KineRAW mini – review / test video

Last year we saw the first Chinese cinema camera, the Kinefinity KineRAW S35. It recently started shipping and at NAB they presented their new Kineraw MINI: A portable camera that delivers a very brilliant 2K RAW image from a 4K sensor. It costs 3800€ (inc. tax) and it should start shipping very soon.
cinema5D took the KineRAW mini for a test shoot and here’s the detailed review:

201311914444186You know the times when all things just “click” together allowing one to achieve great results?
That’s how I felt when Michel and Ludwig from “hd video shop”, currently the sole distributor of Kinefinity cameras were kind enough to lend us the new KineRAW mini for a few days. At the same time Ram Leetal who is a great DP, friend and mentor asked me to help and shoot/edit a small story about 2 young sailors who are trying to make it to the 2016 Olympics on their own.

These sportsmen are very determined to make it despite the many obstacles on their way. (the main one is finding a sponsor who can support them fulfilling their dream). What else can I ask for, a nice little camera to test and a great opportunity to try and help the 2 sportsmen achieve their goal….

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The camera is available here for 3800€ (inc. tax): hdvideoshop.com
(shipping to US is 89€)

DSC04667The Chinese company Kinefinity currently has 2 camera models: The new KineRAW mini shares the same sensor with the bigger KineRAW S35. The mini is shipping now and available for pre-order worldwide. (3-4 weeks delivery time)

 

Physically the camera is small, very small. I have yet to find a photo that makes justice to its size…

Here is a short list of camera specification from the manufacturer:
• Super35mm Sized 4K CMOS Sensor: Recording format 2K, 1080p, 720p and 576p
• You can record 16 seconds of 100 fps in 720p mode or 48fps in 2K mode
• There’s a S16 mode
• Uncompressed Digital Negative RAW as 12bits CinemaDNG
• Two Mount Options: Native EF Mount (with Electronic Iris Tuning) and KineMOUNT
• Three Color Options: Black/Gray/Champagne
• 3D LUT: In-camera LUT files as KineLOG/Kine709/KineColor
• Light-weight and Compact
• Offline Output Cineform RAW Codec Option: Fast Post-Workflow
• RAW Port Option for external Cineform recorder: Turn MINI into Super-Camera Head

It’s worth mentioning that I had the Canon EF mount version and more importantly the company is about to introduce an external RAW recorder made by Cineform which will allow the camera to get full 4K resolution out of it.

The camera is priced very well for what it can do and deliver. It is €4402 for the camera body and basic kit which includes a side handgrip with battery, KineMAG (64GB SSD), Canon EF or Nikon F adapter and AC adapter.

I love the form factor and the picture quality coming out of this camera. Its ergonomics and usability are much better in my opinion than other RAW cameras in its price range. It is true that it takes some time to get used to the menu and some functions have yet to be fixed via firmware updates but when and if those are done I am sure we will look at a solid and powerful product.

While spending 3 days with the camera I did notice a few issues that deserved Kinefinity’s response. I’m happy to say that the company’s headquarters in China and the European distributor hd video shop were extremely fast to respond. I see it as a good sign for future servicing requirements, which had been a concern when the first Kinefinity camera was announced.

So here is what I noticed about the KineRAW mini and Kinefinity’s responses to it:
• The REC button is not flawless. Sometimes I was struggling to push it to start recording.
Kinefinty: “Yes, the REC button is not good. Our handgrip will have new rec button and more control ways to MINI, so that you will get operation experience like DC.”

• Recording can not start when the menu is active.
Kinefinty: “Yes, we will change the function to make the REC operation be top priority later.”

• Booting time is much to long.
Kinefinty: “Yes, we may provide SLEEP mode to make the camera sleep and wake instantly. But the boot time is long like iPhone.”

• Sometime when booting the camera there is no image displayed in the Live View. The only way to solve this issue is to reboot by disconnecting the power, then booting works normally.
Kinefinty: “Yes, booting failure happens some times.”

• Image Stabilization lenses do not work. Please activate stabilising in lenses if possible.
Kinefinty: “Will try”

• Kine709 has a green tint to it
Kinefinty: “You may use the AWB to get balance in field. The AWB operation can be found in this way… CONFIG–>LUT–>Gain Override–>Manual–>Auto WB, use 18% Grey or 90% white card to set the WB.
Yes, the LUT of Kine709 is a little bit green tint.”

• Timecode is a must! (currently there is only “free run”) I don’t want to think about all the audio files I have to sync manually which otherwise could have been done in DaVinci Resolve.
Kinefinty: “There is time code embedded in every DNG image indeed, so that the KineStation can extract the timecode and construct a timecode. Yes, the time code mode is free-run now. It will take some time to add record-run option.”
Kinefinty: “Actually, you can use KineStation from our website to transcode the CinemaDNG footage into Cineform RAW mov. It can integrate the DNG sequence, timecode track and audio track automatically. Then you can use Cineform workflow for post work. This is our recommended workflow. KineStation is very fast. It takes only 10 mins to transcode 64GB SSD with DNG into Cineform RAW mov on i3 notebook, in win7.”

• The in camera audio is producing 2 audio channels. They are in mono. Is there a way to make them Left/Right? (stereo)
Kinefinty: “Yes, it is mono now.”

• It happened to me twice, camera will not stop recording after pressing the REC button. The only solution was to disconnect the battery. After rebooting I had to rebuilt the SSD.
Kinefinty: “It may happen when you have some settings pop-up.”

• It would be be great if the fan would turn off automatically as soon as you hit REC. After finishing recoding it should turn on again – automatically.
Kinefinty: “Yes, it will have the function as smart fan control.”

• The volume when using headphones is much to low (even when volume is turned on to a maximum)
Kinefinty: “Yes, the headphone volume is low…”

• The active EF mount sometimes stops giving aperture reading to lenses which it gave before. After re-attaching, it was fine.
Kinefinty: “OK, we will check the Iris issue, it happens seldom.”

• Biggest issue: Slow frame rate of the EVF: When using an EVF or monitor via hdmi the framerate on it is slower which is disturbing and appear lagging.
Kinefinty: “Actually, it is around 20fps, not 25fps. It seems maybe the choppy issue makes the delay severe.”

• There is strong rolling shutter like on DSLRs.
Kinefinty: “For 2K in S35 mode, yes the rolling is bad, you may try S16 mode, the rolling is much better if you upgrade the camera to new firmware.”

• Internal audio quality is not good.
Kinefinty: “Yes, the audio quality is not very good, though.”

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All in all as you can see from Kinefinity’s response, some of the issues are fixable via a firmware update and I’m sure the company will do its best to achieve that soon.

I must emphasize that despite those issues the camera is fun to use and the picture quality is very nice!

One thing I find conflictive is the fact that this mini camera could have been great for shooting documentaries if it had some sort of compressed file recording option or alternatively allow a clean full HD output from its HDMI connection. You could go straight into an Atomos Ninja for example. I guess the hardware does not have the power to do so.

Slow motion:

kineraw_720aliasing In 720p mode it is possible to record 16 seconds at 100fps. As always, slow motion can be very impressive and 100fps is special for an affordable camera like this. Unfortunately aliasing and moire are noticeable in the resulting image yet the footage is still usable as you can see in the video.

 

Workflow:
I’ve imported all cinema DNG footage to DaVinci Resolve 9 lite (download free here) and exported to ProRes 422 1080/25p.
I then edited in Premiere Pro and graded in Filmconvert (10% off with code “cinema5D”. LINK)
A small amount of sharpening was added in post.

HDvideoshop gave us a special deal for our readers:
Free 128GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD with your KineRAW mini order. CODE: cinema5d
3800€ (inc. tax) available here: hdvideoshop.com
(shipping to US is 89€)

My fellow cinema5D man Nino Leitner shot a low light and latitude test comparing the KineRAW Mini and the 5D Mark III RAW, which will be posted in the next days on cinema5D too. Stay tuned!

The music was kindly provided by The MusicBed: http://c5d.at/1rg

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Many thanks to Bar and Omer who contributed from their time for this video.
You can follow them here: https://www.facebook.com/BrandHalevySailingTeam

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Onsetoffline | Kinefinity Kinemax 6k Review – Resolution That Blows Away Your ScreenJohnnie BehiriElisha RheaKineraw » MINI: First project and review by Cinema5DKineRAW Mini vs. 5D Mark III RAW Dynamic Range Test | Nino Film Blog Recent comment authors
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Dan Hudgins
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The color balance can be changed by adding new look groups, if the firmware has not been altered to prevent it, my free de-Bayer program can make new LK5 files which set the base ISO and Look Group, and the LT5 file which sets the analog gain values for white balance can be edited in any text editor such as notepad.exe. You can email me if you want to add or develop new look groups aside from the ones you get from Kinefinity.com (sm)

