Crafted around a new full-frame 6K Exmor R sensor, Sony’s new E-mount PXW-FX9 XDCAM digital cinema camera is shaping up to be a worthy successor to the PXW-FS7 and PXW-FS7M2, Sony’s resoundingly popular Super 35 4K cameras. With 15+ stops of dynamic range and the ability to oversample 6K for a rich 4K finish, the PXW-FX9 produces beautiful imagery for fictional and documentary projects, as well as event capture. Dual native 800/4000 ISOs, a user-friendly variable ND function, and Fast Hybrid Auto Focus enable you to “capture the impossible” no matter what challenges your light levels present. This latest Sony is available as the PXW-FX9 camera body only or in the PXW-FX9K kit with the servo-powered FE PZ 28-135mm zoom. Sony’s new XDCA-FX9 extension unit provides the flexibility of adding dual-link streaming and file transfer via Sony’s XDCAM air service for a quick news-production workflow. This module also provides additional ports to power pro camera accessories and in a future update, 16-bit raw output and Sony wireless mic receiver compatibility.
Exmor R Sensor with 15+ Stops of Dynamic Range
Befitting a camera produced by Sony, the world’s largest manufacturer of image sensors, the Exmor R sensor at the heart of the PXW-FX9 offers more than 15 stops of dynamic range, enabling users to nail their framing on set while worrying less about exposure and highlights by providing a vast canvas on which colorists can grade in post-production. Those 15+ stops of dynamic range produce colors and details not readily discernable on set but are available to create precisely the look you want in post. Not only does this full-frame sensor produce shallower depth of field, it has more than twice the area of a 4K Super 35 sensor. The back-illuminated design of the Exmor R increases the amount of light striking the pixels while using less power, and has been optimized to reduce noise.
Capture Rates and Media
Choose between internal 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording or up to 16-bit raw capture to an external device via the XDCA-FX9 and a compatible recorder. The PXW-FX9 currently records up to UHD 4K 30 in Full Frame, up to UHD 4K60 in Super 35, and up to 1080p60 in Full Frame and Super 35 2K mode. The top rate will bump that up to DCI 4K 60 with a future upgrade. Undercranked and high-speed frame rates include 1 to 120 fps with up to 180 fps in HD also coming in a future release. In a boost for current FS7 users, the PXW-FX9 will initially offer the same XAVC-I and XAVC-L codecs as the PXW-FS7 with more to come down the road. Data rates for 10-bit 4:2:2 XAVC-Intra in UHD 4K are 600 Mb/s at 59.94p, 500 Mb/s at 50p, 300 Mb/s at 29.97p, 250 Mb/s at 25p, and 240 Mb/s at 23.98p. The PXW-FX9 also uses the same secure XQD memory cards as the PXW-FS7—no need to buy an entire fleet of new cards.
Proxy video can be recorded to an SD card, enabling your team to create a highlight reel of an event’s intro while continuing to capture the rest of the occasion, perfect for sports or wedding videos. Dual card slots enable simultaneous HD recording on two cards or 4K capture to one card and MPEG HD capture to the other. Additional capture options include XAVC proxy recording at 9Mb/s that can be sent easily on your network, and a 28-second cache-recording feature to help capture unpredictable yet crucial moments.
Integrating technology gleaned from both Sony’s 6K VENICE and its Alpha a7 series cameras, the PXW-FX9 was also designed with feedback from longtime Sony customers to produce an adaptive, ergonomic experience. Chief among these is dual-base ISOs (derived from film sensitivity ratings with higher numbers denoting more sensitivity to light). For daylight exteriors or brightly lit interiors, choose the PXW-FX9’s ISO 800 base or switch to ISO 4000 to maintain excellent image quality, even at dawn/dusk or when using slow-aperture lenses.
Full-Frame Variable ND
In an industry first, Sony has developed an electronically variable ND filter compatible with full-frame capture. This hybrid ND functions like that of the FS7 but is activated by a button, not a dial, making it easier to use while holding the camera on your shoulder. Choose between auto or manual mode with the ability to dial to between ¼ to 1/128 increments as you shoot. This Neutral Density filtering enables you to maintain your aperture setting and depth of field even as lighting conditions change rapidly.
