Sony’s next digital cinema camera will be the FX6, a new 4K camera that’s scheduled to ship before the end of 2020. Sony anointed the FX6 as the third camera in what the company is now calling its Cinema Line. It will be the smallest and, presumably, least expensive camera in the line-up, which also includes the FX9 ($11,000) and the 6K Venice (launched at $42,000).
Sony’s intentions with the Cinema Line remain a little cryptic. “Just as our Venice camera was designed to capture the emotion in every frame, our new Cinema Line expands that vision to allow a broader range of creators to push their boundaries further, and capture and create like they’ve never been able to before,” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president of Sony’s Imaging Products and Solutions Americas, in a prepared statement. It’s not clear whether that “broader range” refers to price point, capabilities, or something else. Sony did acknowledge that Venice is widely used for “digital movie production,” while FX9 has a strong footprint in documentaries.
For now, most of what we know about the FX6 we learned from a Sony-provided product shot. Most notably, the camera closely resembles the FS5 Mark II, which it is likely replacing in Sony’s line-up. (Mouseover the image above to compare the two cameras.) We’re expecting a full-frame image sensor this time around, probably with color science borrowed from the Venice, ensuring a good fit with the Sony Cinema Line ethos. Visible on the side of the FX6 is the usual array of buttons and dials, including controls for built-in variable ND filters.
One big difference: that rear EVF seems to have been designed out of the FX6, which sports just a handle-mounted LCD. And of course there are other big questions. Does “4K” in this case mean 4K (4096 x 2160) or just UHD (3840 x 2160)? Will 10-bit 4:2:2 and intraframe recording formats be available, and at what frame rates? How slow will 1080p slo-mo go?
The answers may lie in Sony’s willingness to cross-pollinate its Cinema Line with its Alpha series of still cameras—after all, the upcoming Alpha 7S III ($3,500) will offer UHD 4K recording at up to 120p, with 4:2:2 10-bit all-intraframe recording as an option.
Some have noted that Sony may have had a special incentive to let the world know the FX6 is on the way, even though it’s not ready to commit to a feature set, given that Canon is rumored to be on the verge of announcing a new EOS cinema camera. [https://www.canonrumors.com/here-is-the-canon-cinema-eos-c70/]
Venice and FX9 Firmware Updates on the Way
In other Sony news, the company reiterated that Venice v6.0 firmware is coming in November, and will add new high-frame-rate modes, including up to 72fps when shooting 5.7K 16:9 or 4K 6:5, and up to 110fps when shooting 3.8L 16:9. Gyro information will now be available in metadata, and Zeiss eXtended Data from the new Fujinon Premista series is newly supported. For a complete list of new features, including monitor-out and shooting assist functions, see Sony’s VENICE firmware roadmap. [https://pro.sony/ue_US/products/professional-cameras/broadcast-venice-firmware-roadmap]
Sony also said the FX9 will get its v3.0 firmware sometime next year, including support for S700PTP remote control over TCP/IP and a center-scan mode for shooting with Super 16 and B4 lenses.