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Mini S35 Camera from Kinefinity: 2K RAW in a RED EPIC-Style Body, Priced Under $6K

01.13.13 @ 4:49PM Tags : , , , ,

I don’t envy those who make the little grey or black boxes that give us pretty pictures. Another day, another camera, but there is something special about this one: Kinefinity, who makes the 2K KineRAW S35 camera that shoots RAW and Cineform compressed RAW for under $10,000, looks to be planning a smaller and cheaper version called the Mini S35 that just may compete with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera — and literally everything else out there.

Thanks to Dan Chung at DSLR News Shooter for the exclusive scoop:

There is no denying the resemblance to RED’s SCARLET and EPIC cameras. In fact, if I wasn’t paying close attention, I could probably confuse the two. That’s the first thing that stood out to me immediately, and I would love to hear the response from the RED guys about this one. Let’s keep in mind that this is a computer rendering, and not a final camera model yet, so it’s likely that it’s still months away — but they’ve said it should be at NAB 2013. If you’re wondering why they would announce a new camera without finishing their first one — well, their original model, the KineRAW S35, is already shipping in China, and will probably be shipping internationally sometime in 2013.

Here are the specs we know so far about the camera:


  • Super 35mm CMOS Sensor
  •  12-bit Uncompressed CinemaDNG (Cineform is optional to a recorder they don’t make yet)
  • 2048 x 1080 // 1920 x 1080 // 1280 x 720
  • One 2.5″ SSD Slot
  • ISO: 80-10,240 — Base of ISO 800
  • Dynamic Range: 11.5 Stops
  • Electronic Canon or Interchangeable Kinefinity Mount
  • Monitoring: 720p with 2 HDMI Outputs
  • No Fan or Phantom Power Audio
  • Optional Handgrip with Battery
  • Power Consumption: 8-10 Watts
  • No On-board Monitor or LCD

So how are they making this camera so cheap (and fanless)? Firstly the price is not finalized yet, but based on their pricing of the S35, which starts at around $6,000, it doesn’t make any sense to introduce a brand new model that’s only moderately cheaper. This camera could very well be priced somewhere in the $3,000-$5,000 range. That’s more or less the camera many of you have been asking for, but part of the reason for the price is that it’s incredibly stripped down from the bigger brother, and you’re not getting Cineform compressed RAW internally, which means you’re going to have some large files. These files won’t be as big as the Blackmagic Cinema Camera’s 2.5K files, but they will still be much bigger than compressed — and the Mini S35 will not have any compressed formats internally. Cineform may be an option at some point to an external recorder, but you won’t be able to record the HDMI outputs as they are 720p only.

From the RAW clips I’ve seen so far of the KineRAW S35, it doesn’t look like it’s quite as sharp as the BMCC’s files. This is probably due to the pixel-binning that Kinefinity is doing to get down from 4K to 2K. It also looks to have a bit lower dynamic range than the BMCC, so there are a few compromises that help keep the price down.

For those wondering where the Super 35mm BMCC is for $6K-$8K, it doesn’t exist, and it’s not going to exist for a long time, because the sensor technology just isn’t there yet unless you’re developing it yourself. The Blackmagic Cinema Camera has nearly as much dynamic range as a camera like the Arri Alexa. If you move up to a Super 35mm sensor, you’re going to have to compromise somewhere in image quality (the way the KineRAW has lower dynamic range), and I’m glad Blackmagic chose image quality over sensor size. It’s one of those situations where if you actually start using the BMCC, the crop is almost a non-issue, and the images are so good for the price of the camera that it’s a compromise most people could probably live with.

If Kinefinity can actually make this Mini S35 and then get it delivered to the US sometime later this year (it seems like it’s barely even a prototype at this point), filmmakers will have two options for RAW cameras in a true budget price range (not counting the short-lived RED ONE MX sale). I would love to see this priced around $3,000 for the body, and you would have an interchangeable lens camera capable of taking almost any lens out there. It would serve as a great A-camera for tons of productions, or even a B-camera for people shooting on RED. We’re not getting 4K RAW for a long time in this price range — and many of you probably don’t want it anyway — but 2K RAW will be well within reach for many filmmakers in the not-too-distant future.

