
- It has a 3.5mm headphone output.
- It has a full-sized HDMI port.
- It has a remote interface.
- It has a USB 3.2 port supporting speeds of 5 Gb/s.
- It has built-in tally lights.
It has dual card slots, which both support CFexpress Type A and UH-II SD cards. This is an excellent move on Sony’s part, as SD cards are widely available, and they’re a better option for many users than the FX9’s XQD cards.
It has an Interval Rec mode, which lets you capture time-lapse videos.
You can load 16 custom LUTS to monitor while recording, push the SDI/HDMI outputs, or embed them into the file.
Just like the FX9, it too takes rotating gyroscope metadata from the sensor that you can stabilize and rotate in post-production. You’ll do this using Sony’s Catalyst Prepare/Browse software. And it saves time doing it in this fashion rather than using a traditional NLE (non-linear editor) and applying Warp stabilization. And the result can look gimbal-like if done correctly.
The camera doesn’t support capturing still images in any form.
It lacks the Super35 crop for 4K, so you can’t use many legacy lenses with this camera.
The ND filter isn’t perfect and depending on the scene it may overcompensate to protect the highlights of the image. In such cases, you’ll want to turn it to manual and reduce the amount of ND applied manually.
Shooting at 240 FPS in 1080p exhibits both a noticeable loss in detail along with moiré and aliasing artifacts. In many respects, it looks like mirrorless quality footage. So, consider using 4K 120p instead to maintain detail.
If you want 10-bit color for 4K, you’ll have to record using ALL-I compression and battle the higher data rates that accompany it. It’s a slight shame as some users would want 10-bit with Long-GOP compression, as the file sizes are smaller.
It lacks the newer HEVC codec, which offers even more efficient compression and smaller file sizes. Granted, it’s unlikely the target demographic would find this problematic.
It lacks the EVF from the FS5 Mark II. Instead, you’re stuck with the viewfinder sun hood Sony includes, which is better than nothing. But it doesn’t have the most sturdy connection. And the buckles are easy to remove accidentally. Plus, the construction of this product will likely break over time. Instead, consider getting the viewfinder loupe from the FX9, as this camera obtains its LCD. So it will work on this camera and significantly improve your viewing experience outdoors.
Let’s go back to the user interface and menus. Simply put, the user interface is complicated and difficult to navigate. It’s the same general interface as the FS5 Mark II and FS7 Mark II. So if you’re an existing user of these products, you’ll find it familiar. But, for anyone else, it’s likely to be quite tedious. The main menu is deep, unintuitive, and slightly disorganized.
You’ll find many settings out of place from their like counterparts. And there will indeed be a learning curve and some thought involved with navigating to the proper subsection. It’s quite a departure too from Sony’s menus on their Alpha series mirrorless cameras. And it’s strange to say even their consumer cameras offer a better and more intuitive interface. But it’s true. These are just confusing, overly complicated, and daunting to new users. And overall, they leave a lot to be desired, and they’re not nearly on par with rivals.
Another area of note here and the frustration of many is the lack of real-time video AF tracking. Without this feature, you can’t simply touch a subject to enable subject tracking. No. Instead, you have to enable the focus area using the physical buttons on the body or handle. Then, you can touch the screen once the area is illuminated. But, the problem is, once you remove your hand and want to change the focus later, you have to battle this entire process again. Defeating the point altogether. It’s just clunky and slows down the workflow. Just use the joystick.
The power switch is in a somewhat awkward location by the 3.5mm headphone jack. Most headphones have a bit of extra length, and connecting a headphone cable makes it noticeably challenging to turn on the camera quickly—strange placement.
Removing the top handle simultaneously removes the MI shoe, the integrated stereo microphone, and the dual XLR inputs. And you’re left without a way to add a microphone to the camera since it lacks a 3.5mm microphone input. The body of the camera does have a built-in microphone. But it’s not particularly large, well placed, and it’s only slightly useful for scratch audio. The lacking 3.5mm microphone input genuinely undermines this camera’s entire ethos.
As without it, you have to record double system sound, which defeats much of the point of the camera’s small footprint. And sadly, the top handle adds a considerable amount of bulk to the camera. So this seems like an overlook considering the cameras small and lightweight enough for use on traditional gimbals. But, there’s no way of recording audio in-camera. You’re forced to use an external recorder—a strange move.
This is more of a note, but the camera lacks the customizable (and movable) white balance target box of other Sony cameras . This moving target lets you white balance at any point throughout the frame. But without it, proper white balancing requires being reasonably well exposed, and the target cast must fill the entire frame, as there’s no way to select a specific range. Otherwise, expect slightly unpredictable results.
- It lacks in-body stabilization and digital stabilization. To stabilize the footage, you’ll have to use Catalyst Browse, which supports up to 4K 60p.
- It lacks the FX9’s Genlock connector.
Is this a good beginner camera?
There are far better cameras that are 10% the starting price of this camera. And there’s no need to spend this much to get higher quality videos.
Is this a good camera for you?
Those considering the A7S Mark III wanting a more professional camera body with better controls, input/outputs, and handling should consider this camera instead. It offers a broadly similar feature set as the pricier FX9 with a far more approachable price tag. And it’s a noticeable step up in functionality over the A7S lineup.
But, if you’re a run-and-gun documentary-style videographer, you may want to consider the A7S Mark III instead. The lacking viewfinder, missing 3.5mm jack, and tedious menus will slow your workflow in-field. And you’ll be forced to use the handle at all times, which isn’t ideal since it adds a noticeable amount of bulk to the camera.
Current FS5 and FS7 owners should consider the upgrade. The updates to the autofocus, better sensor, and the S-Cinetone profile are worthwhile upgrades.
Current FX9 and Venice owners should consider this camera as a potential b-camera. With the excellent dynamic range, decisive autofocus, compact body, and S-Cinetone profile, it’s a strong b-cam for a second angle.
In the end, Sony’s FX6 packs A7S Mark III functionality into a professional cinema body. It combines its proven sensor technology and autofocus with the best elements from the FX9. And it’s a strange but exciting release on Sony’s end that will likely make most FX9 owners quite unhappy. But, even so, it’s a powerful tool indeed. And at half the price, it’s quite a compelling option for cinematographers looking for something more affordable.
Its compact size and weight make it an excellent fit for documentary and run-and-gun work. While, it’s superior image quality, recording capabilities, and dynamic range make it well suited for larger productions. It ticks many boxes in performance, size, quality, inputs, and functions. But, now filmmakers also have the powerful dual gain sensitivity coveted by the A7S lineup at their disposal. And no longer will you have to make do with a mirrorless form factor in the process.
Last Updated on May 13, 2023 by Photography PX Published April 13, 2021
- Dynamic Range
Sony’s FX6 packs the essence of the coveted A7S technology into a professional cinema body. And it’s a strange release on Sony’s end, but an exciting one that’s sure to be a hit with filmmakers.
11-17-2020 - Gear, Technology
The New Sony FX6 - The Definitive Review by Alister Chapman
By: Alister Chapman
Alister Chapman is a DP, editor, producer, educator, and is very well versed in technology and all things camera and video related.
To learn more about Alister Chapman, visit his website: xdcam-user.com
Great cameras come and go but once in a while a camera will come along that people will remember for a long time. Cameras like the original Sony EX1 or – dare I say it – the Canon 5D Mk2. Cameras that were turning points in the way we work and what we can do. I truly believe that the FX6 is going to be one of those cameras.
From the outside it looks little different to the Sony FS5. A little handheld camcorder that itself has become incredibly popular. The FS5’s light weight and highly compact form factor makes it great for handheld operation. Strip off the top handle and hand grip and it’s small enough for almost any gimbal and very popular as a drone camera. I got my own FS5 4 years ago and it’s been around the world with me many times. I’ve taken it to the Jungles of Southeast Asia and up into the Arctic. It’s an enjoyable camera to shoot with and it can deliver great images. But shooting with the FS5 has always, in my mind at least, been a bit of a compromise. The FS5’s codecs are not as strong as the codecs in it’s bigger brother the FS7. If you want to shoot using S-log2 or S-log3 it doesn’t have LUTs, plus there are some monitoring limitations if you are shooting in UHD. However, you do have to remember that the FS5 is a lower cost camera and despite some limitations it can produce great images. So I was really keen to find out whether the FX6 would address any of these issues. The good news is that it does – and then some!
The FX6 is part of Sony’s “Cinema Line.” So instead of being boring but functional black it is the same metallic grey as the other two Cinema Line cameras the FX9 and VENICE. But it also shares a lot of its DNA with the recently launched A7S III mirrorless camera. This is no bad thing, the A7S III produces some stunning imagery thanks to its Exmor R back-illuminated, full-frame sensor paired with purposed designed BIONZ XR image processors that have up to 8x more processing power than previous generations. This helps it deliver those beautiful images using very little power.
One of the first things to catch my eye when I saw the FX6 was the huge but very stylish cooling vent that covers almost the entire right hand side of the camera. This to me was a clear sign that the FX6 was going to probably do a lot more than an FS5, more cooling allowing for more processing power. As you will see, I was not wrong.
On the left side the FX6 has a relatively uncluttered arrangement of buttons, switches and dials. At the front there is a slightly shrunk down version of the multifunction dial found on the FX9. Similar to the immensely useful the multifunction dial found on many broadcast and ENG cameras, this rotary knob can be used to scroll through the the FX6’s memory system and at the same time it’s possible to assign various camera control functions to it. It’s quick, easy to use and a huge upgrade over the fiddly little menu dial on the FS5.
The Menus and touch screen
The menus are accessed by a menu button just below the dial or a button on the handgrip. A short press of the button brings up a series of camera status pages that provide an overview of how the camera is set up. The camera’s LCD panel is a touch screen and the first six of these pages incorporate on-screen buttons so you can tap on the function or setting to change it. Most of the settings that you will commonly want to change such as record format, frame rate, etc., can be found on these pages and the touch screen makes it very fast to change these things. If you need to go to the camera’s main menu system you simply press the very same menu button for a bit longer. This then brings up the full menu system, which is very similar in design and layout to the FX9’s menus. Below the menu and back button, there are the now familiar buttons and switches for White Balance, Gain/ISO and Shutter. There is a further improvement here as to change a setting such as the shutter speed you have to press and hold the button. On previous cameras just bumping one of these buttons could result in an accidental change to your settings.
As well as the buttons on the side of the camera and the handgrip, extra assignable buttons and controls have been added to the camera’s top handle. There is the usual record button and a zoom rocker, but as well as these, there is an assignable rotary wheel that can be used to control, for example - the aperture or ND filter and a thumb stick that can be used to scroll through the menus or access many of the camera’s other functions directly via thes “direct menu” function that allows you to change most of items displayed on the LCD screen without going into the menus. In addition, you will find two additional assignable buttons. The net result is that it is possible to hold the top handle and control the camera with one hand. This is great for low-angle handheld shots.
Like the FS5 the FX6 has a variable ND filter. The controls for this are just above the multifunction dial and includes a rotary control as well as switches to go between manual and automatic control. Once you’ve used one of Sony’s cameras with a built-in variable ND filter, not having one seems clunky and old fashioned. Having a variable ND filter that smoothly goes from ¼ ND (2 stops) to 1/128 th ND (7 stops) changes the way you shoot. With most normal cameras your primary way to finely control the exposure is via the lenses aperture. But when you have fine and precise exposure control via the ND filter you can use aperture purely as a depth of field control and then get perfect exposure using the variable ND. This has many benefits, in particular the way the depth of field won’t change if you need to adjust your exposure mid shot, especially handy if using auto exposure (via auto ND). You can manually control the ND filter with the rotary dial. The camera starts in “clear” mode where the ND filter is removed from the optical path, turn the dial and the ND filter is engaged and brought into the optical path starting at ¼ ND. Keep turning the wheel to add more ND or turn the wheel in the opposite direction to reduce the amount of ND or remove the ND from the optical path.
The E-mount Lens Mount
The FX6 does not have the heavy-duty locking E-mount that’s used on the FX9 and also found on the Sony VENICE digital cinema camera under the removeable PL mount. Instead it has a conventional bayonet E-mount as you would find on any of the Alpha cameras or the FS5. I really think this makes sense on this camera. A lot of the time the FX6 will be used handheld. If you have one hand holding the camera it’s much easier to swap a lens on the conventional mount that the locking one and the FX6 camera is designed for handheld shooting. The hand grip on the FX6 appears to be the same rotating handgrip as on the FS5. It’s comfortable in the hand and the record button falls right where it should.
Full Frame Sensor The FX6 has a Full Frame 4.2K sensor. It is not a 6k sensor as in the FX9 or VENICE. There are pros and cons to this. Being “only” 4.2K the pixels are huge (around 8.36 µm ) so the low light performance is impressive to say the least (more on that later). Fewer pixels also means a faster readout speed and the FX6 really is no slouch. Rolling shutter is very, very minimal thanks to a readout speed of around 9mS. This is just what you want in a handheld camera or one that might end up on a gimbal or drone. But a 4.2K Full Frame sensor can’t also offer a 4K super 35 mode or a 2K super 16mm mode. For those you’ll want the FX9 and its 6K sensor. So perhaps a small compromise of the FX6 is that it really is designed for Full Frame only. You won’t be able to use a lot of traditional PL mount cine lenses or lenses designed for APS-C with the FX6 unless you are happy to shoot using its HD-only super 35mm mode. But if you are an HD shooter, then super 35mm is still an option.
