Sony FX9 – Footage & Hands-on with the Full-Frame, Fast Hybrid Autofocus, Dual ISO Camera
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Sony FX9 – Footage & Hands-on with the Full-Frame, Fast Hybrid Autofocus, Dual ISO Camera

October 26, 2019

This is the new Sony FX9, Sony’s new full-frame, fast
hybrid autofocus, dual ISO, low light capable camera. cinema5D at IBC 2019
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music for film and video Cartoni, support your vision and Fujinon, ultimate optical performance Hi, my name is Nino Leitner
and this is cinema5D. Today Sony officially presented
its new Sony FX9 camera. Alongside a handful of industry
colleagues from all over Europe I was lucky enough to be invited to
a presentation and hands-on shooting with the FX9 in London. There I also shot an interview with one
of the lead developers of the camera, Yasua Ueda-san. You can watch the interview
by clicking this link here. Now, before I share my
impressions with the Sony FX9 let me give you a little bit of background. The Sony FS7 has been
my personal main camera for the past five years
since it came out. I shoot a lot of documentaries,
commercials and corporate stuff with it and actually I invested in a second one
three years after it came out because it was so incredibly popular. At least here in Europe
the FS7 is everywhere it’s the most used Super 35 mm camera in normal day-to-day productions. During these full 5 years that
the Sony FS7 has been out there’s really only been
one small update to the camera which was the FS7 Mark II which really only introduced a variable
electronic ND filter to the camera. Other than that, Sony really
rode on the success of the FS7. So it really was time for something new. As you will see, the Sony FX9
really builds on the FS7 success. If you want, you could really
call it an FS7 on steroids. 11 years ago the Canon 5d
Mark II was introduced and what followed was
of course a filmmaking revolution. For the first time it was possible
to create cinematic images from an inexpensive camera
with a full frame 35-mm sensor. Shortly thereafter,
was founded as the forum and news site for all those things
relating to the SLR filmmaking and helping you guys find
your way around this new world. It took a lot of time, but
after all those years finally the big camera manufacturers have
jumped onto the full-frame bandwagon when it comes to cinema cameras. Finally they’re giving us
a full-frame sensor in all those professional
filmmaking cameras. Sony has started with
the Sony Venice which has of course
a 3:2 full-frame sensor and now finally we have a lower
end professional cinema camera the FX9 with a 17:9 full-frame sensor. Now what’s really noteworthy
is that the Sony FX9 has a 6k sensor. But right now you can’t actually
record those 6k, only 4k. They’re down sampling the 6k
sensor for a very crisp 4k recording. Sony says that actually gives
them an increased sensitivity with a bigger photo size, and also a better capability
of having a better autofocus which I will talk about a little bit later. Sony is using a new sensor
in the FX9 called Exmor R but it’s not the same one
used in the Venice. However, the camera shares
the same dual ISO with the Venice at 800 and 4000 ISO. Internally, the FX9 uses the
same codecs as the FS7: X AVC intra 10 bit 4:2:2 in up to 4k. on top of that the new Extension Unit
will of course share all the features from the
old XDCA FS7 Extension Unit. The up to 16 bit RAW output
from the XDCA unit will be via one SDI cable again. Unfortunately, only in
up to 4k right now. When asking the developers
about why that is and why they’re not offering 6k output, they said that they will consider
it in a future firmware update. At the start the camera will
only have 16:9 aspect ratios built in. UHD 4k and 1080p HD. 4k and 2k DCI in 17:9 aspect
ratios as well as a 5k crop mode which of course will only be able
to be recorded in 4k internally, we’ll be added with a firmware
update later on. In terms of frame rates the camera
can use its full 6k full frame sensor with up to 30p, of course only recorded in 4k. When you switch to the 5k crop mode
you can record up to 60p, again, recorded in 4k, of course, and there’s also a Super 35 crop
mode which can be recorded in 60p. With the future firmware update
this Super 35 crop mode will also be able to do 120 fps. I think that eventually this camera will
be able to do the same full frame rates that the FS7 is doing right
now which is up to 180 fps. Here are some test clips from the
full-frame 6k mode down sample to 4k. here’s the full frame 6k modes
