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Tentacle Sync Track E Pocket 32-bit float Audio Recorder– Recording & Transmitting Audio

Tentacle Sync recently announced the Tentacle Track E Pocket Audio Recorder which they first showed at IBC 2019. If you are not familiar with the Track E, it is a small, 32-bit float capable stand-alone audio recorder that can also be timecode synced with other Tentacle Sync devices. Erik did a comprehensive review of the … Continued

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The pro panel speeds up your editing in photoshop

John Weatherby has developed a panel for Photoshop that will help you speed up your editing workflow. There are quite a few panels out there. The first one was probably made by Tony Kuyper, who created luminosity masks back in 2006. Other than that, Infinite Tools, Lumenzia, and Raya Pro are probably the best-known panels. […]

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Review: Zoom ZDM-1 dynamic studio microphone or kit

Here is my review of the new large diaphragm ZDM-1 dynamic microphone from Zoom with a supercardioid pickup pattern. This new microphone is available standalone (with an included mount and an attached windscreen) for ≈US$80 or as part of a kit which includes a pair of closed headphones (and a few more things), where the total costs ≈US$120. When properly positioned, the ZDM-1 microphone sounds very good for human voice recordings at its ≈US$80 price point, but just as the saying says that a still photo is worth 1000 words, a 48-kHz audio recording is worth 48 thousand samples per second. Ahead you’ll hear my voice recorded with this microphone and my other comments about it.

Review: Zoom ZDM-1 dynamic studio microphone or kit 28

There is always a lot less to write about analog-only, XLR-only dynamic microphones, especially those which don’t have any built-in switches, buttons or headphone jacks. However, their simplicity doesn’t mean that these pure microphones are uninteresting or not good. They are just more simple to describe. I actually favor microphones which lack an On/Off switch (since those that do have them tend to be Off by mistake when we really need them to be On). For human voice recordings, is also practical to have a microphone whose natural frequency curve already has a low cut (aka high pass) filter always active. This is the case with the ZDM-1 microphone, which lacks any switches… and its natural frequency response is 50 Hz to 18 kHz, so it naturally cuts rumble (undesired low frequency noise).

Another nice thing about the ZDM-1 microphone is that it has a higher output level than many other popular dynamic microphones. The ZDI-1 has a rated sensitivity of -54 dBV/Pa so whichever preamp is attached will have less work do to, whether it be a standalone preamp, an interface with built-in A-to-D (analog-to-digital) converter, an audio mixer, recorder or even a camera with an XLR audio input.

Although to my knowledge, Zoom doesn’t publish any illustration of the frequency response or supercardioid pattern, I like the way it sounds with my voice (and the voices of colleagues who have also tested it), when addressing the end —quite closely— at a 45-degree angle. When addressing it straight on, the included windscreen was not completely immune to plosives the way the Shure A81WS windscreen (covered in many past articles) is. However, addressing the ZDM-1 with its windscreen at a 45-degree angle fortunately resolves it.

The included mount with thread adapter allows you to attach the ZDM-1 to your favorite mic stand or boom arm, whether it uses 3/8″-16 or the larger 5/8″-2, like my PL-2T from Heil.

Regarding the supercardioid pickup pattern

Unlike most other microphones I review (which have standard cardioid or heart-shaped pickup pattern), the ZDM-1 has a supercardioid pickup pattern. This means that its pattern is tighter in the front (top), which means it can reject background sounds more specifically when the individual speaking is properly in front of it (although at a 45-degree angle to avoid those plosives that slip by the included thick windscreen). However, because of its supercardioid pattern, its spot of greatest rejection is not 180 degrees from the top but at about 127 degrees. As a result, if there is another person speaking or other sound you are trying to avoid, you should aim the ZDM-1 so that the 127 degree part is aimed toward that source and then adjust the person speaking accordingly.

Test recordings

Below you’ll be able to hear three versions of the same recording. The original recording was made at 48-kHz sampling frequency (see 48kHzAlliance.com) and at 24-bit into an uncompressed WAV file. However the published versions have been trimmed, normalized and exported at 48 kHz 16-bit WAV. Please listen with unmetered data.


Above, flat version.

 

Above, with Hindenburg Journalist Pro’s mild noise reduction.

 

Above, with Hindenburg Journalist Pro’s mild noise reduction and mild dynamic compression.