Dan Hudgins
Guest

With regard to the audio quality, as far as I know the on screen VU meters are calibrated to WAV file clip, so the audio should NEVER be set to the red area except for recording a pure sine wave, for normal uncompressed audio the VU meter should read -20 and the audio gain in the camera be set to near minimum. The external preamp should not be outputting “professional” 0db VU of 6volts or more, as you may overdrive the input to the camera, if you want the external mixer VU meter to match the camera you can insert… Read more »

Peter
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Peter

Waiting for a KineRAW Pocket for under 1000 euro :)

Dan Hudgins
Guest

Email Jihua and suggest that, the S8 was meant to be under $1000 and out 5 years ago…

Dan Hudgins
Guest

I asked if BlackMagic could support 2048×858 with uncompressed DNG recording in the Pocket, but I did not see a reply on their forum. 2048×858 uses less bandwidth than 1920×1080 so they should have enough bandwidth to support that in their compressed DNG mode if that is working at some point, but then what do you do about the lack of OLPF filter (?) when you have things in focus with a sharp lens. From my experience with the KineRAW-S35 ™ its OLPF filter is effective with sharp Cinema-35mm movie camera lenses, and give 35mm angle of view using those… Read more »

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Dan Hudgins
Guest

With regard to SMPTE time code, based on what the firmware in the S8p and S35 models was doing, the SMPTE LTC output should correspond to the TOD embedded in the DNG headers, my de-Bayer software can burn that into the image space for workprint (my Brother likes to edit 24fps converted to 29.97fps so that’s one way to keep track of the frame accurate editing for the conform in 24fps). You should be able to use the camera as a SMPTE LTC source or generator, and have that go to the external sound recorder and time code slate. I… Read more »

Dan Hudgins
Guest

With regard to the low earphone level, you may be able to use a splitter cable and two high-Z crystal headphones to get more volume, here is one listed on Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Radio-Earphone-Impedance-3-5mm/dp/B0052EE0AU because it fits into the ear it also blocks out external sounds. You may want to add a non-polar capacitor in the earphone lead to block DC offset from the headphone output that could clamp the diaphragm and make muffled sound.

Dan Hudgins
Guest

With regard to the white balance or other color problems, there is (was) a menu that lets you set the analog gain absolute values in the sensor manually, you can use that to get an exact white balance. To do that use a white card as a gray card may show IR issues, adjust the lens iris and camera shutter so that when you are zoomed in 800% on the white card the green waveform reads 45% post (monitoring not raw). Be sure to have any ND or other filter on that you want netural on the camera during these… Read more »

Dan Hudgins
Guest

If you want to change the color (chroma) matirx values, black level, and other settings passed to the DNG header of the frames saved, you can do those in my de-Bayer program by editing or making new LK5 files. The camera will then read the revised “look” files and if they have the same filename as the original LK5 files they will replace the current settings with the new ones, and so when that “look” is selected, the DNG header values will be changed, so if you have problems with the color balance of the camera with any given workflow… Read more »

Nathan Corrona
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Nathan Corrona

great info Dan. How does the super 16 mode work on this camera? is it just windowing the sensor? Are there any frame rate advantages doing this (or is it 2k 60p and 100fps 720p too) ? I am considering this as a b-cam for my A-CAM DII- mainly for the frame rates.

Dan Hudgins
Guest

If you and Cheng are at IBC he can tell you what the current firmware is doing, the sensor can bin and skip like other sensors, so I asked them to add 1:1 pixel modes as its a “4K” sensor, that means you can get about half width in 1:1 pixel mode. Since the OLPF is just good enough for 2x2x binning, using 1:1 pixel should show little aliasing and still work if you increase the anti-OLPF sharpen, the noise is low enough to stand up to the extra sharpen probably if you don’t push the gain up too much… Read more »

Dan Hudgins
Guest

The Kine709 LK5 should be netural and have equal curves for R, G, and B. If not they made changes or the files got mixed up because that is the way I made the last revision, try a different headroom setting and see if the tint changes, some of the headroom settings showed black level offset causing a color imbalance in the black level, if that happens it is not the look group that is at fault. They have something called “expert mode” or something like that that turns on the headroom adjustment, try not having green analog gain near… Read more »

Myles
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Myles

The sample video looks quite muddy. Did something go wrong in the export?

