Back in May, we ran an article about the Cinemartin Fran 8K digital cinema camera. At the time I was very skeptical as there weren’t any actual images of a working camera available, and there was a lot of unknown specifications. Well, it seems the camera is actually real (as in there is more than just a 3D render) and more details have emerged about its capabilities.
When it was originally announced we were told that the 8K camera would feature a 50 MP (4:3) sensor, global shutter, and have a claimed 15.5 stops of dynamic range. The 50MP 4:3 sensor had dimensions of 37 x 24mm. At the time, Cinemartin claimed that this VistaVision sensor they would be using was the World’s biggest commercially available sensor available for purchase. With dimensions of 37 x 27 mm this equates to an area of 999mm. To put that size in perspective the RED Monstro VV sensor size is 40.96 x 21.6 mm which equates to 884 mm. The Arri Alexa 65 has a 54.12 x 25.58 mm sized sensor (1384mm).
The main talking points were:
● Up to 8K (8000×6000) RAW / Uncompressed 12 Bit
● Global Shutter
● Sensor 4:3 – 37 x 27mm (Supports VistaVision 1:47 aspect ratio 7920 x 5388
● Video tools: Histogram (monochrome, color), False color, Focus Assist
● Customizable software: Object count, automated magnification, face detection
● User-defined Color temperature, Auto White Balance, Sharpness
So what do we know now and what has changed?
So the 50MP sensor Cinemartin were originally sprouting for the Fran is actually a 47.7 MP (7920 x 6024 pixels) sensor. We were also told that the sensor would be 4:3 with dimensions of 37 x 24mm. It now appears that the sensor size is actually 37mm x 27mm, but is still capable of shooting in 4:3 for use with anamorphic lenses. The sensor is still a global CMOS sensor and shares very similar specifications with the CMOSIS CMV50000 sensor. Whether it is the same, who knows.
The camera still has a claimed 15.5 stops of dynamic range and will be able to shoot uncompressed (1:1) Bayer raw (up to 8K) and compressed Debayered (2:1) (up to 4K). The maximum data rates and frame rates are listed below:
MAX DATA RATES
2500 MB/s using FRAN (media) M.2 1TB
2300 MB/s using FRAN (media) M.2 2TB
24 fps at 8K full format (7920 x 6024)
48 fps at 4K DCI
Cinemartin has posted up a few short sample videos from the Fran 8K, but I’m not quite sure why they have done this at this point in time. The vision is very ordinary and in some cases just plain awful. I thought it would have been in their best interests to wait and post some more professional footage.
The Fran 8K Plus
An addition to the Fran 8K, there is a second model called the Fran 8K Plus. The only difference between the two cameras is the Fran 8K Plus has some sort of inbuilt stabilization (but the details seem very scarce as to how this actually works). All that I could find out was that the 8K Plus would have real-time on camera optional stabilization. The 8K Plus version also has an open architecture so third-party developers can develop plugins for Fran.
Weight and size
The Fran 8K weighs in at a claimed 4.2lb (1.9Kg) and has dimensions of 11 cm (w) x 18.8 cm (h) x 13 cm(deep). In somewhat of a strange footnote, Cinemartin say that the camera body will be 3cm shorter in height (15.8cm) in the production model.
The lens mount will be Canon EF, but a PL mount will supposedly be available in 2019.
Cinemartin claim that the 8K Fran has a minimal power draw of 25W and a maximum power draw of 60W.
Connectors and ports on the camera
HDMI: Clean 4K60p output
Thunderbolt 3: To connect high-speed external drives
Mini Jack: Audio mic. input (mono) and output (stereo)
USB 3: To connect high-speed external drives
SD card: Load and store LUT’s and camera settings
Dual ISO to extend HDR. According to Cinemartin, you can use dual exposure, to take the same shot at two different ISO values to create a higher dynamic range raw file. I’m not quite sure why they are calling this Dual ISO, as this sounds more like a HDR function. Dual ISO normally implies you can run the camera at two different native ISO values.
No sensor crop
According to Cinemartin the Fran 8K can shoot in 8K, 4K, and 2K resolutions without any sensor crop. They also claim that internal downsampling will be available for some resolutions.
Cinemartin has designed the Fran to be expandable. Each side of the camera will apparently have dock space for modules that will be developed for the camera. According to Cinemartin they are in the process of developing an I/O module (with xlr audio in/outs and SDI out).
Fran will record onto removable SSD M.2 certified media. 1 TB and 2TB drives will be available. The prices for the media will be 1595 EUR for the 1TB and 2595 EUR for the 2TB.
The Fran 8K will have a small display screen on top of the camera. There will be a dedicated center button for instant REC., and two directional buttons. With a long press of the center button, you will be able to access the menu and set/configure the camera. For users who want buttons on the side, a side controller interface will be developed in 2019. The GUI doesn’t look particularly impressive and it seems like a strange option placing it on top of the camera. The display also doesn’t appear to show the user much information.
According to Cinemartin you will be able to plug a USB3 / ThunderBolt drive directly into the Fran that will automatically copy all the media you have shot. It is claimed that you will also be able to move or copy files with or without transcoding to either 2:1 debayer raw or, say after a recording session either Avid DNxHD/xHR or Prores, from Camera to your drive.
By using Franene, you will be able to transcode your material using a fast computer CPU / GPU, from the external backup media or NVME drive to your editing drive. Cinemartin Franenc, is a (watch folder) optimized software that is used to encode all kinds of Fran files to PNG, DNG, Prores or Avid DNxHD DNxHR when using a NVIDIA GPU & CPU with up to 16 cores.
Open architecture (Fran 8K Plus only)
The Fran 8K Plus can apparently be reprogrammed to suit any type of need. Third parties can develop plugins for Fran using a programmable architecture that will allow developers to use their own software, or write new software.
Cameras: Fran & Fran plus
|Resolution||8K 47.7 MP||8K 47.7 MP|
|Sensor Size||37mm x 27mm (Diag 46.2mm)||37mm x 27mm (Diag 46.2mm)|
|Dynamic Range||15 stops||15 stops|
|Dual ISO upgrade* by 2019||yes||yes|
|Expandable I/O architecture||yes||yes|
According to Cinemartin, the Fran 8K will ship approximately 3 months after ordering (if you order today). This is a very optimistic shipping date, and strangely there are no prices for either camera despite the fact that you seem to be able to order one.
Am I doubtful the camera will ever actually ship? Absolutely. In saying that I will give Cinemartin the benefit of the doubt. Making any digital camera is extremely difficult, just look at the struggles and delays both Blackmagic and AJA had. As this is a new camera, there is no way of independently verifying any of the claimed specifications Cinemartin has put out for the Fran 8K. Until one actually ships I still remain very skeptical.
What do you think of this latest Fran 8K news? Are you still skeptical? Do you think the camera will ever ship? Let us know in the comments section below.