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First Impressions of the 6K KineMAX Camera + Do We Really Need To Be Shooting In 6K?

If you aren’t already familiar with Kinefinity – they are a Chinese camera manufacturer that has recently been releasing some very affordable, feature rich digital cinema cameras. Last year they announced their first 6K capable camera: The KineMAX 6K – which looks really impressive on paper, and should be made available shortly. Although their cameras haven’t made much of a dent in the professional realm as of yet, the company is taking some big strides in the right direction and they may just shake things up for some of their competitors.

Kinefinity’s cameras have always been intriguing to me, simply because they offer such amazing specs at extremely competitive price points. Take the Kinemini 4K for example, which not only shoots 4K RAW but can also shoot at up to 120fps in 1080p mode, has a modular (almost RED-style) body, interchangeable lens mounts, 13+ stops of dynamic range and much more. All of this comes in a package that costs only $3500, which is pretty incredible considering the other options available to you at that price point. Based on specs alone, this camera is a direct competitor to the RED SCARLET which is a camera that obviously costs a lot more right off the bat, not to mention the accessories for RED products can be a fortune as well.

Here’s a shot of the KineMINI 4K:

KineMINI 4K

Like the KineMini 4K, the KineMAX 6K offers loads of value including RAW 6K recording, up to 16 stops of dynamic range (in 3K mode), a modular build, 144fps over crank recording, and much more. All this comes in at a price point of $9500, which is pretty incredible.

KINEMAX03

Take a look at some of the specs here:

KineMAX

And check out the first demo video shot with the KineMAX 6K which has been floating around the internet:

Is It Worth It?

From what I’ve seen so far the footage looks quite good, but it’s still a bit early to make a call either way as the footage released at this point has all come straight from the manufacturer. Until it’s in the hands of some pros, or I can shoot with it myself, I won’t make a judgement call on image quality. Regardless, the camera does look promising so I am expecting to have some positive feedback on it in the coming months.

In terms of whether or not this camera is worth the money, the answer in my opinion is absolutely yes. No other camera will deliver these types of specs at such a low cost, so if you are in the market for a 6K RAW camera, your next best bet is going to be the RED DRAGON which of course costs much more than the KineMAX 6K.

All that said, the biggest hesitation I have with this camera has nothing to do with the camera itself, or the specs… But rather the lack of availability and support in North America. Take this with a grain of salt as I have never owned a camera from Kinefinity – however I do feel that because the company is quite small (even when compared to RED or Blackmagic who are already small), not to mention the fact that they are located on the other side of the world, might mean that servicing the camera could be quite difficult. I don’t like the fact that if there were to be an issue with the camera or I needed some type of service, I wouldn’t be able to have it done locally (or even nationally) and would need to be working with a company overseas.

Kinefinity-KineMAX-6K-Labels

As Kinefinity grows, this issue will likely become a moot point. After all, Sony, Panasonic, Canon and dozens of other amazing manufacturers have their head offices overseas, but they also have large divisions in North America that allow for more streamlined service and support.

So in my opinion, yes you are going to get a whole lot of value when buying this camera – especially when compared to the competition. It just comes at the risk that the service may not be as ideal (if you are in North America at least) as it would be with other manufacturers. Once again though, this is purely speculation as I have never owned one of their cameras. I hope that they prove me wrong!

But the real question is –

Do We Really Need 6K?

The answer for 99.9% of projects is absolutely not! In fact, even though 4K has now practically become standardized across the board, I still opt to shoot in HD most of the time. Sure, this will change over time, but in the immediate future I really don’t have a direct need for 4K on most projects – unless they call for a specific set of deliverables or requirements. So as you could imagine, considering 6K is even more overkill.

Initially the argument with 4K footage was that even if you weren’t planning on mastering to 4K, you could still use the extra resolution to punch in on your shots, effectively giving you two camera angles instead of one. Personally, I don’t believe in doing this at all (unless you are completely stuck and absolutely need to) as that will never create the best final product. If you need a closeup, you should shoot a closeup. Not a wide shot that is then reframed to be a closeup… The depth of field is off, you lose resolution (even if you think you won’t), and it generally creates a more lazy environment on set that will never help you achieve the best final product. Punching in on shots may be okay in some circumstances – such as documentary work – but for narrative film, it’s a big mistake to go down that path in my opinion.

I would assume that a lot of people in the market for a 6K camera may be especially tempted to reframe their footage since they will have enough extra resolution to reframe even for a 4K deliverable. But once again, I don’t think this is the right way to go (for most types of productions at least), which makes 6K largely unnecessary for most productions. Yes, there are some very high end film and commercial projects that could benefit from the added resolution of 6K, especially when considering how it will look downscaled to UHD or HD, but those productions are few and far between. Not to mention that if 6K is truly a priority, chances are productions of that size will be able to afford an Alexa 65, or RED DRAGON.

