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:
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.
Take a look at some of the specs here:
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.
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.
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.