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Chinese KineRAW S35 Camcorder Attempts to Knock Off the RED and ARRI ALEXA for $8,000

08.28.11 @ 1:06PM Tags : , , , , , , , ,

In our global economy, one could amend the phrase “nothing is certain in life except death and taxes” to “nothing is certain in life except death, taxes, and knockoffs.” The country responsible for half of my existence, China, is knockoff/bootleg Ground Zero, and so it should come as no surprise that the first reports of a RED and ARRI ALEXA clone come from The Motherland. The 2K KineRAW Kinefinity camcorder is like a larger RED (using “KineMAG” SSD drives instead of REDMAG SSD drives) with the size and weight of an ALEXA. It even uses basically the same menu system and display on the side of the body as does the ALEXA (knockoffs are not exactly known for their originality). The camera will record to CinemaDNG or Cineform RAW and will supposedly ship for the “gorgeous” price of $7-8k.

Check out a video of the camera being presented at a Beijing tradeshow at DSLR News Shooter (this is where the “gorgeous” quote comes from). Here’s the spec sheet:

Image Sensor Super 35mm Sized CMOS sensor
12-bit linear output for True RAW as CinemaDNG, or 10-bit Log90 output for Cineform RAW
Lens Mount PL Mount as Standard Mount
  Interchangeable Lens Mounting System with adjustable Flange-to-Focal Distance
Recording 2K@23.976fps, 24fps, 25fps, 30fps
  Both uncompressed True RAW as CinemaDNG and GoPro-Cineform ™ RAW
Monitoring 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080p, RGB 8bpc, compatable with third party EVF, LCD and HD monitors.
One HDMI port and Two SDI ports
Audio 24-bit depth and 48KHz
3-Pin XLR two channels
Sync Time Code: supports SMPTE LTC Timecode input and output (Master/Slave)
  Genlock: SMPTE 274M-2005 Tri-Level Sync signal
  Sensor Sync Signal: between two cameras, like for shooting Stereo-3D or multi-camera.
Power Supply Camera DC Power Input 11 – 26V, maximum typical current draw is 4 amps from 12V.
Size and Weight Length x Width x Height w/o projections: 312x190x150mm
Weight: 6.2kg

The first obvious difference between the specs of the KineRAW and the RED models is that the KineRAW lacks 4K or 5K options and maxes out at 30fps instead of 300fps like the EPIC does. Of course, on a film production the specs of the camera are only important to the extent that the camera works — reliably. Would you trust your entire production to a camera startup with an unproven track record? You know, like RED was a few years ago?

Seriously though, while I’ve heard no reports of any ALEXA reliability issues, as Philip Bloom found out yesterday, the current RED EPIC-M is in fact a “beta” camera. EPIC shooters run the risk of discovering problems that aren’t fixable on-set — Bloom has to wait until the camera can be taken in to be fixed, given the camera would not even power on. However, RED has always been upfront about this — on the sales page it states, “The EPIC-M is a hand-assembled, non-production run camera and is intended for users who can provide testing and constructive feedback directly to RED.” To me this kind of crash will only be an unforgivable offense if the shipping EPIC-X cameras run into similar problems. Then again, I’m not shooting on an EPIC-M right now, and I might feel differently if my production came to an unexpected halt because a $58,000 camera suddenly transformed into an inert brick.

Also of interest: the KineRAW S35 camera isn’t the only planned model; they’ve also got a KineRAW S16 and S8 version, which presumably mimic the sensor sizes of Super16mm and Super8mm film. No pricing announced for those two.

Ultimately, until there are footage samples, and more importantly cameras actually being used in the field, this is all pure speculation. A specification sheet does not a camera make; on set, issues like usability, reliability, battery life, build quality, etc. all take on much higher priority than they do on paper. And while I’m all for bringing high-end tools to indie filmmakers at lower prices, I also greatly respect the R&D efforts of companies like RED and ARRI, and if a company is going to make a similar camera, I’d love to see some innovative ideas to go along with a copied spec sheet.

Link: KineRAW Kinefinity Cameras

[via DSLR News Shooter]


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Description image 55 COMMENTS

  • am having an orgasm right now lol

  • The camera design isn’t the only thing they’re cribbing. The slogan on the website is “Filmmaking tools taking you to infinity and beyond.”

    Isn’t “To infinity and beyond” the slogan of Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story”?

  • Oh, China. Bless you.

    I’d be really, really curious to try one of these. Wouldn’t be surprised if most of those parts come from the factories that make the parts for the major manufacturers.

