Sony FX6 Review First Look – An Almost Perfect Camera

Here are my thoughts on the newly announced Sony FX6, which I was able to use for a few days. Be sure to also check out our news post about the FX6 which covers all the tech specs of the camera. But here’s my Sony FX6 Review, a first look.

Mind you that we had access to a pre-production version of the camera with an early firmware. We will re-test some aspects in detail and add our lab test when we get access to a production version of the camera.

Sony FX6 – a mini FX9?

The FX6 looks like a mini version of the FX9, and it’s easy to compare the two to the Sony FS7 and FS5. The FS5 really was a specced-down version of the FS7, with a weaker codec. 

The quality differences in recording quality between the FX9 and FX6 are less distinct, however, but let’s get to this a little bit later. First, let’s look at the FX6 itself!

Camera shape and form factor

The camera body itself is tiny. When you take off the top and side handles, you are left with a little lightweight box that can easily be put in all kinds of small shooting spaces or on a gimbal, for example. 

To me, the form factor feels close to perfect. It’s super easy to adjust the handle to almost any position, and it’s also easy to reposition the monitor to various mounting points on the body. It weighs next to nothing but it’s not like you are missing any features from it: the famous electronic variable ND filter is in there as well, and this is something that is still unique to Sony pro cameras. Being able to adjust ND intensity stepless and without any color shift. 

Sony FX6 and XLR ports. Image credit: CineD

Position of the XLR ports – on the handle

Compared to the FS5, the two XLR ports have moved back up into the detachable handle. I was a fan of the positioning in the FS5 where one XLR was in the body itself, because it meant you don’t lose all audio inputs when you detach the handle. However that is the case with the FX6. You are left only with a low-quality built-in mic in the body, there isn’t even a mini jack mic input. However, the FX6 has a Timecode in/out port in the body itself, which is hugely useful for professional productions, and that means you can attach something like a Tentacle Sync timecode box to sync up with your external audio recording or other cameras. 

Sony FX6 button layout. Image credit: CineD

Button layout, quick menu

The button layout on the side is intuitive and will be very familiar to Sony users, and the camera has a number of assignable buttons all over the body. Sony has a new quick menu in the FX6 that shows up when you press the menu button once, and it’s essentially 10 pages of the most-needed functions laid out in grid form. While I was quite excited about it when I saw this for the first time – and it’s also available in the FX9 since the firmware 2.0 update – I have to say that I find that this still needs a bit more work from Sony until it becomes really useful. Many functions don’t work together that are supposed to work together, and a lot of important things are missing – so in the end, I still find myself using the normal full menu, which shows up after a long press of the menu button. 

720p touch screen

The screen is identical with the screen from the FX9. It’s 720p resolution and a touch screen, however don’t expect the same responsiveness for touch you are used to from the a7s III. While the camera has the same amazing facial recognition autofocus as the FX9, which works just as well, it doesn’t share the touch tracking functionality from the a7S III which is quite useful. 

CineD’s Nino Leitner using the Sony FX6. Image credit: Stephan “Sly” Silwester

Sony FX6 – an a7S III in a pro video body?

In general, think of the Sony FX6 uses the a7S III guts in a pro video body. Sony could not confirm, but I am almost 100% certain that they took the sensor and other technologies from the a7S III and combined it with the best from the FX9. When you crop the 12 megapixel sensor from the a7S III to 16:9, you end up roughly with the 10.2 megapixels the FX6 has. 

FX6, a low light beast

Also, it shares similar native ISO values with the a7S III at 800 and 12,800 ISO. On the a7S III, the lower native ISO is 640.

Low light shot from the Sony FX6. Image credit: CineD.

And yes, that also means that the FX6 seems to be an absolute low-light beast. We haven’t finished a side-by-side yet as we didn’t have the FX6 long enough, but my feeling is that the better processing of the camera actually produces even cleaner low light images than the a7S III. That would make the FX6 probably the most capable low light camera on the market. We will test this side-by-side once we get our hands on a final production model of the FX6. In our a7S III lab test we measured quite exceptional dynamic range and very low rolling shutter on the a7S III, and I will bet my left arm that we will see similar results in our FX6 lab test once we test the production models. 

Sony FX6 full frame sensor. Image credit: CineD

10.2 megapixel sensor – native 4K, S-Cinetone available

The 10.2 megapixel sensor in the FX6 is a native 4K resolution sensor, not the 6K sensor from the FX9 which gets downsampled to 4K. That means that the FX9 still retains more detail, but in both cases you end up with a 4K image recorded into the XAVC-I intraframe- and XAVC-L-Long-GOP-Codecs. Yes, the FX6 records in the same codecs as the FX9, not the ones of the a7S III. And you have of course Slog 3 but also S-Cinetone available in the FX6, just like in the FX9. 