The FX6, like its bigger brother, the FX9, has the most amazing autofocus system. It’s a hybrid system that uses a combination of phase detection and contrast for speed and accuracy. It features face and eye detection and is highly adjustable. I used to be an autofocus sceptic having had many frustrating and disappointing autofocus experiences with video cameras. This changed when Sony launched the FX9. The accuracy and reliability of the AF in both the FX6 and FX9 is amazing. The FX6 in most cases can focus better than I can. It almost never hunts for focus, instead just going directly into focus. It’s particularly effective when trying to follow moving objects, especially people, where the ability to select an individual face allows you to follow one person in a crowd or group. Frankly the camera can focus better than I can in most cases. Using the touch screen you can easily move the focus point from one part of the frame to another by using the camera’s “flexible spot” focus zone. Simply touch the screen where you want the camera to focus. You can tailor the focus speed to suit your needs from fast to slow. I personally prefer my autofocus set slightly on the slow side as this makes it look more natural than a very fast, snappy AF. You can also adjust how responsive the AF is. When set to “responsive” the camera will quickly react to new objects or people entering the shot and re-focus. When set to “locked-on” it will hold onto the same object/subject even if other things enter the frame. A great example of this would be shooting something on the other side of a street and the AF not being disturbed by cars passing between you and your subject.
Of course, for the AF to work you need a lens with autofocus. The Face/Eye AF makes filming people incredibly easy. When the camera is set to Face/Eye priority it will prioritize faces over other objects in your shots. You can then tell the camera which face out of a group to prioritize using a movable cursor. Once the camera has identified a face it will focus on the eyes of the person, this is indicated in the viewfinder by a small box drawn over one of the person’s eyes. You can be sure that when shooting people it’s their eyes that are sharp, not a nose or ears. Set the camera to Face/Eye Only and it will ignore anything that isn’t a face. Register a face and it will then only focus on that face, no matter what else might enter the shot. If the camera momentarily loses the registered face the AF won’t hunt or adjust until the registered face is once more recognised. This mode is brilliant for interviews. Because Sony included video capabilities in their E-mount stills cameras from the very beginning, most Sony E-mount lenses have been designed with video in mind and include features such as greatly minimized focus breathing and low noise or silent AF motors that are really important if you wish to shoot video and use AF. For the very best AF experience the FX6 and a Sony lens are the way to go. I use the AF on my FX9 far more often than not and it rarely gets it wrong. The FX6 is just as good and I expect I will use AF more often than not once I get my own FX6.
Dual Card Slots
To store your recordings you are provided with two dual-mode card slots than can accept either SD cards or CFExpress Type A cards. You can record most of the available codecs and frame rates onto SD cards if you use the latest high speed UHS-II V90 SD cards. However, if you do want to take advantage of the camera’s amazing 4K 120fps S&Q mode then you will need to use CFExpress Type A cards. The transfer speeds possible with CFExpress cards are impressive, peaking at around 800MB/s. In practice, with the right card reader, this means offloading files from a CFExpress card will be around 3 times faster than from the fastest SD cards. I was able to offload 64GB of footage from a CFExpress card to an SSD in around 5 minutes.
UHD, DCI and Frame Rates
The FX6 can record not only 16:9 3840 x 2160 UHD but also 17:9 4096 x 2160 DCI 4K. Perhaps a bigger surprise was finding that as well as 23.98fps it can also shoot at 24fps. I can see now how the FX6 really deserves to be part of the Sony Cinema Line. The FX6 has the same codecs as its bigger brother the FX9 including 10 bit 4:2:2 XAVC-I class 300. So no matter whether you are shooting HD, UHD or 4K DCI your recordings can be 10 bit 4:2:2. XAVC-I Class 300 was first introduced with the PMW-F55 Cinealta digital cinema camera around 7 years ago. It is a great codec that is supported in all of the major edit and grading applications and pretty much universally accepted by broadcasters. It offers a great balance of image quality and file size. If you shoot S-log3 using XAVC-I it normally grades very well. As it’s an I frame-only codec it’s easy to work with in post-production and requires less processing power that the XAVC-L codec that the FS5 is restricted to. But if you are short of card space you do also have the option to select XAVC-L.
What do the pictures look like?
So, you’ve recorded some footage, how does it look? Frankly – really good. The FX6 has two base operating modes. In its default setup it has the same S-Cinetone gamma curve and color matrix as the FX9. S-Cinetone borrows heavily from what was learned during the development of the color science used in the Sony VENICE digital cinema camera. S-Cinetone is designed to produce a pleasing, contemporary film style look, tailored for video productions where there won’t be time for grading or extensive post production. It features a curved toe (shadow) response and a smooth shoulder that blends seamlessly into a deep highlight roll off that retains textures all the way to the clip point. The toe and shoulder curves mean that you can fine tune the contrast in your footage through your exposure. Expose a little brighter and the overall impression is of a less contrasty and more video like image. Expose a touch darker and the footage takes on a more contrasty filmic look. Personally, I like to expose S-Cinetone so that skin tones are between 55 and 60% and t
If you wish to use a different gamma curve to S-Cinetone then you can change this in the camera’s paint settings where there are several preset scene files to choose from, each giving slightly different looks. These scene files can be adjusted and different combinations of gamma and colour matrix can be chosen to suit your needs. If you want to shoot log or raw there is a dedicated Cine EI mode.
To help with exposure you will find that the FX6 has the usual zebras. Zebra one is designed for skin tones and has a window over which they will appear, the default being 70% brightness with a +/- 5% window. So, zebras start to appear at 65% and are gone by 75%. On the FX6 I set my zebras to 60% as this works well with S-Cinetone skintones. 60% zebras can also be useful assessing the exposure of a white card or white piece of paper when shooting using S-Log3 in the camera’s dedicated log mode called CineEI. Zebra 2 is designed to show when you are approaching clipping. Zebra 2 by default is set to 100%. It doesn’t have a window over it like zebra 1, instead Zebra 2 comes on and stays on whenever the signal is higher than the set level. As well as Zebras the FX6 also has a signal monitor function that can show either a waveform, vectorscope or histogram. The waveform display has a very neat trick which is to add a yellow line across the histogram that matches your zebra level settings. This is very useful when you want to measure a specific exposure level such as when using a white or grey card to check your exposure. I wish more cameras had this, it makes the waveform much more useful.
Cine EI mode
One thing the FS5 does not have is a dedicated log shooting mode. The FX6 has a mode specifically for shooting using S-log3 or RAW called “Cine EI”. EI is short for “Exposure Index”. In this mode the camera’s settings are optimized for the capture of the greatest possible dynamic range and maximum post-production flexibility. In Cine EI the camera records at either of its two base ISO settings of either 800 ISO or 12,800 ISO. When testing the camera with a Xyla dynamic range test chart I was able to count 15 one-stop steps at both ISOs. At 800 ISO the noise levels are very low and when shooting with the camera at 800 ISO I was really pleased with the S-Log3 images. They are highly gradable and look very nice. Raise the base ISO to 12,800 and the noise does increase a little bit and as a result the useable dynamic range is a touch lower. But it isn’t a big difference, especially considering the 4 stop (16 times) difference between the low and high base ISOs. Shooting at 12,800 ISO produces some very nice, highly gradable images. My preference would be to use 800 ISO wherever possible. You have less noise so can push the image further in post, but for night shoots, having 12,800 ISO as your starting point and only giving up the tiniest bit of dynamic range is quite an eye opener. The Cine EI mode makes shooting S-Log3 easy. It allows you to add a LUT (Look Up Table) to the viewfinder or SDI and HDMI outputs to simulate how your footage may look after it has been graded. The default LUT is the same s709 LUT as used by the Sony VENICE digital cinema camera. In addition to the built-in LUTs you can also load your own 3D Cube LUTs into the camera. One slight quirk that I did discover was that when loading a user LUT into the camera, once the LUT has been placed in the correct folder on your SD or CFExpress card, you can only load the LUT when the card is placed in slot 2, it won’t load from slot 1.
Once you have chosen the LUT you wish to use it can be applied to either the viewfinder or to the SDI/HDMI outputs or to both. I did not find any restrictions as to when I could apply a LUT. They even work when shooting using S&Q at 120fps. If you use the touch screen menus then you can simply tap on the LUT On/Off buttons for the SDI/HDMI out and the Viewfinder to quickly toggle the LUT on and off. The LUT functions are very easy to use and very flexible. If you are using the waveform display to assist with setting your expo sure, if the SDI/HDMI LUT is off then it measures the S-log3, if a LUT is on then it measures the LUT level. To avoid confusion what the waveform is measuring is indicated immediately above it.
Once you have enabled a LUT the Cine EI function allows you to add an exposure offset to the LUT. This offset only changes the brightness of the LUT and has no direct effect on the recording levels. If the camera is set to 800 base ISO and the Exposure Index is set to 800 EI then there is no offset so expose the LUT correctly and the S-Log3 recordings will be exposed at their normal levels (the normal exposure levels for S-Log3 are Middle Grey 41%, White Reference Card at 61%). If you change the Exposure Index to 400 EI then the LUT will become one stop darker. If monitoring via the LUT then you will be inclined to open up the aperture or reduce the variable ND filter by one stop so that the viewfinder image looks correct again. This will then result in the S-Log3 recordings becoming 1 stop brighter. This can be beneficial if you want an image with less noise, brighter recordings tend to be less noisy. But because you are raising the mid point of your exposure you will reduce the highlight range by one stop though at the same time you will be gaining one stop in the shadows. A one stop offset like this may prove useful when shooting at 12,800 base ISO where the camera is a little more noisy. If you were to set the EI to 6400 EI and expose via the LUT, your one-stop brighter recordings will help eliminate the noise difference seen between 800 ISO and 12,800 ISO. Having a fully functional Exposure Index system with versatile and comprehensive LUT options in such a compact camcorder is brilliant. It makes getting your exposure right so easy, especially when shooting quickly or for all those applications where you can’t use a light meter or grey card. Of course, you can still use a light meter if you wish and I can confirm that the FX6’s ISO ratings perfectly match my light meter.
Image above – frame grab from UHD 120fps (shot in Cine EI with S-Log3/SGamut3.cine and graded in post production)
The FX6 can shoot UHD at 120fps and the image quality is excellent. To shoot UHD 120fps you will need to use CFExpress cards; SD cards are not fast enough. Also, when shooting UHD 120fps the sensor is cropped very slightly so the camera can use a 4K native scan instead of the 4.2K scan used when shooting at up to 60fps. This 1.1x crop is barely noticeable and a very small price to pay for top quality 120fps UHD. It’s very easy to get carried away and start shooting everything that moves at 120fps when it looks this good. There are no nasty image artefacts, the dynamic range is not reduced, and the UHD 120fps files look amazing. You can even use the full Cine EI mode to shoot Slog3 at 120fps with a LUT in the viewfinder or on the HDMI or SDI output. I predict a deluge of slow motion videos from new FX6 owners.
The LCD Screen
But what about the viewfinder? It’s all very well having great LUTs etc, but if the viewfinder isn’t up to scratch these can be difficult to use. Well the good news is that the viewfinder, or should I call it “LCD screen,” is really rather good. It appears to use the same panel as its bigger brother the FX9 and it’s clearly higher resolution than the FS5’s LCD screen. The FX6 comes with a clip on sunshade for the LCD screen that folds closed to protect the screen from damage when you’re not using the camera. It then unfolds to create an effective sunshade when you are shooting. But being just a sunshade there could be some situations in very strong sunlight where it may be difficult to see the LCD screen. As an option it is possible to use the viewfinder loupe from the FX9 with the FX6. I believe the FX9 loupe can be purchased as a spare part from most Sony dealers. As the LCD is a touch screen and the touch screen functions are very handy the folding sunshade is a good compromise as it doesn’t restrict the use of the touch screen and does keep all but direct light from the screen.
On the left side of the LCD panel there are buttons for Peaking and Zebras as well as an additional assignable button that by default actives the excellent focus magnification function. The LCD screen can be attached to the camera in many different locations to suit your shooting style. If using a gimbal the viewfinder cable is long enough and flexible enough to mount the LCD somewhere on the gimbal rather than the camera itself.
Inputs and Outputs
The FX6 is a very well connected camcorder. You have all the usual connectors expected for a professional camcorder. On the back of the camera you will find a full size HDMI socket and a 12G SDI output that also doubles up as the camera’s RAW output. I wasn’t able to test the RAW output as at the time I had the camera a suitable recorder wasn’t available. The 12G SDI allows you to have a 4K, UHD or HD output from 24fps to 60fps – and remember you can add LUTs to this. The HDMI output will also output from 24fps to 60fps from HD to 4K. But it gets better, as you can use both at the same time, at the same resolution or you can set the HDMI to output HD while the SDI outputs UHD. With the FS5 there was an odd limitation that meant you would lose the viewfinder display when outputting UHD via the SDI or HDMI while recording internally. The good news is the FX6 does not have this limitation so you can monitor with the LCD and output via HDMI and SDI at the same time.
It’s got timecode too!
One thing that really took me by surprise was to find that the FX6 has a connector for timecode that can be switched between TC in or TC out. At this stage I am beginning to wonder if there is anything the FX6 doesn’t have? Just below the timecode connector there is a multifunction port that is very similar to a micro USB port. You can use this to attach a remote control device that uses this type of connector (the FX9 hand grip uses this connector).
4 Audio Channels
In addition to the microphone built into the camera’s top handle there is a pair of XLR audio connectors on the removable handgrip as well as an MI-Shoe. The FX6 is able to take advantage of both top handle mic and the XLRs or the XLRs and the MI-Shoe at the same time. As it can record four channels of audio it’s not limited to two channels as the FS5 is. There are two control dials on the side of the camera body for channels 1 and 2 and then channels 3 and 4 are adjusted in the menus. The MI-Shoe can be used with Sony UWP-D radio mic receiver or you can add another pair of XLR inputs via an adapter such as the XLR-K3M. One consideration is that if you do remove the top handle, say to use the camera on a gimbal, you do loose the mic that’s incorporated into the handle as well as the XLR inputs and MI-Shoe input.
