Jump to content

Absolutely bonkers high ISO performance


Recommended Posts

  • Sustaining Member
Posted (edited)

I'm coming into the third week of a Bollywood feature at the moment, and we're shooting on the new Sony FX6. I had my first opportunity to use the 12,800 ISO (native) high-ISO mode last night, and it's damn-near mind boggling.

We had to get some driving material on some exceptionally dim suburban streets (as in, your eyes can barely discern any detail dark). Chuck the little Sony into its low-light beast mode though, and all of a sudden these impossibly dark streets are correctly exposed...

In order to get a bit of low-level fill on our actor (so that he never dropped off into total darkness. We taped a little Nanlite 6C Pavotube (a little 6w LED tube light) onto the windshield.

At 1% brightness, this 6w light was wildly overexposing our talent (without stopping down until the dark streets outside the windows returned to the natural blackness they had by eye). So we took a 2'x3' roll of 216 diffusion and folded it over and over on top of itself until it fit the front of the little tube light.

This diffusion must have been folded on top of itself at least 20x over (in terms of layering).

Put the light back in place... we're still over exposed.

I then had to take some gaffer tape and just physically cover half of the surface of the tube to get the output low enough that it looked natural at 12,800 ISO.

So we had a 6w light, cut down to a 3w light, diffused 20x over and run at 1%... and NOW we had some correctly exposed ambient fill.

Absolutely nuts.

That sky and those clouds you can faintly see above the house behind him (in the screengrab below) were totally invisible to the human eye. And what's even crazier, is that the footage is still so clean, that with a touch of noise-reduction it intercuts seamlessly with our normal 800 ISO footage.

It's a brave new world.

12800_1.3.1.thumb.jpg.575f919c66500626555327f4cd3acbfd.jpg
 

Edited by Mark Kenfield
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member

This must be how Michael Mann felt while shooting ‘Collateral’ back in 2004. 😎

I’m very curious to hear the rest of your report on the FX6 after you wrap. Are you shooting in Prores RAW or XAVC? 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member

This is something I think the likes of blackmagic need to pay attention to - right now they're good to 800 with a following wind and that's about it. It's not a deal-breaker to me, but I fear some people will think it is.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I here by predict .. Probyn's Criteria .. within 3 years .. all the usual suspect high end cameras will have as standard ,dual ISO or triple ISO .. variable ND .. either Sony sell the patent rights or the others get around it .. and the big one AF.. yes Auto Focus .. not for every shot.. but for singles extreme shallow DoF (god knows what size sensors in 3 years !) , running at  / away from camera etc ..    it just saves time = money = thats why it will happen 100% ..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

I here by predict .. Probyn's Criteria .. within 3 years .. all the usual suspect high end cameras will have as standard ,dual ISO or triple ISO .. variable ND .. either Sony sell the patent rights or the others get around it .. and the big one AF.. yes Auto Focus .. not for every shot.. but for singles extreme shallow DoF (god knows what size sensors in 3 years !) , running at  / away from camera etc ..    it just saves time = money = thats why it will happen 100% ..

And I also predict in 3 years, they will make even worse movies than the politically correct fabricated propaganda movies we have today. 

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

This is something I think the likes of blackmagic need to pay attention to - right now they're good to 800 with a following wind and that's about it. It's not a deal-breaker to me, but I fear some people will think it is.

blackmagic design has very shitty quality control on their products. for example in a movie I am working on there has been three Ursa Mini G2's and only one of them has worked correctly so far. the second one has errors and freezing multiple times a day, especially when shooting in sub zero temperatures. One of them was broken literally right out of the box, it did not turn on at all and had to be returned immediately. the third one is working correctly so far.

I have never seen a movie camera being broken right out of the box. Every manufacturer in the World at least checks that their product can be turned on before it is shipped... well, Blackmagic does not😖

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member
22 minutes ago, Michael LaVoie said:

What is the camera you're using for the normal 800 footage?