S-Cinetone for Out-of-the Box Cinematic Color
Two “look” scenarios are possible with the PXW-FX9 to best suit your project: the default mode capturing the S-Cinetone VENICE look in-camera and a custom mode where you can apply your chosen LUTs and further hone your look with grading time in post. Sony’s S-Cinetone promises to deliver the same rich, mid-range colors, attractive skin tones, and softer tonal look as the 6K VENICE camera. The S-Cinetone mode seems perfect when using the PXW-FX9 as a VENICE B-camera or anytime you want a vivid cinematic look with plenty of latitude out of the gate (so to speak).
Fast Hybrid Autofocus
Developed by Sony Alpha engineers, Fast Hybrid AF combines the quick, accurate subject-tracking of phase-detection AF with the accuracy of contrast focusing, enabling precise autofocusing even with fast-moving subjects. Phase detection now covers an expansive 96% vertically and 94% horizontally of the sensor with 561 points. Seven levels of AF speeds enable you to adjust the focus response to suit the slower look desired for dramas or the rapid response demanded by sports coverage.
Image Stabilization with Correction
With the PXW-FX9, image stabilization info from the built-in gyro is stored in your recording’s metadata so now you can choose to turn stabilization on/off or adjust the level of stabilization for each shot when using E-mount lenses, Sony’s Catalyst Browse (v. 2019.2) clip-organizing tool, and most popular NLE systems. Designed to smooth handheld shots to the look of a stabilized gimbal, this feature offers impressive stabilization control.
4-Channel Audio with On-Camera Control
Listening to feedback from PXW-FS7 users, PXW-FX9 users can now individually adjust levels for audio channels 3 and 4 directly using the pots on the camera, eliminating the time previously spent going into the camera’s menu. The PXW-FX9 is compatible with several optional Sony XLR adapters and has a built-in mic to enable audio memo recording by the camera operator. A MI (multi-interface) shoe enables you to power and control select Sony accessories including UWP-D wireless mic systems.
The PXW-FX9 sports a variety of connectors including 12G-SDI and HDMI for 4K output, 3G-SDI for flexible HD monitoring, and now has timecode and genlock built in for easier multi-cam use.
Feedback from Sony users led to the development of several new physical features on the PXW-FX9. A new, higher-resolution 1280 x 720 panel provides improved viewing while a new, one-piece EVF support rod/monitor shade combo offers easier setup compared to the two separate pieces used with the PXW-FS7.
Operators will also appreciate the combing of the smaller handgrip from the FS5 with the full-length arm from the FS7 for comfortable, secure handheld operating. The PXW-FX9 also inherits the FS5’s direct menu access from the handgrip—a huge convenience for individual operators. A quick dial on the camera body now enables you to adjust White Balance, Gain, or ISO easily; no need to go into the menu.
To complement the PXW-FX9 and Sony’s other cine-style cameras, Sony has also introduced the E-mount FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G Zoom Lens, the first in its new Cinema Lens Series. Designed for pro cine users, this compact and lightweight zoom is also well-suited for documentary and event projects. Its large T3.1 aperture and an 11-blade circular aperture produce smooth bokeh effects, especially when used with the large-format PXW-FX9 or VENICE cameras.
It combines full manual control for use with follow focus systems, with E-mount electronic features like Enhanced Hybrid AF (autofocus) and a detachable servo zoom control. Inside the lens, two XA (extreme aspherical) and three aspheric elements minimize distortion while two ED (extreme low-dispersion) elements maintain color accuracy. The front element features advanced nano AR (anti-reflective) coatings to minimize flares and ghosting. Industry standard 0.8 mod gears, 120° of focus rotation, and a 114mm lens front enable the FE C 16-35mm to fit standard cine-style follow focus systems and matte boxes.
Sony E Lens Mount
The PXW-FX9 incorporates an E lens mount capable of supporting the 53 native Sony E-mount lenses available, of which 32 cover full-frame capture. It can also be used with adapters for Canon EF and select other lens types. The full-frame Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS zoom lens is a compact, cine-style lens featuring independent focus, iris, and zoom rings and a smooth, servo drive.
Are you an experienced PXW-FS7 user? Let us know below what you think of the new Sony PXW-FX9 and the 16-35mm T3.1 and explore all the Sony cine-style digital cameras on the B&H Photo website or drop by the B&H SuperStore to check them out in person.