Definition February 2021 - Web

GEAR REVI EW | SONY FX6

The FX6 uses the sensor and AF tech from the mirrorless A7S III in a cinema camera body – and at a price that’s a real shocker SONY’S SIX-GRAND STUNNER PR I CE £5994 / $5998

WORDS & P I CTURES ADAM DUCKWORTH

RIGHT There’s no viewfinder on the FX6, but the screen can be mounted in lots of different positions

n 2019, Sony announced the FX9, which features the same sensor technology as its full-

frame Venice, but for around a third of the price. Now, Sony has gone a huge step further in terms of affordability, with its new full-frame FX6 cinema camera at a smidge under six grand – you can get your hands on it for £5994/$5998. And, while it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the FX9, as you might expect, it does have a few tricks of its own that FX9 owners might look at jealously. It’s an incredible camera for the money – and it’s also very light and compact. If you think of the FX9 as a Sony FS7 with a full-frame sensor, then in a similar fashion, the FX6 has a similar body size and shape to the FS5 and is also fitted with a full-frame sensor. It’s not the 6K sensor the FX9 possesses, which is downsampled to 4K in use, but it’s essentially the same BSI CMOS sensor and AF tech that’s found in the new Sony A7S III mirrorless camera. Though there are spec differences, the headline

features remain: 4K/60p full-frame with no crop, recorded internally to SD or the modern CFexpress Type A cards, in 10-bit 4:2:2 All-Intra with no limitations on recording time and with all the advanced hybrid AF functions still working. Both the A7S III and FX6 shoot 120fps 4K internally, too, as well as 240fps in HD for up to 10x super-slow motion, albeit with a slight crop at the fastest frame rates. There are a huge range of HD and 4K options, in 10-bit and 8-bit, 4:2:2 and 4:2:0 versions, All-Intra and Long GOP. While the A7S III shoots at 16:9 4K only, the FX6 does offer 17:9 C4K in XAVC-I 10-bit 4:2:2 at up to 60p, recording at 600Mbps. Perhaps this gives the nitpickers ammunition to claim the FX6 isn’t always full-frame. In 4K at up to 60p, it records from the whole width of the sensor. But at C4K, instead of the field of view becoming wider by around 5%, the FX6 view actually becomes shallower to give the DCI-4K aspect ratio. There is also a crop when using fast frame rates over 60p by around 10%. It’s a small difference, but something to be wary of if you’re using it with an FX9, which has a 6K sensor that’s downsized to 4K for recording, as this can be noticeable. DUAL BASE ISO, BUT NOT... In terms of the sensor, the FX9 uses a CMOS with a Dual Base ISO system that controls how the sensor gathers

light at different settings. It changes the sensitivity and also the spread of dynamic range. In low base ISO 800, there are the same number of stops of range above and below mid grey. In the higher base ISO 4000, there are just five stops above mid grey and ten stops below, which means that more shadow detail is able to be retained. Sony has stopped short of saying the FX6 has a Dual Base ISO sensor, but admits there are two different base ISO settings. When using S-Log3 for maximum dynamic range of up to 15 stops, the first is at 800, and the second High Sensitivity mode ISO is at 12,800. It seems a bit pedantic not to call it Dual Base ISO, as it works in a similar way. And it works incredibly well, with gorgeous, noise-free images at the low setting. And when light levels drop and ISO creeps up, the higher setting takes over and does a great job of minimising horrid noise. When we tested the A7S III, which has a low base ISO of 640, we said there seemed to be some sort of Dual Base ISO technology, as the noise was better at 12,800 than at ISO settings slightly below it. Officially, Sony says nothing, but this feature now makes us even more convinced the Sony A7S III has the same technology. Comparing the two cameras, the levels of performance are quite similar. However, the A7S III seems to have a more aggressive noise

SPECI F I CAT IONS SENSOR – FORMAT AND SIZE: 35MM, FULL-FRAME, EXMOR R 4096X2160 CMOS, 10.2 MEGAPIXELS FRAME RATES: 120FPS 4K LENS MOUNT: E RECORDING OPTIONS: XAVC-I, XAVC-L EXPOSURE LATITUDE: 15+ STOPS

26 DEF I N I T ION | FEBRUARY 202 1

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