Re: Sony FX9 camera test
“Of course there are differences from budget to high end, but not having a high end camera is no longer an excuse for not producing incredible looking content.”....
Exactly. Thank you Alister.
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From: cml-raw-log-hdr@... <cml-raw-log-hdr@...> on behalf of alister via cml.news <alister=ingenioustv.com@...>
Sent: Saturday, April 24, 2021 11:25:00 AM
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Subject: Re: [cml-raw-log-hdr] Sony FX9 camera test
This agrees with my own findings. A touch more DR at 320 than 800. For me though the biggest difference becomes visible during practical shooting where at 320 ISO the final highlight roll off is visually slightly more pleasing than at 800 where the cut-off is sharper. The range isn’t greatly different when measured, but the smoothness is better at 320.
But as you point out these are small differences and not really something that will mean one shot is useable and the other not, just from a personal perspective I would try to use 320 ISO rather than 800 where possible as the lower noise and smoother highlights are just that little bit better. It gets even more confusing if you try to find the optimum settings on the FX3 as there is very little guidance on which ISO is 0dB and you can very easily end up at -12dB in some circumstances (with strong black clipping). And if you do ever play with the Alphas and FX3 be aware the ISO ratings are 1.3 stops different to the pro cameras for the standard gamma curves, but the same for the log gamma curves, I have no idea how or why this should be.
Camera tests are great learning exercises but even the most meticulous tests can miss things that don’t show up until the camera is put to use. For example I spent a lot of time comparing the FX6, FX9 and Venice and broadly everything was as expected, Venice is that little bit better. As you discovered more even noise in each channel, better colour consistency, fewer processing artefacts and a touch more useable DR. I found the FX6 and FX9 to be quite similar in some areas but different in others. They have very different fixed pattern noise with the FX6 showing horizontal noise bands and the FX9 showing a fair amount of smear in high contrast but low light. But one thing I completely missed, even though I looked at various zone plates was that the FX6 is much more prone to coloured moire than the FX9 or Venice with very fine red and blue textures. Next time I need to add R, G and B zone plates to my tests. This difference wasn’t found until real world filming and I just happened to be shooting fabric with the right texture at the right distance. Now I’ve seen this I can reproduce it easily, but I didn’t spot it during my testing. It does also explain one discovery in the test which was that even though the FX9 has a 6K sensor it did not resolve significantly more than the 4.2K FX6 sensor and the Imatest plots didn’t look greatly different. But now I know the FX6’s OLPF is not as well optimised as the FX9’s.
This is a wonderful time to be a cinematographer. There are so many choices. There are lower cost but great performing cameras for personal projects or low budgets and the more expensive flagship cameras that are just that little bit better when the budget will allow.
But whether you are using the budget camera or the flagship camera it really is going to be the skill of the operator that will make the greatest difference. Material shot well with an FS7 will look better than badly shot Venice material (of course this is not a surprise). From the audiences perspective the well shot FS7 (or other lower cost camera) should not look deficient, they will not know or care that it was shot on an FS7. As an owner of an FX9 I feel it is a great camera. But if a job came in tomorrow where the budget or some other aspect meant that Venice or an LF was more appropriate, then I would have no hesitation moving to the better camera, why wouldn’t you? But at the same time I know that if I had to cut in some FX3 crash cam or some other shot that could only be done with a small, light camera, from the audiences perspective they should not be aware that the “lesser” camera was used. Of course there are differences from budget to high end, but not having a high end camera is no longer an excuse for not producing incredible looking content.
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