Electromagnetic interference in the ZDM-1

A built-in humbucking circuit in the ZDM-1 rejects electromagnetic interference caused by power lines, computer monitors, mobile phones and other devices.

Does the ZDM-1 need an external shockmount?

Although Zoom says that the ZDM-1 has a built-in internal shockmount, for best results it would be good to use an external one, which would substitute for the ZDM-1’s included mount.

Review: Zoom ZDM-1 dynamic studio microphone or kit 29

 

Review: Zoom ZDM-1 dynamic studio microphone or kit 30

Although I didn’t test it myself, my colleague Darrel Darnell used the ZRAMO TH106 shockmount (shown above), which currently costs about US$12. Later Jim C. made the same recommendation. Even though the ZRAMO TH106’s range of capable size is a bit beyond the diameter of the ZDM-1, the TH106 can apparently stretch enough to hold the ZDM-1.

Buy the kit or the standalone microphone?

The ≈US$120 kit includes a table stand, an XLR cable and a pair of Zoom headphones. The standalone ZDM-1 is now available for ≈US$80. Although I really like the sound quality of the ZDM-1 for its ≈US$80 price, I dislike the table stand included with the kit since it is so short (even at maximum height) and I dislike the XLR cable included in the kit because from an esthetic (“aesthetic”) perspective, if I have a fully black microphone like the ZDM-1, I like not only the cable to be black but also the XLR connectors to be black. Sadly, the XLR cable that Zoom is currently including with the ZDM-1 kit is black but has silver-colored XLR connectors.

 

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Having said that, if you would like a decent pair of closed-back headphones and really don’t want to spend more than ≈US$40 for it, the included one is good in the package price of ≈US$120 even if you never use the included XLR cable (or use it only to extend a different, purely black one) and never use the included table stand. On the other hand, if you already own headphones or prefer a different model, then the standalone ZDM-1 microphone can be yours for ≈US$80.

Review: Zoom ZDM-1 dynamic studio microphone or kit 32
In the above photo provided by Zoom’s website, the ZDM-1 is used with an XLR cable with a silver colored connector, as comes with the kit.
Review: Zoom ZDM-1 dynamic studio microphone or kit 33
I prefer using a black-colored connector on the mic cable when the microphone is black, as shown in this other photo from Zoom’s website. This purely black cable is not the one currently included in the ZDM-1 kit. Note that the guy in the foreground is leaning back and listening, and should be much closer to the mic like the guy in the background whenever he wants to speak on air.

RATINGS

Looks and build quality

Review: Zoom ZDM-1 dynamic studio microphone or kit 34

Sound quality for human voice, with proper positioning, in its ≈US$80 price

Review: Zoom ZDM-1 dynamic studio microphone or kit 34

Plosive resistance with included windscreen

Review: Zoom ZDM-1 dynamic studio microphone or kit 36

Follow my instructions to avoid plosives, earlier in this article.

Conclusions

In its ≈US$80 price range standalone, the ZDM-1 large-diaphragm dynamic microphone sounds very good for the human voice and looks great too. It is a good fit if you plan to connect it to an XLR interface, mixer, recorder or camera and therefore don’t need a direct USB connection. You may even consider the ≈US$120 kit (FilmTools link) if you also happen to need inexpensive headphones. Please read the full article for all of my opinions and to hear the test recording.

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FTC disclosure

Zoom sent the ZDM-1 to Allan Tépper for review. No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur , BeyondPodcasting CapicúaFM or TuSaludSecreta programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own. Allan Tépper is not liable for misuse or misunderstanding of information he shares.

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How to use masking and augmented sky in Luminar Sky Replacement

A few days back, I compared Photoshop and Luminar AI Beta’s sky replacement feature. When I turned to Luminar AI, I struggled with a mountain that was too warm for my taste. It turns out, I managed to overlook an important sky replacement tool; the masking brush. In this article, I will show you how […]

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XP-Pen Artist Pro 24 Review: Editing Photos on a 24-Inch Pen Display

There are two big leaps you can make in your photo editing workflow. The first is moving from a mouse-and-keyboard setup to a pen tablet like the Wacom Intuos Pro—almost everybody does that at some point. But if you really want to kick your experience up to another level, there’s one more step you can take: you can buy yourself a high-resolution pen display.

Today I’m looking at one of those displays, the XP-Pen Artist Pro 24: a 2K pen display that out-performs the $1,200 Wacom Cintiq 22 in just about every spec category, but costs only $675 (typically $900, on sale as of this writing).