Dan Hudgins
Guest

In general putting 12bit data from the camera into monitor range, without crushing the highlights too much makes the images look a bit flat. Also one tends to have midtone under 46% where it would be for computer monitors graphics, but if you look at the images in a darkened room, like a movie theatre would be, then it should look less muddy if you adjust the monitor black level (better done in your own grading software as LCD monitors don’t really have a “brightness” control that sets the black level like a CRT monitor sometimes). ARRI is working on… Read more »

Dan Hudgins
Guest

What I have been doing on my Vimeo videos now is to include both full range and ITU601 limited versions so that people with monitors that clip can see the full highlight and shadow range maybe, but the ITU601 limited version will look “muddy” to people that have monitors that are not clipping as much. Also some people may have video drivers that already do the ITU601 limits, so in that case the full range would be displayed limited, and the limited version would show with double limits making it double muddy. This is not a camera problem, its a… Read more »

Dan Hudgins
Guest

Depending on how he camera’s output range limits are set, when you import the data using the 3D-LUT on the source frames, you need to check if the program is importing as full range or ITU601 (HD) range limited. If you shoot KineCOLOR with the default range limits set to full range, then it needs to be imported full range if the 3D-LUT that the camera makes is involved in the workflow. Likewise if you use Kine709 and import the footage (and the 3D-LUT is made with default HD ITU601 limits active), with the import range limits at full range… Read more »

Dan Hudgins
Guest

I should note here that if you convert the DNG to Cineform ™ and don’t use the 3D-LUT the camera makes, then the color matrix will not be applied since that is part of the 3D-LUT, in that case if you just apply saturation increase in grading the ratio of saturated red, to saturated green, to saturated blue may come out out of balance, meaning you may get too much red or blue or green saturation because the matrix was not applied to balance those as part of the 3D-LUT compensating the Cineform ™ LOG90 native sensor ADC output (levelled… Read more »

Dan Hudgins
Guest

Related to the sensor XYZ color balance issues, going to a standard file type, is the issue of various monitors and projectors not using exactly the same primary colors and that monitor colors are not 100% saturated by definition their gamut is desaturated. sRGB is intended to be a monitor standard that is a sub-set of what monitors can show, but if an sRGB graded images is shown on any given monitor without a corrective compensation to reduce the color space to sRGB, then excess saturation will be seen, so look at the software you are using and see what… Read more »

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Dan Hudgins
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With regard to the monitor ITU 601 limits use on the camera, the firmware should have monitor limits menu, in that menu you can setup the monitor limits to 16 for black and 235 for white, or whatever your small camera monitor works best with. The highlight extension is to help avoid clipped highlights on the camera monitor, you can increase it from 0 to the value that works best, maybe around 8 or so, too large or small a value will reduce the highlight detail visible on some LCD monitors. The camera monitoring adjustments also allow you to adjust… Read more »

Dan Hudgins
Guest

I got this back about seeing the KineRAW ™ cameras at IBC next week,

Quote: [Hi Dan

We will not attend IBC next week. But there will be a booth shows our
cameras, its number is 11C 80 (Lanparte Booth).

Jihua]

Robert A. Ober
Guest

So the price works out to 5K US$. Won’t sell any here. Camera has a lot of issues for that kind of money. It would at least need to do 4k out and even then the upcoming BlackMagic 4k cam would be the better buy.

Your praise for an unfinished camera limits your credibility. Hopefully for them Dan can get them to listen to him.

Robert A. Ober

Dan Hudgins
Guest

Robert, you are free to email Jihua yourself. Saying the camera will not sell is really not something you can predict, I was at NAB and many people asked when they could purchase one after looking at the cameras on display and seeing the demo reel shown on a reasonably calibrated HD monitor, they also had the HD-SDI output going live to the monitor showing the same result you would get (or less because post de-Bayer can be higher quality then the live real-time de-Bayer) and most said they were impressed by the look of the results, in particular when… Read more »

Dan Hudgins
Guest

Talking about which is the “better buy” might make sense for “equal” products, but these cameras are not “equal” so there are many factors other than price that matter, most of all what the end results look like on the theatre screen. The buyer and filmmaker will have to consider the cost to the success of their project from not selecting a camera than can deliver the film like and in focus results needed for the audience’s pleasure, its not a paperweight, its a filmmaking tool you will use 12 to 14 hours a day, it will need to work… Read more »

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[…] friend Johnnie Behiri has already shot a proper Video Review with the KineRAW Mini (a beautiful documentary about a sailing team training in Southampton – check it out here if […]

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Elisha Rhea
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Elisha Rhea

For $8grand and still rolling shutter? No thanks I will pass. Might as well stay with the 5dmarkIII

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[…] is not the first time that I’m testing a Kinefinity camera. Back in 2013 it was the KineRAW mini which made me appreciate what the relatively new to the market Chinese manufacturer is doing, […]