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I, Timothy Fare-Matthews, was given the opportunity to create a first experience film with the Sony FX6 camera, partnering with a team of three established content creators in the UAE's film industry, DOPs Saad Aldin Alkharouf and Steele Stride (Dubai Film), as well as director Lafi Abood. We wanted to make this project unique and get various perspectives from the different DOPs to put together a unique piece of content.
We decided to create a film about a local drift driver in UAE, Yousef Al Herais. We took the Sony FX6 out to two locations to thoroughly test its capabilities. Shooting in these two settings allowed us to fully experience the camera’s wide range of features, through filming cinematic scenes in the garage to action-packed shots on the track. We pushed the camera’s limits in full Zacuto rigs, and it delivered stunning footage every time. It was used by different people, in different environments, with different lenses, and most importantly took many shapes and forms, none of which would of been possible without the key parts to the Sony Zacuto FX6 rig. So, let's take a look...
Taking any proper video camera (that isn't the size of a mirrorless) and rigging it like a GoPro is no easy task. It's also an incredible feat to take a mirrorless camera and build it up to compete with a proper Cine camera. If I'm honest, and I'm sure all DOPs out there will agree, there is no perfect set up or camera to do it all. Which begs the question, why isn't there?
Why haven't camera manufacturers designed something that can go on the shoulder, on a gimbal, in a helicopter, on a suction cup or on a helmet?
By now, you are probably thinking, "Be quiet, Tim. You have the RED Komodo, ARRI Alexa Mini, Black Magic Pocket 6K, Canon R5, Sony A7SIII, Nikon Z6II and many other cameras". But if you think that, you're mistaken. None of them come out of the box ready to do all of the above mentioned.
Spoiler alert: this write up is focused around the Sony ILME-FX6. But it's not what you think. Even that camera has its limitations and a recent project done for Sony MEA (Middle East / Africa) involving a drift car proved that also to be true.
All of these cameras are great in their own way, but as with the FX6 (which is my camera of choice), the critical factor and way to make any camera do all of the tasks mentioned above comes down to one simple thing: how they're built.
How you build it though it is down to the production. The production is determined by the brief and objective of the client. And to be able to execute that brief or objective comes down to the versatility of the camera - full circle.
The point of bringing all of this up is because, despite being a Sony Ambassador, we all know that if you know how to use your tools well you will get a beautiful image, story and most importantly, an asset to satisfy that well-deserved paying client.
Using your tools, as we have clearly defined, is dependent on how it's built. You can't build a decent camera up without the support of a company like Zacuto. So, credit where it's due. For me, the best camera on the market for the money right now is the Sony ILME-FX6, but it has only become possible to do all of the things I need to do above because of the rig Zacuto has designed for it.
Let's dive into one of the best upgrades for this camera: the Z-Finder.
Shooting outdoors requires a decent viewfinder. The FX6 of course has been designed to bridge those transitioning from an A7SIII / FX3 to something more suited for video like an FX9, but without the price tag. (hence no viewfinder and only a hood). It's not going to have the full features of something like an FX9. So this FX6 Zacuto Z-Finder with its redesigned FX6 Metal Handle (VF) adapter to the handle makes this camera already feel a lot more serious. The clarity and build quality from the hinge up is second to none and proved to be a loved featured by all parties across the two days.
The incredible and super important part to this rig, which made this whole production possible, was the new Top Plate design.
The Sony rocker Zacuto relocator helped us capture content that we wanted on the shoulder. This is incredibly necessary if you are utilizing the camera's auto functions and Sony E-mount glass.
Coupled with the Sony Dual Trigger Grips and VCT pro baseplate, this meant that no matter the DOP or shot to capture, it was super quick and easy to adjust. If you haven't got the message yet, you'll realize that although the camera got the content, the shoot was really made possible by the upgrades this camera had which was supported heavily by Zacuto.
If you're starting out it's more important you make the tools you invest in work harder for you. Zacuto's carefully engineered parts, excellent customer service, attention to detail and industry feedback is a massive testament to the brand.
For someone who gets pulled into event highlights to social media content to high quality commercials and Netflix documentaries, clients rarely dictate what cameras they want us to use these days and instead expect us to know and be comfortable with our own tools.
Let's make our tools work harder for us and have them rigged by Zacuto. My promise to you is that no matter the camera you have, Zacuto can ease and elevate any shoot.
To see the entire first experience of Sony FX6 visit The Dance: Drifting with the FX6 | Sony | Alpha Universe | Middle East and Africa (alphauniverse-mea.com)
First and Ten Productions