If you’re interested in Hollywood-level filmmaking, then the cameras produced by the Red Company are up to the task. These devices can record footage at up to 8K resolution. This is the most high-definition video currently available. For most people, it is more than they will ever need, but it’s still amazing to know what’s out there.
We have compared the different camera brains and sensors so that you know what each one can and can’t do. We have also explained the different specs and features so that you will have a general understanding of each Red camera.
Let’s get started in the table below.
|Name||Senor Size||Megapixels||Max Video Frame Rates||Max Data Rate||Dynamic Range||Price|
|EPIC-W BRAIN with HELIUM 8K S35 Sensor||29.9 x 15.77 mm||35.4||2K 300fps|
|275 MB/s||16.5 stops||$29,500|
|EPIC-W BRAIN with Gemini 5K S35 Sensor||30.72 x 18.00 mm||15.4||2K 300fps|
|275 MB/s||16.5 stops||$24,500|
|RAVEN BRAIN with 4.5K DRAGON Sensor||23.04 x 10.8 mm||9.9||2K 240fps|
|140 MB/s||16.5 stops||$12,800|
|SCARLET-W BRAIN with DRAGON 5K Sensor||25.6 x 13.5 mm||13.8||2K 240fps|
|170 MB/s||16.5 stops||$12,500|
|WEAPON BRAIN with HELIUM 8K S35 Sensor||29.90 x 15.77 mm||35.4||2K 300fps|
|WEAPON BRAIN with MONSTRO 8K VV Sensor||40.96 x 21.6 mm||35.4||2K 300fps|
Brief History of Red Cameras
Oakley sunglasses founder, Jim Jannard, along with a bunch of other innovators, started Red in 1999. It was initially a garage operation that went on to change the face of the film industry.
The company was the first to release a camera, the Red One, that could record 4K images at up to 30 frames per second. This model was released in 2007 and one of the first shows to use it was ER, the well-known medical drama. From there the company continued to develop some of the world’s greatest cameras.
In 2010, the company founded the Red Studios Hollywood. This quickly developed into a major operation with over 400 employees.
The company currently has headquarters located across the US, as well as in China, the UK, and Singapore.
Who are Red Cameras Designed for?
Red cameras are designed for professional or semi-professional filmmakers. They are overkill for anyone else.
Peter Jackson (director of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy) was one of the first adopters of the red camera. He used two prototypes to shot his film Crossing the Line. From there, many other filmmakers around the world starting adopting them.
Marvel Studios has also adopted red cameras for a variety of films. This includes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which was shot using the company’s Helium 8K sensor.
These are just some of the many names in filmmaking that have made use of these cameras.
Comparing Sensor Size
Sensor size is important to consider when comparing cameras. Larger sensors perform more effectively than their smaller counterparts.
There are three main benefits to a larger sensor size. Firstly, they can take in more light. Obviously, it is light that allows you to see the footage in the first place. Normally the more light present, the clearer the detail. This is especially true when filming in darker conditions
Secondly, larger sensors are more effective at capturing video at higher resolutions. You will notice that the red cameras that can capture 6K and up have larger sensors.
Lastly, a larger sensor can create footage with a deeper depth of field. When filming you will need to select a subject. The subject and the immediate area around the subject will be clear and focused. This focused area immediately behind and in front of the subject is known as the depth of field. If it is small, then you have a shallow depth of field. If it is larger, then you have a deeper depth of field.
Pixels are the pieces of data that make up an image. The more of them present, the sharper the quality. However, it pays to remember that megapixels are a tad overrated. The most important things to consider when selecting a camera are sensor size and video resolution. Megapixels are just the icing on the cake.
Red cameras are designed to capture the highest quality video. In fact, they can capture footage that meets professional standards and even higher. 4K is ultra-high definition and it is considered enough for any semi-professional filmmaker. Just being able to edit and playback this data will require a beast of a computer. Beyond 4K you’re venturing into Hollywood territory.
The resolutions for each mode are shown below. You will notice that the mode name refers to the width in pixels. For example, 4K has a width of 4096 pixels.
8K: 8192 x 4320
7K: 7168 x 3780
6K: 6144 x 3240
5K: 5120 x 2700
4K: 4096 x 2160
3K: 3072 x 1620
2K: 2048 x 1080
Generally, the higher the frame rate, the better. Say, for example, you want to record 4K footage. Let’s imagine you used one camera to record at 60fps and another at 120fps. The 120fps footage would look smoother because you have twice as many frames. This simply means that you have a video with twice as much data.
Higher framerates are also excellent for creating slow motion videos. If you record 4K at 60fps and then play it back ultraslow, then it will probably look jerky and awkward. On the other hand, if you recorded the footage at 150fps and played it back, it would look much better.
This figure is handy, as it tells you exactly how much data is produced when filming. It will also let you know how quickly you will fill up your storage devices.
Controlling this rate lets you determine the quality of the footage and your recording time. There is always a give or take. If you want higher quality then your recording time will be lower, and vice versa.
All Red cameras have similar dynamic ranges. However, we will still go over what this specification means, as it is quite important. For those unaware, dynamic range refers to the ratio between the maximum and minimum light intensities (white and black). This rate is described as “stops,” which equal the light range to the power of 2. For example, take a ratio of 1024:1. This would be described as having ten stops because 210 equals 1024.
The red cameras have dynamic ranges of around 16.5 stops. 216.5 works out to be 92681:1.
A greater ratio is always better because it will show a stronger distinction between light and dark shades.
High-End Options for Those Wanting 6K and Beyond
If you’re seeking the best footage, the consider getting the Epic-W Brain with the Helium 8K S35 Sensor. This machine can capture 6K, 7K, and 8K footage. If you wish to create slow motion videos it can capture 2K at 300fps and 3K at 200fps. You will be getting a camera that would fit nicely in a Hollywood studio. This device currently costs around $29,500.
More Affordable Options
Many people would be better off limiting themselves to 2K and 4K. If this is the case, then consider the Raven Brain with the 4.5K Dragon Sensor. You will be able to capture 2K at a whopping 240fps (great for slow-motion videos) and 4K at a considerable 120fps. If you’re a semi-professional filmmaker, then this device should handle all your demands. Of course, you will need to pay around $12,800.
If 4K is not enough and you wish to dabble in 5K, then consider the Scarlet-W Brain with the Dragon 5K Sensor. This device has similar specs to the Raven Brain, but it can also record 5K at up to 60fps. The price tag hovers around $12,500.
Chances are these cameras are beyond the budgets of filmmakers. Regardless, it is still nice to know what’s possible. Red cameras are highly useful at the absolute top end of filming use cases.