Do you find this camera more interesting than the KineRAW S35? At what price point might you pick this up as a primary (or even secondary) camera? Does the uncompressed RAW worry you at all?

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  • As a poor highschool kid still rocking on a t2i, I could definitely see this as the stopping gap towards one of the top tier cinema cameras. Certainly a good alternative to BMCC. Hopefully this will cause a flood of 2k cameras for those poor filmmakers (ahem myself) who can’t afford a RED, C300, etc.

    • The flood is coming, don’t worry :-)

    • Sorry but BMCC has better IQ compared to the C300. This flood of 2k cameras is around the corner look and see. The next NAB will be full of surprised. Canon better change his game ….

    • I’m wating for the flood myself! It’s the only chance I’d have to put hands around a cinema camera.

  • It sounds great. I hope the cineform option will be affordable and the whole thing will actually be for sale soon (unlike the BMCC).

    George – tshit.de/freshdailies

  • john jeffreys on 01.13.13 @ 5:22PM

    Finally, somebody gets it.

  • As much as I love what Blackmagic did, they need to start shipping. I have a strange suspicion that NAB we’ll see a ton of 2k raw cameras in the $2k-$3,500 range.

    More options the better. Let the flood come.

    • I’m with you on this as well. I backed the Digital Bolex and we’re about to hit that wonderful one year anniversary with them.

      If anyone wants to take my spot for the Digital Bolex, they’re supposedly “close” – I believe I had pre-purchased around the 60s (number-wise). I’d love at this point to just give up on that product and put the money back towards my RED.

  • Soosan Khanoom on 01.13.13 @ 5:37PM

    Kinefinity is doing now what Red did in the past. Instead of resolution, Kinefinity is competing on price. To be honest, Kinefinity has come quite a long way. I still remember when Kinefinity first came out with a prototype and most people mutually agreed that they’re not gonna make it. Here they are.

  • Arf, why always Canon Mount. I like my Nikon glasses ! Why is there so many pressure for me to change ^^ ?

  • Well until it actually delivers it is nothing. I still haven’t seen their “old” alexa copies. Who would want them anyway? They are so huge and bulky. This looks much better. And they must have electronic aperture control if they are aiming at EF users.

  • Any word on frame rates? Also – never having worked with 2K myself, is it still natively 16×9? It sounds like a really small resolution bump; I can’t imagine a huge benefit over 1080p. Am I missing something?

    • 2k is 2048×1080…while it’s basically just 1920×1080, it is nice to have that extra side resolution if you’re delivering a 2k DCP…otherwise you have to do a tiny upscale that could give funky results, or you have little black letterbox bars on the side.

  • The cineform raw was one of the most compelling reasons to look at their line. Uncompressed raw is too difficult to work with for most projects. There’s a good reason most dslrs shoot stills in some format of compressed raw these days. It makes sense. 720p HDMI?! Nice price and form factor though.

    • Couldn’t you just compress it after the fact to make your working files?

      • Yes, indeed you can. It still presents large problems when you’re actually shooting though, all the more so if you require having two copies of your files at all times for backup. The on site storage requirements are huge for those uncompressed raw files until you can get them cineform encoded. So you’re not only eating in camera drive space at a voracious rate your onsite backups need to be incredibly large. Having it compressed from the get go makes it much less of a hassle.

        Once people start getting BMCC’s or Digital Bolex’s in a working environment there’s going to be a big fuss raised about all this. It’s just impractile for most of us who might be shooting more than 30min of footage to be shooting these things in uncompressed raw on location. There is going to be a push for external recorders that can record cineform, gopro could make a killing if they work their IP right.

    • From what I know, KineRAW Mini supports offline Cineform encoding. That says in the process of copying DNGRaw footage to computer through their exclusive software, footage are encoded to Cineform file in realtime.