Same recording media as a7S III

In terms of recording media, the FX6 takes the same cards as an a7S III: SD card V90 or CF Express Type-A cards, so no more XQD cards like in the FX9 and also the FS7 series. 

In terms of codecs, the FX6 is recording in the same codecs as the FX9, which is interesting, because it leaves out the H.265 based codec for the high frame rates that is used in the a7S III. Read more on the codecs in our news article about the camera here.

Codec comparison of the Sony FX6, Sony FX9 and Sony a7S III. Image credit: Sony.

No IBIS, but gyro data for post stabilization

Unlike the a7S III, the FX6 does not feature in-body stabilization. We have been told by Sony that it’s impossible to have IBIS in a camera with a built-in mechanical ND. However, like with the FX9, the FX6 has a gyroscope built in and it records the movements of the camera. Using Sony’s own Catalyst software you can apply post-stabilization using that data. 

(High) frame rates: FX6 vs. FX9 vs. a7S III

Now let’s move on to frame rates. The FX9 can’t do a full-frame sensor and record 4K at 50 or 60p, which is why they introduced a 5K crop mode which will record 4K in 50 or 60p. 

Now, the FX9’s smaller and half-priced sibling, the FX6, can record the full frame sensor at 50 or 60p without any problem. In fact, it can go much higher than that. In S&Q mode, the high-speed recording mode for slow motion, we can achieve up to 120 frames per second in 4K with a full-sensor readout without any crop whatsoever, just like with the a7S III. That is really impressive – and to make things even better, the autofocus works on the FX6 in most high-speed modes. When shooting with a 25p timebase, the autofocus works at up to 100 frames per second, with a 29.97 timebase even up to 120 frames per second, which is a bit confusing. In HD resolution, the FX6 can record a whopping 240 frames per second without any crop, and the autofocus functionality also depends on the base framerate in HD. 

Compare that with the FX9 – much lower high frame rates – only 30p without crop – and no autofocus whatsoever once you go into the S&Q high-speed recording modes. Now, to be frank, as someone who bought an FX9, I am not too happy about this. The camera cost twice as much as the FX6.

Sony FX6 on the new Sachtler Aktiv head with a Flowtech tripod. Image credit: CineD.

RAW output from the FX6 vs. FX9

Oh, talking about that, we should look at what you need to output RAW from the FX9 : the optional €2,500 XDCA-FX9. Yes, it also has other functions, but you will still need to purchase it if you want to record RAW from that camera. 

What about the FX6? No accessories needed. You can output RAW directly from the camera to an Atomos recorder to record ProRes RAW. Another thing that doesn’t make an FX9 customer too happy! And did I mention the low-light? Also considerably better on the FX6!

No Super35mm 4K crop on FX6

Now there is one big caveat on all that with the FX6 – it does not have a Super35mm crop mode in 4K resolution. You can only crop to S35 in HD, and this is down to the native 4K resolution of the sensor. That of course effectively means that you can’t use a lot of legacy glass with this camera. 

Clear Image Zoom [EDIT/ADDED Nov 18th]

I was made aware by Sony that there is a Clear image zoom even in 4K/QFHD. In 4K/QFHD it’s up to 1.5x, and in 1080p it’s up to 2x. Very nice to hear that the function even works in 4K although I guess it’s interpolating pixels as we are dealing with a 4K sensor.

Clear Image Zoom setting in the Sony FX6. Image source: Sony.

Sony FX6 Review Conclusion

Putting my feelings about the comparison with the FX9 aside, the FX6 is a truly exceptional camera. I will still have to put a production version through its paces, but from what I have seen and experienced, for me personally this is very close to the perfect camera. It’s small, it’s light, it has almost all the codec options and frame rates I would ever need, amazing autofocus and it’s practically a night-vision camera. 

I predict that the FX6 will become the true successor of the FS7 in productions all over the world. Yes, the FX9 still has some other functions like the Super35mm crop and others that will make it interesting for broadcasters and other high-end productions, and please check out my FX6 interview with Yann from Sony to hear their thoughts about that. But for a huge number of indie filmmakers, the FX6 will be enough – no in fact, it will be the better and more versatile choice! 

The Sony FX6 is simply a frustratingly good camera, for an FX9 owner.

Does anyone want to buy my FX9? ;-)

Pricing and Availability

The Sony FX6 will cost $5,998 or €5,500 plus sales tax / VAT. It should be available in December.

