RED Cameras

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RED Cameras

I love shooting, editing and coloring with RED. The DSMC2 bodies strike an excellent balance of usability and quality. 

R3D

The wavelet-based R3D codec is still, over a decade later, unrivaled by anyone, a feat that still blows my mind. You get the major benefits of raw and the ability to define your compression ratio based on the shoot! After committing myself to the 1GB/second of Canon Raw “Light” this is truly an enviable ability. It’s also an easily editable codec if you opt for online editing and have even modest GPU performance now that a Red Rocket isn’t required for GPU acceleration.

Proxies

Shooting simultaneous proxies is a truly pro-level feature that seems relegated to a select few prosumer cameras. Lots of people think the Sony A7S, A7R2 etc. cameras have it but it’s a vastly inferior ‘dual record mode’ that’s nowhere near sufficient for offline/online editing. Red allows you to shoot R3D to the mini mag and 2k ProRes right alongside it. I actually prefer the proxies going to a separate card (or two) which I detail in my post on the virtues of the C200 here.

Size

Shooting the RED on a Ronin-M ranks amongst my favorite things to do.

Fool Control

When RED opened their SDK to third parties I was truly excited. It seemed a rather un-RED-like move, but a brilliant one. If you don’t know what Fool Control is, rent a red and download the app. It’s so worth the $100 if you ever shoot RED. Remote control of *every* camera feature down to adjusting RGB curves for the look of the footage, plus a surprisingly usable remote focus when using Canon lenses. I need to meet the developer of this and buy him a delicious sparkling mineral water. I don’t want to endanger or reduce his lifespan with alcohol lest app development cease.

So, what don’t I love?

Sensor Stabilization and Video AF are a big deal

There are certain niche features that have become the domain of mirrorless or DSLR cameras that I sure miss when I go to the ‘pro’ video camera. Sensor stabilization is phenomenal on Olympus and Panasonic bodies with smaller MFT sensors. Dual Pixel AF is equally phenomenal on Canon cameras, and Sony is doing a decent job themselves with their version of phase-detect AF. I miss these sort of things terribly on a Red or Blackmagic camera.

Depreciation

I don’t buy new cars and I don’t buy over $10k cameras. It’s just too hard to watch how quickly their value drops. RED came fairly close with the Raven, but they still haven’t released a camera that I’d consider in a prosumer price bracket.

Arri has consistently handled this better than RED. Ask anyone who has purchased an Alexa. Even though Arri used the same, technically inferior (and by quite a large margin) sensor in their cameras for years, the cameras held value.

I Don’t Love Skulls (Besides My Own Rather Large One)

I’m not sure if I’m just out of touch with the Oakley demographic or what, but I see lots of bikers at rest stops and none of them are carrying RED cameras. So why is all RED marketing centered around this? I feel like RED insists on a sort of peculiar theatricality–the uncouth underdog, rebel, filmmaking brand that  half wants everyone to hate it when everyone secretly wishes it would just be more normal. Maybe it’s just going through puberty and will outgrow this. I do not know.

I Want a Camera That Ships the Calendar Year I Buy It

This should not be too much to ask, especially considering Sony has been known to release two cameras of the same series in the same year.

I Want Affordable Accessories

Though I do love the idea of modularity in a camera, I’ve had shoots where I ditched the RED and pulled out an a6500 just because the latter already has a screen attached and I didn’t have to mess with hex screws to get it there. Also the accessories just plain seem too expensive. 

In short, rent a RED camera and be playing with the latest and greatest every year.

Making Sense of the Models

RED’s only current body is DSMC2

Sensor Options: Monstro (8k VistaVision/full frame like Alexa LF); Helium (8k S35); Gemini (only 5k but dual gain ISO for better low light)

Legacy Cameras and Sensors:

  • Weapon – Rebranded with the DSMC2 update
  • Epic-W – Rebranded with the DSMC2 update
  • Epic – Legacy camera body
  • Dragon – Legacy name for a sensor format
  • Mysterium – Legacy name for a sensor format
  • RED One – Legacy camera body


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