SO now that I kind of layed out the definition of dynamic range and the technicalities involved, we can look more closely at Kinefinity cameras.
For most newbees Dynamic Range ins a bit struggle, and they often feel that their work improves a lot if they switch to a high DR camera.
This is ofc the reason that most camera brands (except ARRI), fail to deliver the truth on their spec sheets, it’s even worse, it’s sooo spoiled that you can’t survive as a small brand to state honest DR numbers. Therefor I think we should keep talking about dr, not why you need more, but what it is!. If we look at most high end feature films, they are mostly lit within a 10 stop range and mastered to be displayed within a 6-8 stop range (in cinema you have quite some global light, and you probably wont be able to see more than 8 stops). You can capture 16 stops of lights, and then retain everything of these stops and display these stops in a 8 stops display, but every two real life stop of lights will be clamped inside a 1 stop light step, which eventually makes them dull and not recognizable, and your image will lack power.
It’s a cliche to say that you dont need 14 stops, because a display cant show 8 stops, , some dops do a lot of ‘ re-lighting’ in postt by means of power masks (revenant is a good example, shot in available light) in order to do so everything has to be retained. But generally looking at cinema history the craft mostly is about getting your mis en scene within a 8-10 stops range, and only use the last few stops for a roll off, to make the highlights look less clipped (roll off means gradually rolling of to pure white). To my believe a good digital camera should be able to capture 12 usable stop, and a cinematographer and AC needs the right tools and knowledge to nail the exposure inside the camera (mapping the scene balanced over the available camera stops, without clipping or underexposing). the rest of stops on like a Arri alexa are not really there for creative manners, but to make you feel more confident on a shoot, because you dont have to set your exposure hundred percent correct in-camera, and you have a bit of wiggle room. FOr these reasons I (Gafpa Gear) developd ETTL luts, which help the dop, provide luts to distribute the brightness of a scene in the best way, read more about it here (under lut)
The Mavo Lf uses a IMX sony sensor initial designed for photography, in photography you dont need continues shooting (lets say 25fps), and you rolling shutter is not an issue (either solved by electronic shutter or analogue shutter), so when using these same sensors inside a photography camera and making stills you can acces higher ADC bit readout modes (adc stands for analogue to digital converter), so these sensors in stills mode can all of a sudden resolve around 13-14 stops of lights. thats the reason that these cameras once entering movie mode are all of a sudden lacking dynamic range, even though there are log curves that help stalling the full dynamic range in a efficient manner, they are simply limited in DR by their ADC mode, because once shooting continuous frames the adc is not capable to have a resolution over 11-12 bit . It simply next to impossible to design a 14 bit adc that can do fast readout, hence the long readout time in stills mode which is not able to be fast enough for faster than a few frames per second. Some brands came up with ADG, dual gain readout, it doubles the readout time, thus you cannot shoot high fps, and the rolling shutter is worse, it first shoots one image at high gain, and then another at low gain, these values are combined, leading to higher dynamic range (by pushing the iso you can catch more stops out of the shadows with the same adc,) .
The ARRI Alexa is one of the only cameras which can simultaneously readout with two different gains. hence it can do almost artefact free fast readout, which both diminishes rolling shutter artefacts and let you do high fps.
BAE/Fairchild Imaging sensors used in the BMCC & OG Pocket and the 4.6K sensor are also true Dual Gain Architecture but only 2×11-bit, which doesnt lead to much higher dr numbers than regular 12 bit adc cameras. Another options (the least fun one), is HDRX (probably patented by them for the next trillion years, including their beautiful invention RAW etc) , its the least good one, it basically shoots one fram with normal shutter time, and then captures another extra frame with fast shutter, it combines these frames in post, leading to ghosting, and thus makes it unusable to use in anything else than a photo (once the image is moving you see the highlights ghosting as F**K) .
Dynamic range of Kinefinity camera’s
Kinefinity used for all their existing models except the EDGE 8k a sensor intended to be used with photocameras. Even though they can do video they are limited in terms of ADC (analogue to digital converter) bit resolution, if they would use the higher readout mode they might be able to do around 24 fps in some resolution but Rolling shutter would be so awful that it would be next to unusable.
Kinefinity is a relative young company, not having the money to develop their own sensor or get exclusivity on a fancy sensor, but they have quite a history of getting a lot out of their ‘ off the shelve sensors’ . On top of that they have flirted with filmmakers with their base Matrix which is reminiscent of Arri Log c and very easy to Grade with minimal corrections, for those who are after the so called ‘ film look’ which is a subtractive color system. of course sensors don’t work like a subtractive color system like film but their color matrix (color science ), can be tuned to behave like that. We call it the watercolors, because the brighter you go with a watercolor on paper the more white that shines through, and thus the lower the saturation, while additive (which is inherent to digital capturing with a traditional sensor) is the other way around, the brightest can also be the most saturated.
A sensor is only a minor part in the full image chain from lens to olpf, to cfa to sensor to ADC to NR to matrix to log curve to codec,, and thousand steps in between. And like I say if a camera can have the right settings and tools to give the DOP an idea of how to map the brightness of a scene in the most efficient manner (retaining highlights while having acceptable shadow details) , a dynamic range of 11-12 stops can already be quite nice. But like everything in life : more is better. I am a European style shooter, I love my colors and contrast dense, I like to retain highlights, I hate clipping them, so I am (especially doing documentary where i can barely control light) always fighting my shadows in order to retain enough highlights, I made a obsession about it, finding lenses that have somewhat lower contrast but with enough punch with only some lifting in the shadows, I experimented with Schneider Digicon and Tiffen Ultracon filter to lift shadows (lifting pedestals ), I even made my own varicon filter ( a illuminanted ultracon glass to locally lift contrast without milking the rest of the image), but eventually I knew these tools are ment to be used creativily and will lower the dynamic range of a scene, and not higher up the dynamic range of your camera, so its somewhat limited, because even though you dont clip, you also are not able to capture all details that the scene has to offer to you. I love the grades I did with the MAVO LF, i keep revisiting them, but I always look at the shadows, and know that they could have looked deeper, they lack that center spot which is deeper (lower in luminance, yes its close to what I want from my Look, and I know its a minor detail,
I basically would love to see the same exact image with the average pedestal of shadows slightly lifted like it is now, but some spots in the shadows to rate 1 stop deeper (i generally only use the first stop in my master grade as pedestal, to open up the image and dont like these kind on OLED curshed larger than life shadows, but i Love to see a tunnel, a infinity point of black, as if deeper black exisst in there, if you could travel there.
So yes after 2.5 year with the MAVO LF I think I got to know the look, and I could eventually set boundaries, knowing that in some parts I could improve but in other fields the camera should offer more to give me more of what I am longing to. In that regard I think any beginning dop should get a 8 stop DR camera, and make magic with it. Orson welles and citizen kane looks soft and deep, while all scenes are spot metered not to exceed generally 8 stops, thats the film look!. YEs its fun if your experienced to have more dr in your camera, but first you need to work with your eyes and to be able to feed the camera with a sexy looking image, and 99% of the shooters out there seems to fail in doing so (oh gosh iam so pretentious and snobbish).
I did a kind of secret ima test with the MAVO LF and AGDok did a latitude test, even though their model had some blackbalance issue, (thus more adc and scanning lines showed up) you could cleary see that the MAVO LF is not the best camera out there dynamic range wise (also not the 2nd best), what it does greatly is offering a nice study codec, a tall sensor, and a cinematography minded camera with lots of cinema resolutions and UI concept, swappable lens mounts, and a very nice matrix, and ofc 12 bit codecs with non destructive compression (prores), and recording to affordable media, etc etc. The MAVO LF also proofed to be a winner in low light, and retain most of its dynamic range when shooting at 5120 iso, It was also one of the first affordable Large format cameras with a cinema minded concept. But it’s surpassed in almost every way, namely the MAVO Edge 8k, which is now finalised ) a few units exist and once the ongoing chip shortage is gone we expect to ship a lot of these. In the beginning I myself believed that the MAVO Edge was a MAVO LF housed in a better thought out body, with industrial connections, e-nd, and dual image processing (clean out for your director, or DIT). making it a much more serious camera when image quality alone is not enough. But once I had the possibility to shoot with this camera back in MAY this year, i knew right away that this camera is also a huge improvement over the MAVO LF in terms of iq , both in color and dynamic relation, mtf, . So here we are.
