Why I use the Sony FX6, Part Two: Dual Base ISO.

Good light is the backbone of great video, but sometimes you’re forced to work in less than ideal lighting conditions, which can result in lost detail or excessive noise on the video as you crank up the ISO (a term for your camera sensor’s sensitivity to light – higher ISO means a lighter image but increased noise).

This is another area where the FX6 shines. While its full-frame sensor gives it great low-light capability anyway, it also comes with a Dual Base ISO. The FX6 has a standard 800 ISO base, as well as a massive 12800 ISO base, so you can switch to the higher base ISO and still have minimal noise in the image. This is a real life saver when combined with the variable ND filter as you can easily bring the ISO up to the high base then bring the brightness down with the ND.

Dual Base ISO isn’t just great for events

This feature isn’t only great for run-and-gun and events but can also be a real time and cost saver for clients on other types of shoots. For example, I was recently shooting some property videos and the client was trying to keep costs down and keep the shoot to a single day. With another camera, requiring extensive lighting equipment moved around from room to room, this would have likely taken two days, but using the Dual-Base ISO and one small, bright, mobile light I was able to complete the shoot alone in one long day without needing an assistant. Ultimately this saved the client money, and myself time and fuel as the shoot was a fair distance from my home.

While there is a slight increase in noise when shooting with the 12800 Base ISO, by shooting in S-Log3 and over-exposing, this can be made negligible. See the example below for the difference between shooting with a 12800 base ISO, and simply cranking the ISO up to 12800 on any other camera – the exposure is the same but the noise on the left creates an unusable image.

Left: Representative example of noise if image taken at ISO 12800 without dual base. Right: Image taken with Base ISO 12800 in S-Log3.

Overall, the FX6’s Dual Base ISO is a great feature, particularly when shooting events and documentaries. It also comes in very handy when shooting independently and within time and cost limits, allowing you to forego a bigger, more time and person-power intensive lighting setup.

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