  • vinceGortho on 01.13.13 @ 7:45PM

    So long bmcc.

  • No XLR ? 720p HDMI ? It better be cheap…

  • This looks like it could have some great potential. Give it an F5 style LCD / Loupe and the ergonomics would be leagues better than the BMC (but I guess that’s not saying much).

  • This looks great, but the BMCC *is* shipping. Picked mine up from my dealer last week. I am sure the rest of those who pre-ordered will not gave long to wait now.

  • Joe, thanks for the post, looks interesting. Do you think Cineform is a manageable format to work with for independent projects?

  • There will be 5 editions of Mini S35 camera, MSRP ranging from USD3,800 (brain only) to USD6,800 (premium). The standard edition is around USD4,800 features battery grip, 64G KineMAG SSD, electronic aperture control EOS mount, external recorder output, 3D feature, and offline Cineform encoding

  • Stil, if it aint a better image quality than the BMCC, why pay more?! You would really choose a lightly shallower dof than much much better image quality?!?

    • Much much better? I don’t know. Denver Riddle will get a KineRAW S35 soon maybe he will give his two cents then from a colorist perspective.

  • marty nathaniel on 01.14.13 @ 4:05AM

    Another pre-order promise. Pay and wait…forever. Tired of it. Whoever delivers at NAB gets my dough. Otherwise, I’m out to lunch, probably Margaritaville on the Blvd. See ya’ in Sin City.

  • Neil Brimelow on 01.14.13 @ 5:26AM

    Is the SSD for the Mini 35 going to be proprietary? I have no problem with there being no monitor with the camera as most people are going to either have one on hand or buy one that they like that fits their needs. But adding a monitor and/or EVF adds $$$ to the final price. If the media is proprietary, then that will limit the camera’s widespread adoption. The final price seems to be coming in closer to the FS100, with the primary difference being slightly higher resolution and the ability to shoot raw.

    Even if the camera doesn’t hit all the marks out of the gate, it still is a shakeup for the other manufacturers to offer better quality at a more affordable price in the future. Competition is great :)

    Once again, we have RED to thank for all this. If it wasn’t for RED camera shaking things up, the digital film revolution would have been delayed by a decade at least.

    • No, not proprietary. SSD that works on BMCC will fit mini35 as well.

      • Neil Brimelow on 01.14.13 @ 5:32PM

        Oh, that’s good that the storage is not proprietary, especially seeing that the company is located in China.

        Once again, I’m pretty sure RED has something in the works for the $3-5k range. I don’t think the 3k for $3k was feasible up till now.

  • If only it had more stops of dynamic range. The latest footage I saw from from their camera didn’t really distinguish from current DSLR videos that much.

  • Pray to the ancient Chinese gods it’s actually working as advertised. Motion blur especially is the concern of mine.

  • @Jason 你在中国吗?

    I’d asked one of my Chinese friends to look into the KineRAW S35 when they were in Beijing a couple weeks ago but very few people seem to have it/ a lot of people don’t know much about it.

    I guess that isn’t completely surprising since so few people in the Los Angeles film community outside of camera departments know what the Blackmagic camera is.

    I am curious about the KineRAW cameras, though one of the things I like best about BMC is the ability to shoot prores and DNxHD.

    • Hi Newman, I’m in Hong Kong. A friend of mine is a partial owner of the KineRAW company.

  • Body Only price is about $3200. And in addition, In EI Mode, Dynamic Range is 13 Stops.

  • This IS a spec sheet, not a physical product yet. They are months away from shipping, locally only at first (same as the S35).

    The only two specs on that nice list that are “competitive” are the S35 size (for some people. not all), low power consumption and the lack of a fan .