Power and Batteries
The FX6 takes the same BP-U type batteries as the FS5, FS7, FX9 and many other Sony handheld camcorders. These are pretty common now and readily available. The FX6 needs more power than the FS5, bit quite a bit less than the FX9. The smallest battery, a BP-U35 will run the camera for about 90 minutes. For external power there is a 19.5v power socket that uses the same connector as found on many laptop computers. 19.5v is a strange voltage, most cameras run off a 12 to 14v power supply. A power supply is provided with the camera and I suppose one saving grace is that as this is the same as a laptop power supply replacements or spares are easy to obtain and cheap.
OK, so if the FX6 is really so good why would anyone chose to buy its bigger brother the FX9? To be honest for many people the FX6 really is probably all they will ever need. But it is very small and it is really full frame only. The FX9’s 6K full-frame sensor does give it much more flexibility when it comes to scan modes including 4K super35 and the soon to come 2K super16 center-scan mode. The FX9 also has a whole host of networking functions and live streaming capabilities that will appeal to broadcasters doing live news. The FX9’s locking E-mount is stronger and more stable making it better for use with heavier lenses such as PL mount lenses and its increased real-estate provides more room for all the accessories that are often used during digital cinematography. So, there’s definitely still very much a place for the FX9. Both cameras complement each other and because the images from both are so well matched whether shooting S-Cinetone or S-log3 mixing and matching is easy. S-Log3 footage from the FX6 also cuts very well with footage from VENICE, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see the FX6 used to get into very tight spaces or as a crash cam on big budget productions.
Frame Grab from the FX6
There is a lot to like about the FX6. It’s small, compact and lightweight, yet it packs one hell of a punch. And this is why I think this will be one of those cameras remembered for a long time. It isn’t radical, it doesn’t do any one thing that no other camera can do. But it packs an incredibly complete set of features and functions into an amazingly compact body. As users of the FX9 will tell you, Sony’s new colour science and S-Cinetone makes it easy to shoot beautiful images straight from the camera. The FX6 will be great for those that don’t want to spend hours in a grading suite. But if you do want to shoot with log or raw you have a fully featured CineEI mode with LUTs available on every output and in the viewfinder in all modes.
The sensor produces beautiful images with great color and a huge dynamic range. Noise levels are remarkably low even at 12,800 ISO so those who shoot in low light will find it an excellent performer. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the RAW output can deliver, but you can already get amazing-looking images from it just as it is. There are many small cameras that perform well on the market right now. But the FX6’s feature set including the variable ND filter, CineEI mode with LUTs, four channels of audio, S-Cinetone, 4K 120fps, outstanding autofocus, diminutive size and ease of use will make this camera extremely attractive to a wide range of users. I’m really looking forward to getting one to take to Norway to shoot the Northern Lights once travel restrictions ease.
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Sony FX6 Review
Sony’s FX6 is the third camera in its new Cinema Line . The FX3, FX6, FX9, and the VENICE make up Sony’s professional digital cinema line-up.
Yes, this review is quite late because it did take a long time to get hold of a camera. As they say, better late than never.
I am going to make a lot of comparisons between the FX6 and the Canon C70 in this review because the Canon is the camera that is most likely to be compared to the Sony.
So, let’s have a look at the key features:
- 4K 10.2MP full-frame sensor
- UHD up to 120p
- 4K DCI up to 60p
- Base ISO 800 (Cine EI S-Log3)
- Claimed 15+ stops of DR
- High Sensitivity setting of 12,800 ISO
- AF with face detection and Eye-AF
- 4K 4:2:2 10bit internal recording
- External RAW recording with Atomos Shogun7
- HD up to 180 fps
- Electronic Variable ND
- Four channels of audio recording
- 12G/6G/3G SDI
- User uploadable LUTS
If you want to watch the original camera announcement live stream from Sony, you can above.
Sony is very much pushing the FX6 as being a lightweight, compact mobile production camera that can be used by solo operators. Its small size and low weight certainly do make the camera suitable for anyone who needs to do a lot of handheld shooting without placing the camera on their shoulder.
The whole design concept of the camera was to make something that you could literally take out of the box and start shooting with.
Even though the FX6 falls under the ‘ Cinema Line ‘ this camera is very much a blend of the Cinema and alpha cameras. Essentially it is a blend of an FX9 and an a7S III. We recently saw Sony announce the FX3, but that has a lot more in common with the alpha series than Sony’s FX series. Yes, the FX6 is a lot more expensive than an FX3, but in my opinion, it is far better suited to shooting video than an FX3 or an a7S III. The FX6 has SDI, BNC timecode, variable electronic ND, and the ability to load up user LUTs. This is something you won’t find on the FX3 or a7s III.
Sony did what a lot of people were hoping they would do. Take a similar-sized sensor to the a7S III and put it into a larger body with XLRs, SDI, Variable Electronic ND, and TC In/Out. It is hard to complain about the FX6 because Sony essentially gave people what they wanted.
The FX6 has a lot in common with both the FX3 and a7S III, but given its feature set, it certainly does begin to cross over right into FX9 territory.
The PXW-FX6 uses a full-frame Approx. 12.9 megapixels (total), 10.2 megapixels (effective) back-illuminated CMOS Exmor R 4K sensor. Whether or not this is the same sensor that is in the a7S III and FX3 is fairly likely. When I asked Sony directly if the FX6 was using the same sensor as the a7S III, the response I got was- ‘The sensors in both cameras utilize the same technology.’
As a comparison to the FX6, the FX9 utilizes a 35.7 x 18.8mm full-frame CMOS sensor and the VENICE has a 36.2 x 24.4mm full-frame sensor.
If they had have put the FX9 sensor in the FX6 then they would have had to cripple the camera by reducing frame rates, codec options, etc. Why? Because if they didn’t what would be the difference between the FX6 and the FX9? You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Once you have several camera models below a certain price point in your line-up you put yourself between a rock and a hard place. Complain all you like, but you tell me what else Sony could have done from a business perspective that made more sense. Anybody complaining that they were expecting an FX9 in a smaller body with the same features for less money is living in a dream world.
Above you can see the difference between a standard sensor (on the left), and a back-illuminated sensor on the right. Back-illuminated technology places the metal wiring of the photodiode beneath the diode instead of above it. Back-illuminated sensors offer increased sensitivity and less noise.
The FX6 utilizes the same BIONX XR image processor that is found in the a7S III and FX3. The processor is claimed to be able to read the sensor 3x faster than the a7S II and 2x faster than most traditional mirrorless hybrid sensors. This new processor is claimed to be 4x faster than the one that was used in the FS5.
Because of the low megapixel count, the sensor readout is extremely fast, and this means that the rolling shutter will be almost non-existent. In theory, the rolling shutter performance should be better than that of the FX9 and on par with the a7S III and FX3.
Now, the biggest downside when utilizing a smaller megapixel 4K sensor is that you can only shoot 4K in full-frame. If you switch to the 1.5x S35 shooting mode you are limited to recording in HD. You need to be seriously aware of this because if you are shooting documentaries or events you are going to have serious limitations with focal reach. This alone makes the FX9 a more appealing proposition for certain shooting scenarios.
By utilizing this smaller megapixel sensor in the FX6, Sony can give you UHD at up to 120p with full pixel readout and no pixel binning.
The sensor in the FX6 allows you to comfortably shoot in very low light environments without generating a lot of image noise. Given the target audience for the FX6, this is something a lot of users are going to appreciate.
Sony is claiming 15+ stops of dynamic range from the FX6, but I would take that figure with a grain of salt. Most manufacturers exaggerate their camera’s real dynamic range. Most cameras have good dynamic range these days and if you can’t make a camera with 12 or more stops of dynamic range work then you are doing something wrong.
Sony is also keen to stress that all of the cameras in the Cinema Line have similar color science and that they have all been designed to match. Given the FX6 has Cinetone, in theory, it should match up pretty well with the FX3/ a7S III, and the FX9.
Now, if we compare the sensor used in the FX6 to the C70 we do some differences:
The FX6 has a full-frame sensor, while the Canon C70 utilizes an S35 sized sensor. The sensor in the C70 is the exact same sensor that can be found in the C300 Mark III. It also utilizes the exact same DGO (dual gain output) technology. You shouldn’t confuse Dual Gain Output with Dual Base ISO. Although it’s the same basic idea of having different readout calibrations, Dual Gain Output is much harder to do than Dual Gain ISO because that switches between the two. What ARRI and Canon are doing requires there to be a dual readout on every frame and then processing all of that on every frame.
No Dual Native ISO
Unlike the FX9 which has a base ISO of 800 as well as a High Base ISO of 4000, the FX6 has a native ISO of 800 (S-Log3) and what Sony is referring to as a High Sensitivity mode of 12,800 ISO.
Sony was quick to point out that even though this High Sensitivity mode works in a similar way to a dual native ISO, they are not calling it a dual native ISO. I asked Sony if the dynamic range is reduced when you are using this High Sensitivity mode and I was told that they feel that it is fairly comparable to the normal base ISO of 800. We will see later on in the review.
But it’s only 4K
In some ways releasing a camera in 2020 that can only record 4K when a lot of your competition is doing 6K and 8K might at first seem like a strange decision. However, how many people actually need greater than 4K at this point in time? The majority of the content you consume is either HD or UHD, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. Yes, you could very well argue that capturing at a higher resolution allows for more flexibility with reframing in post or downsampling to get a better 4K image, and those are good arguments, however, if you are capturing in 4K and still delivering in HD (which a lot of people are) you don’t need resolutions above 4K.
The Canon C70 is also only capable of shooting in resolutions of up to 4K DCI.
However, unlike the FX9 that is downsampling from a 6K sensor to record 4K, with the FX6 you are getting 4K from a 4K sized sensor. I personally feel that the image you get out of the FX9 is better than that of the FX6. In saying that, both are capable cameras.
The worst argument I always hear in regards to resolution is that I am future-proofing my material. Is historical content not being shown anymore because it was captured in black and white, or 4:3 or SD? Of course not. Future-proofing my footage is a ridiculous argument especially considering the majority of peoples’ work isn’t something that needs to be preserved and shown in 20 years’ time. In my opinion, there is no such thing as future proof. Again there is nothing wrong with wanting to capture something in the highest quality possible, but just don’t use the future proof argument.
Eye-popping specifications and marketing hype sell cameras, and the FX6 certainly has a lot of that going for it on paper, despite the fact that it is only a 4K camera.
The FX6, just like the FX9, features a next-generation sensor chipset that Sony claims provides much improved AF with face detection and Eye-AF. This is the same technology that has made its way over from Sony’s Alpha series mirrorless cameras.
The enhanced Fast Hybrid AF system has customizable AF transition speeds and sensitivity settings, and also combines phase-detection AF with contrast AF to help with focus accuracy. The dedicated 627-point phase-detection AF sensor covers approximately 95% in width and 94% in height of the imaging area. Sony claims that this provides consistently accurate, responsive AF tracking, even with fast-moving subjects while maintaining a shallow depth of field.
There are seven-level AF transition speeds from fast-switching between subjects as quickly as possible to slower speeds for longer transitions. Above you can see a quick example showing you the fastest and slowest speeds.
Five-level AF subject shift sensitivity ranges from locked-on, ignoring other moving subjects in the frame, to responsive that switches focus from one subject to another.
The AF works in all resolutions and all frame rates, including UHD at 120p and HD up to 240p. The AF system is also claimed to work really well in low light situations. Sony has really improved its AF technology in recent years and it is sure to be a big selling point for people who are looking at the FX6.
As a comparison, the Canon C70 features EOS iTR AF X. iTR stands for Intelligent Tracking and Recognition. This is the exact same system that is found in the Canon 1DX Mark III.
By utilizing deep-learning algorithms, the system can track a subject’s head with good accuracy regardless of whether they are tuned towards the camera on not.
The C70 also has a distance indicator that works in conjunction with RF lenses. Information from the lens will be displayed on the LCD screen as both a numerical display (distance to the subject) and as a bar display.
There are various AF modes including fast One-Shot AF and Continuous AF available within 80% of the frame both horizontally and vertically with touchscreen selection and control. Tracking AF can also automatically track a selected object even as it moves.
Two face detection modes ( Face Priority and Face Only ) can automatically detect and track a selected face within the frame or prioritize it over a pre-selected focus point. The C70 doesn’t have Eye Detection AF capabilities.
So how does the AF actually perform on the FX6? Well, let’s find out.
The Face & Eye Detection on the FX6 works really well and most times it is going to do a very good job. It isn’t full proof, but you could reliably use it for locked-off interviews or tracking people if there isn’t too much else going on in the frame. The one thing you will notice is that it won’t detect the back of somebody’s head if they are walking away from camera or you are following them from behind. I shot this test backlit to challenge the AF system. It is pointless to do an AF test like this indoors under good lighting conditions because it won’t challenge the system.
During face/eye detection AF operation, you can only register one face. When a face is registered, the face/eye detection frame changes to a double frame (registered face frame).
As a comparison above you can see how the FX6 and Canon C70 compare. The C70 doesn’t have any eye detection like the Sony FX6. However, the C70 can track the back of subjects’ heads which is something the FX6 can’t do. From my testing, I found that both cameras performed well and there wasn’t a huge difference between the two. However, I did find that the Sony system tended to pick up faces quicker than the Canon.
The ability for the AF to still work at very low light levels is very impressive. Above you can see a test where I am stopping down the lens to reduce light levels to see where the AF becomes unusable. As you can see from the test, I was still able to use the AF even when the IRE level got down to around 10.