I’m assuming Mark is just using the FX6 at its lower Base ISO (800) for the normal stuff? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

33 minutes ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

I’m assuming Mark is just using the FX6 at its lower Base ISO (800) for the normal stuff? 

That would be surprising if that was permitted as the A-cam on a feature.  Very cool though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, Wendy Sanders McDonlad said:

And I also predict in 3 years, they will make even worse movies than the politically correct fabricated propaganda movies we have today. 

Can they get worse than the tent pole ,escapist super hero bollocks thats being knocked out now ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member
12 hours ago, Robin R Probyn said:

I here by predict .. Probyn's Criteria .. within 3 years .. all the usual suspect high end cameras will have as standard ,dual ISO or triple ISO .. variable ND .. either Sony sell the patent rights or the others get around it .. and the big one AF.. yes Auto Focus .. not for every shot.. but for singles extreme shallow DoF (god knows what size sensors in 3 years !) , running at  / away from camera etc ..    it just saves time = money = thats why it will happen 100% ..

I do LOVE the electronic ND. But if you held a gun to my head, I think I'd still take the Venice's 1-8 discrete stops system - because you can still use polarisers with it, and having a 1-stop density at the bottom of the range, and an 8-stop density at the top, really does make a difference (as it stands, I'm still frequently having to drop in normal 4x5.65 NDs to get the exposure where I need it).

1 hour ago, Michael LaVoie said:

What is the camera you're using for the normal 800 footage?

We're doing it all on the FX6. It's been (hands-down) the most difficult camera I've ever had to rig up into an A-camera though. It's so tiny that fitting all of the accessories we need on to it, is a real challenge, and it has a few operational quirks that are a nightmare for conventional production. Outside of those couple of STUPID design decisions though, it's a remarkable camera, and hard not to love.

I'm still undecided though, on whether the couple of operational compromises (and the time they cost you), are traumatic enough to outweigh all of the other speed advantages the camera offers.
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Mark Kenfield said:

I do LOVE the electronic ND. But if you held a gun to my head, I think I'd still take the Venice's 1-8 discrete stops system - because you can still use polarisers with it, and having a 1-stop density at the bottom of the range, and an 8-stop density at the top, really does make a difference (as it stands, I'm still frequently having to drop in normal 4x5.65 NDs to get the exposure where I need it).

We're doing it all on the FX6. It's been (hands-down) the most difficult camera I've ever had to rig up into an A-camera though. It's so tiny that fitting all of the accessories we need on to it, is a real challenge, and it has a few operational quirks that are a nightmare for conventional production. Outside of those couple of STUPID design decisions though, it's a remarkable camera, and hard not to love.

I'm still undecided though, on whether the couple of operational compromises (and the time they cost you), are traumatic enough to outweigh all of the other speed advantages the camera offers.
 

Sure the variable would have to start from zero not 2 stops ,or at least one stop .. and maybe up another stop on top  .. but it will happen Im sure .. Venice ,yes great ND but it always has to be a group of 2 filters , even if one is clear .. one LCD screen with an electric current .. smaller , quicker , and cheaper ..I guess Sony will put this and AF in the Venice first, to try to get a lead in the high end .. but presumably Arri are working on the same in some secret dungeon in Munich ..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't it the correct assumption though that there are no new sensors that are more light sensitive than 800 iso? (or am I wrong?). 

In such a case it's all noise reduction in the camera. The question is: is the quality of the NR high enough to make it comparable to no NR?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Raymond Zananiri said:

Isn't it the correct assumption though that there are no new sensors that are more light sensitive than 800 iso? (or am I wrong?). 

In such a case it's all noise reduction in the camera. The question is: is the quality of the NR high enough to make it comparable to no NR?

Yes, and no... mostly no. 

Here is a crude (and somewhat inaccurate example) https://na.panasonic.com/us/audio-video-solutions/broadcast-cinema-pro-video/dual-native-iso-camera-technology-cinematic-low-light-video-production

Different sensors have different analogue outputs, different 'native' analogue amplifications. Some 200, 400, 800 and so on, and in this case, for extreme circumstances, the ability to switch to a higher analogue output. 

