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January 31, 2013

Why is the RED SCARLET Four Times the Cost of a Canon 5D Mark III?

We already know what the Canon 5D Mark III can do, and there's a good bet you've seen plenty of RED SCARLET videos online, but why such a cost difference between the two? Obviously one only shoots 1080p in H.264 but can be pushed quite a bit in lower light, and one can go all the way up to 4K at 24fps in RAW, but its ISO can't be pushed quite as far. What if the stuff you're shooting is just going to the web, do you really need all that extra resolution and detail? Will it make a difference in the end? Check out a test below from Robureau comparing the two cameras visually.

Both of these were color corrected to match, and the Mark III was kept near the same ISO as the SCARLET:

Check out some screenshots of the video straight from the web:

Certainly it's not really all that fair to compare the Mark III to a RAW 4K camera that costs at least 4 times as much, probably more after you really get it rigged up. It's very often said that you can't tell much from web video, or that the kind of camera you use is pointless because it's all getting compressed down to nothing and people watch it in a small window anyway. Well, the screenshots above were taken from one of those small windows, and it's clear to me which camera is which -- and I would assume it would be pretty obvious to any of you without the identifying overlays.

I think the really interesting tests are going to come with the BMCC vs. the RED SCARLET, and how well those two will compare on the web. The Mark III may not be the best to compare against the SCARLET, but that's exactly what Blackmagic is trying to do with their Cinema Camera: go up against the big boys and come out relatively unscathed.

What do you think? Are the results surprising at all even in a compressed window?

Link: 5D Mark III vs Red Scarlet-X -- Vimeo

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160 Comments

Looking forward to some nuanced, reasonable discussion on this comparison.

January 31, 2013

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This is a joke right? I know the EPIC/SCARLET has more resolution than a 5D3 but come on...that's the worst DSLR footage I've ever seen. Did they purposely not focus the camera.
Is this a scaled/blow up comparison or something. Seriously...this test looks flawed.

January 31, 2013

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Look at my D800/Mark III/Mark II comparison, the D800 I know for sure is not resolving a true 1080p, and it's much sharper than the Mark III or Mark II.

January 31, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Agreed with all of that.

January 31, 2013

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marklondon

Joe,

Could you explain how the D800 isn't resolving at true 1080p? I scanned through your comparison test article. I saw some comments on the digital noise, but didn't see anything specifically about the resolution. Did I miss it somewhere? Thanks.

January 31, 2013

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Ken

It would if it was doing a proper downsample, but it's throwing away lines to get to 1080, which hurts resolution a little. The highest-resolving cameras are those with three 1080p sensors, or those that have sensors of around 3-4K and above and have the proper downscaling technology built-in. The latter is because of debayering - each color isn't represented in every pixel, and thus it must be interpolated.

January 31, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Have you tried measuring how many lines D800 can resolve in film mode? I saw some result somewhere in a blog post where people have measured the D800 around 800-900 lines of resolution. My eyes already tell me that there's a lot more res in the D800 footage I've shot myself compared to the 5Dmk3 footage I've seen, but some exact measurement would be interesting to see.

January 31, 2013

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I put the Mark II/Mark III and D800 on a resolution chart early last year, but it wasn't something I felt comfortable posting since I didn't really have a proper lens to not only get the most resolution possible, but also line up the chart with the cameras correctly. From my testing though the D800 was somewhere between 100-200 lines more. In the end the exact number of lines is kind of pointless - if you put cameras up against each other you can usually tell which one is resolving more detail if they are significantly different, and if they're close, it doesn't really make that much of a difference.

January 31, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Would also be interesting to see the resolution of D800 compared to the resolution of GH3.

January 31, 2013

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Thanks. I figured it was something like that. Maybe Nikon's next generation of cameras will do it properly. I'd also love to see them come out with a picture profile similar to the Technicolor CineStyle.

January 31, 2013

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Ken

Joe how are you sure that the d800 is not resolving to true 1080p, even though it has clean uncompressed as an option. The d800 has a Sony Sensor Just like a GH3 pushing it's specs paired up with nikon optics, i take and here your word on a lot of subjects, love the site, info etc, but cant say that i would neccessarily agree with this one.