If you set the AF Subject Shift Sensitivity to 1 (Locked On) you can have objects pass through the frame and the AF won’t deviate. While it isn’t perfect it does work really well. If something stays in front of your subject for around 4 seconds the AF system will eventually lock onto that new object.
Above you can see how the touchscreen AF works on the FX6.
One key difference between the Sony FX6 and Canon C70 when it comes to AF is that the Canon has an object tracking mode where you can lock focus on any object and then move the camera around and it will stay locked on that object. With the FX6 it will only track a person.
Sony AF has certainly come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. Canon used to have a big advantage when it came to AF, but not anymore.
AF is great for some applications, but by its very nature, it does not work well for everything. Knowing when to use it and when not to use it is key.
While I don’t mind AF, my biggest problem with it is if you try and use it to do focus pulls with a lot of E-mount lenses you end up getting pretty horrible breathing. For example, the Sony 35mm F1.4 has horrendous focus breathing. AF also can’t predict artistic intent and that is why I personally only choose to use it in controlled situations where I know exactly how it will behave.
Stabilization (well sort of)
The a7S III and the FX3 both feature an enhanced 5.5-stop effective 5-axis SteadyShot image stabilization system, which compensates for five different types of camera shake. The FX6 doesn’t feature any type of IBIS, instead, you need to use post stabilization to improve shake.
According to Sony, by recording image stabilization information and using it on the Catalyst Browse/Prepare option, content creators can capture incredibly stable visuals even in handheld mode. Sony is also working to encourage other third-party non-linear editing tools to adopt this functionality.
The advanced image stabilization information means handheld footage can be transformed with Sony Catalyst Browse/Catalyst Prepare software in post-production to look smoother. Unlike in-camera or lens stabilization, metadata generated by the FX6’s built-in gyro allows you to creatively choose the balance between the level of shake compensation, and the resolution. This feature is also compatible with any E-mount lens and allows for far faster processing than conventional NLE stabilization workflows.
The Canon C70 uses a combination IS that allows for coordinated control between the RF mount, an RF lens, and the electronic IS. If you use EF lenses through one of the adapters you still get Optical IS and Electronic IS in camera, but they are done separately.
With normal IS activated there is a 1.1x crop of the image, with Enhanced IS selected you will get slightly more crop.
With the FX6 I didn’t really find that the lack of in-body image stabilization was a massive problem. As you can just tuck the FX6 up against your body when shooting handheld you can create a reasonably steady shooting platform. Would it have been nice if the FX6 had in-body image stabilization? Of course, but it doesn’t. So let’s move on.
Clear Scan Zoom & Zoom
The camera does have a Clear Image Zoom setting. What this allows you to do is to create a small zoom in or zoom out. You can control it using the zoom rocker that is on the top handle, or the zoom rocker that is on the side handle. As the FX6 has no ability to shoot UHD or 4K DCI in its S35 mode, the Clear Image Zoom can come in handy.
Above you can see a quick demonstration showing what it looks like. I couldn’t see any perceived loss of sharpness from using the Clear Image Zoom as opposed to cropping in on the 4K DCI image. If anything, the Clear Image Zoom actually looked a little bit sharper than cropping in on the 4K DCI image.
You can also use the zoom rocker to control power zoom lenses.
What you need to be aware of is that you lose certain functionality when the Clear Zoom is turned on. Above you can see that the face/eye detection deactivates as soon as I use the Clear Image Zoom.
Below you can see a list of what is not available when you are using it:
- When S&Q Motion >Frame Rate in the Shooting menu of the full menu is higher than 60fps
- When Rec Format >Codec in the Project menu of the full menu is set to RAW or an option that includes RAW
- Operating the SERVO/MANUAL select switch on a lens resets the magnification of Clear Image Zoom to 1×.
- During Clear Image Zoom operation, the focus area is set to Wide and face/eye detection AF is disabled.
The FX6 isn’t a massive departure away from the form factor of the FS5 and FS5 II. It looks very similar in a lot of ways, however, you will notice that there is no longer an EVF on the back. According to Sony, not many users were actively utilizing the rear EVF so they decided to get rid of it.
I like using an EVF, but often those rear-mounted EVFs are just impractical for a lot of shooting situations.
The only monitoring for the camera comes in the form of the 3.5″ 1280×720 LCD touchscreen. While this is ok, it isn’t great. It isn’t overly bright, nor overly large. I personally wouldn’t just want to rely on this for composing, focussing or judging critical exposure.
The LCD screen that comes with the FX6 is the exact same LCD that comes with the FX9. This LCD screen can be moved around and positioned in a variety of places on the camera. Any third-party loupe that works with the FX9, or the actual loupe for the FX9, will work with the FX6.
The top handle, microphone holder, and smart grip are both very similar to those used on the FS5. All of the components have been designed to be modular so you can strip the camera right down for certain applications.
This modular design philosophy is what almost every camera company is trending towards at the moment.
So how does the form factor compare to the Canon C70?
Well, above you can see the difference when we just look solely at the camera bodies themselves. The C70 is wider and a little taller, but the FX6 is deeper.
Once you build up the FX6 it starts to look considerably larger than the C70.
What you need to factor in is that Canon is not as modular as the FX6. The C70 consists of the camera body and a removable top handle. On the other hand, the FX6 consists of the camera, removable top handle, removable LCD screen, and removable side grip
If we look at the removable top handles we will see quite a few differences between the two cameras. The FX6 handle is considerably larger than the one that comes with the C70. This is where you will find the built-in XLR inputs, various controls as well as the rosette attachment for putting on the removable LCD.
You will also notice that the FX6 handle has quite a few tapped 1/4-20″ threads while the C70’s handle has none. I am not sure what Canon was thinking by not including any mounting points.
The FX6’s top handle attaches via two screws to the top of the camera. The C70’s just uses one screw point.
As you can see the XLR inputs are located on the removable handle of the FX6. The biggest problem with this is that Sony failed to put a 3.5mm microphone jack on the camera body, so you need to use the top handle to record any type of good audio. This is a massive design blunder in my opinion. You have a small camera that is no longer small if you need to record good audio because you have to use the large top handle. Yes, there is a tiny internal microphone on the body that you can activate if you do remove the top handle, but it is no better than a scratch mic and you can’t really use it for anything other than that purpose.
The FX6 has a detachable side control handle that you can position in various spots.
The Canon C70 has a built-in side control handle that you cannot move.
As far as mounting options go the FX6 has a clear advantage. It features lots of mounting points on the body and better mounting options beneath the camera. It is really strange that Canon only put a single mounting point facing forwards on the bottom of the camera. This means you can’t secure it with two screws onto a tripod plate.
The C70 has no mounting points on the body at all, apart from a single cold shoe.
Size & Weight
The FX6 weighs in at 890g / 31.39oz (body only) which makes it just 60g heavier than the FS5 M2. It is 153mm (6.02″) long and 116mm (4.56″) high. In fact, the FX6 (body only) weighs just 276g more than the a7S III (body only). If
If we compare it to the FX3, which weighs Approx. 640 g / 1 lb 6.6 oz (body only) there isn’t actually a massive difference.
If we compare it to the Canon C70, the C70 weighs in at 1,170g / 41.27 oz. The C70 has physical dimensions of 6.3 x 5.1 x 4.6″ / 160 x 130 x 116 mm. What you need to factor in is that C70 already has everything attached to it apart from the top handle. Once you had the top handle, LCD screen, and side grip, the weight advantage of the FX6 had disappears.
Below you can see the weight comparison between the FX6, Canon C70, RED Komodo, Kinefinity MAVO 6K S35, Z CAM E2-S6 Super 35, Panasonic EVA1, and the BMPCC 6K Pro.
As you can see, the FX6 is lighter than all of these other available options, but not by a lot. This is simply to show you that most of these cameras have a similar weight. However, it is hard to judge the actual weight of these cameras as nobody is going to use one without a screen, battery, lens, etc.
Cooling & Build Quality
The FX6 has a massive cooling system that takes up a lot of space within the camera. The air intake and exhaust are both on the non-operators side of the camera. Sony states that the camera will not overheat in any recording situation.
The internal structure of the FX6 is made out of magnesium alloy and the camera also features dust and moisture sealing.
While the internal structure is undoubtedly very solid, the outsider casing feels pretty cheap. There may well be nothing wrong with it strength wise, but it just doesn’t feel that way. Again, this is just my personal opinion.
The FX6 is actually made in China and not in Japan. Overall the build quality is not bad, but some of the buttons could be more tactile.
The monitor mount is probably the weakest link on the camera. It feels very plasticky and not very well made.
As soon as you attach the optional loupe to the LCD screen it just wants to move by itself because the LCD mount is so weak. It doesn’t matter how tightly you lock it off, it still wants to move.
The Canon C70 build quality is fairly comparable to the FX6, however, the buttons feel more tactile and the overall attention to detail seems a bit better.
If you look at items such as the audio panel door and media card door they are a little flimsy, especially compared to the C70. That’s not to say they might break, it is simply just an observation.
Small details such as the plastic coverings on the inputs and outputs are better on the canon C70 than they are on the FX6. On the FX6 you really need to remove them entirely because they just end up getting in the way.
These may be really small details, but when you actually considering buying a camera, it is important to look at every little detail. Usability is far more important than camera specifications.
Just like the FX6, the Canon C70 also utilizes a fan and cooling system. The C70 has its ventilation and electrical systems separated to protect the sensor from water, sand, dust, etc.
No Locking E-Mount
In no real surprise, that the FX6 doesn’t have the same locking E-mount from the FS7 M2 and FX9. It features a regular E-mount. This mount is fully compatible with E-Mount lenses and supports all electronic connections.
Not having a locking E-mount means you really do need to use lens support for certain larger lenses. With a locking mount, it reduces lens play and allows you to use most 35mm lenses including PL, EF, Leica, and Nikon via optional adapters. That stronger E-mount is also handy for using heavier-long cine-zooms without having to add additional lens support.
The Canon C70 utilizes the RF mount. Just like E mount, this allows you to use just about any lens by simply adding an adapter.
With the C70 you can also utilize the optional EF-EOS R 0.71x speedbooster. This allows you to get the most out of Canon EF full-frame lenses. The EF-RF speedbooster creates a 0.71x wide optical conversion. It fully supports CMOS AF and optical correction with Canon EF lenses. It will also pass through and display f-number, focal length, and lens metadata.
Like any normal speedbooster you will also gain a stop of light. So if you, for example, put an F4 lens on the adapter your lens will receive the same amount of light as if it was an F2.8 lens.
The adapter mounts like any other adapter, however, if you are running heavier lenses it can also be attached via four screws to the body of the C70. If you are going to be swapping between RF and EF lenses frequently you probably wouldn’t want to screw in the EF-EOS R 0.71x mount.
There is currently a catch with the adapter. As of this moment, only the following Canon EF lenses can be used:
- Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM
- Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM
- Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS II USM
In saying that, this is only Canon’s official list. You can use basically any full-frame-capable EF lens with this adapter.
While the FX6 control and button placement look very similar to its big brother the FX9, if you look closely there are quite a few differences.
Unlike the FX9 that has controls for four channels of audio, the FX6 only has physical controls for two channels of audio. You will also notice that there aren’t any physical switches on the FX6 for switching between Internal, External, and MI Shoe audio sources. You have to do this in the menu on the FX6.
The C70 has a lot of buttons and while most of them are conveniently located, the audio controls are located behind the LCD screen. To access them you need to have the LCD screen flipped out.
Menus should be intuitive, well thought out, and easy to use. Most of the Japanese manufacturers haven’t cottoned onto this concept. They continue to make cameras with complex menus and naming parameters that don’t always make sense.
Everyone loves a Sony menu, said no one ever. Sony doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation for creating easy-to-use and simplified menus. So how does the FX6 fare?
Well, put it this way. They could be a lot better. Intuitive is not a word I would associate with Sony menus. Sony loves to have way too many pages of menus and a lot of the time they place settings for certain features in strange places that make it hard for the user to make changes.
I have a Sony F3 that is now 10 years old and to be honest, the menus don’t look that much different from the FX6.
On the FX6 there are 9 pages of menu items. Above you can see a run-through of the menus if you have any interest!
It took me ages to work out how to set up the camera to output a RAW signal. Eventually, I had to consult the manual to work out how to do it.
As a comparison, the Canon C70 has 10 pages on menus. I personally found the Canon C70 menus were even worse to navigate than the Sony. The joystick on the C70 that you can use to toggle through the menu pages often gets stuck or is unresponsive.
On the C70, just like the FX6, there are menu items that are really hard to locate because they are in strange sections. Just trying to work out how to turn on the Face Detection on the C70 required m to do a Google search.
Menus should be intuitive and easy to use. In my personal opinion, neither camera achieves this.
Now, both cameras do have the ability to use more simplified menus, which leads us to the next section.
Just like on the FX9, the FX6 has the same touchscreen operation available from its LCD screen. This allows you to access menu features and make changes to certain camera parameters.
It also allows you to use touch AF directly on the screen. Now, this is a little confusing to figure out at first when using the FX6. You can’t just simply touch screen to focus. You need to set an assignable button to Focus Setting and then the focus box goes yellow. When it is yellow you can move the focus point around via the touchscreen.
This really has been made a little more complicated than it needs to be. Look, I get it, Sony didn’t want people to accidentally touch the screen and change the focus, but as there isn’t any other type of touchscreen functionality except for when entering the Quick Menus this doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. They should have just put a touchscreen function directly on the screen to be able to turn it on or off.
One of my biggest pet hates with Sony cameras is they seem to have a way of making some things more complicated than they need to be. While all of this may be fine if you are familiar with their cameras, if you are buying a camera for the first time, or renting a camera, these little quirks can be very frustrating when you are learning how to use it and set it up.
Above you can see a run through of the Quick MENUS that you can access on the touchscreen.
