Sony has released a software update for its FX3 camera that adds new features taken from Sony’s professional cinema line cameras. Specifically, Sony has added new Log shooting modes, LUT importing, timecode sync and more.

The FX3 could already shoot Log footage but firmware version 2.00 adds the a dedicated 'Log Shooting Mode' option, derived from its higher-end cine cameras. This adds two additional ways of handling 'ISO.' On top of 'Flexible ISO', you gain the option of Cine EI and Cine EI Quick, both of which provide an alternative way of working that tries to exploit the camera's sensor performance.

Essentially the EI modes add a different way of handling the relationship between exposure, amplification and response curve on the camera (ie: the three factors tangled up in what we think of as 'ISO'). 'Flexible ISO' is essentially 'standard' mode: if you increase the ISO setting, the camera adds a stop of amplification and uses the same response curve as normal. This is the way ISO works on the FX3 before the firmware update, and the way it works on most stills cameras.

Cine EI, is a cinema industry-derived way of working, that treats ISO solely as an 'Exposure Index' (a means of selecting exposure without all the usually-associated under-the-hood changes in amplification), and is designed for working in controlled lighting conditions (rather than using amplification/gain to make up for a lack of light).

This doesn't change the camera's amplification when you change the EI setting. Instead it uses the camera's widest dynamic range Base ISO setting, and lets you essentially under or over-expose it by up to two stops, depending on whether you're trying to prioritize highlight capture or shadow detail. Changes to the LUT mean the preview doesn't appear under or over-exposed, and metadata is recorded into the file so that editing software knows how you intended the footage to be rendered.

Because the FX3 has a dual conversion gain sensor, there's an option to switch the camera to using the higher output gain step, boosting the base ISO from 800 to 12,800. Cine EI mode has you manually choose between these two base settings, then lets you adjust the EI up or down by two stops.

Quick EI mode is just an easier to use variation of this system that automatically switches between the two conversion states ('base ISOs') depending on which EI you choose. This means you can choose an EI more than two stops away from one of the base states without having to stop and manually select the other 'Base ISO' mode.

A generic Sony diagram showing how CineEI mode works: the camera remains at one of its base ISO positions, but lets you decrease exposure to capture more highlights or decrease to capture better shadows. The on-screen preview shows this intent and records a tag so that editing software can render the footage as planned.

On the FX3 the base states are ISO 800 and 12,800, rather than the 800 and 4000 as shown. In Flexible ISO mode, the highlight clipping point remains the same for all settings above the base ISO step.

Sony has also added the ability to import custom LUTs. In addition to using when previewing the footage, they can also be embedded into the video file, if you're shooting to a CFexpress card. By embedding the LUT into the video, it means the exact LUT used during the shoot is also available at the editing stage. There are also new preset LUTs included in the update, but Sony only specifically mentions s709 in its release notes.

Other updates include the ability to add two new typs of shot markers to mark specific takes or scenes, a new list-style main menu screen, an Instant Function (Fn) menu display when swiping up on the screen, a new standby movie screen mode, timecode sync and input with a dedicated adapter cable (VMC-BNCM1) and a new autofocus (AF) assist function to make it easier to switch between AF and manual focus.

All of the metadata features will require use of Sony’s Catalyst Prepare or Catalyst Browse applications. Sony has announced Adobe Premiere Pro will be getting a new Catalyst Prepare Plugin next month (August).

The 2.00 software update for the Sony FX3 is available now for macOS and Windows computers. You can find out more information on Sony’s website.

Press release:

FX3 Camera Software Update Adds Features for Cinematographers Including Log Shooting Modes, LUT Importing, and Timecode Sync

LOS ANGELES, CA – July 13, 2022 – Through extensive feedback from industry professionals,Sony Electronics Inc. is pleased to announce a new software update (Version 2.00) forthe FX3[i].

This new software introduces professional cinema line features into the camera, including additional Log shooting modes, user LUT (Lookup Table) importing, timecode sync with dedicated adaptor cable[ii], and advanced functionality that is consistent with the Cinema Line Camera workflow and enables ultimate creative freedom. ​

FX3’s new Log shooting modes with LUT monitoring create a smoother post-production workflow by enabling Cine El, Cine El Quick, and Flexible ISO modes for recording with the S-Log3 gamma curve. Flexible ISO is a quick and easy mode that allows users to change the ISO to make exposure adjustments. Cine EI and Cine EI Quick are modes that use the camera’s base ISO of 800/12800. Both Cine EI and Cine EI Quick modes produce footage that can be adjusted in post-production to balance highlights and shadows while taking advantage of the wide latitude of S-Log3. ​ All three modes allow video shooting while monitoring with an appropriate LUT to preview the final image.

Additionally, this update includes preset LUTs, like Sony’s s709 and maintains popular picture profiles such as S-Cinetone. For additional creative freedom, users can import their own LUTs. These imported LUTs can be used to not only preview a final image but can also be included into the footage when registered as a picture profile. ​ ​

This latest software also features additional updates for advanced usability, including:

  • New list-style main menu screen which provides quick access to frequently used items ​
  • Instant Function (Fn) menu display by swiping up on the screen
  • New standby movie screen provides an unobstructed view of the subject
  • Timecode sync and input with a dedicated adaptor cable
  • AF (autofocus) assist function to smoothly switch between auto and manual focus

FX3 now includes added functionality to assist with the creative workflow, such as post-production editing using embedded LUT and EI (exposure) metadata. In addition, two types of shot marks have been added, allowing users to mark specific takes or scenes. ​

This metadata is available using the latest version of Sony’s Catalyst Prepare[iii] or Catalyst Browse applications. A new "Catalyst Prepare Plugin" for Adobe Premiere Pro is scheduled to be released in August.

Availability

The software update will be available July 13, 2022 at 9:00 pm PDT. Filmmakers can easily download the update directly to their camera using a PC or Mac. More details can be found HERE.

Notes:

[i] The latest version 2022.1 of the Sony’s Catalyst Prepare* or Catalyst Browse applications is required. (*Software download page URL) https://www.sony.net/disoft/

[ii] Time code sync will need an exclusive adaptor cable, VMC-BNCM1. For further information, please check the support page: Support for ILME-FX3 | Sony USA

[iii] Software download page URL: https://www.sony.net/disoft/