Arri Alexa 6K 65mm

It’s not that 6K isn’t an important feature for some productions, and I’m not saying that we won’t eventually have a need or 6K deliverables… What I am saying is that it’s highly unlikely that you actually need 6K RAW footage for your project today, unless you’re doing something really specialized. So you’re better off not dealing with the added cost, workflow, and headaches associated with processing such high res files right now.

Regardless of what happens with the KineMAX 6K, I am truly happy to see even more competition in the marketplace. The fact that manufacturers are delivering sub $10K cameras with specs like these is pretty amazing, and it will only help to drive better and more cost effective products from the competitors too.

And for more camera news, be sure to check out my writeup on the Arri Alexa Mini by clicking here!

About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

12 Comments

  • Xiong
    February 25, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Yeah no, we don’t need 6K. If your going to be shooting at such a high resolution you might be better renting other gear that have been proven tested rather then this one since the company is still so small. I also agree about reframing in post, sure do it if you have no choice but unless you’re David Fincher, who is meticulous about how he makes films, doing so will not improve your shot. If the shot is bad to begin with its not going to improve much after the reframing unless its to hide errors like a boom mic in the shot or something. This is all related to narrative work of course, as for commercials or corporate stuff its a different style of shooting all together. For narrative I believe if you are taking the relax notion of “fix it in post” then you need to rethink how you are approaching that scene to begin with, that should be the last option you can have to make.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      February 26, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      That’s exactly it… I see too many filmmakers these days wanting to fix it in post, or shoot with the intention of reframing, but neither of those approaches will get you closer to a filmic look. At the end of the day, if you want your film to have high production value, there are really no shortcuts!

      Reply
  • Jay boy
    July 23, 2015 at 1:21 am

    For now hd is ok…..the only difference I see is with the detailed images….to me,the canon 5d mark 3 still kills it….the problem this side is,these guys use the red cameras Jst bcz other video companies are using em and if yo to compare the final products,they are the same.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      July 28, 2015 at 10:11 pm

      Thanks for the note, Jay! Appreciate your input.

      Reply
  • […] In my opinion, you are going to get a whole lot of value when buying this camera – especially when compared to the competition. – noamkroll.com, Read the complete review […]

    Reply
  • Geoff C. Bassett
    November 19, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    I know I’m late on this post, but I will say what interests me the most about this camera is not the 6K, it’s the down converted high DR 3K cineform. That size/format is perfect and is the main reason for wanting the camera.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 24, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      Good point… I’ve still yet to have shot on a KineMAX but really would love to at some point. I agree that the size seems to be pretty spot on!

      Reply
  • Frank
    February 17, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Noam…..I have the chance to pick up this camera and a lot of accessories for a great price. I know you are testing the black magic mini 4.6. Comparing the 2, could I get your opinion? I am told by Kinemax that they will add pro res in camera in the next firmware. How is the 4.6 working for you? Thx

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      February 18, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      I haven’t tried to Kinemax, but would love to. The URSA 4.6K will certainly be hard to beat for the price though!

      Reply
  • aworkofmarc
    May 25, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    Thanks for your review. It was good to hear you last night at lacpug and see the BM low light demo. I’m actually on the fence between the URSA 4.6 Mini Pro and the Kinemax 6K Pro.

    Watching a YouTube Kinmax review video on a low light test with the Kinemax at 6K and how, when reduced to 4K (or lower) any noise is compressed out — plus how it greatly increases clarity is seriously appealing especially for the novice of us. And 12 bit 444 is always nice.

    What am I missing? Seems like the arguments against Kinemax aren’t all that strong.

    I tried posting a message on the BM forum asking if anyone could tell me WHY I should buy BM over Kinemax and my post was deleted within seconds. Hmmm. Feeling a little threatened?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      May 25, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      Any time! Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the note. I’d love to have a chance to shoot with the Kinemax 6K, and if/when I do, I’ll definitely share some thoughts here… If you end picking one up, be sure to let me know what you think!

      Reply
    • John Wright
      June 18, 2017 at 12:57 am

      Hi, I got a Kinemax 6K, it is much,much better than BM 4,6k in many points: resolution, filmic look in 6K but also in Gold 3K !!, sensitivity & look of the grain in low light. Really great camera, over Red Scarlett too!! Test it, you’ll see on postproduction the difference. I prefer the professional ergonomic with the buttons and LCD screen of the Kinemax over the new Terra 6k of the same company.

      Reply
      • Noam Kroll
        June 22, 2017 at 8:26 pm

        Thanks for weighing in on this, John. Would love to try it some time!

        Reply

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