Chinese Raw – Hands on the Kinefinity KineRAW S35

A Chinese s35 raw camera – really? Despite the fact that about every electronic gear and gadget – from iPhoes to SSD – is made in China these days – I was skeptical. Reading the specs like, 4k s35 chip, uncompressed CinemaDNG and CineformRaw on top of it, 13 stops of DR, andwhatnot – sounds too good to be true for 6000 bucks. Actually it sounds like a wishlist to come true. Is this really possible and – most important point of all – how does the image look?  Well, the guys from HD Videoshop in Berlin, where so nice to lend me the camera for several days, so I could look into it. IMG_0001 This is not a shootout and you will not see any footage from the camera (besides the one from Matt Allard), cause my workload at the time didn’t allow for a proper test scenario. Since I didn’t want to do something half-assed-backyard-flower, this is just my first thoughts on a very interesting camera, that I had to play with for some days.

Heavy Metal

Out of the box, this Baby looks and feels serious. (Almost) nothing on it is plasticy or flimsy. It’s build like a tank and comes with a “NO BULLSHIT – FOR MATURE MEN ONLY” attitude. This is not the camera, you pull from your backpack and do some tourist-style handheld shooting. The KineRAW s 35 is a solid peace of production equipment. The Design is a bit like a shrunk Alexa, at the size of a F3 – and actually it’s pretty much a sweet spot, as far as I’m concerned. All the buttons and sockets are at the right places – having the menu screen on the dumb side would be nice though. If you ever worked with a halfway pro camera, you don’t need a manual – pretty much straight forward and clean, once you figured out how to use the combination of the menu wheel (turn/push).

IMG_0008

Mount Everything

I have a motherload of adapters banging around in my camera cases – most of them – even the more expensive ones – are not exactly super precise and tight. Also most of them are a bit flimsy. Since years I was thinking, how nice it would be if a camera would have a very shallow mount (like a e-mount), and I could buy adapters for every lens I have, but in the same quality and stability as a PL mount.  Well Kinefinity did just that. The mounts are massive – again no bullshit and corner cutting here – and made out of steel, tight and free of wobble. For now, there are 4 mounts available

  • PL Mount Adaptor
  • Nikon F Mount Adaptor
  • Canon EF Mount Adaptor
  • Active EF Mount with Iris Control

IMG_00024K for 2K

The Image of the s35 4K sensor, is internally downsampled to 2K, but it retains the advantages of the 4K sensor, and that means you getting fully resolved 2K lines of resolution, and less moire, noise and aliasing problems. To combat the rolling shutter problem, that most CMOS sensors suffer from – to a more or less degree – Kinefinity introduced something they call “Sport Mode” It doesn’t eliminate rolling shutter completely, but it’s much better. You pay for it with a slightly degraded image quality and latitude is also a bit reduced  (less than 1 stop). The quality is still totally usable when you have to shoot out of a train or car or something that calls for RS problems.

I’m shorting almost exclusively raw since 2012 now, so I’m quite spoiled, regarding image quality – so how does the KineRAW hold up? Surprisingly good I must say. When I saw the first images from the prototype, I was not knocked of my socks, but after some firmware updates, the guys from Kinefinity IMHO nailed it. Today the image quality is in the same league as BMC or RED. Of course it is “only” 2k and it is not the same picture, since every camera comes with its own look, and  manufacturer has a different approach regarding color science and sensor calibration  but the quality per-se is on par.

Unfortunately I had no time to use the KineRAW on a real project, so I have not much to show here, but from what I saw at my short test was really good. When Kinefinity now comes out with the new version with 6k, it steps into Red territory at a much more attractive price point.

 

Matt Allard of Newsshooter.com shot a nice example of what the camera is capable, if in the right hands

 

What I really like is the way the engineers of Kinefinity seem to listen to their customers – and probably having an even closer eye on the usual forums. Most of the features look like a wishlist-come-true compilation.  Also they come with gadgets like an app to control the camera via WIFI – something a lot of folks would love to see for other cameras. Kinefinity-KineRAW-S35-iPad-App-Chinses   Things like this, really make me feel confident, that we will see firmware updates and new features on a more regular basis, than on other cameras. Can’t wait to get my hands on the 6k model now, after I tested the s35.

IMG_0004

Buttom Line

Pros:

  • 4k S35 sensor
  • great body, weight and form factor
  • C-DNG and Cineform
  • dual recording option
  • WIFI
  • universal mount
  • 13 stops of DR
  • price

Cons:

  • Doors on the SSD slots are flimsy (that was changed with the new model)
  • HFS+ formatting for SSD – exFAT would be so much better, since Mac-formatting tools are a pain in the arse on a PC.

If you are in Vegas, I recommend to visit the guys of Kinefinity at booth C12147 at NAB, and see what they got new up their sleeves. The new KineMAX 6k looks quite promising.

Kinefinity-KineMAX-6K-and-KineMINI-4K-Together

 

Check out all the details, specs, accessories of the KineRAW s35 and her little siter KinerawMINI at  HD Videoshop in Berlin

And here is some first test footage from the Mini.

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