    • Oh – and I just watched the video on DSLR news shooter.

      The poor guy – he has to talk about a product that has the word “raw” in the title. Again and again and again.

  • If you haggle it’s only $2000

    • It shows how far/fast digital imaging has progressed in the past few years that “2k… meh” is even an utterable statement. But it’s true — if you’re making a knockoff of these cameras I think you’ve probably got to go higher with either the resolution or frame rates. With a PL mount camera you’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars of lenses and accessories, so would you rather have a camera from a company you’ve never heard of (what happens if you need it to be serviced in 5 years) for $8k, or would you rather spend $14k on a Sony F3, which goes up to 60p and can do RAW for an extra $3.5k? Not to mention if that RED EPIC-S ever comes out, or if Canon shows up with a proper large-sensor video camera.

  • Hope I don’t turn this into a political discussion, but I’m a huge fan of Shanzhai-style copycpat manufacturing. I’m actually a firm believer that the current hackerspace movement will spawn an American version of such industries and the multi-national corporations will get beat in their own game.

    Anyways, like Ramy, I was elated when I saw this.

    • Chris Hubbard on 08.28.11 @ 11:55PM

      completely agree.

      • mastroiani on 09.6.11 @ 9:57AM

        Why do you call it a knockoff? In a sense then, you should be calling almost everything else on the market a knockoff of something made earlier. There are truly very few unique products nowadays on the market.

        I for one, eagerly await these kinds of developments. I think, big manufacturers, now including RED (with their stuck-up attitude) are milking the consumer to the fullest, by giving them tiny incremental advances over the years. I don’t care what puts fire under their arses – Chinese knockoffs or Chinese firecrackers. I’m happy with either. People were saying similar things about RED being an unknown company or even Hyosung Motors, but these companies are still around and will be around.

        In the end, law of the market will dictate everything. We shall wait and see what this baby looks like.

  • Well given were all blasé about 2k you cant really spec the F3 at 60p given it only allows you to do this at a ‘tiny’ 720 ;-). Overcrank is a must have in any film camera over $8k in my book. That the FS100 has 60p at 1080 and the F3 doesnt is a deal breaker for me.

    Thats the problem with Sony though, way too many fingers in too many pies – always having to worry about their tiers cannibalising each other. Hope Epic-s can get here in time to mix things up.

    • Far as I know, F3 is 1080p60 over HD-SDI, just not on SxS cards as there’s no XDCam spec for it.

      • As far as I know that’s accurate — which, in my book mean it has 1080/60p. If you’re on a production where slow-motion is important, pretty sure you’ll find a way to use an external recorder…

  • If you have any suggestions, comments or feature requests about KineRAW digital cinema camera, please feel free to reply to this post or email me, I can directly pass them on to the developers. They are eager to hear what people think about this camera.

    • Thanks Marvin — I think so far the main points are that people either want higher resolution or higher frame rates on the S35 model (the latter being a more likely possibility at this point, I’m guessing).

      • Currently they are not planning on either higher resolution or higher framerates for keeping the price affordable. Also the S35 prototype you see in the leaked images will be much smaller/lighter when production units come out.

    • Marvin,

      i think a substantial amount of filmmakers would be really interested in the s16 model if they found the price to be cheaper and if the camera does 60p. Any idea when they might start floating some figures on that camera?

      • The developers are still working on the S35 model, S16 model will be released after S35, no information on pricing, but I’m sure it will be much cheaper than S35 :)

        For dynamic range, they are targeting at 11.5 stops, and they are close to achieving that.

      • UPDATE: They’ve just released a important information to me that the S16 model will use CCD sensor instead of CMOS.

    • my two cents (mind you: not worth a lot more than that…)

      * the most important thing, by far, is image quality: deliver crisp 2K images with beautiful color and RAW flexibility, and you may have a winner in your hands

      * in particular, I know I dont need 5K, and only occassionally will I use frame rates above 30p, but image quality at 2K resolution and 24p has to be best-in-class

      * then comes usability: it has to be stable, and easy to operate

      * it is nice to be able to mount PL glass, but I also want it to take everything else, like canon, nikon, leica-R, etc; an interchangeable mount would be perfect; I dont need autofocus (but maybe in 2013 I will); aperture control would be very nice, but I can also live without it

      * size and weight are important; price is very important

      * things like in-built ND filters can differentiate you from the rest of the offerings in that price bracket

      in the end, I think the aim is to build something like a sony F3 with slightly better image quality (RAW vs S-LOG) for half the price, which, I must say, sounds awesome; but it has to be at least on par, and it has to work

      plus: I have a lot of suggestions for a sensor; are they building that in-house, or is it bought from someone else?