    If the prices mentioned above are correct, you’re not getting a functioning camera for BMCC money, just the brain. By the time it’s usable (standard edition) it’s $5K. I guess that’s within the realm of being competitive, but $5K for a camera that has worst specs, across the board, than the $3.5K BMCC?(once you’ve added external battery and SSD)

    Plus I’m not sure how they can ship (domestically) in March and not have a functioning prototype for product photography. March is less than 2 months away…45 days in fact…and they’re still using 3D renders?!

    So with the exception of the BMCC haters (yes Jeff, I’m looking right at you) who is this a win for? In the end, just like the BMCC and its manufacturing issues….time will tell. Once the product actually lands in user hands, this debate will be more relative.

  • Hmmm …. dynamic range seems very average.

  • Sell this NOW. As soon as GOPRO makes their own interchangeable 4k camera. It is game over for everyone else.

    • john jeffreys on 01.14.13 @ 6:54PM

      lolwat?

      GoPro is company that sells cameras for specific purpose(s)- sports, crash cams, etc.

      • Well, if you saw GoPro’s stand at the IBC last year, you certainly noticed it was huge. They had like half an exhibition hall. Pretty impressive for a company that makes just one little crash camera – and I guess it means they mean serious business in the professional video segment.
        So GoPro going all in with maybe 4K, 6K, high speed cameras – it is totally possible! Maybe they’ll give us a Phantom-killer for 10K next year! ;)

    • uhm…no

      • Hahah John, be prepared for a major surprise at the 2013 NAB. Remember what I said.

        GoPro made the Cineform RAW that this camera is using. GoPro is a company that has made huge profits from their sales. And they are a company that have the potential to make something huge.

        Mark my words. 2013 is the year of GOPRO.

        • have fun waiting

        • john jeffreys on 01.15.13 @ 12:23AM

          the year of tiny little cameras that I attach to kayaks and strap onto actor’s heads for POV shots? sure.

          • Well I guess it is out of the question in your brain that a company that made the Cineform RAW can come up with a interchangeable lens camera, no one said it will be a tiny little POV camera. Good luck living in the past John and Hansd.

          • Yeah and Red Bull was just some sugary soda from Austria and look where they are today.
            As far as I know, RED was being started with money from the guy who owns the Oakley sunglasses brand.

            All it needs is some capital and good ideas. GoPro seems to be making good money with their little crash cameras, and they seem to want to be in the professional market, so let’s see…

        • Mike.
          GoPro did NOT make CineForm, they bought it ;)

          • exactly my point. These guys are cooking something :)

          • That, and like I said before, their stand on the IBC was at least as big as all the major players.
            Bigger than RED for sure!

            Why would they spend so much money to have an impressive stand at a professional video trade show, if they weren’t up to something bigger than just a 400 bucks action camera? It wouldn’t make a lot of sense, I think.

  • BMCC still has the edge. Dynamic range. Nice pro res codecs. Decent support network.

  • man they could put at least an SDI port and some XLRs somewhere on that box…

  • No one will buy this after BMCC starts shipping, why would they for 3000 dollars more and still less resolution…. they need to make it 4K for 4K to compete. Then we are talking.

  • Do they really have to copy the RED design that blatantly?

    I mean this is not some smartphone for teenagers, the looks of the camera aren’t really that important – then why risk a lawsuit by RED?

  • would be to get at least 1080p 422 8 or 10 bits that I could record on external recorder to a prores or DNxHD

  • What Haveyou on 03.13.13 @ 3:58PM

    “If you move up to a Super 35mm sensor, you’re going to have to compromise somewhere in image quality”

    That is not true. The photosites on a larger chip of similar or even higher resolution are larger and gather more light, with less noise in the result. That’s why tiny-chipped P&S cameras offer such shitty image quality.

  • I know this is like a bit over a year after this post, but I find it amusing how the original post indicated where is BM’s 2K RAW at that price.. and no 4K for a long time.. yet just a few months later BM announced a 4K RAW camera with S35 and global shutter for 4K, and now it’s down to 3K in price.. so a year later, not only did BM offer a S35 sensor, they did it with a 4K resolution and a global shutter, and the cost is 3K including the really powerful Davinci software with it!