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.
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?