What do you think about the new Sony FX6? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t miss our news article about the FX6 listing all its features in detail.

Links: Sony Pro Website.

62
Leave a Reply

guest
1
1
- 3
Filter:
all
Sort by:
latest
Walter Vargas
Walter Vargas
Member
Yesterday

The full-frame sensor is unfortunate, since it rules out the vast majority of cine lenses out there.

Per Merakerli
Guest
7 days ago

Hi, I sold my SONY FX9, it just was too much of a “project” to record RAW, as I only do movie .BUt. will a recorder be able to record any other format from this SONY then Pro Res Raw.

Its not very practical, when useing Davinci Reoslve; it does not take ProRes RAW. I guess the signal is ” transcoded ” from Fx6 , into the Atomos recorder ? Its not the SONY itself “produscing ” ProRes RAW, is it ?

I really want a small recorder, not this monitor. I dont need naother monitor. I used only the eyeViewFinder in a whole movie, and that was all fine !

So, is it possibel to set the Atomos to other fileformats? Like ProRes 422, or else. And, is it only the Atomos that can take the SONY output format ?

Walter Vargas
Walter Vargas
Guest
Yesterday
Reply to  Per Merakerli

Yes, the Atomos recorder takes the raw data and encodes it as ProRes Raw. And as far as I know yes, only Atomos and Sony take Sony raw.

The Atomos recorders also record most varieties of ProRes, and even Avid DNx.

Just get a Shogun 7. Even if you don’t use it for composing shots, it’s useful to review footage or let the director or producer see what the camera sees.

Last edited 1 day ago by Walter Vargas
Charly Faure-Boursereau
Charly Faure-Boursereau
Member
10 days ago

Hello Nino!

Thank you very much for your work.

I am a French reporter so it is possible that I did not understand everything well…
I am currently hesitating between the A7S III and the FX-6. I have the feeling that the FX-6 will be more practical and will prevent me from having a Christmas tree instead of a camera (A7S III + cage for Sony sound system + Atomos Ninja V … which seems to be too many additional items).
But a few details slow me down … Is the autofocus directly to the touch on the screen really any worse from there that it is a reason to prefer the A7SIII?
If we want to mount the FX-6 on the Ronin S2, can we leave the handle to record a moving interview?
Finally, how damaging is the absence of IBIS ..?

Thank you very much for your time and patience with me…

Best regards

Charly Faure-Boursereau
Charly Faure-Boursereau
Member
10 days ago
Reply to  Nino Leitner

Thank you very much for your response and your responsiveness !!

I will be required to film documentaries on sport, to travel abroad to produce humanitarian content, or to film short video clips for sport and music. Is the FX-6 seems more suitable than the A7SIII in my case?

Thank you Nino

Last edited 10 days ago by Charly Faure-Boursereau
Charly Faure-Boursereau
Charly Faure-Boursereau
Member
10 days ago
Reply to  Nino Leitner

Thanks again for these tips !

One last question, is the raw format only external via SDI and not HDMI like on the A7SIII? Because it bothers me to have to buy the atomos shogun 7, which I find too big for the size of the camera, unlike the Ninja V.

Thank you Nino

Charly Faure-Boursereau
Charly Faure-Boursereau
Member
10 days ago

And just, would you have a link to the sigma lens you told me about?

Because on a French site I find this one: https://www.lesnumeriques.com/zooms/sigma-sigma-24-70-mm-f-2-8-dg-dn-art-p54687/test.html

but it is apparently not stabilized. Thank you so much Nino

Michael
Michael
Guest
6 days ago

Hi,I just came across this discussion and thought I’d share another option. You could always add the SDI module to the ninja V

Georg Pircher
Georg Pircher
Member
10 days ago

Thanks for the review. This seems like the perfect upgrade from the fs7. The touch tracking AF like in other Sony mirorless cameras (a7siii) would be nice though… that is actually a very useful feature. Maybe we can hope for an update…

I’ve got one question: Is there a quick way to switch from say QHD 25 fps to S&Q QHD 100 fps? A thing that always bothered me with the fs7 was the lack of a quick way to change between 4k 50 to HD 100. It takes forever and forces you to go into the menu. On Sony mirrorless cameras (even the a7iii…) it’s done in a second by turning the mode-dial.

Another function I’d like to see (that’s just me dreaming of my perfect cam): if the change between say 25 fps and 100 fps would also take care of the exposure by automatically adjusting the iris, nd or iso without affecting the shutter angle. Is there even a camera out with that feature?