Items that can be changed on the Main Status window are:
- Base ISO/Sensitivity
- Video Format
- RAW Output Format
- Imager Scan
- Frequency Scan
Unfortunately, you cant change the white balance, ISO/Gain, ND, shutter, or Iris using the touch screen while you are on the Main Status menu. The only items you can change have a thicker white box around them.
On the Camera Status window, you can change:
- ISO/Gain <L>
- ISO/Gain <H>
- Base ISO/ Sensitivity
On the Project Status screen you can adjust:
- Shooting Mode
- Simultaneous Record
- Proxy Record
On the Audio Status screen, you can adjust:
- Input 1 Source
- Input 2 Source
- Audio Input Level
- HDMI Output CH
On the Monitoring Status screen you can adjust:
- SDI/HDMI Output Signal
- Info Display On/OFF on all outputs
- Color Gamut on all outputs
- Stream Color Gamut
- VF Color Gamut
- Gamma Display Assist
Above you can also see what information is available using the quick menus.
The only trouble with the touch menu is that you can’t access it from the main screen. You still need to leave your main screen to make any changes using these menus.
While it is nice to see this attempt at simplifying the way you access key menu features, it still could be a lot better.
There is also another way of making changes where you can scroll through certain parameters that are shown on the LCD display. You can access this feature by either doing a long push of the multi-function button or by placing the feature on an assignable button. This allows you to change items such as ISO, WB, focus modes, etc. This is a far better way of making changes than trying to use the Quick Menus.
With the Canon C70, you have the ability to access and change key parameters of the camera’s operation right on the LCD screen without having to go into any menus. This makes it very quick to make changes. I much prefer Canon’s touch screen implementation for this very reason.
What can it record?
The FX6 can internally record in resolutions of up to 4K DCI. Given the small megapixel count, this camera will only ever be capable of recording in resolutions of 4K. This is something you need to keep in mind long term, even though I personally think 4K will be fine for many years to come.
The FX6 can capture 4K DCI at up to 59.94P in 4:2:2 10-bit XAVC Intra (Class 300). In UHD it can capture up to 120P also in 4:2:2 10-bit XAVC Intra (Class 300). Sony doesn’t specifically state what the bitrate is when recording UHD at 100 or 120P. One thing you need to be aware of is that the camera can’t shoot in 4K DCI in frame rates above 59.94p.
There are also XAVC Long GOP recording options as well if you want to minimize card space.
XAVC Intra 422 10-bit (Class 300)
*S&Q from 1-60fps is available in these modes, however, it isn’t available if you are outputting RAW over SDI.
**S&Q 1-60fps and 100/120fps are available in these modes, however, 100/120fps is not available when outputting RAW over SDI.
It is also important to note that there is a slight 10% crop of the image when you record UHD 100/120fps.
XAVC Intra 422 10-bit (Class 100)
*S&Q 1-60fps and 100/120/200/240fps are available in these modes.
Please be aware that 100/120/200/240fps are only available in the full-frame shooting mode. They don’t work in the S35 mode.
XAVC Long GOP 420 8-bit
*S&Q 1-60fps and 100/120fps available in these modes.
XAVC Long GOP 422 10-bit
Above you can see what you can do if you are shooting in S&Q. The auto focus function, auto iris function, and auto shutter function are disabled in Slow & Quick Motion mode. However, the auto focus function can be used the frame rate is set to the following:
System frequency Frame rate 59.94/29.97/23.98 30, 60, 120, 240 50/25 25, 50, 100, 200
On paper, the FX6 offers you higher frame rates in UHD than the more expensive FX9. The only way to get UHD 120P out of the FX9 is via the expensive and cumbersome XDCA-FX9 extension kit and record it externally to an Atomos product.
Both Proxy Video and Audio can be recorded:
- PROXY AUDIO XAVC Proxy: AAC-LC, 128 kbps, 2 channels
- PROXY VIDEO XAVC Proxy: AVC/H.264 High Profile 4:2:0 Long GOP, VBR 1920×1080, 9Mbps
An HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) HDR picture profile, complete with the wide-gamut BT.2020 color space, can be used for direct HDR (HLG) playback on compatible TVs.
As a comparison, the Canon C70 is capable of recording in resolutions up to 4K DCI (4096 x 2160) and in frame rates of up to 120p. In 2K or HD you can record up to 180p. Unlike the FX&, the C70 can record 120p in 4K DCI.
The C70 can record 4K DCI or UHD in 4:2:2 10-bit up to 30p in XF-AVC H.264 Intra, and 4K DCI or UHD in 4:2:2 10-bit in XF-AVC H.264 Long GOP.
It is also capable of recording 4K DCI or UHD at up to 120p in 4:2:2 10-bit XF-AVC HFR (Special Rec) H.264 Long GOP.
In 2K or HD you can record up to 180p in 4:2:2 10-bit XF-AVC HFR (Special Rec) H.264 Long GOP. Please note the camera can shoot in S35 mode in 4K DCI, UHD, 2K and HD.
As I mentioned earlier, there is also a Super 16mm cropped mode that you can shoot in. This results in a crop of 1.92x when shooting in 2K, or 3.07x when shooting in HD.
What is interesting to see is that Canon has enabled simultaneous audio recording when shooting high frame rates. The audio gets recorded in a separate file from the video. The file format it records in is BWF (.WAV extension). This is a great feature and something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
As far as codec choices are concerned you can choose from XF-AVC Long GOP, XF-AVC Intra, MP4 H.265 Long GOP, or MP4 H.264 Long GOP.
So what is the difference between Intra and Long GOP codecs? I’m glad you asked! An Intra based codec compresses the images frame by frame. This means each frame in decoded and encoded separately. Long GOP is an inter-frame based codec, as its name suggests, it detects the differences in frames by referring to the previous and subsequent frames. It isn’t saving the complete information from every frame like an Intra codec, instead, it is literally just saving the differences it sees between the changing frames. In plain English, it is basically making predictions based on changing frames and not decoding and then encoding every frame. Long GOP codecs are used because they don’t take up much card space and they allow you to record for long periods of time.
External RAW recording
With patent issues prohibiting internal compressed RAW recording, the FX6 will only be capable of recording RAW externally. But unlike with the FX9, you don’t need to use the large, expensive XDCA-FX9 extension kit to do this. With the FX6, all you need to do is connect an SDI cable to an Atomos Shogun 7, or an Atomos Ninja V with the AtomX SDI module and the SDI RAW license and then you can record 12-bit Apple ProRes RAW.
I can still not comprehend why Sony requires FX9 users to use the XDCA-FX9 extension ($2,495 USD) kit to output 16bit RAW so that can be captured to a compatible external recorder.
With the FX6 you can output the exact same 16-bit linear RAW signal from the camera and then record it in the exact same 12-bit ProRes RAW file without needing to pony up $2,500 USD to do it.
It is great that you can now just use the much smaller Ninja V and AtomX SDI module to record RAW from the FX6. This is a much better size for the camera than trying to use a Shogun 7.
As a comparison, the Canon C70 has no ability to record RAW either internally or externally.
What media does it use?
Unlike the FX9 which uses two XQD media slots that support simultaneous or relay recording, the FX6 utilizes new CFexpress type A cards. This doesn’t mean you have to use the new cards, the camera is still backward compatible with SD UHS-II cards as well, however, you do need the faster CFexpress type A cards if you want to record frame rates over 100P.
The FX6 is just the third commercially available camera that I know of that can use CFexpress type A cards. The other two cameras are the a7S III and FX3.
CFexpress was announced back in early 2019, but so far we have only seen CFexpress Type B cards being utilized. There are actually three different standards of CFexpress cards. The Type A card is the slowest of the three standards. But in saying that, it is still capable of theoretical speeds of up to 1000MB/s.
The biggest problem with CFexpress Type A cards is that they are expensive and currently nobody makes one in a capacity that is greater than 160GB.
A single Sony 160GB CFexpress Type A card costs $398.00 USD .
The Sony MRW-G2 CFexpress Type A/SD Memory Card Reader is an additional $118 USD .
Above you can see what cards required to shoot at various resolutions and frame rates.
As a comparison, the Canon C70 uses SD UHS II cards. You do need to use the more expensive V90 cards to record HFR material such as 4K 120p. V90 cards are still a lot more affordable than CFexpress Type A cards. A 128GB V90 card retails for around $160 USD, that’s around $240 USD cheaper than a 128GB CFexpress Type A card. V90 cards are also available in sizes of up to 256GB.
What is interesting to see is that Canon allows the user to record different resolutions at the same time. For example, you could record 4K DCI to one card and 2K to the other at the same time. You can also record progressive and interlaced at the same time. So you could record UHD 50P to one card and HD 50i to the other. If you wanted to record different codecs at the same time you can also do that. For instance, you could record XF-AVC ALL-I to one card and XF-AVC Long GOP to the other.
Variable Electronic ND
Just like the FS5, FS5 Mark II, FS7 M2, and FX9, the FX6 utilizes an electronic variable ND system that provides a clear filter and 3 user-definable presets. The variable ND can be adjusted to provide between 2 and 7 stops of ND.
There is also a ND auto button just like on the FX9. ND auto lets you keep your ISO, shutter speed and f-stop locked and then the electronic ND will automatically make adjustments to keep your exposure correct. With this system, you can also do things like adjusting the depth of field in real-time as the variable ND will compensate automatically when you make changes to the f-stop.
I found one thing that found with the electronic variable ND is that if you have it turned on and you use the ND Variable scroll wheel on the camera body to adjust the ND, if you scroll the wheel too much it actually turns the Variable ND off and you will see the clear filter roll back in. You do get a sort of warning that pops up on the screen that says ND: Variable 1/4. If you are still turning the ND wheel it will quickly go to no ND. This is something you just need to be aware of, especially if you are recording and making adjustments to the ND at the same time.
The Electronic Variable ND system on the Sony cameras is really impressive. It is simple and easy to use and one of the FX6’s stand-out features.
As a comparison, the Canon C70 features a traditional ND system that offers up to 10 stops in its expanded mode.
You can activate the ND through the touchscreen or via the ND buttons on the side of the camera.
The power consumption of the FX6 is approx. 18.0 W (while recording XAVC-I QFHD 59.94p, SEL24105G Lens, Viewfinder ON (not using external device).
The included battery takes around 120 minutes to recharge.
Just like on the FX9 you can load up user LUTS as well as scene files. A CUBE file (*.cube) for a 17-point or 33-point 3D LUT created using RAW Viewer or DaVinci Resolve can be used.
On the Canon C70, you cannot load up any LUTs. There is a “ Look Fil e” for creating custom picture profiles. This allows you to import a .Cube format 3D LUT into the camera and apply the captured 3D LUT for recording. This makes it possible to record with the intended look even in workflows that do not do color grading.
Just like the FX9, the FX6 isn’t capable of recording in any anamorphic modes. That is reserved for the VENICE.
With the Canon C70, you do have the ability to view de-squeezed anamorphic images, but there are no anamorphic modes on the camera. You can also output a de-squeezed image over HDMI.
Again, would it have been nice to have had some sort of anamorphic shooting mode (albeit at a lower resolution) on the FX6? Sure, but it doesn’t. So, let’s move on.
It is nice that Sony gave the FX6 timecode In/Out capability through a dedicated BNC connector. This is something that we are now slowly starting to see appear on lower-priced digital cinema cameras. This is a big deal if you are using cameras in multi-cam situations and you need to everything synched up. It is also crucial when working with a sound recordist if you are recording sound separately.
Along with timecode you also get a 12G/6G/3G SDI output and a full-sized HDMI output. The nice thing with the FX6 is you can simultaneously use both outputs at the same time.
All of these features, at least in my opinion, make the FX6 a viable solution for use of proper productions where these are basic requirements.
As a comparison the Canon C70 only has a full-sized HDMI port, however, it does have a BNC timecode In.
The only trouble is that the Timecode In port is located in a rather unusual place on the bottom of the front handgrip just below the media card slots.
Audio functionality is very important, especially with cameras that are being aimed at solo operators. Even though the FX6 only has two physical audio control dials on the body, it is still capable of recording up to four channels of audio. The XLR inputs are located on the handle, so if you remove the handle you will lose those inputs.
In my opinion, not including a 3.5mm stereo input on the body was a big oversight. If you are going to harp on about modularity then you should be able to use the camera without the top handle and still be able to input a mic source. As I mentioned earlier in the review there is an internal microphone on the camera body, but it isn’t usable for anything more than a scratch mic.
Sure you could argue that because it has a timecode input that you could just record sound externally and then sync it up later, but small mid-tier cameras like the FX6 are going to be used by a lot of people who are doing their own sound.
This is a major problem if you want to run the camera on a gimbal and need to remove the top handle. As I just mentioned, considering this is a camera aimed at solo operators, not having any XLR audio inputs on the body itself seems to be a major design flaw. In saying that, I just don’t see where Sony could have put two full-sized XLR inputs given the camera’s design.
Along with the two XLR inputs on the camera handle, the camera also has a MI shoe that allows you to attach the Sony XLR-K3M Dual-Channel Digital XLR Audio Adapter . This way you can also add two additional XLR inputs to the camera as the audio signals are passed through the MI shoe. The adapter also gives you the additional controls for those two channels of audio.
Here are the ways of getting four channels of audio:
- XLR Input 2-channels + MI shoe compatible wireless receiver (2 channels)
- XLR Input 2-channels + MI shoe compatible XLR input adapter (2 channels)
- XLR Input 2-channels + Internal microphone (2 channels)
The FX6 also features a stereo onboard microphone in the body of the camera itself. If you go into the Quick Audio menu you can control and adjust all four channels of audio.
You need to be aware that the FX6 does not come with an external microphone.
