Sony took a great camera such as the FS7/FS7ii, and made it even more amazing with its successor.The Sony FX9 camera. Since the FS7ii has been such a reliable tool in the industry, it is hard to imagine upgrading. It’s a simple decision, but with all the new features in the Sony FX9 it’s a no-brainer. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to provide input on the development of the FX9 and I am excited for its release so that I can share my thoughts about this next-generation camera.

Sensor

First, the FX9’s new Full-Frame FF (Oversampled 6k) Exmor R CMOS sensor is a notable feature. Yes, that’s right. I meant oversampled 6k. The sensor captures a 6k image, which is then sampled down to produce a sharp 4k image. This is a significant step forward for professional Sony cameras, as cameras used to have a S35 sensor before the new Cinema Line. The image is stunning, I must say. You can now take wider shots, have a shallower depth of field, better low-light sensitivity and smoother skin tones with the Full-Frame sensor.

You can only achieve 30 FPS when shooting in FF6k mode. With the 2.1 update you can now shoot in FF 5k mode which allows for 60 FPS. The FX9 has a 4k S35 scan mode with a maximum frame rate 60 FPS. This is particularly useful if you have S35/APSC lenses such as the Sony E PZ18-110mm F4.0 OSS lens.

High Frame Rate

The FX9 has a High Frame Rate mode (HFR), which is 180 FPS for FF 2k and 120 FPS for S35 2k. You cannot apply a Monitor Ut to the viewfinder when shooting HFR in Cine EI, just like the FS7/FS7ii. Therefore, you will need to either bake in the LUT to the file or use an external recorder like the Atomos Ninja V/V+ to help monitor and expose the image correctly.

Dual ISO and Cine EI

The FX9 has a Dual Base ISO, 800 in low and 4000 high. This has made it easy to shoot all kinds of content, including documentaries, commercials, and wildlife. The FX9 can shoot in both Cine EI and Custom modes. The Custom Mode mode is more traditional and focuses on the video style. You get what you see. Cine EI, on the other hand, is a film style that requires post-production to achieve the desired look. Dial ISO is important because they are baked in if you shoot at base 800 ISO and 4000 ISO in Custom mode.

Cine EI allows you to record at the native ISO setting, and then adjust the exposure to suit your needs. To get the best results when shooting in Cine EI I recommend S-Gamut3.Cine/Slog3 for post-production. This will allow you to have greater control over the image, and allows for more manipulation.

Slog 3’s biggest problem is that you don’t properly expose the shot. The darks and shadows in older Sony cameras with Slog 3 were very noisy if they were exposed at the native ISO. To reduce noise, you can overexpose your image by 1-2 stops. The FX9 makes this easy. If you apply a Monitor LUT to your camera and change the ISO setting, it will affect the brightness of the Monitor LUT but not the signal being recorded. This allows you to expose the shot either too much or too little. Cine EI mode records at the base ISO.

My Monitor LUT will become darker if I use a low base ISO of 800, and my ISO to 200. This will make my image appear brighter, and it will also reduce noise.

S-Cinetone/s709

Sony released the Sony Venice with a new color science. It was more flattering for skin tones, and it gave beautiful roll-offs on the highlight. This same color science is now available on the FX9 with its S-Cinetone settings. S-Cinetone can be used in the Cine EI and Custom Modes. It’s called S-Cinetone in Custom Mode and is baked into the final image. It’s also possible to change the Monitor LUT from S-Cinetone. This is called s709. Post-production allows you to view your footage in Sony Catalyst, and create a LUT file quickly. Then, you can apply your footage to your favorite editing software and start your creative color grading. This is my preferred way to edit and shoot, but it takes a lot more time in post.

HDR/HLG

The FX9 can produce high dynamic range (HDR) video. You can either shoot in Slog 3 or shoot in Hybrid Log-Gamma. HLG was created for a faster turnaround shoot. It has been around for many decades. Simply switch to HLG mode and compose your shot. Once it is exposed properly, you can record it. The FX9 comes with a Gamma Assist Function to expose HLG properly. This is because the FX9’s LCD Viewfinder is not HDR. To expose for HDR specs such as the Atomos Ninja V/V+, you can use an external HDR Monitor.

Stabilization

Although the Sony FX9 doesn’t have in-camera stabilization it is still a great camera. The FX9 is a master of meta data. The FX9 records the internal gyro information and saves it as meta data, which Sony Catalyst uses to stabilize your footage. This method is amazing. I use it all the time. Because it uses meta data instead of analyzing footage, it does a better job than other warp stabilisers.

Here’s a quick note from me that I learned the hard-waySony Catalyst cannot be used to stabilize footage that has an integrated Image Stabilizer (IS).

Electronic Variable ND Filters

Electronic Variable ND filter is one of my favourite parts of the camera. This feature is a must-see if you’ve never heard of it. There are three ND filters in a lot of cameras, including 1/4, 1/16 and 1/64. This older method has the problem that you must still adjust settings such as ISO, Shutter, Aperture and Shutter after activating the ND filters. Sony’s Electronic Variable NDs allow you to change from three presets to Variable. This allows you to dial the right amount of ND filtration, with up to seven stops.

If my ideal ND filtration value is either 1/6, 1/17, or 1/128, then I can set my ND filter at exactly that number. You can even set your Variable ND filter as Auto ND. This will allow for an extremely smooth transition from dark to light (or vice versa), without the need to press any buttons. This feature is often on if I’m outside shooting.

Auto Focus

Auto Focus is a key feature of the FX9 design. Auto Focus was something I wasn’t thrilled with at first. I prefer manual focus. This camera has been my companion for more than a year. I couldn’t imagine life without it. It’s amazing how auto focus tracking and face detection work. The auto focus tracking and face detection can do a better job than me with my style of shooting. Auto focus can be set to adjust to your settings. Auto focus can lock onto a subject and then follow it by disregarding foreground objects.

16 Bit Raw

Do you like or need RAW shooting? The FX9 now has the ability to shoot 16-bit Linear Raw using the External XDCA, which can be purchased separately. An external recorder such as the Atomos NinjaV/V+ is required to record the 16 bit Raw signal. This recorder will convert the 16-bit linear RAW signal to 10-bit ProRes RAW, while still enjoying all the benefits of the original 16-bit signal. The market currently does not have a recorder that can output a complete 16-bit RAW file. Your camera will continue to be a viable option as technology improves.

Last Thought

The body and the Sony FX9 are available at a very competitive $10,998 each. The new features make the upgrade to the Sony FX9 worth it. This camera really helped me improve my game.