down sampled to 1080p. and here you can see
the S35 crop in 4k. And the S35 crop in 1080p. You can see that there is still significant
moiré in the S35 crop mode in 1080p. But the developers from Sony assured
me that all those modes are not final yet and this will be much better
in the final camera. All the images filmed on
the FX9 that you can see here were filmed in a new picture
profile called S-Cinetone which is aimed to reproduce
skin tones really nicely. Sony introduced a new
color science with the Venice and then also this was carried
on to the FS5 Mark II and for the first time now
we have Sony cameras that produce really nice-looking skin tones
out of the box. And, at the same time, they are maintaining the
full latitude of the sensor, at least it seems like that. I can see this being used on
most TV productions in the future where there is little time to actually
do proper grading from an s-log image. And I really like the way the
skin tones look from this camera. Apart from the full frame look
of the biggest sensor which of course also brings
shallower depth of field and the ability to do wider shots, the other big innovation in
the FX9 is the dual base ISO of 800 and 4000 ISO. Now, the FS7 was decent in
low-light but it wasn’t really great. But the FX9 completely
changes that. When you switch that camera
to the base high ISO of 4,000 you can ramp it up up to 12,800 ISO. I did try that mode, and while it’s not completely
noise free of course, it’s still absolutely usable
for most productions in TV. Finally, we have an F Series
camera from Sony that is as low light capable
as some of the alpha cameras in Sony’s lineup. Particularly the a7 Series. Of course, the King is still the a7s II
when it comes to low-. The FX line is the first camera to have
an electronic variable ND filter on a full-frame sensor, with all the same features we
already know from the FS7 Mark II and also the FS5 cameras. The camera does not have IBIS the mechanical in-body
image stabilization because it seems like this
is impossible to combine with a built-in ND filter. However, the FX9 has a gyro and
it records movements as metadata which is saved onto the clips directly. This metadata can be used in post
to stabilize the footage electronically using Sony’s own Catalyst software. Sony is also working with the
makers of other editing platforms to support this metadata in the future. And now let’s tackle one of the most
important innovations in the Sony FX9: the Fast Hybrid Autofocus. This is comparable to Canon’s
dual pixel autofocus and it also works really
well in the Sony FX9, I was really surprised. Now, the FS7 didn’t have a great
autofocus, it was only contrast based. Now we have something
that is contrast based and also face detection based. Both combined. It works really smoothly and it is fast and what’s particularly impressive
is the phase detection . It sees all the faces in your shot
and you can, with face registration, register one of the faces and the camera and the
autofocus will lock on to that face, no matter how that person
moves through the frame. I tried having them actually leave
the frame for a brief second and then come back and
will still recognize that face and keep them locked on. That is really seriously impressive. I also really didn’t make it
easy for the autofocus. I was shooting mostly at F 1.8
with the new Sony 35mm lens and I would say it kept
focus 90% of all time. That is almost as good as
a professional focus puller. I’m not saying that this would
replace a professional focus puller but this goes out to all the naysayers who say that autofocus has
no place in the cinema world. Times are really changing
and I think people need to adapt. What’s a little bit cumbersome
is that the FX9 still comes with a very similar
screen to the FS7 which is not a touchscreen. It’s not like I absolutely
need a touchscreen but as soon as you’re using autofocus
for something like face detection it would be very very useful. Like Canon does it on their
new C500 Mark II where you can simply tap on
a face and it will stay locked on. With the Sony FX9 you
actually have to shuffle through the faces
that you see in your shot with a joystick on your handle and then tap on one to register that face. It just takes a lot of time and sometimes
this might not be fast enough. So I hope that Sony will introduce an optional touch screen
for the camera in the future. Now let’s quickly move on
to the outside of the camera but stay with the sensor
for a little bit. This camera still uses the E-mount