As a comparison, the Canon C70 has two Mini XLR terminals that can provide +48-volt phantom power for attaching professional microphones. Canon doesn’t include any Mini XLR cables with the camera. There is also a 3.5mm microphone input allowing the connection of a variety of different microphones.
Canon has also included two built-in scratch mics on the camera.
You can record two tracks from the internal in-built microphones and two tracks via the Mini XLR inputs.
You can also utilize the 3.5mm microphone input and the Mini XLRs at the same time.
On the back of the camera, you will find audio control dials. These allow you to independently change the levels for channels 1 and 2 as well as switch between Mic/Mic +48/Line. You can either choose to set either channel to auto or manual.
Usability. In my opinion, this is something that not enough shooters pay attention to. Usability is the number 1 item I look for when choosing a camera. All digital cinema cameras being released today have good recording options, good sensors, a similar amount of dynamic range, and in a lot of cases, similar feature sets.
Arguing over dynamic range figures from cameras that are so close is a pointless exercise in futility. Almost every camera out there can now record 4:2:2 10-bit in a decent onboard codec. Gone are the days where there were huge differences between the sensors and recording capabilities in cameras.
Usability is where cameras still differ greatly. More so now, than ever before, usability can be the defining factor with a camera purchase decision.
Now, usability means different things to different people. The usability of camera XYZ could work really well for me, but not well for you. There is no way of making a blanket statement when it comes to usability. Only you will know what camera works best for you when it comes to usability.
I am going to compare the usability of the FX6 to the usability of the Canon C70. Now, I can only do this from a personal standpoint. I can’t tell you which one of these cameras has better usability for your particular needs. Please bear this in mind when you are reading this.
The usability of both cameras will also be different if you are comparing them based on being a primary ‘ A ‘ camera or a ‘ B ‘ camera.
Now, both cameras have their usability pros and cons. I am not going to sugarcoat anything, but again please remember this is my personal opinion from using both cameras. It is just an opinion, feel free to agree or disagree.
The first thing I check with any camera is how easy is it to make operating changes without having to go into complex menus. Sony menus, for the most part, have tended to be overly complicated and not intuitive to use. Sony tried to alleviate user pain by adding a series of what they refer to as ‘Quick Touchscreen’ menu options. The trouble I personally found is you have to leave the main screen to go into these menus. Then you have some options you can change and others you can’t. From my personal perspective, what is the point of having items in a quick menu that you can’t change?
The actual full menu is too long, confusing, and not well thought out.
HOLDING THE CAMERA
Now, because of the physical design of the FX6, you really need to hold with one hand on the smart grip and the other underneath the camera and towards the front if you need to adjust a lens.
As the camera has some depth to it you can place the back of the camera against your chest to create a third point of contact. Having the LCD screen out towards the front of the camera helps when doing this.
You can also tuck both elbows back into your chest to gain four points of contact. This is a better option if you want to have the camera further away from your body.
With all of these smaller-sized cameras, if you are hand-holding them and you aren’t tall you are ultimately going to end up shooting everything from a lower perspective. This is also something you need to be aware of.
The only trouble with operating a camera like this is that you really need to utilize the smart grip. Not only for accessing some features, but also so you can hold onto it properly.
If you use the optional loupe with the camera it is best to take the LCD screen off the top handle and attach it to the back of the camera body. This way you actually handhold the camera and put it up to your eye. You can also tuck your elbows into your sides to create a more stable shooting platform.
The biggest problem with using the loupe is that the monitor mount is so weak that the loupe just keeps falling down. I also found that the diopter adjustment didn’t go far enough for it to work with my eyes. The other problem is that obviously, you have no way of accessing any of the touchscreen features when you have the loupe on.
The LCD Hood is also pretty cheaply made and the design hasn’t been well thought out.
When you collapse the hood down to protect the screen and then try to open it up again, the locking mechanism that keeps the hood on the screen is too close to the place where you open up the hood. half the time when I went to open the hood I ended up releasing the locking mechanism.
Yes, there is plenty of buttons on the side of the camera, but you can’t physically see where a lot of them are when you are hand-holding the FX6.
The saving grace is that at least there are physical switches for the WB and the gain settings. This makes them easy to access and identify just by touch. The electronic variable ND scroll wheel is also easy to locate.
The issue with having touchscreen functionality is that if you take your bottom hand away from supporting the camera to touch the screen the camera will want to roll to the left. If you are in the middle of recording a shot this is something you need to be aware of.
Making changes on the touchscreen is a little difficult because I mentioned the camera want’s to roll to the left if you are just holding it by the grip. Even if you try to support the back of the LCD screen with some of your fingers, the balance just doesn’t feel right. This is mainly because one of your hands is at the front and higher, while the other is towards the back and lower. The LCD mount is also pretty badly made and the whole screen tends to move around unless you have it completely locked off.
Speaking of the screen I wanted to see how bright it is. In the FX6’s menu, I turned the brightness up to +15, and then I shot a white card and exposed it so it was right on 100 on a waveform. I then played that file back and measured the brightness of the screen using a Sekonic C-800. I found that the brightness of the screen was 570 nits. I found the screen was reasonably good to use even in bright, sunny conditions.
CAN YOU USE IT ON COMPACT GIMBAL?
Yes, you can. By removing the side handle and top handle and repositioning the LCD screen you can run the FX6 on a compact gimbal quite comfortably.
By utilizing the AF system and a compatible lens you don’t need to rig up focus monitors and other items that will make the set up heavier. Of course, you still can, but it is nice that you don’t have to.
So how easy is it to do a white balance? This is something we often do many times a day. Doing a white balance shoot be quick and easy to do. It should also be reliable.
On the FX6 it is nice that you have physical switches that let you go between three WB settings. There are A/B and PRESET defined positions. With A/B you can store user WB settings.
When the WB switch is at A or B you can do a manual white balance by simply pressing the WB SET button that is located on the front of the camera.
Now, it looks as if you need to have the white center markings directly fully inside whatever you are using to white balance for it to work correctly. Above you can see a quick demonstration.
If the switch is in the PRESET position you can press the WHT BAL button that is located just above the white balance switches to turn that Kelvin color temperature orange. When it is orange you can use the menu dial to change that Kelvin color temperature value.
In the PRESET position, you can change an existing preset value directly. You do this by pressing and holding the WHT BAL function button. This brings up a small window on the bottom left-hand side of the LCD screen where you can toggle through the following options:
Custom mode: 3200K, 4300K, 5600K, 6300K
Cine EI mode: 3200K, 4300K, 5500K
You can also assign the PRESET White Select to an assignable button to do the exact same thing.
There is also an ATW (Auto Tracing White) setting you can select. This will let the camera continually adjust the white balance in changing lighting conditions. You need to be aware that this doesn’t work if you are in the CINE EI shooting mode.
Now, if you want to make finite adjustments to the white balance on the FX6 you need to go into the main menus. Here you can adjust Tint , R Gain and B Gain . This is fiddly and there should be a way you can make these adjustments without needing to go into deep menus.
You can see the Tint value next to the white balance on the Quick Menu page, but this doesn’t mean much to anyone. Why Sony insists on using Tint , R Gain , and B Gain and not including proper CC (+/- G/M) adjustment like most digital cinema cameras is a headscratcher.
Overall, making white balance changes on the FX6 is pretty straightforward and efficient.
The camera seems to always ask you to do execute an APR every time you turn it on.
The APR function minimizes the appearance of bright or dark sensor pixels, as well as sensor noise, so you should do this regularly. It is only supposed to appear if the camera hasn’t been turned on in a few days. Sony recommends that you do it when changing locations due to lighting, and ambient temperature changes.
If you want to let the camera do all the heavy lifting for you by utilizing all of its auto functionality you can. If you are doing run & gun you could put the camera in ATW (Auto Tracing White), ND AUTO , AF, and AUTO EXPOSURE (turning the AGC-auto gain control on). Then set the camera to S-Cinetone and off you go.
Essentially by doing all of this you are creating a point-and-shoot mode. Surprisingly this does a pretty good job. If you are working in heavily backlit or contrasty environments it will struggle because it is having to make decisions based on algorithms and it doesn’t magically know your creative intent.
I wanted to see how easy it is to change frame rates on the FX6. I set the camera to record 4K DCI in XAVC-I with a project frame rate of 23.98P. To change it quickly to 60fps from 23.98 fps all I had to do was to assign S&Q to an assignable button and the press it. As long as I have the S&Q preset to 60fps it can be done with the push of a button.
Now, you need to be aware that you can’t shoot 120fps in 4K DCI, you can only do that in UHD and only if you choose XAVC-L as your codec. You also can also only shoot 4K DCI in XAVC-I . If you select XAVC-L you are limited to a maximum resolution of UHD.
Now, what I found strange is that when I selected 100fps with a base project setting of 23.98P AF wasn’t available. I got a screen message saying 100fps MF Only. The same thing happens if I choose 50fps or even 48fps.
You can only choose fps that are multiples of your base project frame rate and have the AF work. For example, if I set my base project to 25P and I select 100fps in the S&Q both AF and manual focus are available. If I choose 120fps, guess what, no AF.
Above you can see how fast it is to change from 23.98 fps to 120fps, 100fps, or 60fps if you have the S&Q setting placed on an assignable button. Once you press your assignable button it automatically goes to whatever you last set the fps too. If you press the front function scroll wheel the fps will turn orange. If you then press the middle of the joystick button on the smart grip you can cycle through a few predefined fps. You can also see the image crop that occurs when shooting at fps above 60.
It is nice on the FX6 that you can import user LUTs. This is very helpful. Now, you need to be aware that you can only activate LUTs when you are in the CINE EI Mode.
As I have already mentioned, the FX6 features a modular design, but in reality, for a lot of shooting situations, you are going to need to attach all of the included accessories to make it work. Hold on you may be saying, why can’t I just not use the top handle. Well, unless you have no need for recording audio in camera that is not a good idea. It may be fine if you are running the camera on a gimbal and recording sound separately, or recording everything in slow motion with no audio, but unless you want to do that you have no other real choice but to use the handle.
Yes, you can make the footprint of the camera smaller by just repositioning the LCD screen on the body and not using the top handle, but I actually found it harder to access the screen when hand-holding the camera this way.
Cameras like the FX6 aren’t designed to be put on your shoulder, and at least in my opinion, it is counterintuitive making something larger just to be able to do this. If you want to shoulder mount this camera you are better off buying an FX9.
OUT OF THE BOX IMAGES
Some users of cameras such as the FX6 are going to want to turn around material quickly or not have to shoot Log or RAW. So does the FX6 fill that need. Quite simply, yes.
The S-Cinetone picture profile is a really nice option to use if you have to turn material around quickly, have to give material to a client that isn’t shot in Log, or if you are working in live environments or broadcast.
The fascination with Log and RAW sometimes gets overblown. Sometimes a good baked-in ‘look’ is a better option. Sony Log images have never been historically super easy to deal with and get great results without having to spend a little bit of time tweaking the image.
Above you can see what S-Cinetone looks like if you just white balance and expose correctly.
Above you can see that the S-Cinetone color reproduction is very neutral and accurate.
If we zoom way in onto the white chip you can see it doesn’t have any color casts.
I have done the exact same tests with the Canon C70 and you can see those down further in this review. Both cameras were using the eaxct same lens to take out any optical bias. The tests were done under the exact same lighting conditions. None of the images have been touched or altered in anyway.
If you would rather just see a head-to-head comparison between the FX6’s S-Cinetone and the C70’s Wide DR BT.709 pictre profiles I have put that above.
It is very difficult to tell both of these camera’s apart if you use these picture profiles. The biggest noticeable difference is that on the C70 with the Wide DR BT.709 picture profile, the greens are more saturated. On the Sony using S-Cinetone, the reds are slightly more saturated.
ADDING A MONITOR/RECORDER
The whole idea behind buying a small camera like the FX6 is to keep it small. If you have to start adding lots of things to it it becomes problematic and counterintuitive. Even adding something like the Ninja V makes it a lot heavier and unbalanced if you try and place it on the front part of the handle. All the weight then is at the front of the camera and you are continually struggling to keep it upright and level.
I found it made more sense if you needed to attach a Ninja V (you will if you want to record RAW) to the back part of the handle. This helps with weight distribution. Still, you end up with a short camera that is suddenly very tall.
The form factor of the C70 is more in line with a larger-sized DSLR than a digital cinema camera. The Sony FX6 has a more camcorder-esque form factor.
The way you need to operate handheld with the C70 is in principle, similar to how you need to operate the FX6.
The camera isn’t deep like the FX6, but it is wide. I found the best way to hold it was to use one hand on the grip and the other underneath the left-hand side.
As the camera is wide you can actually brace both your elbows against your body to create four points of contact.
Now, because the LCD screen is towards the back you do need to hold the camera further away from your body to be able to see the screen.
A lot of the physical buttons on the left-hand-side of the camera are difficult to reach and see, especially the Peaking, Waveform, Display, and Zebra buttons.
The HDMI port is also in a bad position if you are hand-holding the camera. With an HDMI cable inserted you are forced to place your hand further underneath the camera body. You can still access the ND and WB buttons with the mini XLR cables inserted.
I personally found the screen on the C70 easier to access and touch than the FX6 when I was hand-holding the camera. You can still maintain stability while touching the screen. I could still tuck my elbows into my chest and use my left hand to support the LCD screen while making changes on the front of the screen. This works because essentially both your hands are at the same height on the camera. On the Sony FX6, you have to reach up to access the screen and that throws the balance off.
Speaking of the screen I wanted to see how bright it is. In the C70’s menu, I turned the brightness up to +50 and then I shot a white card and exposed it so it was right on 100 on a waveform. I then played that file back and measured the brightness of the screen using a Sekonic C-800. I found that the brightness of the screen was 296 nits. Now, here lays the problem. Turning the brightness up on the C70’s LCD screen makes everything look washed out and it isn’t actually usable.
