A primer on the Kinefinity Mavo Lenses
Want to know more about the Kinefinity Mavo/Nisi F3 prime lenses? I’ve spent hours sifting through forums and poring over frame grabs of test charts so you don’t have to.
Prior to NAB 2018 Kinefinity announced a lineup of five cine prime lenses with full-frame coverage. At the same time, Nisi, a company primarily known for filters, also announced a lineup of cine primes in the same focal lengths. Both Kinefinity and Nisi have since confirmed that, yes, the Mavo primes are the same optical formula as the Nisi F3’s with slight cosmetic changes to the industrial design.
Upon the announcement, more ambitious diggers such as André Wulf, Bob Gundu, and Mistral75 suspected that the Nisi Primes were actually rebranded versions of the Bokkelux cine primes that were announced at NAB 2016 (one lens) and 2017 (five lenses) and never made it to retail. Recently, Nisi has confirmed that the F3s are indeed “based on the original Bokkelux design.” After acquiring Bokkelux, Nisi set to improve the supply chain and “re-optimize some key elements,” including the “weight and caibre of the lenses.” [h/t 4k Shooters]
A test video on the Nisi website demonstrates the full set of lenses, but I think this unlisted video is more interesting. (<400 views at press time, so basically an exclusive). It compares the Bokkelux 75mm to similar focal lengths from top manufacturers such as the Leica Summicron-C and Arri Ultra Primes, as well as more affordable entrants: the Canon CN-E, Rokinon Xeen, Schneider Xenon, and Zeiss CP.2’s. Bokkelux founder Vincent Huang states in multiple interviews in both 2016 and 2017 that his lenses are apochromatic, meaning they reduce purple fringing. This test bears out that claim while also showing the lens to be a strong contender in many other areas:
What’s visible when looking at the footage in 4k is that the Leica Summicron-C is clear and away the leader in terms of both sharpness and in flare reduction. The Bokkelux lens, however, performs best in chromatic aberration, and in the top half (subjective) for lens flares and sharpness. For all you pixel peepers, here’s a bunch of frame grabs from the charts in that video, downscaled from a 4k copy. In separate folders I rank the charts in terms of chromatic aberration and sharpness. Breathing is incredibly difficult to evaluate but most lenses appear to be within an acceptable range. Taken together, the Bokkelux lens performs second best of a group that includes lenses costing a multiple of the $2500 list price for the Nisi/Mavo lenses. (this chart from Bokkelux’s own now-shuttered website shows their original $3500 price tag).
Do you think this post is nerdy enough? No?? Here’s a spreadsheet with my subjective rankings of the lenses compared to their prices.
[ Dan Chung, pictured right (now of Atomos) told me the Mavo primes were one of the things he was most excited about at NAB. Chung, pictured with Kinefinity founder Jihua Zheng, was one of the Kinefinity’s first customers in 2013 ]
At NAB 2018 I visited both the Kinefinity and the Nisi booths – disclosure: I have owned a Nisi vari-ND filter, and of course, proudly own and have reviewed the Kinefinity Terra 4k. I spent some time testing both the F3 and Mavo cine primes. And while a trade show is no place to do a diagnostic test I can report that the build quality is in league with other cinema lenses I operated on the show floor including at the Sigma, Atlas, Angenieux, Cooke, and SLR Magic booths.
In short, the Mavo primes should be a serious tool that greatly outperform their price bracket. Until I can use them again, I’ll salivate.
I’ve since found tests of the Bokkelux lenses at two other focal lengths. Neither has more than 200 views at post time: