Interview with FX9 Development Team
From movies to TV, commercials, and web videos, Sony’s FS series is currently probably the most used in the world.
FX9, the descendant of the FS7, FS5, and FS7 MK2, is now equipped with a 35mm full-size sensor.
Will it become the new standard of the large-format era? We take a closer look at the development concept to learn more.
From the 6K sensor to oversampling 4K recording
OHISHI:When we originally considered the full-frame format, we knew that the Super 35’s handy focal length was indispensable on set. Shooting with the Super 35 lens using full-frame 6K, you could retain the native 4K pixel count, which meant that you record 4K with the Super 35. The main appeal of the FX9 is that you get even better images with oversampling even on a full-frame.
With an 8K sensor, the pixel size shrinks. So we took the in-between with a 6K sensor size. The in-camera recording is 4K XAVC, and when you go over 4K, you need to expand the use of new codec, but considering our existing customers, we felt that oversampling 4K recording was best.
When it comes to RAW, we had many different opinions even internally, but RAW recording is not mainstream. At the IBC 2019, Atmos announced it would support RAW recording for the FX9 in future.
Our hope is to continue supporting the market in whatever way we can.
Evolution of the Large-Format
MURAKAMI:We received so much feedback on the FS series.
The FX9 was developed keeping as many of those points in mind as possible, which was tricky.
We had to ask, “Do we target our existing users?” The FS7 has had quite a broad customer base.
No one had a clear answer about our target audience.
If we prioritized one feature, then it would often be at the expense of others, which posed a big challenge.
Naturally we needed to consider compatibility with the α series for those who use it simultaneously, as we didn’t want them to have any issues.
Looking at the evolution of the FX9, it is easy to say that the Super 35 just changed to a full-size, large format camera.
But for those of us who were working on its development, we often asked ourselves, “Can so many issues arise merely from switching over to a large sensor?!”
We spent a lot of time and effort making adjustments because of this change.
In switching over to the full-size sensor from FS5 and FS7 MK II’s Super 35 sensor, we faced challenges that were so different from the variable ND filter. It was one of the most difficult things we faced during the development process.
Fast hybrid AF
OHISHI: Our basic autofocus (AF) technology comes from our acclaimed α series, but the user base is different and we’ve made suitable minor adjustments. You can use the MF ring to adjust timing and control the face tracking function and AF. The user has greater control over speed and sensitivity compared to α, and you can fine-tune the AF settings to your taste. During the time of FS7, there were many manual focus (MF) users, but we only had AF and contrast AF, so there wasn’t much interest. A single operator – and large format, to boot – makes the focus even more difficult, so we enhanced functionality with the fast hybrid AF.
Important point which reflected much the user’s voice
OHISHI: What I’d like to emphasize is – and this is a small detail – the FS7 was equipped with various auto functions: when you pushed the auto function button you could shoot easily, but there were issues on set where before people realized, the camera was already in auto mode. The FX9 improved on this so that you needed to hold down the button to initiate the auto mode. There are other small improvements that didn’t make it on the catalog specs like the ability to control the flexibility of the cable from the VF by using a clamp on the body. The feedback from users is all reflected in the FX9, and we hope that it has made this all-in-one camera easy to use.