It's similar to that of ARRI's DGA (dual gain architecture) where each photo site has two analogue 'native' outputs - one high one low. However in this instance, rather than combining the two, they are for two separate outputs. Hence the name 'Dual Native ISO' because each photo site has a dual 'native' analogue output. 

You are right, there is most likely analogue noise mitigation (I believe there is in most contemporary Sony cameras, and most cameras nowadays) and I will add Panasonics graph stating in a way that noise starts at digital amplification... is wrong. However, it does allow to theoretically capture a certain amount of latitude above and bellow middle grey (similar to that of shooting at a regular cameras native, most commonly 800 ISO) at a much higher sensitivity, without any digital amplification. 

I think. 

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member
On 4/13/2021 at 4:22 PM, Satsuki Murashige said:

This must be how Michael Mann felt while shooting ‘Collateral’ back in 2004. 😎

I’m very curious to hear the rest of your report on the FX6 after you wrap. Are you shooting in Prores RAW or XAVC? 

 

It's a really polarising camera for me, possibly more-so than any other I've used to-date. It has features that I absolutely f**king love, and others that drive me into fits of unadulterated rage.

First and foremost, fully-built with PL glass, matte box, EVF, studio baseplate, wireless everything - it’s just over 8kg… not for just the camera body + body accessories, that’s in-total.

Which is nuts. I’ve never had any build (of any camera) with all the mod cons, weigh so little.

Then there’s the speed of its processors. The camera literally boots up and is ready to shoot in the time it takes you to move your finger from the power switch to the record button(!). This is brilliant, and means you’ll never miss a shot waiting on the camera to load. You can also power the camera down (to save battery) with complete impunity.

Not that you need to save battery much, since it sips them.

1-120fps variable frame rates in full-sensor readout, great.

Excellent dynamic range, great.

Sony’s VASTLY improved new colour science (which genuinely does look good out of the box now).

A solid built-in scratch mic, wildly underrated as a feature!

Two video outputs (3 if you count the stock LCD), this makes it viable for conventional production (where the comparably-priced Komodo and C70 are violently compromised).

Extremely fast rolling shutter readout.

Really great, highly-visible tally lights in multiple locations around the camera body (a lovely feature).

A really full-featured LUT system, that’s easy to use (this is terrific)

The electronic ND, which is AMAZING (except when you occasionally run into one of its few limitations).

And (most importantly) the pictures look great. So there’s SO much it’s got going for it.

But then (if you’re doing conventional production) you start to run into the painful bits, and it becomes achingly obvious that Sony never once considered the camera as likely to be thrown into a normal, crewed productions. It’s just missing some really important fundamentals.

Clip naming… Sony have stripped away any capacity to use Reel Numbers, you just get a customisable prefix and an adjustable counter (which doesn’t reset itself when you update said prefix 😐 ). We’ve been getting around this by building the Reel Numbers into the Prefixes (so the prefix is “A001C” and then the counter counts up the clip numbers). Still, we shouldn’t have to deal with something like this in 2021.

No locking lens mount (or even a few 1/4”-20 holes on the front of the camera, so that 3rd parties could add one after the fact). This is ridiculous for a supposed “cinema” camera. And makes the camera unsuitable for anything but hand-focussed (and auto-focussed) stills lenses (unless you add a whole bunch of additional rigging gack to try and get a somewhat rigid lens mount). I’ve gone with the Wooden Camera top-plate/PL mount system, but it isn’t quite rigid enough.

A media bay that opens backwards and the silly BPU battery system are also painful (especially when there are so many mini v-lock options out there these days (which give away nothing in overall size/weight to the BPUs). It just forces you to add yet more gack to the camera build, which is frustrating.

No ability to monitor the image with just your marker/framelines active. So you either have to have ALL of the camera display info covering your image (INFURIATING FOR COMPOSITION), or you can have nothing but a totally clear 17:9/16:9 image (which is fine if you’re shooting a 16:9 or 17:9 aspect ratio, but for anything else, this is a genuine nightmare).