Turning op the brightness is a bad idea. What you need to do is to turn up the luminance. You can only change the luminance from Normal to +1 or +2. At +2 the reading I got was 299 nits. The screen on the FX6 is almost twice as bright as that of the C70. I personally think that the C70’s screen is not usable outdoors in bright, sunny conditions.
The other issue with the C70 is that you have all of this information covering large parts of the screen. Yes, you can get rid of it, but it would have been nice to have seen an option where you could have the information displayed on the outside of the picture.
MAKING QUICK CHANGES
Having the ability to quickly access and change key functionality of the camera right from the touchscreen is really nice. Being able to change white balance, ND, shutter speed and ISO very quickly make a world of difference when you need to operate quickly.
The main menu system is a bit of a mess and it isn’t intuitive nor easy to make changes. The joystick button that you use to help navigate the menus often gets stuck or is unresponsive.
I do find that some of the controls are a little difficult to reach on the side grip when you are using it.
Just like the FX6, you can use the C70 on a compact-sized gimbal. It is a wider camera than the FX6 so you do need to keep that in mind.
If you utilize Canon’s AF and a compatible lens you can keep the size of your set up to a minimum.
So how easy is it to do a white balance? This is something we often do many times a day. Doing a white balance shoot be quick and easy to do.
On the C70, doing a white balance isn’t as intuitive as it is on the FX6. There are two physical buttons on the left-hand-side of the C70 for white balance.
If you press the button labeled WB a small orange box comes up and you can use the FUNC scroll dial on the control grip to move between the Kelvin color temperature and the CC value.
If you press the WB button you can also use the main scroll wheel that surrounds the SET button on the back of the C70 to toggle through the various WB options. These are:
Whatever is selected orange you can then adjust with the joystick that is located just above the FUNC scroll dial. Once you make an adjustment you have to press the middle of the joystick. If you don’t no changes get made. Now, you need to be very aware that once you press the WB button the orange box that comes up only stays active for 5 seconds. If you don’t make a change or touch any of the controls within 5 seconds it will turn off.
You can also press the button located below the WB button and that will also bring up the orange box.
To do an actual white balance you need to point the camera at a gray card or white object so that it fills the center of screen. You then press the button below the WB button. The A or B setting (whichever one you have selected) will then flash quickly. Once the flashing stops the white balance has been done.
Now, you can also make white balance changes by accessing the quick menus on the touchscreen. Here you can cycle between all of the settings and make changes to the Kelvin color temperature and CC value. Strangely you can’t actually do a white balance from this screen. You still need to select A WB or B WB and then press the physical button on the camera.
The white balance system on the C70 is ok, but it is far easier and quicker to do a white balance and make changes on the Sony FX6.
I wanted to see how easy it is to change frame rates on the C70. I set the camera to record 4K DCI in 108Mbps LGOP with a project frame rate of 23.98P.
To change it quickly to 120fps from 23.98 fps all I had to do was to use the touchscreen and change the Recording Mode from Normal Recording to either Slow & Fast Motion or S&F Clip / Audio (WAV). If I already had the Slow & Fast Frame Rate set to 120 this happens automatically. What is nice is that the camera doesn’t need to reboot after you make this change.
On the touchscreen, you can also long-press on the Slow & Fast Frame Rate and it brings up a very nice interactive screen where you can make changes. You need to be aware that you can only choose S&F frame rates that are multiples of your project rate. So for example, I can’t shoot 100fps if my base frame rate is 23.98P. I actually like how Canon has implemented this.
Just something to bear in mind, if you are shooting 25P you can still shoot at 120fps in the S&F mode when shooting in 4K DCI or UHD. This is something you can’t do on the FX6.
Now, you do need to remember with the C70 that to be able to record 120fps in 4K DCI or UHD you need to have Long GOP selected as your codec. If you have Intra-frame selected you are limited to 30fps. So if you are shooting 4K DCI or UHD at 23.98p in the Inter-frame codec and you suddenly want to shoot 120fps, you need to first go into the menu and change the codec option to Long GOP.
You can also place Slow & Fast Frame Rate on an assignable button. That way you can press that button and an orange overlay will come up next to your frame rate. Here you can use scroll wheel surrounding the SET button to make your frame rate changes.
On the C70 you can select AWB, Auto ISO, and AF. This way you can get a setup where the camera does a lot of the hard work for you.
Now, it doesn’t do nearly as good of a job as the FX6 because you don’t have an Auto ND setting. Also, I found that the AWB feature on the C70 is pretty horrible. On the Sony FX6, it is way better.
If you want to go full auto, the FX6 is a better option than the C70.
Not being able to import user LUTs or even use LUTs is problematic. Surely this is something that could easily be implemented via a firmware update.
Just to clarify, you can load up LUTS, but they only work as picture profiles. Whatever you choose gets burned into your footage. Canon gives you 20 places to store picture profiles.
Some users of cameras such as the C70 are going to want to turn around material quickly or not have to shoot Log. So does the C70 fill that need? Quite simply, yes. Canob cameras have generally had a good reputation for producing nice images straight out of the box, and the C70 follows that trend.
The Wide DR BT.709 picture profile is a really nice option to use if you have to turn material around quickly, have to give material to a client that isn’t shot in Log, or if you are working in live environments or broadcast.
The fascination with Log and RAW sometimes gets overblown. Sometimes a good baked-in ‘look’ is a better option.
Above you can see what Wide DR BT.709 looks like if you just white balance and expose correctly.
Above you can see that the Wide DR Bt.709 color reproduction is very neutral and accurate.
The top handle on the C70 is badly designed and I don’t really see too much point in using it. Not only does it not feature any mounting points, but the cold shoe at the top is useless if you want to mount a monitor and use the microphone mount. The microphone mount is too close to the cold shoe so a monitor won’t fit! Doesn’t anyone check these things when they are designing parts? The only way to mount the monitor to the cold shoe would be if you removed the microphone mount.
The top handle for the C70 very much feels like an afterthought. Having zero tapped holes on the handle makes absolutely no sense.
What I also like about the C70 is that you can still record audio without needing to use the top handle. This keeps the size of the camera to a minimum. I found that just utilizing a RØDE Wireless GO II was a nice way of keeping everything small and easy to use. This is something you can’t do with the FX6.
For me, the whole reason to use a small camera is that I can keep it small. I don’t want to have to add anything to it to make it work out of the box. For the most part, the C70 ticks these boxes. If anything, I think the C70 would benefit from a small top plate. Although in saying that, I found that by just adding a dual cols shoe plate I could run a top mic and a dual-radio mic receiver without increasing the camera’s footprint.
Both cameras definitely have their pros and cons when it comes to usability. I hope that at least I have made you aware of some of the potential issues you could run into.
The FX6, like most of today’s modern cameras, is capable of producing nice imagery in the right hands. S-Cinetone is a really nice option if you need to turn material around quickly or the client isn’t requesting footage to be shot in Log or RAW.
Low light performance is good on the FX6, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone given the fact it uses the same sensor as the a7S III.
The Canon C70 is also capable of producing nice quality images. Again, just like with the FX6 or any other camera it is up to the user to get the most out of it. Both cameras can record in good onboard codecs and both will be perfectly adequate for delivering 4K DCI, UHD or HD material.
There are tons of examples of footage from both cameras out there for you to see so I am not going to waste your time by showing you anything else. There is nothing I can show you in the confines of testing out a camera that someone hasn’t already done.
Content Browser Mobile
The FX6 works with Sony’s Content Browser Mobile. This allows you to control your camera and also control focus, iris, and zoom with a lens such as the new Sony FE C 16-35mm T/3.1 G E-Mount Lens.
It is unclear whether you need the CBK-WA100/101 Wireless Adapter to be able to do this.
You can also view images from the camera in real-time on a smartphone running Content Browser Mobile. Below you can see what is possible to do.
– Monitoring live video from camcorders/recorders
– Displaying the status of connected devices
– Remotely controlling focus, zoom, rec start/stop, and etc.
– Live logging (Essence Mark)
– Displaying the clip list
– Playing clips
– Editing metadata of clips
– Uploading clips to FTP, FTPS, or other servers
– Uploading clips partially by marking in and out points
– Downloading clips to mobile devices
– Managing transfer jobs via job lists
– Rough cut editing
– Uploading clips partially and an EDL based on storyboards
– Naming clips
– Assigning Essence Mark lists to buttons
– Browsing and uploading related clips
– Synchronizing the timecode of multiple camcorders
DEVICE SETTING S
– Making setting of network functions for connected devices
The FX6 can utilize a range of compatible accessories.
These include compatibility with the new UWP-D series of wireless microphones via Multi-Interface Shoe (MI Shoe) with digital audio interface, as well as compatibility with Sony BP-GL and BP-FL series batteries.
It’s not an FS5 M2 replacement
Even though you might think that the FX6 is an FS5 M2 replacement, Sony will tell you that it is not. Sony isn’t discontinuing the FS5 M2 anytime soon. Both the FX6 and the FS5 M2 will be part of Sony’s line up going forward.
I am sure we will eventually see the price of the FS5 M2 being reduced once the FX6 becomes available.
Price & Availability
At $5,999.99 USD the FX6 is competitively priced when you look at its main competition. Its main competition arguably comes in the form of the Canon C70, RED KOMODO, Z Cam E6-S6, Kinefinity MAVO 6K S35, Panasonic EVA1, and BMPCC 6K.
The camera is available in two versions:
-Sony FX6 (Body Only): $5,999.99 USD
-Sony FX6 with the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens: $7,199.99 USD
This price makes it around $5000 USD less than the FX9 and around $2500 USD more than an a7S III.
This seems to be a reasonable price given its feature set. People who thought that the FX6 would be an FX9 in a smaller form factor for half the cost were dreaming.
So how does the price compare to some of the competition? Below you can see:
At $5999.99 USD it is basically the same amount as a RED KOMODO and around $500 USD more than a Canon C70. Options from Kinefinity, Z CAM, and Blackmagic are more affordable.
Real Cost of Entry– Sony FX6 vs Canon C70
As I have been comparing the Sony FX6 against the Canon C70 throughout this review let’s have a look at what the real cost of entry is if you were to buy either of these cameras with 3 batteries, a dual charger, an onboard microphone, XKR cables, 4 memory cards, and a card reader. For media, I will compare the best available cards for both cameras. Now, unfortunately, the CFexpress Type A cards used by the FX6 only come in capacities of 80GB and 160GB. I will reference 160GB against 128GB as that is the closest comparison that can be made. Yes, both cameras can use cheaper media, but I am listing cards that are required to record any type of resolution and frame rate.
For batteries, I will base it on the standard sizes and models that come with the cameras.
The costs you see listed are for multiples of the product being listed.
Before you start complaining that you could use off-brand chargers, media, batteries, etc. this is just one comparison to see how much a kit that could get you through a reasonable day of shooting would cost.
FX6 vs C70 Recap
As I have compared the FX6 and C70 quite closely I am going to give you the pros and cons of both cameras.
Which one would I buy?
There is no right or wrong answer here. Both cameras are very capable and which one works best for you is something only you can answer.
We have got to a point where image quality, recording capabilities, and dynamic range are all very, very close with most sub $10K cameras. Just about all of the cameras out there are capable of getting the job done.
In my opinion, if you are in the market for a new camera then you should be primarily looking at usability. How do you like to work? Does camera XYZ have the inputs, outputs, usability that you are looking for. From being in this industry for over 30 years I can tell you that often the better camera, is not the camera that has the best specifications on paper.
If I had to sum up both the FX6 and the C70 from a personal standpoint this what my thoughts would be:
- Probably a better option than the C70 if you are looking for an ‘affordable’ A camera.
- Fantastic electronic variable ND system
- SDI OUT and Timecode IN/OUT make a big difference in real world productions where more than one camera is being used
- Badly thought out audio from a usability perspective
- Camera becomes very unbalanced if you put an external monitor on the top handle as all of the weight is at the front
- Menu system could be better
- Touch screen menus can’t be accessed without leaving the main screen
- Flimsy monitor mount- this feels cheaply made
- LCD Hood is badly designed
- No ability to shoot 4K or UHD in S35. This is a big deal for me. Not being able to get extra reach out of the lenses you have when shooting in UHD or 4K because you are stuck using FF limits the FX6’s usability
- Good mounting options on both the handle and the body
- More modular than the C70- but for a lot of applications you need to have all of the components attached to use the FX6.
- Same sensor as the C300 Mark III- the DGO sensor is very impressive and it is nice to see that you get the sensor from a lot more expensive camera in the C70. The FX6 uses a sensor from a hybrid mirrorless.
- Easy out of the box usability- apart from the top handle there are no other parts. You can put a lens on this camera and start shooting straight away. With the FX6 you need to attach the additional components to use the camera.
- Bad main menu and sticky and unresponsive joystick
- Great on screen touch menus for making changes to key parameters
- The ability to shoot UHD or 4K in S35
- The ability to add a speed booster if you want the ‘ full frame ‘ look
- Timecode IN/OUT- this is a big deal to me when looking for a ‘ B ‘ camera
- 3.5mm stereo mic input- great inclusion if you need to keep the camera very small but still capture good audio.
- XLR inputs on the camera body. With the FX6 you have to use the top handle if you want decent audio.
- No SDI- not the end of the world, but I would much prefer SDI over HDMI
- Bad HDMI placement when hand-holding the camera
- Only one output- with the C70 you are stuck with a single HDMI output. This limits what you can do with the camera unless you want to add an additional monitor.
- No mounting points- why Canon didn’t put any mounting points on the C70’s handle is mind-boggling. I don’t know what they were thinking.
