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Full Specifications of the Democratizing (and Canon-Beating) RED SCARLET X Camera

11.3.11 @ 11:16PM Tags : , , , , ,

Since RED’s announcement of their world-beating (and certainly Canon-beating) SCARLET X, their website has been down sporadically, but I was able to grab the full specification sheet from their website during a moment of uptime. First of all, I want to say that yes, you can shoot a beautiful film on the new Canon C300 — in fact, Vincent Laforet already did — so, taken in historical context there is nothing wrong with Canon’s new camera. A few years ago it would’ve been amazing. But it’s not a few years ago, and in fact just a few hours after Canon launched their first foray into the professional motion picture arena, they were upstaged by a startup named RED (you could also argue that the Sony F3 is also a superior option). While the Canon will be better in certain areas — low light performance, perhaps? — the SCARLET X starts at half the price of the Canon. Yes, you’ll need to add some accessories, but looking at these specs, I couldn’t help but order one.

PIXEL ARRAY 5120 (h) x 2700 (v)
DYNAMIC RANGE 13.5 stops, up to 18 stops with HDRx™ 6 fps with 5K FF and HDRx On 12 fps with 4K HD and HDRx™ On
MAX IMAGE AREA 5120 (h) x 2700 (v)
LENS COVERAGE 27.7mm (h) x 14.6mm (v) = 31.4 mm (d)
LENS MOUNT Al Canon EF (PL mount optional)
MAX DEPTH OF FIELD Equivalent to S35mm (Motion) / APS-H (Still) lenses
PROJECT FRAME RATES 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 47.96, 48, 50, 59.97
MONITOR/PROGRAM OUTPUT HD-SDI and HDMI with Frame Guides and Look Around or Clean Feed 1080p 4:2:2, 720p 4:2:2 SMPTE Timecode, HANC Metadata, 24-bit 48Khz Audio
DIGITAL MEDIA REDMAG (SSD) Module : (64, 128, 256GB Media)
REDCODE™ 16-bit RAW Processing : Compression choices of 18:1 to 3:1
1-12 fps 5K FF
1-30 fps 4K HD
1-48 fps 3K HD
1-60 fps 1080p HD
1-120 fps 1K
AUDIO 2 channel, uncompressed, 24 bit, 48KHz.
Optional 4 channel, and AES / EBU digital audio.
BOMB EVF™ High Definition Viewfinder
REMOTE CONTROL REDLINK Wireless, Ethernet, RS232, GPI Trigger
WEIGHT 5lbs. Body only
COLOR Battleship Gray Brain Body, Black Canon Mount and Side SSD, All DSMC Modules Black
TEMPERATURE RANGES Operating Range: 0˚C to +40˚C (32˚F to 104˚F)
Storage Range: -20˚C to +50˚C (-4˚F to 122˚F)

Also, here are the barely readable resolution/datarates (larger image here), which are lowered from the $28,000 EPIC-X but wipe the floor with the Canon’s 8-bit MPEG-2 codec (an 8-bit codec for $20k, really?!):

Camera specifications do not a good movie make, I know. But I’m sorry — if you’re not excited about this, you’re not into cinematography. RED’s Jim Jannard claimed this would be the most significant announcement in RED’s history, and he wasn’t kidding. And while I know the cameras will not ship with all features intact from day one (and RED says they’ll probably be back-ordered until February), this camera has at least 2/3 of the EPIC-X’s ability for less than 1/3 of the price. You can bet that the price of this made-in-USA camera was set more by Jim’s desire to win the fight with Canon (and everyone else) than it was by a calculation of maximum profitability. It helps that he has deep pockets from Oakley, but still: to me the SCARLET-X represents RED making good on their initial startup promise (if they haven’t already) of democratizing film production,1 and I’m excited to shoot Man-child on a SCARLET-X. So much so, in fact, that:

After years of shooting on jury-rigged cams, just ordered a #R3D SCARLET-X. Long time coming, can't wait to shoot #Manchild and more w/ it!

Whew! What a night. Hopefully I won’t wake up in the morning and feel like the SCARLET-X is one of those products on late night TV that you order drunk and regret it when it shows up a week later. Not that I do that. But I’ve seen it happen.