  • I don’t know if the ideas of a “RED Knockoff” or “RED clone” are quite appropriate.

    It doesn’t look like a RED, so the idea of a visual knockoff, regardless of features, is gone.
    It doesn’t shoot above 2K, which as we all know is only slightly larger than 1080p (7% more, horizontally).
    It doesn’t overcrank past 30fps.
    It’s 12-bit/10-bit.
    I haven’t heard any mention of dynamic range, or an HDRx-like DR extension.
    It isn’t modular.

    If anything, I’d say its an attempt at an Alexa knockoff/competitor, as it doesn’t really match the RED M-X or Epics on many specs aside from the S35 sensor.

    That being said, what it is offering for the price point can make it a very attractive camera to a very wide audience. If the camera launches with a slightly more attractive final form factor (from a usability perspective), customer support systems already in place, and solid hardware, software, and firmware support, this could be a big success.

    • Much more similar to a RED ONE than the hybrid EPIC. And yes, that’s why I also included ALEXA in the title…

  • The undercurrent of racism in this article is palatable. Why can’t a Chinese company with a HUGE background in astro photography come up with a viable digital cinema camera? Just because it has a PL mount doesn’t make it a clone of anything. What kind of credentials do you need to have a viable product? A certain skin color? A particular name? A background in sun glasses manufacturing?

    • You definitely seem upset, yet you say that you find racism agreeable? I am confuse. Please refer —>

    • 1. I think you mean “palpable,” not “palatable.”
      2. I’m half Chinese, am I racist toward myself?
      3. It’s more of an ALEXA clone than a RED knockoff – granted. But I am saying that they have a lot to prove, background in cameras or not. I asked the same Qs about RED years ago, and despite hundreds of features being shot on RED, many shooters will tell you that the kinks weren’t really ironed out until the RED-MX. I’m not being pessimistic because they are Chinese, I’m being realistic because these cameras are much harder to manufacture than you’d think. See: all of RED’s delays over the years. Competition is good. I hope they pull it off.

      • I don’t think it’s exactly a secret that China manufactures a large quantity of inexpensive, low-quality goods, or that Chinese companies routinely release products that are blatant copies of existing designs. Referring to this well-known fact is not racism, by any stretch of the imagination.

    • I also think it is not fair to call this a knockoff just because it records RAW, has S35 sensor, and can use a PL mount

      it seems to be a completely different camera, built from the ground-up

      my car has four wheels, five seats, and an engine of about 2L, but that doesn’t make it a knockoff of nearly every other car before it

  • Koo,
    Of course you’re not racist toward yourself; just slightly ambivalent toward the voice in your head.
    Check out
    and see if you agree.

  • I have been talking to and developing de-Bayer software for their and other True RAW recording Digital Cinema Cameras for the last few years. They have been quiet about the development until now because they wanted to get the KineRAW-S35 model working before they went to a trade show with it. Their KineRAW-S8 camera is the 4th generation model, I have been processing test data for the last few years and talking to them about issues to get the best image quality and on matters relating to case width for shooting stereo 3D movies and such.

    I should not say what the MSRP is on the S16 model because its still under development, but they have told me that they are doing final adjustments on the sensor board before they start operational testing. From what I understand the S16 price will be lower than the S35 model, and the $8000 mentioned included some taxes or fees so the item price for it is lower as well, although the price delivered will probably vary since shipping from China by air mail is going to add some cost etc. The price for the S8 model should be lowest since it is smaller and does not include the extra costs for the Cineform ™ compression option. All models record CinemaDNG plus meta-data for color matching and other functions, the S16 and S35 have an option for Cineform ™ and the Cineform ™ may record to 2.5″ notebook SSD or HDD for up to maybe four hour long takes. The DNG recording requires the high-speed KineMAG ™ SSD to capture the high data rates of uncompressed 12bit Ture RAW Bayer sensor data.

    I have uploaded v0.01 of DANCINEC.ZIP to my web site,

    for people using DNG and RAW based Digital Cinema Cameras to use for free with my uncompressed freeish DI/NLE/CC/MIX/DIY SCAN/DIY FILMRECORDER/de-Bayer etc. software for feature film making post production and finish work.

    Since the KineRAW ™ cameras may be out for testing soon, my software is up for “beta-testing” the meta-data features with them. The KineRAW ™ cameras work with many other editing and DI systems out of the box because of standard CinemaDNG and Cineform ™ support, so you have lots of workflow options from “free” to high end. If you have questions about using my DI system with the cameras, my email is at the top of each page at my web site, just be sure to make the subject line clear with “KineRAW” in the email subject line, thanks.