This won’t be a highly technical side-by-side comparison with alternatives from Wacom or Huion. Instead, I want to share my hands-on experience with this full-featured-but-affordable graphics display and tell you why I think it’s worth upgrading to this kind of setup for photo editing.


Full disclosure: XP-Pen provided the unit used in this review. However, they had no input on the content of the review and are seeing it for the first time right now, just like everyone else.


What is a “Pen Display”

First, it’s important that you understand what I’m referring to when I say “graphics display” or “pen display.” In the most basic terms, a graphics display is a monitor you can draw on. You plug a graphics display into your existing computer just like you would any other monitor, but you get the added benefit of using the included pressure-sensitive pen as your mouse.

A large pen display like the XP-Pen Artist Pro 24 (or the Wacom Cintiq 22, or the Huion Kamvas Pro 24) gives you all the benefits of a pen tablet and a high-end color-accurate monitor in a single package. The core functionality is no different from a pen tablet like the ones I wrote about here, except that you can edit directly on your photograph, making the entire experience much more engrossing and allowing for a higher level of precision.

And make no mistake: the main benefit of using a graphics display to edit your photos the experience, and how easy it is to get into an editing “flow.”

Hands On with the XP-Pen Artist Pro 24

Build and Ergonomics

Build quality is … plastic-y. Don’t get me wrong, the Artist Pro doesn’t seem at all fragile. I lugged the thing between the lab and my apartment a couple of times and I didn’t hold back when using it. There’s just no denying that it feels like a more “affordable” product than something very solid and premium feeling like the Wacom Cintiq Pro series.

The express keys are very clicky, both of the scroll wheels felt solid and gave a nice tactile response when using them, and the touch-sensitive buttons on top of the display, which are used to access things like the Menu and Power, never gave me any trouble. Overall build is good, just not “high-end.”

In terms of ergonomics, there is one big pro and one big con.

The pro is the fully adjustable stand that is included with the display and allows you to set the angle of your Artist Pro from almost fully flat to almost fully vertical without ever feeling unstable. You can really dial in your working angle for long editing sessions, which ends up being critical because of the one big con: ergonomics.

In most ways, using a graphics display is far more enjoyable than using a pen tablet: it’s faster, more intuitive, and there’s something really satisfying about drawing directly onto your image. However, putting in long sessions on a graphics display is either going to be a pain in the back or a pain in the shoulder because you’re either bent over the display (back pain) or you’re holding your arm up horizontally to maintain the best posture (shoulder pain).

This might seem like an odd thing to focus on, but it bears mentioning if you’re choosing between a pen tablet and a pen display. Something like the Wacom Intuos Pro or XP-Pen Deco Pro allows you to keep good ergonomic posture while editing for hours because you’re drawing on a flat surface on your desk while looking forward at your monitor. In contrast, even when it’s dialed in just right, there’s no way to keep perfect posture while using a drafting table-style graphics display like this.

Display

Right out of the box, the Artist Pro 24’s QHD/2K display looked great on my ASUS StudioBook 17 and needed only a small Gamma adjustment on my 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s not the most color-accurate display in the world—the much more expensive Cintiq Pro series or a photo editing monitor will out-perform it—but at 90% Adobe RGB coverage, it’s no slouch either.

The main feature of the display for drawing purposes is that it’s “laminated,” meaning that the display and the touch surface have been more tightly bonded together to minimize the distance between the two and decrease parallax. This is critical if you want your pen input to land exactly where you expect it to, and is usually reserved for more expensive options.

For example, Wacom’s more affordable Cintiq 22 does not feature a laminated display. In this size category, the feature is reserved for the $2,000 Cintiq Pro 24.

The only downside to the display is the brightness, which maxes out at 250 nits. This is typical of graphics displays, and in an appropriate studio setting this shouldn’t be a big deal, but it’s definitely noticeable. Set it next to a high-end HDR monitor like the Dell I’m using right now or most premium laptop displays and it will be noticeably dimmer.

Pen Performance

In terms of pen feel and performance Wacom is the gold standard, so the best compliment I can pay the XP-Pen Artist Pro is to say that there is no noticeable difference between my experience with XP-Pen and my experience with Wacom’s Pro Pen 2.

The two are identical on the spec sheet, but that’s not what I’m referring to. In years past, XP-Pen used battery-powered pens that suffered from problems like input lag and glitchy lines with a noticeable “wave” to then, even when using a ruler to draw perfectly straight. This is no longer a problem as far as I can tell.

Tens of hours of use later—including 6 uninterrupted hours hand-painting an electron micrograph, and a side-by-side pen-tool test with the Wacom Cintiq Pro 16—and I couldn’t notice an ounce of difference in performance.

Customization

In my opinion, the best-designed feature of the XP-Pen Artist Pro 24 is the customization.

Both sides of the Artist Pro 24 include 10 customizable “express keys” and a very satisfying mechanical click wheel that can be toggled between four different functions.

My express keys were set to the most common macros and Photoshop tools that I find myself using, like Undo, Brush/Eraser toggle, Pen Tool, New Layer, Hand Tool, and a Click Wheel toggle. The click wheel was set to Brush Size by default, but a quick press on the toggle key would switch the function to Zoom, then Rotate, and then Layer select.

Taken together and properly customized to your particular workflow, this level of tactile customization allows you to ditch your keyboard entirely. And this applies whether you’re right- or left-handed since there are a click wheel and 10 express keys on both the left and right of the display.

Additional Features Worth Mentioning

There are two additional features worth mentioning, although they’re pretty minor

Firstly, the display features a USB hub with two USB-A ports for hooking up a mouse or hard drive or charging your phone while you edit. It’s a nice-to-have, but I didn’t find myself using it very much. Still, in this day and age where your laptop might only have one or two (or zero… looking at you Apple) USB Type-A ports, it comes in handy.

Secondly, the pen supports up to 60 degrees of tilt. This is useful for painting and drawing (think shading when sketching digitally) but it’s not particularly relevant for photographers/photo editing unless you come from an art background.

Missing Features

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what I see as three obvious omissions: touch-sensitivity, robust USB charging, and an SD card slot.

Touch Sensitivity: One of my favorite parts of using Wacom’s Cintiq Pro series is the touch sensitivity of the screen. You can turn it off if it’s causing problems, but when it’s on you can use your fingers to zoom and rotate the image just like on a smartphone or tablet.

Touchscreens are so ubiquitous in 2020 that I found myself repeatedly trying (and failing) to zoom or rotate my image using my hands while editing on the Artist Pro, and leaving smudges on the screen as a result. Eventually, I got used to this limitation and defaulted to the click-wheel, but it’s a noticeable omission.

Robust USB Charging: The Artist Pro 24’s USB hub does feature power delivery, but it’s really only enough to charge something like a smartphone. Despite the fact that you can use a single USB cable to connect most (but not all) USB-C equipped laptops to the display with full functionality, the paltry power output of the hub wasn’t even enough to keep my 13-inch MacBook Pro at baseline, much less charge it.

This basically eliminates the “one cable” benefit, since I had to plug my MacBook Pro into the wall to keep it from dying while I worked.

SD Card Slot: One feature I did find myself missing from the Cintiq Pro line is the built-in SD card slot. The XP-Pen Artist Pro 24 doesn’t have one, and I missed it any time I was using my MacBook since importing photos required yet another cable.

Now, all of the Windows laptops I own or am borrowing for review currently do have an SD card slot, so I don’t know if I should blame XP-Pen or Apple for my troubles, but it’s an easy feature to add and I hope the next generation Artist Pro series doesn’t leave it out.

Overall Editing Experience

All of the above comes together to create an editing experience that’s practically addicting. The best editing tools get out of your way and allow you to connect directly with the images you’re working on, and this is exactly what a large graphics display like the XP-Pen Artist Pro 24 allows you to do.

It might sound like I’m gushing, but it’s made photo editing much more enjoyable for me. Never before could I put in a 6-hour editing session without getting worn out, and I found myself taking on more advanced edits than I would typically try.

Could certain things be improved? Sure! See the “Missing Features” section above or my gripes about ergonomics. But none of the cons outweighed the pros for me, and the biggest pro (as far as I’m concerned) was the ability to get into a state of “flow” while photo editing.

Conclusion

After several months of using the XP-Pen Artist Pro 24 consistently, I find myself more and more inclined to recommend it to friends who are in the market for a new graphics tablet/display. At just $675 on sale, it’s really hard to recommend anything else.

If a secondary editing monitor is in your future, it’s definitely worth considering a full-blown graphics display: especially when companies like XP-Pen are undercutting Wacom so drastically on price, without skimping on core features.

In summary:

Pros

  • Laminated 2K display
  • USB Hub
  • Fully-adjustable stand
  • Highly customizable
  • Top-tier pen performance
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Plastic-y build
  • No touch functionality
  • Weak USB charging
  • 250 nits max brightness
  • Ergonomics (applies to all graphics displays)

Whether or not a large graphics display is a good fit for you has everything to do with your workflow, your home studio setup, and how much time/energy you dedicate to photo editing. But if it sounds like the kind of product that could take your editing, your at least your experience, to the next level, I hope I’ve included enough technical details to allay any fears you might have.


P.S. If you have any additional questions, feel free to drop them in the comments or reach out on Twitter.


About the author: DL Cade is an art, science and technology writer, and the former Editor in Chief of PetaPixel. When he’s not writing op-eds or reviewing the latest tech for creatives, you’ll find him working in Vision Sciences at the University of Washington, publishing the weekly Triple Point newsletter, or sharing personal essays on Medium.

iFootage Shark Slider Nano Review

iFootage has introduced its new Shark Slider Nano. It is being touted as the world’s first portable built-in 2-axis bi-directional slider. The iFootage Shark Sliders have gained a good reputation over the years for being smooth, easy to use, and well made. The Nano joins the following Shark sliders in the series: SHARK SLIDER MINI … Continued

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CAME-TV Boltzen 150W Fresnel Focusable LED Bi-Color Review

The CAME-TV Boltzen 150W Fresnel Focusable LED Bi-Color is an affordable, mid-sized LED Fresnel that looks to be very suitable for one-man bands and small crews. Over the last few years, we have seen mid-sized LED Fresnel fixtures starting to become more prevalent in the market. Typically, Fresnel LED fixtures have either been small and … Continued

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Reviewing The New Sony FX6

On October 23rd, I stood on one of three triple-tier media risers on Belmont University and outside the last Presidential Debate for the 2020 election. Among a sea of cameras, lights, and correspondents, Sony equipment dominated the platform. From B4 News cameras, like the PWX750, to Sony Cinema Line cameras, like the FX9, to a single Sony A7s mirrorless camera. The Debate risers’ scene showed Sony manufacturing on display and exposed the Nation’s broadcasting companies’ preferred camera. I expect the next time I am surrounded by the best of American Broadcasting; I will see the Sony FX6 everywhere.Sony FX6 For the first time, Sony blends the Sony Alpha system with the new Sony Cinema Line to create the Sony FX6. Yet, what kind of camera does one get with this mixture of camera line ups? Is the FX6 more like the Sony A7s III or more in-line with the Sony Cinema Line? I hope to answer this question for you. I will not mince words; the Sony FX6 is a killer combination. Let’s look at the features found in the new Sony FX6.

Sony FX6 Features:

  • Exmor Full-Frame 10.2MP high BSI image sensor
  • BIONZ XR Next Generation processing engine
  • 409,600 max ISO, Base ISO 800 and high sensitivity ISO 12,800
  • 15 + Stops of Dynamic Range with S-log 3 in Cine EI Mode
  • Phase Detection AF with Face Tracking and Real-time Eye AF
  • S-log 3 / S Cinetone, Preset, and User Scene files with User LUTs
  • XAVC Long GOP and XAVC-I All Intra 4:2:2 10bit recording formats
  • Frame Rates – up to 120p (QFHD), up to 240p (FHD), DCI 24.00p
  • Electronically controlled optical ND filter adjustable 1/4 > 1/128
  • Multiple audio inputs – including 2ch/4ch recording options
  • Professional interface – 12/6/3-G SDI, SDI RAW output, TC in/out
  • Metadata – with Catalyst Browse for Stabilization, OK Flag, Rotation

The Sony FX6 is an example of an imaging company blending two different internal divisions, mirrorless alpha and professional video, into a camera to reach everyone. Not too expensive. Very user friendly. It is a hard target to hit for camera makers. How does Sony hit this target and make a fan favorite? What is most important to me is the color the camera delivers. Below you will see a simple shoot I did with the Sony FX6 and the Vazen 85mm T2.8mm Full-Frame 1.8x anamorphic lens. It is a wide view of an over-cast autumn day in Nashville. 

Sony FX6

The foundation for the Sony FX6 is a new 10.2MP full-frame back-illuminated CMOS Exmor R Sensor. The full-frame imager delivers up to 409,600 ISO with low noise. When shooting Slog 3, The Sony FX6 base ISO is 800 with High Sensitivity setting at 12,800 ISO. As in, you can select either base 800/12,800 ISO when shooting Slog 3. 12,800 ISO sure is something, isn’t it? 