  1. Along with DSLRs, of course, which I wrote about long ago. []

Related Posts

  1. RED's SCARLET-X Camera Shoots 5K Stills and 4K Motion, Ships December 1st for $10K
  2. RED's $7k SCARLET Camera Becomes $12k EPIC-S
  3. Get Ready for Dueling Camera Announcements from Canon and RED Tonight


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Description image 114 COMMENTS

  • Soon, we´ll see a RED with the price of a 5d shooting at RAW 4k resolution, but meanwhile, i consider a RED for $10K it´s a good deal.

  • Koo,

    Renting a cam for your shoot should be $1500 per week. Most rental houses have a 3 day week rental policy. You are going to spend $9k more than you need from your budget renting this camera. Even if you were shooting only on weekends, rental houses have a 1 day charge for camera per weekend. That’s $7500. You would still be saving half the cost of the camera by renting. Food for thought. Good luck on your film!

    • I hear you. And that would be totally true if I were using Kickstarter money to buy the camera. But I’m not, so it’s kind of different… writing a post about this now!

  • While it’s “neat” that these cameras are democratizing the industry, it seems odd that it would take their release to do so. Truth is, there have always been options to shoot films on a low budget. Many filmmakers started with 8mm. Indies were being produced regularly starting in the 80s with An Arri and a bunch of 16mm (Slacker, El Marriachi, Clerks, being some of the famous darlings of that batch.) And 16mm isn’t THAT expensive when if you maintained disciplined shooting ratios. (A skill that I’ve noticed some people who never shoot on film lack.) A few (award-winning) Dogme 95 films were shot on mini-DV if I recall correctly.

    They do make it easier to shoot for that once heralded “big-budget” look for no budget at all. Maybe a more appropriate sentiment would be democratization of “slick looking” because in the past two and half decades, if you had a strong script and knew your way around the actors, you could have produced a feature film.

  • One more very important thing. Field of view. While the Scarlet sensor is full frame at 4k, it isn’t at 2k which is where you get your best compression setting. Its 1/4 the size at 2k. This mean your FOV will be narrower effectively doubling the focal length of your lenses. Your 25mm will behave like a 50mm. This is a Digital s-16 camera in that respect, and will may have noise issues because of it. As a VFX guy who has comped with Epic footage, I can only recommend you shoot tests with ALL of the cameras in this price range before purchasing. Rent an f3, a Scarlet, and a C300. I used to work with Sam Nicholson, and he raved about the C-300 in private because of how clean the new chips are. He mentioned other much more expensive cameras with better specs on paper and the c300 kicked their ass in side by side image comparisons when he and his guys were.pixel peeping at the frames. Plus rolling shutter is negligible. Do your self a favor and test drive all 3 before you buy. You will be glad you did. The sdi out on the F3 and c300 give really fantastic results.

    • RedKiteBart on 11.5.11 @ 3:16PM

      One other thing is that at 2k HDR you have a full frame cropfactor of 2×1.5 (s35) = 3x. There goes your wideangle options no fisheye action. And @120fps 1k has a 6x cropfactor.

  • Sam also thought the c300 was a better tool for green screen work after using it on his film Xxit. The compers at his shop loved the footage out of the sdi out because of the doubled up green channel that the c300 has.



    • Chris,

      Not even amateur vfx guys are looking to work with 8 bit 4:2:2 50Mbps long GOP MPEG and I’m sure I’ve read the C300 SDI output is interlaced (?) Canon are not playing in the same league as RED or any league at all considering what the hacked GH2 is capable of. The truth is that in 5 years, we’ve gone from laughing at RED to laughing at everyone else. Not to be unkind but in 2012 8bit, 50Mbps GOP is perhaps better suited for family album videos of baby, hardly a format that should be in serious consideration for cinema aquisition.

  • Until I see some footage and get some feedback on the crop factors and the overall workflow, it would be difficult to really compare and reach a decision. I liked the C300 footage in both Mobius and XXIt.

    I actually think that, do to workflow issues with Red(s), the C300 will get some heavy usage in TV Land over the next couple of years and that Canon will get more “with it” the more that they earn a valid place (however large or small). All of the competitor’s are going to have to start really pushing the envelope maybe even steaming it open (some would argue that Red has already done that).

    Promising times for all.

  • By workflow issues I mean the amount of RIG needed to push Scarlet footage through the pipeline. Perhaps only “issues ” for those in need of sleek workflow.

  • “f you’re not excited about this, you’re not into cinematography”

    Actually, I’m not excited about this precisely *because* I’m into cinematography. I realize the ramifications of offering this tech at this price-point, but the limitations of CMOS-sensor cameras will simply never appeal to me. Also, while it’s true that the specs don’t make the movie, there are a LOT of filmmakers who think it does, and these people invariably obsess over RED cameras, which can get annoying.

