Why I use the Sony FX6, Part One: the electronic variable neutral density filter.

It’s a bit of a mouthful, but the Sony FX6 ND filter is worth shouting about. A neutral density filter allows the operator to bring down the exposure of an image without affecting colour by affecting all wavelengths of light equally. In the past, ND filters would most commonly come as a physical filter you’d attach to the front of your lens. In recent years, however, it has become more common to have a built-in ND filter on camcorders and cinema cameras. These built in filters would usually come with a few modes corresponding to the level of dimming required, with 1/8 indicating mild dimming and 1/128 indicating much strong dimming.

Hand holding a Sony FX6
Showing FX6 ND filter control panel

Built-in ND filter

The FX6 takes this a step further, with an electronic variable ND: rather than adjusting in steps, this allows me to adjust the ND along a continuous spectrum, allowing for minor adjustments on the fly. This is handy for a number of reasons. For one, having a built-in ND means less kit to carry, and the ability to switch the ND on in an instant without interrupting shooting. This is particularly important for event videography and shooting documentaries.

The FX6’s electronically variable ND

Internal NDs aren’t that rare these days, but the electronic variability of the FX6 ND filter really makes it stand out from the crowd. Being able to make smaller adjustments allows for greater control of the image without having to compensate by then adjusting other settings, losing time and potentially altering the colour profile of your image. It’s also extremely handy for shooting in situations with changing light, such as mornings or evenings. Rather than having to make a big adjustment to the next ND level, you can make continuous small adjustments so that when it comes to the edit you don’t have to deal with any dramatic changes between clips.

The operation of the ND is simple too, with a dedicated control panel and wheel on the side of the camera body. All in all an extremely useful feature that sets the FX6 apart from many of its competitors.
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