Sony FX6The 10.2MP full-frame CMOS Exmor R Sensor delivers minimal rolling shutter and can internally record up to 240fps in HD and 120fps in 4K. All in 15+ stops of dynamic range when shooting Slog 3 Cine EI at 800 ISO. To keep close to the base ISO settings, Sony added their popular electronically controlled optical neutral density filter wheel with smooth ND transitions from 1/4 > 1/128. So smooth, in fact, you can set ND to auto and watch the depth of field in a scene smoothly change as you adjust your aperture. Much like Cinefade can do with motors attached to an aperture gear and geared variable ND in a matte box.

What about Autofocus. Yes, many of us have come to rely on Autofocus for many situations. Well, Sony has you covered here too and covered with focal-plane phase-detection AF with up to 627 on sensor AF points. That is 89% of the Sony FX6 image area with face-detection AF and real-time eye AF. A 7-step autofocus transition speed setting helps you get the look you want. I personally like the speed transition a little lower on the scale when shooting at 24.00p and cranked all the way up when shooting at 120fps. 

The Sony FX6 is a 4K camera. We see cameras coming out with 12K, 8K, 6K options, and Sony present us with a 4K camera. I can hear the derogatory statements within the internet echo chamber now. “It’s only 4K.” “Not 8K, not me.” These are the kind of comments one expects from people who already were not going to buy the Sony FX6. It is best to ignore them. In my opinion, Sony met the needs of professional shooters where they needed them. 4K is where many of us are right now. 4K is where consumers are just beginning to embrace.

High-Frame Rates

The Sony FX6 can internally and continuously record 120fps in 4K (QFHD) and 240fps in HD. Reliable options for the FX6 and well within Sony’s Cinema Line expectations. It is nice to have the opportunity to shoot 120fps in 4K, but I rarely have the need. I’m expecting many of you might need the 120fps, and the feature helps Sony FX6 owners use the camera on more gigs.

Internal Recording

Some of the features separating a mirrorless camera and a professional video camera are the internal recording options. The Sony FX6 delivers professional codecs and bit depth. Internally the FX6 can record DCI 4K / QFHD as well as HD. XACV-I All-Intra422 10bit (600mbps) is the highest option. For those more extended interviews, the FX6 offers users a XAVC Long GOP.

Sony FX6
Here you can see the two SD/CFexpress Type A card slots

Media

The Sony FX6 has two slots located at the rear, operator side of the camera. A door covers the two card slots and helps keep moisture and dust away from the openings. Interestingly, the Sony FX6 can take two different types of media within a single card slot. Both the CFexpress Type A and SD Cards work. I did not test if one could use them at the same time. I tried an Angelbird SD card and the Sony supplied CFexpress Type A they sent along with the Sony FX6. Both worked at the highest resolution and frame rate without any problems. I tend to lean toward using a CFexpress Type A for the simple reason many people think ALL SD Cards are inexpensive, so they rarely plan on returning the SD Card to you, ever. You know who you are. 

RAW output

The Sony FX6 will be able to send out a RAW output over SDI. The ability to record externally opens up the Sony FX6 to very high-quality shooting capabilities. While I am not a huge fan of external recorders, I understand their place in the market. In a perfect world, the new HDR Video Assist from Blackmagic Design could record 12bit Blackmagic RAW from the Sony FX6. That is a codec/camera combination I want to see. I might be dreaming here, though. The RAW output will likely be 16bit linear, which will need to be converted into more usable RAW data. Sony FX6

15 + stops of Dynamic Range

When shooting Cine EI at 800 ISO, the Sony FX6 delivers 15+ stops of dynamic range. That is 15 + stops of Dynamic Range at a price range landing very close to the Red Komodo, and it’s marketed 16+ stops of dynamic range. At some point, you just got to ignore the numbers and marketing and shoot with the camera, which is what I did. 15 + stops of dynamic range is the kind of shooting space that allows you a ton of flexibility. Then you can ignore the feature and shoot a ton of fantastic footage. Know that a price range of $7000 for 15 + stops of dynamic range is incredible. I will always take as much dynamic range in an image as I can get.

Color

Since the introduction of the Cinema Line, Sony has attempted to create a look uniting all three cameras, the Sony Venice, The FX9, and the FX6, into a very similar color palette led by the Sony Venice. I like this idea for several reasons. First, many camera operators may not want or need two Sony Venices or three FX9s. They might want a different option for different reasons but achieve a similar look across the Sony Cinema Line brand. Who loves to match cameras in post anyway?

Second, a Sony FX6 shooter can build out their camera and still deliver incredible color and tonal range without breaking their bank accounts. What Sony is doing is giving stunning color, my opinion here, to the masses. If, however, you decide to create your own “looks,” the Sony FX6 can import LUTs and Scene files. Options for internal recording and color options are Slog 3 and wide color gamut, S-Gamut3, S-Gamut3.Cine. 

Electronic ND Filter

One of my favorite features in a camera is the Sony electronic optical ND filter wheel. Such a simple tool, and it is so useful. I understand that sometimes what is simple for operators was likely a challenging engineering task for someone or a team of someones. I want to take the time here to thank whoever developed this tool. It is amazing and helps a ton. A single on-camera dial never gave me so much joy.  

ISO Noise Test

What you see below is a very non-scientific ISO Noise test I shot in my kitchen on the Vazen 85mm T2.8 Full-Frame 1.8 anamorphic lens. My big take-away from this test? A lot of handy high ISO options for shooters where you can expect a pretty clean image. Interestingly, a buddy of mine and I talked about using some prevalent and high-end camera systems, and we lamented about the lack of higher ISO options in those systems. We ended our conversation with a single thought; instead, we would prefer to shoot with a better low-light capable camera than what is popular or looks good on our DP shoulders. The Sony FX6 will not limit you in low-light. Yes, I shot an ISO Noise test with the Vazen 1.8 anamorphic which makes for a very wide frame on the Sony FX6.

Sony FX6 Autofocus

Flaring a lens is about as good a test of a camera’s autofocus features as one can find. A shot a little video of my wife and three cats soaking up the rays of a setting sun. The lens flare did not stop the Sony FX6 from locking on focus on either cat or human. The Autofocus is excellent when shooting with Sony E-mount lenses. 

Touch-Screen Monitor

At the time of my review of the Sony FX6, the on-board monitor was touch-screen capable. Accessing a quick menu to change crucial settings was easy and fast. This is an improvement, but I want more functionality. If I’m using a monitor on the FX6, I want to change all screen settings. I expect Sony to continue to update the firmware for this feature, and the monitor touch-screen will get better and better. Don’t get me wrong, it is good now, but I want more. 

FX6 Menu

Sony has done some work to reduce the menu diving needed to change some camera settings. The touch-screen helps with this because the most accessed features appear on that touch-screen menu too. However, the Sony FX6 Menu is still deep with layers of choices, but the most useful settings are easier to find and access. Sony FX6

Size and shape

The Sony FX6 is very close to the size and weight of the Sony FS5 ii. The full-frame camera is light-weight, balanced well, and fits in the right hand well. When paired with the Sony 24-105mm, the camera lens combination felt practically feather-weight. I doubt many hand-held shooters will experience pain or fatigue in their right wrist. I loved the size and weight of the FX6. The camera will pack well and travel well. I can see a single 1510 Pelican Case capable of holding an entire Sony FX6 kit, lenses and batteries included. 

The price for the Sony FX6 will fall around $6,000-7000 USD for the body only, and when paired with 24-105mm, the price for the Sony FX6 combo lands around $7200-8200 USD. The expected availability will be December 2020. 

So here we are. Around $6,000-7000 USD for the Sony FX6, which is a beautiful camera that more than fills shooters’ needs right now. Sony made the right camera at the right time. Throughout my review period, I loved shooting with the Sony FX6 so much I could see myself preferring the smallest Sony Cinema Line camera as my number one option. If I had to march with protesters again, I’d like to have a Sony FX6 in my hands. The weight and size of the Sony FX6 is near perfect for this type of shooting. For those who want to float the camera on a gimbal or easyrig, know that the Sony FX6 will thrive in those situations as well. One really can’t go wrong when shooting with the Sony FX6. 

 

Accsoon CineEye 2 Review

Accsoon has announced the CineEye 2, a follow up to the original CineEye that was announced at NAB 2019. The CineEye 2 keeps the same concept as the original Cine Eye but gains increased range, lower latency, and an HDMI loop-through output The original CineEye was a big hit with budget filmmakers as it allowed … Continued

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