    • all of that sounds terribly awesome!!

      plus, I think you are the perfect destination for my sensor suggestions, first because you are in touch with the sensor developers, and then because the biggest problems with my idea arise from the debayering side of things (I think it will have a tendency towards chroma moire, chroma noise specially in the shadows, even chroma artifacts if done really badly)

      so, here is the thing…

      I want vastly higher dynamic range and ISO sensitivity, and I’m ready to sacrifice some color resolution (not depth, but resolution) in exchange of that, so please give me a sensor with five colors and built-in chroma subsampling

      I mean: add two new colors to the bayer pattern, white (clear) and black (nd), and move from the current RGGB to something like RGGBWWWKK with a 3×3 basic structure instead of 2×2; this should deliver both cleaner shadows with more detail (thanks to W) and safe highlights (thanks to K) for a vastly higher dynamic range, at the expense of chroma subsampling (just one full RGB value for every 9 photosites, instead of one for every 4; this is very close to going from 4:4:4 to 4:2:2; I don’t think it would be a problem at all, but if you do you can regain most of the color resolution that you lost by increasing the megapixel count of the sensor, but not of the final images, ie having more photosites for each final image pixel)

      if the lightest and darkest color filters of your current bayer pattern make you lose one and two stops of light respectively, and you can make W lose no light and K lose 4 stops, you’ve got yourself three extra stops of dynamic range
      (maybe you could push K even darker, for increased DR, but I think clever debayering is needed for moire patterns not to emerge if K is too dark)

      (I totally understand development times are very long and that sensor work starting right now is unlikely to reach the market in two to three years, but it seems like a great idea and Im surprised no sensor maker is out with something like that so far; I think sony has done something like that… but applied to screens only, with white pixels for increased contrast ratio and visibility under sun light)

      • I think that it will be difficult to find such exotic designed sensor in this camera. I think they are surely using some generic s35 manufacturer. I you follow the sensor world you will see that during the last 18 month many manufactures have announced such chip. When I say generic, I am not saying that they are bad. If you look at the spec of some of these chip they are very high. I don’t think we can expect a fully in house developed sensor in a $ 8000 camera. The resolution is more than enough for me, the lack of 60p and albeit a little low to todays standard of 11.5 stop DR, are more a concern for me.

    • My Software support is currently at v0.06 for upload now. The KineRAW ™ cameras are not a “knock-off” as they have been in development for about 4 years now as part of a development program to produce several camera models.

  • I think they should put at least a 60p burst mode. That is only for a limited time, could be seconds or a few minutes. Where the camera tech is now, it will seem really limiting, even if it is RAW. I would like to know how it will compare in term of pure resolution compared to an F3. The reason I am saying this, is that it is considered that you loose about 25% resolution with bayer sensor, that is why the Alexa and F3 have higher pixel count to compensate for that in down sampling. I am not expecting 4k resolution and I don’t mind, a good 2k resolution would be enough for 99% of people use.

    According to one of the developer of KineRAW Digital Cinema Camera, they are considering the feasibility of adding 60fps@2K RAW, let’s hope this can be successfully implemented!

  • I’m a new subscriber here and forgive me for saying this but what ever happened to by-lines in articles? Who wrote this? I’m not criticizing the content at all. It’s just thaT I guess I’m a bit old-school. I want to know how wrote what it is that I’m reading. The reason is simple: Over time I can get a grasp of credibility (subjective to my own criteria of course)


    • That’s funny wsmith, I left out the byline because every article here is written by the same person (me), except for a few guest posts that note the author. Bylines get a bit redundant on a single author blog!

      Once this site goes multi-author, a byline will definitely be part of the design.

  • Russell Steen on 09.2.11 @ 4:00PM

    My iphone was made in China and I presume without any patent infringments. It has survived many hits and falls and still works perfectly. That said, I try to avoid knock off products from any country. It isn’t racist to acknowledge the obvious fact that the government of China does not prohibit Chinese companies from taking an existing product apart, making knock offs and selling them wherever they can. If you are a low-budget guerilla filmaker, knock offs are great. If you are trying to make a living selling a product you designed, not so great. If you eventually get paid for making a film, great. If some guy who makes illegal copies and sells them makes more on your film than you do, not so great. Race isn’t the problem or the issue. Philosophical differences about property rights and the rule of law are the issue, and we’re not gonna solve it here, but I wish aspiring filmakers were better educated about these things.

    I remember guys who bought Russion cameras because they were cheap and discovered all the reasons why as they tried to make them work. In DSLR forums you often read comments complaining that the prices of items are outrageous, but well thought out design always pays you back in time. I mean no offense Marvin, but companies introducing a product out of their area of expertise like this camera almost always have design issues because they don’t have a lot of filmaking experience to draw from and often no clue how the cameras are actually used. Ignore this little bumpy thing, cut corners on that milled mount thing, use a cheaper third party componant for this, opt for smaller screws here and bigger threads there until the end product is something that performs well at a trade show, but on a location is a time bomb waiting to break down at the worst possible moment. Caveat emptor.

  • Sample MOV and Cineform ™ along with matching 3D-LUT are free to download at links in this posting, as are photos of the KineRAW-S35 ™ second prototype in field testing in China now,

    Quote: [There are 720p H.264 mov for downloading:

    There are some Cineform RAW footages for downloading:

    The Cineform (tm) player is here,

    Quote: [Here are links for Low-Contrast Rec709 LUT.

    1. daylight-160.look:
    2. daylight-160.cube:

    Speedgrade NX, Firstlight can use .look file, while Da Vinci Resolve uses .cube file. People can use the LUT as monitoring LUT, but also use it as a starting point of grading .]

  • Direct from Kinefinity ™,

    BIRTV2012, Aug 22nd~25th, Our KineRAW-S35 ™ will be shown at booth number is 2B222

  • (sm) have booth 2B222 at BIRTV 2012,

    Quote: [The Must-Attend Industry Exhibition in Asia

    BIRTV is China's most prestigious exhibition in the industry of radio,film and TV and a key part of China International Radio Film & Television Exposition.It is also the only one of such exhibitions which gains support from China government and is listed number one among the supported exhibitions in China's 12th Five Year's Developing Plan of Culture.]

    They are also revising their web site now, the new web site will have sample images and footage you can download for compatibility testing with your own work-flow.

    Here is a map showing the booth location,

    They will maybe have two KineRAW-S35 ™ bodies there to show and be able to answer questions in person. If you are interested in getting one they will be there to talk about that as well. The price for the body may be about USD $6000, they are still working out the details.

  • KineRAW ™ cameras to be shown at booth C12813 at NAB 2013 in Las Vegas


    Got word from (sm) that they will be going to NAB 2013 in Las Vegas (in April),

    Quote: [Our booth number in this coming NAB is C12813.]

    So if you have wanted some ‘hands on’ time with their cameras, this will be the first time they are showing them outside China as far as I know.

    I’ve been shooting some additional test footage with both the KineRAW-S35 ™ and the prototype KineRAW-S8p ™ and may post that on my Vimeo page when I get it edited together. They are working on a demo reel for showing at NAB 2013, so if you have any suggestions of shots you would like to see you can email them and ask them to have one of their field testers shoot something like what you would like to see maybe so that when you go to NAB 2013 you can see how it turned out. They said they will have cameras there you can look over, and maybe the KineRAW-S35-mini ™ they are still working on, its a smaller version with the same high quality 100% true RAW DNG recording and S35 sensor with sub-PL mount for using a wide range of movie and still lenses, as I understand it, you can email them for detailed specs if you are interested.

    Also the MSRP and shipping should be lower for the KineRAW-S35-mini ™. So jot down booth C12813 if your going to NAB this year and say high, they have been developing these cameras for many years, and the larger KineRAW-S35 ™ has been in field testing in China (in addition to the one I got to do calibrations in the monitoring with). They said they are very busy putting cameras together to ship out, so, so far things seem to be going well for them.

  • BTW, I’m testing the Ubuntu Linux version of my Windows de-Bayer and image processing program, that has “automatic” color matching with the KineRAW ™ cameras through meta-data in their DNG frames. I may be able to port that Linux version to run on MAC as well, I’m using multi-OS compiler called Lazarus now for development of my free/freeish DI system. So shooting 2048×1080 in the KineRAW-S35 ™ you can get full uncompressed from sensor to edited DPX frames to make the DCP or 35mm/70mm/IMAX ™ film print from, at home without high lab fees (look at what major labs charge to post a feature with uncompressed DI as well as sound mixing costs which my programs do as well). The KineRAW-S35 ™ results can look very filmlike when shot, light, and graded well, the data path is optimized to use the full ADC range under all lightinging types so you don’t get added histogram gaps like in other cameras that shoot then clip the data to do white balance.