It’s finally here! The new Sony PWX-FX9 gets a 6K full-frame sensor, redesigned high resolution EVF, Electronic Variable ND, Dual Native ISO, and Fast Hybrid AF! Here is a summary of what’s new in the FX9.
Borrowing key imaging technologies from the top dog VENICE cinema camera and the Alpha 7 full-frame mirrorless lineup, the Sony FX9 is much more than an FS7 successor. The new PXW-FX9 gets a 19 megapixel 6K full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor to produce oversampled 4K footage with exceptional detail, clarity and dynamic range, which is rated at 15 stops.
The body design of the Sony FX9 remains very similar to the FS7, despite the new “VENICE grey” (or whatever it’s called) colour and a few new new buttons. The handgrip however has been redesigned and so has the EVF, which was quite lacking on the FS7. With the new EVF, you get about 1.8x more resolution and a sturdier build.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking – wait, Sony gave the FX9 a 6K full-frame sensor, but the camera doesn’t record 6K? Yes, the FX9 can record 4K/30p in FF, 4K/60fps internally (in a S35 crop) in XAVC 10bit 4:2:2 onto XQD cards, however with the optional extension unit (XDCA-FX9) you can record 4K up to 120fps in a S35 crop.
The optional extension unit also adds outputs for 16bit RAW recording (a big upgrade from the 12bit raw on the FS7), a V-mount battery plate, and extended connectivity for Ethernet, DWM slot-in audio, and D-tap for powering additional accessories.
It is yet not known what third party external recorders can actually capture the 4K/120fps, however I am sure we’ll hear soon more on that.
Another big new feature in the Sony FX9 is the Dual Native ISO of 800/4000, ported from the top echelon VENICE CineAlta 6K camera. The Sony FS7 was no low-light beast, but with this new 19MP full-frame sensor and 4000 native ISO, you can rest assured this camera will be no slouch when it comes to low-light imaging performance. After all, it inherits a sensor we may very well see in the A7s III, but I must stress, that this part is pure wishful thinking and speculation on my part.
Moving on the what’s new in the FX9 – the camera gets a Fast Hybrid AF with Face tracking, which is a fantastic upgrade and is surely gonna give the C500 Mark II and C300 mark II a run for their money.
The FX9 gets AF with customizable transition speeds and sensitivity settings and combines phase detection AF for fast, accurate subject tracking with contrast AF for exceptional focus accuracy. The dedicated 561-point phase-detection AF sensor covers approximately 94% in width and 96% in height of the imaging area, allowing consistently accurate, responsive tracking – even with fast-moving subjects while maintaining shallow depth of field.
Where the C500 II will give the FX9 a run for its money is in the internal RAW recording, which the FX9 cannot do.
This is by far the biggest mistake I think Sony have done with the FX9 – yes, they will send a ton – the FS7 was a smashing success, probably their best selling camera post Betacam SP, but they kept it conservative and crippled the FX9 by making you buy the ungodly XDCA extension back again to get RAW.
Sure, most of you will say, 90% of people using the FX9 for paid work will deliver in 4K or Full HD XAVC, so they wont be bothered with the lack of internal RAW, but it’s a shame nonetheless. Sony can do it, but they just didn’t want to give users too much of the good stuff, I guess…
Another will also point out the unfortunate naming convention – there is a FX9 semi-automatic rifle sold in North America, so that’s that… I wonder why they just didn’t call it the FS9? Would have been so much easier.
Sony FX9 Features/Highlights
- 6K Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
- 15 stops DR
- Locking type E-mount
- 4K/30p in Full-Frame 6K mode (downsampled to 4K)
- 4K/60p in S35 crop
- 1080/120fps slow motion (180fps in future firmware update)
- Dual Native ISO – 800/4000
- Fast Hybrid AF with Face Tracking
- S-Cinetone / Venice Colour Science
- New Picture Profile for better skin tones
- Same XAVC-I codecs as on the FS7
- Similar body to FS7
- Dual XQD cards, same as on the FS7
- Same BPU style batteries
- Optional XDCA-FX9 Extension Unit:
- 16bit RAW output
- RJ-45 Ethernet
- V-mount battery bracket
- DWX slot-in audio
- 4-channel audio
In summary, the Sony PXW-FX9 looks like a hell of a camera for professional video work and at $11,000 USD they’ll sell plenty. Not sure, if FS7 owners will flock to upgrade, but those looking to get a proper 4K all-rounder workhorse camera in the $10K range for corporate, documentary or mid-tier commercial work need look no further.
The Sony FX9 will be available towards the end of 2019 and on display at the Sony stand (A10, Hall 13) at IBC 2019 September 13th -17th.
For more information – www.pro.sony/ibc.
You can pre-order the Sony FX9 at B&H here.
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