Lever-Lock TypE-mount of the E-mount which they already introduced
with the FS7 mark II. I’m not a big fan of the
Lever-Lock TypE-mount simply because it actually prevents
you from replacing a lens alone when you have your camera
on the shoulder with one hand you need both of your
hands to actually take a lens off and if you try it with one
hand you will drop the lens. This is very dangerous. But still it provides a better
protection for the camera mount than the original E-mount, of course. The advantage of the E-mount of course
is the short flange distance which means that you
can adapt practically any lens onto the E-mount, which still
is a huge plus of this technology. A nice welcome addition to
the internal connectors of the FX9 is the inclusion of time code
and genlock ports in the body of the camera itself. That means that we don’t necessarily need
the XDCA unit for timecode anymore like it was the case with the FS7. The FX9 has Wi-Fi image transmission
built right into the camera. That means that you can use your smart
phone with a dedicated Sony app and watch the image with
about a one-second delay live streamed from your camera. And you can control the
camera functions with it too. Now as you can see the FX9
looks very similar to the FS7 it’s just a little bit longer. But that also means it lives better
on your shoulder than the FS7 but it makes it even harder
to put it on a gimbal. Please note that the final finish of
the production version of this camera will be gray. We had only one gray camera with
us when we had the test shoot there were three other models
which were actually black and looked much more like an FS7. But there will be no black version
of that camera in the market. Unfortunately, Sony decided to
stick with the same loupe design that they used on the FS7 series already. I think this loupe is too long and it actually creates a problem
if you use lenses of a certain length because the center of gravity
on your shoulder will be off with that very long loupe. The handle also looks the same as
the one from the FS7 Mark II. It’s ok, but I would have liked to see something like the
quick-release technology that Shape is using for their FS7 handle. On the handle they added a grip
belt which of course is very useful because the camera will
simply be more secure in your hand. You can see that there are a lot
of buttons on the side of the FX9. Most noteworthy addition
over the FS7 series are the two additional
audio wheels that you have there. With these 2 wheels you
can control channel 3 & 4 which probably by default will also be
set to the internal microphone again but you can switch that
through external audio as well. Sony also released a new series of
U-WPD audio devices recently and they also, like before,
communicate through a smart hot-shoe. The new thing is that now a full
digital transmission is maintained, never ever goes the signal to
analog or back to digital again, it’s digital from the start to the end. which actually results in better
audio quality overall. In addition to the camera itself, Sony announced a new cinema
lens series for E-mount which is supposed to combine the precise
manual focusing from cinema lenses with the advanced autofocus
capabilities of the new camera. The first lens will be
a 16-35mm T3.1 lens, which will be released
in spring next year. So, let me summarize. Sony claims that the FX9 is
not a successor to the FS7 but to me it clearly feels like one. They clearly built on the success
of the FS7 Series and spec it up as much as possible. At a suggested retail
price of 11,000 euros with availability in December already I’m sure it will find its market. The 4,000 euro price difference
to the Canon c500 Mark II will really forgive the fact that Sony
could have been a little bit more bold in redesigning the concept
from the FS7 to the FX9. Nevertheless, the really great autofocus that’s really ready for
primetime cinema production and also the full-frame sensor look
combined with the S-Cinetone all of this, I think make sure that
this camera will find its way into professional productions worldwide. Thanks for watching, this is cinema5D and please
stay tuned to our channel for a lot more videos from IBC 2019. And please subscribe
to our YouTube channel.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Is there any roadmap as to when the future firmware updates will be released? it would be great to have an understanding as to how long we would have to wait for some of these important features i.e S35 QFHD 3840 x 2160 120fps, FF FullHD 1920 x 1080 180fps. Thanks, great video!

  2. I have to say I'm torn. The AF performance and available codecs make it quite attractive, but I'm kinda annoyed with the resolution restraint. The C500II and Mavo LF both allow for 6K shooting (though c500ii only at 10bit color). The form factor of both of those seems more ideal for a run and gun setup. The image from all three cameras is fantastic for sure, but there's still some compromises. Right now, I'm still strongly leaning towards the Mavo LF, especially with their new OLPF coming.

  3. There’s a lot to unpack here. Autofocus cinema lenses?! Need a separate video on that! Sony has been known to rush products into the market before they are ready, looking at you FS5 with 80 firmware updates! (which fixed everything & gave us automatic electronic ND filters).
    I would much rather own the Canon C500ii over the FX9, even though it is more expensive. The problem is, is you currently own a FS7, you can get work immediately, and I’m sure the industry will shift to the FX9 because tv & other industries are so used to the workflow and have invested in emount lenses, etc.
    Thank you for this review. I look forward to more on this camera.

  4. Nice looking camera, but it's still a Sony camera so that means the menu system is still trash. I would rather get the C500 mk II

  5. Great looking image, however they could have gone the extra mile with the grip and loupe. Surprised they didn't after apparently listening to users??? That's clearly an obvious gripe. Just a little more effort would have made it such a no brainer. As it is, in my opinion, I'm sure there are many of us who are looking to upgrade weighing up the extra cost for the C500 Mkii. Of course, a big factor will be down to lens collections as well. Either way, I think the image looks sublime and everything else mostly can be compensated for i.e. Shape/Zacuto for the rig and alternative monitor also. One thing that's definitely missing though is the touch screen. Nothing is ever perfect though and this is definitely some hot property that I'm going to ponder over for a while.

  6. Honestly shocked that they were not able to get above 4k60 even years after the Fs7 released. I mean I know it is not really a fair compairison, but other camera manufacturers have been able to pull off 6k recording in much smaller camers (Panasonic H1, BMP 6k)

    The new color science and Duel ISO looks fantastic, and I have been dying to finally get some good AF, but not being able to tap to focus with the screen kinda sucks – especially when their lower end photography cameras have this feature…

  7. I wouldn't mind if the a7siii debuts with a 5k sensor, rather than a 6k sensor (unlikely, they will likely reuse it) because I'd like to shoot 4k or higher from the full sensor. I know the 5k crop isn't huge, but it's still disappointing for the price point.

    Also, I'm surprised to hear that there are significant challenges combining electronic ND with IBIS. I'm glad to hear the developers at least address stabilization on the camera, maybe IBIS in the FX9 mk2. In a shoulder-mount camera, IBIS would be less important than stepless ND, but one could argue the reverse is true for a handheld camera.

  8. Some great features here. But half of the camera is released on a firmware update? And they still can't do full resolution or internal raw? Or IBIS? There is no reason IBIS can't be done with built in ND, and everyone would prefer IBIS over ND anyway. Addition to that, if it was a bit smaller it would have been perfect.

  9. Why can't you combine IBIS with an internal ND filter though? I imagine you could make the case bulkier with the filters spinning away somewhere else while keeping the flange distance the same

  10. wish it could do prores raw through the hdmi to a atomos ninja 5 (with the gyro metdata), the only thing this is missing against the c500 mkii is that raw (and the touchscreen)……….although I would like to see both sony and canon add eye af to these cameras like they have on there stills cameras in video mode

  11. not really sure why people are banging on about the skin tones. They still look cold and slightly magenta to me and also most of the test footage is overexposed so hard to realy judge.

  12. how many people think it IS the same sensor as the Venice? much cheaper than developing an entirely new sensor but with the same dimension! but they can’t say it is because that would cannibalizes their Venice sales – but yeah its just a handicapped Venice sensor if i had to bet.

  13. Do you think we will see the new Sony color profile “s-cinetone” trickle down to a7 cameras ? The tests I have seen make it looks really nice

  14. It's tough to follow up the C500II but Cinetone really saves Sony on this one. I didn't expect such a huge improvement in colour.

  15. I don't get the digital mics. I mean the signal from the capsules are analog and get then converted inside the mic to digital. The analog mic just gets converted to digital inside the camera so i don't know if this is really an advantage since both signal need to be converted …but it is interesting and using only the hotshoe without the need of extra cables is nice

  16. A big no from me. As a former F5 owner I can see the Sony "pro" division are playing their old games again withholding features again and a hodge podge of menus and outputs.

