We recently interviewed Hiroki Hamamoto from Sony Japan whilst he was visiting Australia and asked him about all the new features available on the Sony FX9
Features we love about the FX9
The Sony PXW-FX9 is definitely the talk of the town and a lot has been discussed about the Full-Frame sensor and more importantly when our stock will be arriving, as the first in the country to put orders in we will be pleased to see these cameras hit our shelves hopefully early in the new year. The camera’s full-frame 6K sensor will provide recording in DCI 4K*(4096 x 2160 at 17:9 recording available in future firmware release), Ultra HD and HD resolutions. The image processing with debayering and oversampling ensures image quality beyond the limits of conventional Super 35mm sensors. Compared to a 4K Super 35mm sensor, the FX9’s 6K sensor has over twice the surface area while providing a wider angle of view and shallower depth of field. Sony has this video which highlights some of the key features of the PXW-FX9 beyond its sensor.
Sony Product Feature Video for FX9
So there are a few key features here at Videocraft we are particularly fond of with the FX9 camera and not necessarily the ones you would expect.
Auto Focus Features that work for productions!
Tracking shots with Fast Hybrid AF you can effortlessly track fast-moving subjects with pin-sharp focus, even when using wide lens aperture settings to maintain a shallow depth of field with the camera’s full-frame sensor. Developed by Sony’s α camera engineers, the enhanced Fast Hybrid AF combines phase-detection AF for fast, accurate subject tracking with contrast AF for exceptional focus accuracy. In addition, Face Detection intelligently recognises and locks on to human faces. The dedicated 561-point phase-detection AF sensor covers approximately 94% of the whole image area width and 96% of the height, allowing consistently accurate, responsive AF tracking, even with fast-moving subjects.
So all these cool functions for auto-focus are also available to camera operators as customisable Auto Focus settings, such as 7-level AF transition speeds from Fast – switching between subjects as quickly as possible – to Slow, where speed is reduced to fit a more measured shooting style, such as a historical TV drama. And also 5-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 – ideal for snapping between race cars as they speed by.
Dual Base ISO for stunning images in any light
FX9 features a base sensitivity of ISO 800, providing the optimal dynamic range for typical documentary applications such as shooting outside or in brightly lit interiors. A secondary High Base sensitivity of ISO 4000 excels in low light conditions such as early morning and evening shoots while maintaining superb image quality. ISO 4000 is also ideal whenever you’re using slow lenses. Combining Dual Base ISO with the camera’s electronic variable ND Filter provides superb creative control in almost any shooting environment, equipping you with responsiveness to changing lighting conditions on the go.
Cinematic colour science with S-Cinetone™
S-Cinetone is the default look of FX9 that’s tuned to meet the requirements of today’s content creators with rich mid-range colours, alluring facial tones and a softer tonal look – developed with the same expertise as Sony’s world-leading VENICE digital cinematography camera. S-Cinetone means that straight out of the camera your content looks fresh and vivid, with subjects that really stand out while retaining plenty of latitude in post-production thanks to the high-performance full-frame image sensor.
Stable, shake-free handheld footage with Image Stabilization
Advanced image stabilisation information means even handheld footage can be transformed with Sony Catalyst Browse/Catalyst Prepare software in post-production to look as smooth as if it were shot with a gimbal. Unlike in-camera or lens stabilisation, metadata generated by FX9’s built-in gyro allows you to creatively choose the balance between the level of shake-compensation and the resolution of trimmed 4K imagery. This feature is also compatible with any E-mount lens and allows for far faster processing than conventional NLE stabilisation workflows.
Yippee its Variable ND!
So we fell in love with Variable ND on previous Sony cameras such as the FS5 and FS7 and now we get even greater creative control with Sony’s unique built-in electronic variable neutral density (ND) filter on the PXW-FX9. Set it to Auto, or adjust filter density manually in smooth increments from 1/4 to 1/128 as you shoot, for perfectly exposed images without affecting depth of field as lighting conditions change. Use higher density settings with slower shutter speeds for breathtaking artistic effects.
So what is ‘Electronic Variable ND Filter’?
Sony’s Electronic Variable ND Filter can be seamlessly varied while shooting because of its innovative technology, which is optically based rather than using image processing. There are three different ways to use this filter: seamlessly altering the image exposure while shooting by scrolling the dial on the right side of the camera. Selecting Auto ND, where the camera will proactively adjust the density of the filter to find the best exposure for shooting, which works really well in outdoor environments where the light may have considerable variations, this auto function maintains your exposure and adjusts the ND when the light level changes. Or you can set your own fixed filter levels just like you would with a conventional optical ND filter, the default settings are 1/4, 1/16, and 1/64. However, it is possible to change these three settings to whichever values you prefer. Generally, camera operators use iris, gain control, or shutter speed and each has their own side effects to the creative look of your frame, by using the optical-based yet seamlessly control your image exposure with the electronic ND filter without sacrificing your creative choices.
Audio is just as important as the images you capture!
Well, the pictures are only half the story and with the 4-channels of audio input and recording on the PXW-FX9 Camera, enables simultaneous use of an external microphone for recording ambient sounds, the built-in microphone for voice memos by the operator, and two optional wireless microphones for voice of interviewer and interviewee. Plus the FX9 offers independent control dials for each channel. In addition, using the optional accessories such as the XLR-K3M, XLR-K2M or XLR-K1M XLR adapters – with two extra XLR inputs – allows even more devices to be connected.
On a side note if you are thinking about a multi-cam job with the PXW-FX9 – we’ve been nerding out about the fact it takes external timecode into the camera without having to add any external accessories to achieve it.
To get in early and make sure you are one of the first to own an FX9 camera – place your pre-order online