image courtesy of GAFPA GEAR 😉
DYNAMIC RANGE NUMBERS
The MAVO LF should be rated somewhere around 11.1 stops of dr in 6k and somewhere around 11.4 in 4K oversampled from the full sensor readout,
This sounds very low maybe even unworkable but that’s how absurd the camera industry is, I have never encountered situations where the dr of the mavo lf wasnt suitable because its latitiude is nice, the stops of dr it provides ar good, (many cameras have somewha high dr but bad latitude_).we started to believe that about any camera can do 16 stops yet most of us (except Arri shooters) are used to cameras with a average latitude of 11 stops. We’ve been lied to, and only those who are willing to look around the corner will find out how wrong these ‘ marketing stops ’ are. I am not even going to say where and how they came to such numbers, because it would give them a excuse. it’s 100% intended to mislead anyone, including Donald Trump and Mark Rutte & Hugo de Jonge (look them up they are pretty annoying).
Kinefinity MAVO Edge 8K
I havent executed a IMA test with the MAVO Edge but since I have the data of the MAVO LF I was able to do a latitude test side by side (will post that later but first want to redo that test because it was shabby looking 🙂 (didnt effect the outcome but you know…for marketing maybe not the best to release).
The MAVO Edge uses a video dedicated sensor, and it seem to score about 1 stop higher in Dynamic range, and on top of that the shadows have less color shift, and less issues like scanning lines are not there, its just clean up until the noise floor. This is a superb result, because most of the camera’s out there have not more usable latitude than 11 stops, and some even believe (including me) that most cameras are 11 bit effectively hence the 11 stops outcome.
(shadow noise like scanning lines on previous Kinefinity cameras can be improved with certain post production workflows
Also the CFA color arrays seems nicer, and due to a less dense olpf the camera is smoother (ou would say sharper, but i say smoother), why? follow this topic to go in depth with resolution.
Asides from all other things that the EDGE does better( feature and image wise), we rate the Edge to be 0.85 stops higher in 8k readout than the MAVO LF in 6k readout, this is improved in 4k oversampled, but Again, lets not go there, oversampling will lower noise and reduce digital artefacts, but it doesn’t directly affect dynamic range, so you wont all of a sudden see more details, instead shadow details will look cleaner and less distorted, which kind of higher the usable amount of dynamic range you can deploy (depending on your taste and if you will use NR in post).
Long story short the edge will rate around 1.2-1.3 stops lower than a ARRI ALEXA (we lined them up in our own latitude test, and this is our subjective opinion about usable stops).
1.2 stops seems a lot but it isn’t; take your lens, try to clip your highlights, and now rock back and forth a stop under and a stop over, this is simply only a tiny bit, if you learn your camera well, and know how to distribute the brightness and knowing how to post produce, I am sure there wont be much situations in which the ALEXA would give you a better image. Matrix wise there’s a still a bit work to do because this is a completely knew sensor system, but we already feel at home with the matrix, and Kinefinity will release an even improved matrix in September , on top GAFPA GEAR will introduce a very technical and highly accurate MAVO Edge 8K to ARRI LOG C non destructive LUT. This is designed to transpose the matrix of the Kinefinity camera into LOG C, not really needed for my own workflow, but a lot of graders out there are conservative and the ARRI LOOK IS something to be religious about so every other matrix is
compared to the Arri matrix, and if it somehow is different it will be dismissed. A matrix is only a base, you can use your own grading techniques to transform the data in a way that it forms a better base for your regular grades. With out matrix conversion we give any dop whos daring to use the Kinefinity on his next project with a bigger team including a producer with moustache and colorist with sunglasses the ability to convince them into this 8k adventure. XXX JEROME
Hope this helps!