  17. for those wondering why traditional "almost-live" electronic LAGGY PAST-PRE-View-Only Sony-style View-Finders on both Cine-video cameras and Sony Alpha MILCs will be okay for conventional PRE-CAPTURE (motion or "spray-n-pray extra early" stills), which are less split-second time critical, and NEVER good for ultra-fast action "one key moment" (with minimal culling) capture … any REMOTE "Past-Preview-Only" (live-streaming) has an even OLDER Long-Passed-into-Past WHOPPING FULL SECOND LAG ! (as the Sony smartphone app suffers)

    no one disputes the necessity of "spray-n-pray-extra-early" benefits on such predominantly Past-Preview-Only (60Hz -120Hz videofeed = to cull a possible single moment) centric systems, but in order to figure out if the desired exact moment is captured at all, one must CHIMP Sony-style in post.

    it is worst for Sony Alpha MILCs High-Continuous STILLS SHOOTERS with only Past-Preview-Only, whether one has 60Hz or 120Hz Past-Preview-Only videofeedframes straight from image sensor, shooting stills at 10fps or 20fps, means one NEVER SEES (NEVER KNOW for sure till after the fact) which 10 of 60, 20 of 60, 10 of 120, or 20 of 120 "moments" were really recorded till LATE REVIEWING the images only AFTER the sensor cache has cleared, and recording cache has been cleared to storage memory.

    for ultra-fast FULL high-resolution action STILLS capture, the availability of High-Speed Live-REVIEW-Display (Actual-Captures DISPLAYED LIVE) exclusive to Canons, will mean their shooters SEE "minimized" electronic RAW CAPTURES feedback LIVE ! (never see unnecessary PAST image sensor feedframe "irrelevant preview" PRE-CAPTURES!)

    for any NEED for conventional "spray-n-pray-but-only-a-teeny-bit-early", there's High-Speed Live-REVIEW-Display Pre-Capture RAW BURST MODE (Canon Exclusive, too) = less excess, less early, less irrelevant past clutter, to deal with.

  18. 7:17 See, if the Panasonic S1H had better autofocus, I would have jumped on that camera. Alas, the autofocus on the S1H is hit or miss for me. It also pulses in the examples I've seen (clearly seen in the bokeh of the background). In this camera, there is no pulsing, which is great! I think the Nikon (that was in the comparison video with the Panasonic) didn't pulse either.
    13:15 Oops. Didn't stick too well here. See? I'm not fanboying. 🙂 I try to be honest. And of course there is also the price difference I'm sure.

  19. When you hear someone call a camera "low light capable" you may as well stop watching. They don't know what they're talking about.

  20. Skin tones look like clay/plastic, highlight rolloff is pretty dreadful, and the moiré is awful. And buy a light meter for heaven's sake!

  21. I didn't know you all had a YouTube channel. Glad I was able to find it.
    I am more excited though for the FX9 camera. I don't shoot or need this kind of quality but that doesn't mean my paid gigs won't need this. Where camera technology is going now a days. This is a great progression and we are living in exciting times.

  22. Gorgeous camera! I'm going to save up and get one even though I don't do video production, I have no use for it and I don't even know why I'd need it.

    I just know I want it!

  23. Sad that it does not have a real stabilizer, for that reason alone i will not buy this camera. It sounds silly but having to do extra work in post and and have a much lower quality of steady shots this will lower the production value alone a lot. Working with a camera with a proper stabilizer and correcting the rest of the amount in post is the correct way of doing it. I think that coming up with a Sony Warp stabilizer software to cheapo out on putting in a real stabilizer is terribly bad idea from Sony. So sad when this type of thing is done. Black magic is doing the same thing to cheap out on a fully functioning camera. Having a better spec. camera that has a critical component missing that will just reduces overall quality is just BAD in my opinion.

  24. I switched from Canon to Sony about 5 years ago but to be honest I have not been satisfied with Sony. On paper, the Sony is great but there is just something that the Image doesn't have that Canon does. It is the way the Image FEELS, the Sony just feels digital and electronic.

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