  • I’m sure there are many talented cinematographers using CMOS sensors that have created beautiful looking art that would disagree with you. But each to their own. Not all of us get to use high-end non-CMOS cameras.

    • I never said CMOS couldn’t produce beautiful images. The stuff I’ve seen come out of RED cameras is breathtaking. All I said was that I, personally, couldn’t get excited about new CMOS cameras, no matter the cost. If you’ve ever seen a Jell-O-like iPhone video due to the creator waving it around a lot, what you’re seeing are rolling shutter artifacts, which are a limitation of the technology: they can’t be fixed in post (mitigated somewhat with recent filters, but it’s still a herculean task), and this persists even in professional camcorders—not that you would wave those around, but if you want to shoot fast-motion, like a chase scene for instance, it becomes a hurdle that you then have to shoot around. If you’re OK with that, then fine, but you should at least be aware of it, which I feel not many are.

      Also, there’s nothing “high-end” about non-CMOS cameras, unless you’re talking about analog, film-loading cameras. The common alternative, CCD sensors, have been around longer than CMOS and therefore probably cheaper. They are not without their own limitations (vertical smear, for instance), but they lack rolling shutter artifacts and thus, until they come out with something better than either of these, remain my sensor of choice.

  • Hi,
    Its not just about specifications. Red cameras have impressive specs, but are not reliable at all. I will convince my producers to rent three Canon C for an upcoming TV serie. Alexa would be my first choice, but there are some budget limitations. Anyway, 2k is far enough good for TV. I even guess that the majority of an audience can’t even see the differences in a movie theater.

  • No one is talking about the BIG PROBLEM WITH SCARLET: It “windows” the s35mm sensor and crops the field of view with each step up in frame rate. IE 5k 12fps is THE ONLY frame rate that will give you the full s35mm field of view (and DOF accordingly) of your lenses. 4k 24 FPS will be a cropping the s35mm field of view. This is terrible. When you get to 120 FPS and 2k you’ve got a 50% crop of your field of view which will make any wide angle lens into a telephoto. This is a huge issue and I wish someone would explain it in full with charts and FOV and DOP comparisons. Of course, Red is talking about it. See here: for a s35mm comparison which hints at this issue. Phillip Bloom also mentions this on his first comments on Scarlet, though he ordered one too. Any thoughts??

    • Everyone knows that the sensor gets windowed, it is not some shockingly big secret. It has been talked about and understood since the Red One came out 5 years ago. Just like shooting 60fps on a 7d can’t be done at 1080p. Lots of people don’t mind trading the crop sensor off in the name of higher framerates.

  • Edit: That is Red is NOT talking about it.

  • I have been shooting on the Epic camera for the last couple months. Scarlet is the same as the Epic, but doesn’t give you the higher framerates at higher resolutions that you get on Epic ( 5k @ 120fps, 2k @300fps). There are no rolling shutter issues that I have noticed. I have shot out of moving cars with a Canon 7d, or a goPro, and those cameras have a serious rolling shutter. Fences posts look like they are at a 45 degree angle with 7D, and the GoPro is seriously Jello when it hits bumps. After shooting 3 days out of a side of a car with the Epic, I am happy to say that there is no rolling shutter.

    Also, you can’t argue with 13.5 stops of dynamic range, 5lb body, raw recording, half the price of the new Canon stuff coming out, 1/6 the price of Alexa, more resolution, less weight, etc. Plus, rock solid easy to use touch screen operation, and a completely transparent customer focused company who designs and builds in the US.

    Camera renting is not what it used to be, the model is changing. The rental model exists so heavily in this industry because nobody could afford to buy a 35mm camera, and stuff was priced for the niche markets they served.

    • Thanks Jay, that’s what I’m hoping for with the EPIC. There were a number of rolling shutter issues in Kevin Smith’s RED STATE, but that was the RED ONE M-X and the EPIC/SCARLET readout should be quite a bit faster.

  • Koo,

    Do you have a list of accessories you ordered? Did you order the SCARLET-X titanium PL mount package? I was thinking of the Canon EF mount package and then just buying the additional Canon lenses I need. You mentioned 3rd party batteries, where did you find them and are there other items you are ordering 3rd party? Thanks, Rodney

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