Cinemartin is probably best known as a small Spanish company that makes accessories. We did a review of its sub-$200 4K monitor a few years back and found the combination of price and performance compelling, but of course, price is a hard battle to fight and there are now many entrants competing for the "very affordable monitor" space. Cinemartin fought hard, rolling out a $99 monitor not long after, but hasn't stuck with just accessories, also making a standalone Denoiser application, live streaming solutions, and a motorized slider. 

On top of all that, the company has just announced a product so far out of left field it feels like a pivot; it is rolling out an 8K Global Shutter Digital Cinema Camera, shipping this fall this fall. Named Fran.

Nofilmschool_cinemartin_fran_global_shutterGlobal Shutter DemoCredit: Cinemartin

A global shutter captures the image all at one time, instead of "rolling" through the image capturing it from the top to the bottom one line at a time. Rolling Shutter Artifacts are a notorious problem for digital cinema cameras. Handheld or helicopter mounted images can go "jello-y," propellers and golf swings can take on bizarre twists and bends. A global shutter is the goal when possible, especially for news and sports shooters who want to be able to whip pan across the field without worry. Industry heavyweights like Sony and Panasonic are just now getting 4K global shutter sensors ready for prime time. Here is a company who hasn't made a camera before claiming to have partnered with a sensor manufacturer to create an 8K, Vista Vision/Full Frame sensor sized camera, in EF mount, shipping this fall.

Nofilmschool_cinemartin_fran_global_shutter_take2Credit: CineMartin

There are a lot of intriguing details to the Fran. Internally, it records to either Uncompressed 422 or Uncompressed Raw DNG files, presumably in the common Cinema DNG format.  There is a planned internal m.2 NVME SSD storage system (either 1TB or 2TB), which makes sense in terms of the write speed required to record the resolution (7920x6024) file.

The files are going to be big. We don't yet know how DNG will be implemented, but let's start with ProRes, a common format we all use frequently. 8K ProRes 422 could potentially run 12gb/minute, meaning only about 80 minutes of footage will fit in that 1TB SSD. If the DNG implementation is similar to the Blackmagic Camera, it could be 40GB/minute for 8k! Potentially only 25 minutes will fit in 1TB.

You'll download the camera over Thunderbolt 3, which Cinemartin is promoting as taking as little as eight minutes with fast external storage. Of course, that's eight minutes you can't be shooting, and when the camera has to leave set and go to the download station. 
UPDATE: Since publication, we have learned that the m.2 NVME SSD is user replaceable in the field, so that is another option to continue recording without waiting on downloads that will likely be considered by many.  Prices for a 1TB at Adorama currently hover around $500, which actually isn't a terrible price for field storage.  m.2 NVME SSD units are designed for internal use and don't come in a durable case like a REDMAG, so it will be interesting to see how it survives life on set being swapped out frequently.

Nofilmschool_cinemartin_fran_global_shutterCredit: CineMartin

While you can post process into ProRes444 or similar, no word yet on plans for something like ProRes RAW support. The unit will be customizable, with seperate control and audio modules, similar to the RED DSMC system. The sensor is 37x27mm, so occupies great area than the RED Monstro, and Cinemartin claims 15.5 stops of dynamic range. In addition to built in historgram, LUT and focus assistant tools, plans include an opencv based open software platform to allow users to build custom software for special uses of the camera.

We love innovation, and beyond just the sensor, features like open software are fascinating choices in this camera. RED came in and shook up and industry and turned it on its head. Even though Blackmagic hasn't quite achieved the market share in cameras they have in post software, its cameras have proven novel design ideas and inevitably put major price pressure on the big players to start offering real cinema quality, and raw, at affordable price points.  So we're cautiously curious about Cinemartin biting off a camera.  The worry is that a camera company requires a far higher level of customer service than an accessory maker. When you buy a sub-$200 monitor, yes, it is annoying when it doesn't work, but it isn't likely to derail your shoot.  Buying a light from a smaller, newer company isn't a huge risk since most filmmakers bring 5-500 lights with them to set. One dies, you keep moving and hash out warranty issues after.  But if a key element dies (a giant light like the 18K you need for your night exterior, or your hard drive, or your only camera), the whole shoot stops.  It's one of the reasons why so many people rent big gear: it dies, the rental house has another.

Nofilmschool_cinemartin_franCredit: CineMartin

Thus, camera startups make us nervous.  Yes, there are great-looking results coming from Kinefinity.  RED, of course, was originally a startup, though one that had a bumpy first few years, and the full support of a literal billionaire. Even RED has stores in many markets now to support the camera. Kinefinity has had trouble finding market share largely due to the perceived lack of support that will come with it.  The worry that you would have to ship your camera back to China if there was an issue needing repair, instead of driving to the closest ARRI, Canon, RED or Panasonic service center, is a real concern. Rolling out a camera is a major challenge not just to make a physical camera happen, but the challenge of creating the infrastructure that will support that cameras use. Cinemartin announced that it has brought on a large number of new team members, and hopefully many of them are in sales, customer service, and tech support if the company is going to make a major play at pushing this camera into market.  It would be great to have another competitor in the 8K Full Frame space. We love the idea of a Global Shutter 8K camera that we can afford. But there are serious hurdles ahead.

Coming this fall, with 6K color and 8K monochrome enabled, with more units and 8K color available in 2019. Price to be announced this fall, but "competitive."

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Tech Specs

  • 8K 4:3 up to 24fps, 8KWS to 30fps, 1080p to 96fps
  • DNG or DIP raw recording, Uncompressed 422
  • 8000x6000 maximum resolution, VistaVision 1.47 aspect ratio 7920x5388
  • 37x27mm 4:3 sensor
  • Internal LUT for recording and monitoring
  • Falce Color, Focus Assist, Historgram
  • Internal m.2 NVME SDD storage (1TB or 2TB)
  • 11cm x 14cm x 9cmUSB 3, Wireless, Gigabit Ethernet, Thunderbolt 3.4k over HDMI