On September 2, Sony announced that the previously rumored FX6 cinema camera was indeed coming before the end of 2020. Here’s some juicy speculation on what we can expect.
While Sony has been tight-lipped on what exactly the FX6 would feature, they did at least drop a couple of teaser images that begin to paint a picture. We also know where this cinema camera has been: the FS5 II; what a Cinema Line camera looks like one tier above: the FX9; and, where Sony is currently at in regards to video recording capabilities in a smaller, cheaper camera: the a7S III.
One thing that is almost a gimme, the FX6 will feature a full-frame sensor like the FX9 — possibly the same exact sensor. Further backing this up is the fact both teaser images show the FX6 with full-frame lenses mounted — the FE 24-105mm G OSS and FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM — rather than the typical E PZ 18-105mm G OSS or E PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS usually used.
One component that won’t be included on the FX6 but is on the FX9 is the locking E-mount that provides extra security and stability for large lenses. On the flip side, it’s clearly shown in images that the FX6 does take after the FX9 in that there will be no viewfinder built in to the rear side of the camera.
Not that there was any doubt, but the released product images also show a Slot Select button meaning there will be two memory card slots available. The type of memory card media used, however, is up for speculation. It could go one of two ways: take the a7S III idea of two dual card slots accepting either SD cards (which the FS5 II used too) or CFexpress Type A within the same slot, or match up the FX6 to the FX9 (as they are now both considered Cinema Line cameras) and make them XQD card slots for simple compatibility within that lineup.
A couple more speculations are the chance for an updated electronic variable neutral density filter and a built-in gyro for post-stabilization. The FS5 II and FX9 have wonderful built-in 2-to-7-stop electronic ND filters, but it would be nice to see this expanded to 10 stops like the Canon C300 Mark III — albeit not a full-frame camera. Likewise, the FX9 had already updated how the Clear (off) setting of the variable ND worked so that the sensor would be covered with clear protective glass, and that would naturally be welcome on the FX6.
As for the built-in gyro sensor, we’ve seen the positive reviews of its implementation inside the FX9 which allows for the camera’s position to be tracked while recording and then later corrected for stabilization using Sony’s Catalyst Browse software. This may be one of those special features that keeps the FX9 a step above, but the FX6 clearly has the more run-and-gun form factor which would benefit from such an addition.
The specifics of what’s going on with the capabilities in the FX6 is a much more gray area openly exposed to Sony’s artificial crippling. They’ve played their hand with the a7S III, and from that we know they are capable of making one hell of a video camera with a small footprint at a relatively low price. Should we expect a7S internals just as the FS5s before it? Or would that be too much of a risk toward the higher end and they should essentially make it a lesser capable FX9?
In the FS5 II, we have internal 4K 8-bit 4:2:0 and 1080p 10-bit 4:2:2. If the powers that be at Sony wanted to, they could simply continue the a7S-FS5-FX6 connection and bring the wonderful 4K 120p 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording into the Cinema Line camera.
The same goes for its autofocus system. While the FS5 II’s autofocus is “meh,” the FX9 and a7S III also set the bar pretty high for what a newly released Cinema Line camera should be capable of here. It would not be out of line to see Real-time Eye AF, Touch Focus, and hopefully Touch Tracking.
Then there’s the color. The FS5 II already established itself as using Venice-like color science, however there’s always room for improvements and refinements. For those that are FX9 owners looking at the FX6 as a B camera, it would be important for the FX6 to follow its big brother identically in this area. Bring in the matching Venice color science, and bring in the S-Cinetone gamma curve.
What the Sony FX6 will cost is a little up in the air as well. It’s a tug of war between the $3,500 a7S III and the $11,000 FX9. Today we can buy a new FS5 II for $4,748, so does that mean Sony prices the FX6 higher than that or are they going to replace the FS5 II at that price point? Get too greedy and customers may just stay down at the a7S III level or not see the point when the FX9 is there for a little more. Price it too low and a7S III users start second guessing their orders and the FX9 looks too spendy.
The reality is though, I think all three can serve their respective customers in enough different ways to where pricing won’t get overly involved in the comparison. It would be my wish for the FX6 to immediately takeover the $5,000 price point, but just as the FX9 didn’t replace the FS7 II, it’s probable that $6,000 to $7,000 might be more likely as an introduction with the FS5 II continuing to be sold.
As of this writing, the upcoming Sony FX6 sits on a barebones B&H page awaiting more information and pre-ordering to begin. Visit the product link and you can sign up to be notified with updates.