The Bitter Sweet Side of Upgrading to the Sony FX9

by | Feb 10, 2021 | Film News

I remember the last time I bought a new car. Not a “new” new car, but new to me. Of course, there was the excitement of a new driving experience and getting a car with a few upgrades. The first few days of ownership, I was trying to find any excuse to drive.

“We need milk? I’ll head to the store. You forgot we need bread, too? No problem, I’ll go back!”

After making a few trips, I noticed that the radio volume knob was a little higher than it was in my old car. When I reached out to change the volume, I instinctively reached out for the old spot and missed the knob.

One day, after missing the knob for the 100th time, the band Chumbawamba came on as I listened through my “Never Forget the ’90s” playlist. And that’s when I started to notice other differences with my new car. I couldn’t decide on a comfortable seat position, and the temperature controls were too sensitive (or maybe not sensitive enough?) among other things.

I started to wonder whether upgrading was a good idea. Maybe I should have stayed with my old, familiar car.

Some time later, I set out on my first road trip in the new car. I spent multiple hours just driving. An hour into the road trip, I noticed a couple of really nice features of the car, and then I noticed that my elbows were finding the armrests very comfortably. At mile 256, the strings of “Bitter Sweet Symphony” started playing and, without thinking, I reached for the volume knob. I didn’t even realize it, but I felt the volume knob between my thumb and finger (cue the drum crash crescendo) just like old times! What, it finally happened? Turn it up to 11! Finally, I had started getting familiar with my new car.

And that’s what it’s like to switch to a new camera system. Struggling with the new placement of buttons, the changeup of features, and questioning whether it was smart to upgrade at all.

At Hurrdat Films, we’ve been shooting on the Sony FS5 platform for about six years. Because I had been using that camera full-time for so long, I had become very accustomed to it, just like my old car. In fact, I was accustomed to the point where menus on the camera were ingrained in my mind.

When we decided to upgrade our camera, I hoped that staying with Sony would mean a seamless transition to the new one. Hopefully, I thought, I’d be able to pick up the FX9 and immediately know how to run it. But that wasn’t the case.

While some features from the new camera translated almost one-to-one, others were vastly different. For example, the terminology for “time-lapse” and “end trigger” recording are different between the two cameras. The FS5 has nine Picture Profile slots, but the FX9 doesn’t have any Picture Profiles. At first, I thought this was a downgrade, but my understanding of it now is that the FX9 is so finely tuned by the engineers at Sony to capture amazing images that it doesn’t need to be tweaked by the user at all.

I haven’t reached mile 256 with the FX9 yet. I’m still not able to instinctively find the volume knob every time, as it were, but I’m getting more familiar. After using the FX9 for a few months now, I’ve begun to understand the camera better.

It has a beautiful image, the push button ND filter is a better interface than the dial on the FS5, and S-Cinetone is a great color profile that needs minimal color grading. The transition from FS5 to FX9 wasn’t seamless, but as Charles Kettering said, “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”