Felix Golenko
Felix Golenko
Member
10 days ago

can’t wait to read your lab test!

Ian Taylor
Guest
11 days ago

fuck you Cine D for deleting my comments! Hack ass fucks!

Vincent Degeye
Member
12 days ago

As a FS7 owner…. is it a good idea to buy a FX6 ?
I’m really thinking about it…

Jens
Jens
Guest
12 days ago

I see that you used the Sigma mc-11 with a Canon lens. Did you test the autofocus with that setup on the FX6?

Last edited 12 days ago by Jens
mike
mike
Guest
12 days ago

does the viewfinder loupe from the FX7 or 9 fit on the FX6?

Ram Lee-Tal
Ram Lee-Tal
Member
12 days ago

Great review Nino, thanks.
Does it have the two modes Custom/Cine like in the FS7?

Jean-Claude FLACCOMIO
Jean-Claude FLACCOMIO
Member
12 days ago

It will be perfect with the A7s3! Alternating cam A / B for multicam, doc and animal.
For their Codec … Strongly that they understand in sony that it is also necessary internally BMRAW or ProResRAW is essential! or if they fail to switch to H265 in intra, we will also gain in dynamics and storage space. For the sound on the body of the camera alone, their little shoe recorder, the B1M, should be tested when placed on a small Ronin M, to see if it works and if it does not interfere …

Devil Mind
Devil Mind
Member
12 days ago

I’m bit confused here.
On overview recording detail image for Sony Fx6 codecs in about article.

3rd Fx6 line says XAVC L 4k 150Mbps Intra? Shouldn’t this be Long GOP? Can you clarify the typo?

Nino Leitner
Guest
12 days ago
Reply to  Devil Mind

Well spotted. It’s true, makes no sense. I will reach out to Sony.

craig gomberg
craig gomberg
Guest
13 days ago

Nino thanks for the honest and genuine review it is much appreciated. I know it’s like comparing apples to oranges but do you think the image quality is as good as it’s competition like the Canon C70 and the Red Komodo?

Nino Leitner
Guest
12 days ago
Reply to  craig gomberg

Impossible to say, all of these cameras deliver exceptional images and as you said, it’s comparing apples to oranges. All of these cameras have their spot and they will all look different.

We are really in an amazing time where there aren’t any bad new cameras anymore! 2020 is amazing for camera releases, if not for much else…

Stephen Brenner
Stephen Brenner
Member
13 days ago

Wouldn’t it be trivial for Sony or a third party to offer a small xlr audio interface that
connected to the same port that the fx6 handle uses? That would solve the no
audio problem when using a gimble.

Florian Gintenreiter
Florian Gintenreiter
Guest
13 days ago

It truly looks like a well balanced pice of kit. I bet it’s going to be a hit for Sony. I must admit I was tempted there for a bit. (I’m homing in on the C300III and spending a lot less on a camera does have it’s draw.) Unfortunately it’s “Fullframe” and I don’t care much about that. It always felt wrong to me. This and the weak internal codec breaks the deal for me.

Mat
Mat
Guest
12 days ago

They are very different cameras. Personally I love full frame, and have been wanting an affordable version right back to the days when I first picked up a cannon 5d mark 2. About the codec: have you checked it out for yourself? On paper it does look potentially weak, but in practice… Even on the fs5 the 10 bit longop was really impressive, but the XAVC Intra 422 10-bit is amazing for about 80% of video produced today. Sure it will never compete with 444 arriraw, but it doesn’t need to. Its absolutely amazing how much they are packing into it. If you are tempted by the C300III then go for it – its an absolutely stunning camera, but for a very different purpose. personally for the stuff I film – observational, documentary, factual entertainment etc, then the variable ND, incredible autofocus, and small package make this a really exciting bit of kit. Hell I just shot a half hour doc for BBC one on an Fs7 shooting HD, so in my world… Anyway – aren’t we lucky to have so many great cameras to serve our individual needs…

Craig Marshall
Craig Marshall
Member
13 days ago

“You can only crop to S35 in HD, and this is down to the native 4K resolution of the sensor. That of course effectively means that you can’t use a lot of legacy glass with this camera.”

You must be referring to legacy APSC glass here but the S35 crop does mean I can still use my C/Y Speed Booster along with my large collection of Zeiss FF glass on the S35 crop mode to achieve one stop faster if I want.

Last edited 13 days ago by Craig Marshall
Richard Metzker
Richard Metzker
Member
13 days ago

I wonder if Sony will allow BRAW into their ecosystem since ProRes RAW still doesn’t have support in DaVinci Resolve 17.