Sony’s F3/F5/F55 all had this simple third monitoring display option. How Sony have managed to overlook it in the FX6 is utterly beyond my powers of comprehension.

It’s a big deal, and basically forces you use alternate monitoring options.

You can use Sony’s ALL FILE system to work your way around some of these issues, by having different shooting configuration modes for the camera, and it only takes a few seconds for the camera to reboot into a different ALL FILE config - so it’s not too onerous to change. I have both an “INFO” version and a “MARKER ONLY” version for all of my shooting modes (so that I can get clear monitoring if I need it), it’s ridiculous to have to do that though.

Adding to the problem is the fact that the camera doesn’t store ALL FILES internally at all, so you have to keep them on an SD card in your second media slot… and then the camera will wipe out those ALL FILES if you format that card. Which means that to use the system effectively, you have to physically lock the SD card, and it has to live permanently in the 2nd card slot (in order to actually be convenient). But this means you’re losing your second card slot entirely for recording purposes.

So the camera’s great, but there are some pretty deep-seated issues with a few operational aspects (for people doing conventional production at least).

The key to getting around most of those issues seems to be customisation and accessorising, and that’s taken me down a deep, dark, complicated path of trial and error to build a rig that works for narrative production. And it’s cost me hundreds of dollars in failed nobbins/accessories that didn’t quite work out (on top of the several grand I’ve had to spent on parts that did).

I bought Zacuto’s loupe for the camera, and although that fixed the daylight-viewing and mounting issues with the stock LCD, ultimately the display info issues, and the too short cable for the LCD, have forced my hand into running a dedicated EVF instead.

Having the EVF with long-enough cables though, has made a big difference in solving some of the monitoring issues. That said, you have to either keep the stock LCD mounted on the camera for display info access, or you still have to dance around the same issues as before.

I’ve actually removed the LCD entirely (to streamline the overall build a bit), and have been using my “MARKER ONLY” configuration for text-free monitoring on the EVF. However, because I’m having to feed the EVF a loop-through signal from my Teradek (which is taking an HDMI feed from the camera, because the SDI is feeding the raw output to a Ninja V recorder) I can’t get the EVF’s internal tally light working - so am having to take my eye out of the EVF and rely on the external tally lights on the camera body and the Ninja V to confirm that the camera is recording each time we button on.

If the camera had two SDI ports (instead of one SDI/one HDMI) this wouldn’t be an issue.

This monitoring setup has also meant I have ZERO display info from the camera itself, so I have to hit the quick-menu button to bring up camera setup info, frame rate, shutter angle, check remaining card time etc. This is doable as a workaround, but still messy (and stupid that it has to be done).

Here’s my build currently (I’m particularly proud of my EVF mounting system, which basically lets me put the EVF anywhere, no matter what side of the camera I’m having to operate from):
 

8hwoAnA.thumb.jpg.b09455874d950487ea0dd9e815323107.jpg

dqOShOx.thumb.jpg.5784eecf33e09e59e6abe34be03cb27b.jpg

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member

Mark, thanks for the detailed write up!

I am planning my own FX6 build at some point this year, so this was very helpful. My current plan is to go with the Tilta Advanced Cage with top rods + Bright Tangerine Axis viewfinder bracket for the Zacuto loupe. The rear battery plate seems like it won’t obstruct the media door. The bottom plate also has a mount adapter support post built in from below, so hopefully that will work for me. I don’t need studio VF extension mode, so hopefully I’ll be ok with the short cable. Is it about as long as the F5/55 LCD VF cables? 

The Clip Naming and Frame Marker issues are ones I’ve also run into on FX9 jobs, it certainly is a step backwards from the F5/55. There also needs to be a ‘clean frame’ with metadata in the look-around mode like Alexa/Venice. 

I’m hoping those are easy Firmware fixes. We should start a Sony petition for those additions!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

blackmagic design has very shitty quality control on their products. for example in a movie I am working on there has been three Ursa Mini G2's and only one of them has worked correctly so far. the second one has errors and freezing multiple times a day, especially when shooting in sub zero temperatures. One of them was broken literally right out of the box, it did not turn on at all and had to be returned immediately. the third one is working correctly so far.

I have never seen a movie camera being broken right out of the box. Every manufacturer in the World at least checks that their product can be turned on before it is shipped... well, Blackmagic does not😖

I've had a Blackmagic camera spontaneously stop reading the SSD, then begin reading it again, but unable to write any data to it. Shortly after the screen went half white with random black horizontal lines as if the zebras were picking up blown out highlights, yet only on half of the screen. Upon turning the camera off then on a few times it magically began operating normally. As If it couldn't have been any closer to a nightmare, I happened to be recording video at a location that was being rented on someone else's dime. Not fun.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member
10 hours ago, Ravi Kiran said:

How does the variable ND work? I couldn't find any specifics other than it not being polarizers.

Are there any issues such as color shifting with the variable ND?

As I understand it, it's an LCD screen, that darkens when charge is applied to it. The limits are that two stops is the lightest density you can get with it, and seven stops is the highest. So you still often have to add external ND at the high and low ends of the range.

You also can't use polarisers with it, because you get weird artefacts in the corners.

Apparently there is colour shift caused by the electronic ND, but Sony are compensating for those shifts internally. So you're not actually seeing any colour issues in your recorded footage.

Ultimately, although it's super useful. I'm still having to carry a full set of NDs with me at all times (in case I run into a situation where I can't use the electronic system).

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 4/14/2021 at 3:33 AM, Wendy Sanders McDonlad said:

And I also predict in 3 years, they will make even worse movies than the politically correct fabricated propaganda movies we have today. 

How can it get worse than it is now? LOL I think we hit peak Woke already. Have you seen Bill Maher's take on it? Hilarious.

On 4/14/2021 at 11:01 AM, Robin R Probyn said:

Can they get worse than the tent pole ,escapist super hero bollocks thats being knocked out now ?

I don't think so. This year could be the bottom. We will see.

 

On 4/13/2021 at 3:17 PM, Mark Kenfield said:

So we had a 6w light, cut down to a 3w light, diffused 20x over and run at 1%... and NOW we had some correctly exposed ambient fill.

Absolutely nuts.

The price of progress. 😉 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Sustaining Member
6 hours ago, Jay Young said:

And here I was, hoping for a digital camera with a base iso of 50.

800 ISO + 4 stops of ND would do it. I take your point though, it does not take much lighting to make an acceptable image these days...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 4/14/2021 at 3:05 PM, Satsuki Murashige said:

Mark, thanks for the detailed write up!

I am planning my own FX6 build at some point this year, so this was very helpful. My current plan is to go with the Tilta Advanced Cage with top rods + Bright Tangerine Axis viewfinder bracket for the Zacuto loupe. The rear battery plate seems like it won’t obstruct the media door. The bottom plate also has a mount adapter support post built in from below, so hopefully that will work for me. I don’t need studio VF extension mode, so hopefully I’ll be ok with the short cable. Is it about as long as the F5/55 LCD VF cables? 

The Clip Naming and Frame Marker issues are ones I’ve also run into on FX9 jobs, it certainly is a step backwards from the F5/55. There also needs to be a ‘clean frame’ with metadata in the look-around mode like Alexa/Venice. 

I’m hoping those are easy Firmware fixes. We should start a Sony petition for those additions!

 

I've ordered the Tilta plates and they are due in the next week or so. Didn't get the Tilta V mount even though it looks nice because I'd rather use my rails mounted v-mount plate and be able to slide it back and forth for balance on the shoulder. 

 

Will report back. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

Forum Sponsors

CineLab

FJS International

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

Wooden Camera

Metropolis Post

New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Film Gears

VidGear.com - Broadcast Video Warehouse

Serious Gear

Visual Products

Cinematography Books and Gear



×
×
  • Create New...