As you can, I personally think both cameras have their strengths and weaknesses. Both cameras are far from perfect. If you combined the best bits from both of them and made one camera you would probably end up with a pretty good solution.
Now, I actually bought one of these cameras and I would be interested to hear which one readers thought I purchased. Let me know in the comments section at the bottom of the article.
Where does this camera sit?
Whether you love Sony cameras or loathe them, the Japanese company has always priced its mid to lower-end cameras fairly aggressively. As I have mentioned in recent articles, the camera market has started to divide into two key sectors; the under $10K category and the high end. There really isn’t much in between. The FX6 falls clearly into that under $10K category.
Sony almost always seems to get its camera timings just right (at least when it comes to digital cinema cameras). Half the battle is being first to market and providing something your competitors don’t. Just look at the F5, F55, FS5, and FS7. All of these cameras were released at a time when they didn’t have any direct competition.
The FX6 started shipping around the same time as the Canon C70 which it is undoubtedly going to be compared to. Despite a large range of full-frame mirrorless hybrids being available, the FX6 could arguably be considered the first truly affordable full-frame digital cinema camera from one of the large Japanese manufacturers. Yes, Sony did release the full-frame E-mount NEX-VG900 way back in 2012, but that was a different kettle of fish.
Sony needed to reinvent the wheel with the FX6 because the competition has become more aggressive and they couldn’t just make a dumbed-down version of an FX9.
People may be asking why it doesn’t use a larger megapixel sensor or why it doesn’t shoot in resolutions over 4K, but in my personal opinion, it doesn’t need to. A large proportion of working professionals buying and using cameras in this price range are not being requested to shoot in resolutions above 4K. 4K is still perfectly acceptable and will still be for quite some time.
The FX6 certainly does tread on FX9’s shoes. Sony didn’t have a tendency to cannibalize their line up, but I think now because of competition from competitors, they kind of have to. While they have tried to differentiate the FX6 and the FX9 by using different sensors, the lines have been blurred and this may well-upset owners of the FX9. However, there is still very much a place for both of these cameras as the FX9 is more suited to being shoulder-mounted than the FX6 and it has the ability to shoot 4K in an S35 crop mode.
To appease FX9 owners, Sony could possibly enable a 6K output and let you output RAW directly over SDI instead of using the XDCA-FX9 . I personally have my doubts about whether they will do either of those things. A good proportion of people who were interested in the FX9 have already bought that camera, but it is heavily back-ordered in some places around the world. It will be interesting to see how many potential FX9 buyers will now be rethinking their decision.
Who is it aimed at?
The FX6 is being aimed primarily at the same target audience that owned cameras like the FS5 and FS7. It is also aimed at these same users who may be considering a Canon C70, RED KOMODO, BMPCC 6K Pro, Z CAM, or a Kinefinity.
The FX6 is certainly an affordable workhorse camera for professional users who are shooting news, events, documentaries, and corporate productions. Its small size makes it suitable for solo operators, although, it is a difficult camera to shoulder mount.
The camera won’t be suitable for everyone and there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone has different needs and requirements and luckily we have a wide array of cameras to choose from.
Whether or not people shooting news, events, documentaries, and corporate productions actually want full-frame is debatable. The fact that you can only shoot HD in a Super 35 mode may be a deal-breaker for some potential users. That is why Sony will continue to sell the FS7 M2 and FS5 M2. Although in saying that, with a lot of people using speedboosters on S35 Sony E-mount cameras there is clearly a demand for the full-frame esthetic.
The FX6 can be used as your main camera, a B camera to the FX9, the A camera to a Sony a7S III or FX3, and so on. Given its feature set and capabilities, there really isn’t any reason why it couldn’t be used by anyone for anything.
How does it compare to the FX9
Let’s compare the two (at least on paper).
Despite offering a lot of similarities, the FX9 does offer quite a lot of functionality and features that you won’t find on a FX6. These include:
- 6K Sensor (same as VENICE)
- 4K Super 35 Recording
- FFcrop 5K (4K DCI at up to 60p recording)
- Super 16 Mode (coming in a firmware update)
- Locking E-mount
- Two SDI outputs
- Better ergonomics for shoulder mounting
- Compatability with the XDCA-FX9 Extension unit
How does it compare to the a7S III?
Essentially, the only real advantages the a7S III has is that it can take photographs and it has a built-in EVF.
What is it similar to?
As far as form factor and price are concerned, the closest cameras are arguably the Canon C70, RED KOMODO, and Z CAM E2-F6 Full-Frame 6K Cinema Camera. You could also compare it to older cameras like the Panasonic EVA1 as well. The Kinefinty MAVO LF and MAVO 6K S35 could also potentially join this conversation.
So how do they compare on paper?
All of these competing options have their own strengths and weaknesses. You could make arguments that any of these cameras are a better choice.
What about recording differences? Let’s have a look at how the Sony FX6 compares to these other options.
FX6 v E2-F6
Fx6 v komodo.
The Sony FX6 is very similar in some respects to the competition but different in others. All of these cameras offer different features and functionality. Any of the cameras I have listed will get the job done in the right hands.
Why buy one of these over an a7S III or FX3?
Despite offering similar sensors and a lot of similarities when it comes to frame rates and recording options, the FX6 is a video camera and not a hybrid mirrorless.
If you are primarily shooting video, then items such as built-in electronic variable ND, XLR inputs, SDI In, Timecode In/Out, better cooling, LUTS, and form factor make a big difference. Look, not everyone will agree, and some users will prefer the form factor of a mirrorless hybrid for shooting video, and there is nothing wrong with that.
If you do prefer or value the addition of all of those fore-mentioned features I listed, then the FX6 does make a lot more sense if you are just doing video. However, those added inclusions and functionality will cost you around $2500 USD more than if you buy an a7S III nor FX3.
There is no doubt that the FX6 is a very capable camera. It offers a good compromise between features, size, weight, usability, and price.
While it is far from perfect (no camera is), it will suit a lot of shooters’ needs. As I have mentioned numerous times throughout this review, almost every camera being released has very similar dynamic range and recording options. What you should be spending more time looking at is usability, total cost of entry, inputs/outputs, menu ease of use, and if that camera will work for you.
Specifications are just specifications and they never tell you the true story about any camera. Usability is the number one thing I look for when deciding on a camera. I don’t care if a camera can shoot a certain number of frames per second at a certain resolution in RAW if that camera isn’t easy to use or doesn’t meet the requirements of how I like to work. I will always choose cameras that are easy to use and don’t get in the way of what I want to accomplish.
Don’t get blinded by marketing hype or specifications or high frame rates or high resolution. Pick the camera that works best for you. At the end of the day, the only person you have to justify a camera purchase to is yourself (or your wife or husband if you have a joint bank account!). If the camera you already own or use or the camera you want to buy pays the bills and meets the requirements of the clients you work for then that is the right camera for you.
The FX6 clearly does step on the toes of the FX9, and I think it had to given the feature set of the recently announced a7S III and FX3. In a lot of ways, the FX6 is a blend of both the FX9 and the a7S III/FX3.
We tend to expect a lot with camera releases, and sometimes that involves having unrealistic expectations. The FX6, at least in my opinion, pretty much offers everything that most users of a camera like this will need. If you need some of the advantages that an FX9 offers, buy an FX9.
People are still likely to still complain that there’s no internal RAW recording, there are no anamorphic modes and that it can’t record in 6K, but as I mentioned earlier, most of the potential buyers of this camera don’t require those things. They may want them, but do they really need them?
I’ll say it again just in case you missed it. Anybody complaining that they were expecting an FX9 in a smaller body with the same features for less money is living in a dream world.
The only concern here that I see is that there is now a lot more competition in the sub $10K category. When the FS5 originally came out 5 years ago it didn’t really have any competition. At the time this certainly helped with sales and early adoption. Just because a new camera comes along, it doesn’t make the camera you already have obsolete. If the camera you currently own is perfectly satisfactory for the type of work you do and is acceptable for the clients you have, then there is no need to purchase a new camera. Sure it is always nice to have the latest and greatest, but often it makes no financial sense to buy a new camera if your existing camera is already working well for you.
On paper, it is hard to find fault with the FX6. If you want an a7S III/FX3 with electronic variable ND, SDI, Timecode, XLR inputs, and a more video-centric form factor, then that’s exactly what Sony has given you. If you want an FX9 sensor with FX9 features, buy an FX9.
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Matthew Allard is a multi-award-winning, ACS accredited freelance Director of Photography with over 30 years' of experience working in more than 50 countries around the world. He is the Editor of Newsshooter.com and has been writing on the site since 2010. Matthew has won 49 ACS Awards, including five prestigious Golden Tripods. In 2016 he won the Award for Best Cinematography at the 21st Asian Television Awards. Matthew is available to hire as a DP in Japan or for work anywhere else in the world.
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Formatting an SD Card (in the Connected Device)
- If [Format media] is not displayed in the following steps, your device does not support this function.
- Select the [ Proxy ] tab. A list of clips appears on the screen.
- Tap [ OK ]. Formatting starts.
- When you format an SD card, all data on the card will be erased and cannot be restored.
What Does the F6 Button Do?
The top row of keys beginning with "F" on a keyboard are known as function keys. Function keys perform different tasks in different programs, but the tasks are typically similar across programs. For example, the "F1" key will open the help file for almost any computer program, but it is up to the program's developer to program it to do so.
In most programs, pressing "F6" will move the computer's cursor, or text input indicator, to a different part of the program. Unlike the "Tab" key, which moves the cursor to the next selectable component, the "F6" key typically moves the cursor to another part of the current program window. For example, in most Web browsers the "F6" key will move your cursor from a component on a Web page to the browser's address bar or vice versa.
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The "F6" key can also be combined with modifier keys such as "Shift," "Alt" or "Ctrl." When used in conjunction with the "Shift" key, "F6" will typically move the cursor through the part of a program's window in the opposite order. In some programs, such as Microsoft Word, holding "Ctrl" or "Alt" while pressing "F6" will cycle through all of the separate windows that are currently open for the program. Holding "Shift" along with "Ctrl" or "Alt" and "F6" will cycle through the open windows in the opposite order.
Most laptops assign a secondary function to their function keys to give the user a greater level of control over the laptop's hardware. The secondary functions vary widely by computer manufacturer, but are usually depicted by a small icon below the button's main label. The "F6" button on a laptop may alter the laptop's volume, change the current display or put the laptop to sleep. Most laptop's require you to hold a "Fn" button to activate the function button's secondary function. The "Fn" button is typically found near the computer's "Ctrl" and "Alt" keys.
Mac laptops' function keys function in the opposite manner. By default, the function keys perform a hardware-related function and you need to hold the "Fn" key to cause the function key to perform a software function. MacBooks made after 2007 and MacBook Pros made after 2008 use the "F6" key to increase the backlit keyboard's brightness level, if the computer is equipped with a backlit keyboard. Holding the "Option" button while pressing "F6" opens the computer's keyboard preferences window.
- Computer Hope: What are the F1 Through F12 Keys?
- Microsoft Support: List of Keyboard Shortcuts for Word 2002, Word 2003 and Word 2007
- Microsoft Office: Excel Shortcut and Function Keys
- Mac Rumors: Keyboard Shortcuts
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- You’ll feel the lively spirit of bustling city life the minute you pull into Moscow. Some 35 mi from Elektrostal, it has loads of fantastic spots to visit, like Red Square.
- About 35 mi away, Ryazan is another location worth putting on your travel itinerary. Don’t forget to stop by Monument to Evpatiy Kolovrat during your visit.
- After all that time behind the wheel, treat yourself to a dose of nature at Nikola-Lenivets Art Park. It’s roughly 130 mi from Elektrostal.
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Renting a car in Elektrostal
Pay at pickup is available, so you don’t have to worry about spending your money until you arrive at your vehicle in Elektrostal . We partner with reliable partners that guarantee an enjoyable experience for solo travelers, couples, and families. Package your car with a flight or hotel to unlock even more savings from Expedia.
Expected prices in Elektrostal
Prices are subject to seasonal change depending on when you decide to arrange your car rental but right now you can book .
Flexibility & Cancellation
Most car suppliers offer penalty-free cancellations, so you don’t have to worry about losing money if your plans change. To cancel your booking log into your account through the Trips portal. Click manage booking and cancel this car. If you needed to alter your booking, then you can create a new one once you have canceled.
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Car classes available from Expedia in 2023
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- Preplanned tours
- Daytrips out of Moscow
- Themed tours
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- St. Petersburg
The Moscow Metro Tour is included in most guided tours’ itineraries. Opened in 1935, under Stalin’s regime, the metro was not only meant to solve transport problems, but also was hailed as “a people’s palace”. Every station you will see during your Moscow metro tour looks like a palace room. There are bright paintings, mosaics, stained glass, bronze statues… Our Moscow metro tour includes the most impressive stations best architects and designers worked at - Ploshchad Revolutsii, Mayakovskaya, Komsomolskaya, Kievskaya, Novoslobodskaya and some others.
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The guide will not only help you navigate the metro, but will also provide you with fascinating background tales for the images you see and a history of each station.
And there some stories to be told during the Moscow metro tour! The deepest station - Park Pobedy - is 84 metres under the ground with the world longest escalator of 140 meters. Parts of the so-called Metro-2, a secret strategic system of underground tunnels, was used for its construction.
During the Second World War the metro itself became a strategic asset: it was turned into the city's biggest bomb-shelter and one of the stations even became a library. 217 children were born here in 1941-1942! The metro is the most effective means of transport in the capital.
There are almost 200 stations 196 at the moment and trains run every 90 seconds! The guide of your Moscow metro tour can explain to you how to buy tickets and find your way if you plan to get around by yourself.