Thomas Diehl
Thomas Diehl
Member
13 days ago

does the fx6 support dual slot recording? (unlike the fx9 – which is unbelievable – I need it for a paid job)

Thomas Diehl
Thomas Diehl
Member
13 days ago
Reply to  Nino Leitner

Thanks, that’s great news! – And you did not experience any green fringing as it is known from the fx9: “Anytime you film anything in front of a very bright background (windows particularly), the subject will have extremely noticeable and ugly green lines around it”

Mat
Mat
Guest
12 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Diehl

This is absolutely essential given the card format. I shot over 20 hours of broadcast footage on the fs5 last year and had two SD cards fail on me. Apparently (accroding to the data recovery genius who dug me out of the hole) manufacturers are also changing the chip design inside SD cards, meaning they are more likely to have a total catastrophic failure as opposed to partial (recoverable) failure. According to the specs though the FX6 does allow it.

motionmanager
motionmanager
Member
13 days ago

Thank you for the awsome review!!!

Does autofocus also work with canon lenses? If yes how does it compare to Sony lenses? Is it useable?

Does it shoot in 422 when you crank up to 120p?

Thank you Chris

Liam
Liam
Guest
12 days ago
Reply to  Nino Leitner

Hi Nino, just wondering if you’ve had a chance to compare the autofocus performance with Sigma glass + EF adapter vs native Sony lenses?

Andy
Andy
Guest
13 days ago
Reply to  Nino Leitner

Just bought an A7s3 having sold an FS7 for a very good price – phew!

Overall I’m still happy with the A7. In body IBIS is brilliant. The IBIS in the FX6 probably only works in all I recording like the A7. Variable ND is a nice to have but I find a filter is a good enough solution.

I think if I’d just dropped £10K on an FX9 I’d be more upset!

Last edited 13 days ago by Andy Taplin
Andy
Andy
Guest
13 days ago
Reply to  Nino Leitner

Indeed! Thanks for the great overview – I look forward to seeing you test the camera properly.

Thomas Diehl
Thomas Diehl
Member
13 days ago
Reply to  Andy

Is catalyst browse working well for you, Nino? – Without artifacts and bending issues?

Silton Buendia
Silton Buendia
Member
13 days ago
Reply to  Nino Leitner

I actually have an FX9 and the A7s3. I love the specs in this camera and if it’s anything like my other 2 I want it. With that said though it’s a question of if I need it? Short answer is no, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still want it. As it stands though the benefit for me personally is more in the A7s3 then the FX6 because I already have the FX9. With the A7s3 I have the flexibility of using it in my Ronin RS2 and while it could work with the FX6 lighter is better. Also I use the eldelkrone sliders and robotic heads and jib1 and the FX6 while you could make them work with it it’s a bit too big for the Jib1 and if you use the Laowa 24mm probe lens you really want the lightest camera possible because of bounce. There is a lot to love about this camera though and I still want one but I feel it will be like when I had my FS7 and FS5 where I barely used the FS5 just because I would mainly use the FS7.

Frederic Detjens
Frederic Detjens
Member
13 days ago
Reply to  Nino Leitner

As an FX9 owner, the 6000 Euro difference doesnt´t bother me, I use my cameras 3-4 years, using them for a few hundred paid jobs. I like the bigger form factor as the movement looks much nicer and has more customizable buttons etc..
But: Not having the option for a better codec in a 13000 Euros camera and having to rent a different system from time to time when better codec is required is not accectable in 2020.
The extension unit is a joke.
FX6 has to use Shogun 7 for recording better codec and owning an FS5 as well I know how awkward a 7 inch recorder feels on a camera of this size.
I bought a Panasonic S5 as a C-Cam. Amazing video quality at least in 25fps, cheap, I don´t mind manual focus.

Frederic Detjens
Frederic Detjens
Guest
12 days ago
Reply to  Nino Leitner

I think the FX9 still have some advantages.
6K downsampling, I guess picture quality will still be better on FX9, the 5k and 4k mode for s35 lenses,Cine Ei etc… I could not do all the Jobs with the FX6 as I need 2 SDI out´s from time to time.
More professionel look on set:) etc…
But you´re right, the FX9 had quite underwhelming specs already at release and I hope they will come up with a X-OCN codec upgrade.
If no substantiell software update will follow from now on I will be upset as well but I think they will deliver next year.

Stephan Silwester
Member
13 days ago

Musstest du mein Gesicht SOOOO groß reinschneiden ? ;-)
Top Review !!!
SeeYaa

1
1
- 3
Filter:
all
Sort by:
latest

Take part in the CineD community experience