Also back to subject most pictures used for examples up top are not good examples comparing 5d with A red. A common person looking at both on web side by side may not notice but there is a difference in Red and 5D on 1080p but its mainly only noticed on minute details IMO, details like wrinkles in like a face, or hair folicles , non crushed blacks at times etc. No you really dont need a RED for WEB work, I sometimes laugh at how many badly directed music videos i see with BTS footage of REDS, which end up as end result looking bad video material, not becuase of the camera, but because of poor camera movements, grading ETC. Most DPS and music sets/labels require a RED more so than a ALEXA, just because most execs believe it will make a video that will 90 percent be seen on tv or web. One would be better off buying a budget friendly camera and learning post work and the art of film making

January 31, 2013

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JayClout

I'm sure because I put it up on a resolution chart, otherwise I wouldn't say definitively one way or the other.

January 31, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

I think 5D was actually in focus... Yes, compared to RED it really seems out of focus...

Now BMCC vs RED, That'll be interesting.

January 31, 2013

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Alex Mand

Ditto. Excited for a BMCC vs Scarlet test.

January 31, 2013

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I own a red, and have been shooting all week on a bmcc, for a well known childrens show.

Image wise the bmcc, is like a 1080p red/f3 hybrid. Ergonomically atrocious. Such a pretty picture....... :)

Thats literally what it comes down to. The cam makes you want to shoot yourself in a professional environment. As a crash cam, or personal shooting camera, unmatched compromise between size and image quality. Fun little thing.

February 7, 2013

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yeah why hasnt that happened yet? as well as BMCC vs alexa?

January 31, 2013

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kevin

I think if it happens a lot of RED owners are gonna be a little...well, I'll leave it at that.

February 12, 2013

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I agree with Scott. I'm a 5DIII owner, and while I won't compare its quality to that of the Scarlet, I will say the footage used to compare the two is dreadful. Looks like they tried to auto focus it and missed the mark.

January 31, 2013

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Tom

Frankly, I'm surprised the 5DIII footage looks as good as it does - granted web compression came into play here. When I've compared source footage from various DLSRs up against that from RED cameras, DLSR footage reminds me more of homemade MiniDV SD, whereas RED is like a high quality Blu-ray. Not trying to flame here, just trying to point out that no matter sensor resolving power/resolution, line skipping/low dynamic range/jello/H.264 compression just looks bad to me. Additionally, web compression seems to disguise a lot of those flaws while simultaneously dampening the quality of feature grade material. A lot of first time RED users I've run into tend to be surprised at how blurry their footage is when shot on their "awesome" Canon 24-70. I remember the first time I reviewed 4K RED footage(shot on Zeiss optics), I was both simultaneously in a state of complete awe, and half pissed off at how much time and money I’d wasted working on projects with DSLRs. I’m not talking about the cost of the cameras here; I’m talking about all the the related production costs (talent/location/production crew/permits/props/discardables/Post/etc) as well as the massive investments of time. Seriously, try doing a Google search for R3D files, download & install RedCine-X from red.com, and then look at a few frames for yourself and judge for yourself. Make sure you're viewing at 1:1. Also remember, when working with a bigger canvas in any medium(painting, sketching, etc), low production values and bad artistry stand out way more than when working on smaller canvases (aka 8bit 8~10stop sub-HD bad codec vs 16bit 13+stop Quad-HD/4K/5K good codec). Thank You

January 31, 2013

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Dan

I had the same feeling. 5D seemed to be defocused ever so slightly. But the again, it might be because of line skipping. So glad the C100/C300 don't do this.

February 1, 2013

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I always think that when I see DSLR footage compared with big boys such as a Scarlet or an F35 or even a C300. My conclusion is that DSLR footage is sharp enough... as long as you don't run side-by-side comparisons.

February 1, 2013

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the better question is why is the 1DC 3 times as much ...

January 31, 2013

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Tony

Because its sharper, shoots 4K and by the way, is a better pro stills camera for sports, events and fashion.

January 31, 2013

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marklondon

The 1DC is an awesome camera. It is alot better than people realize. Ranks high on the food chain. Just my 2 cents.

January 31, 2013

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Ron

Well, I'd first start by asking why the 1D X is almost twice as much. I think you'll find plenty of reasons to support that price difference, though all of them are going to be relevant to the still photography side of the camera. Remember: the 1D X is pretty much the best full-frame stills camera on the market. The 1D C just takes the 1D X and adds a headphone jack, heat sinks, new firmware, and overclocked processors to enable the 4K 4:2:2 recording.
As much as I love Philip Bloom's recent 1D C review, I have to disagree with his assertion that the 1D C is more of a video camera than a stills camera. As he pointed out, it still lacks many basic video camera functions such as focus peaking, zebras, and focus punch-in during recording, all of which are software-related features (I'm still perplexed as to why Canon wouldn't add those functions in, seeing as this in their 'Cinema' line...).

February 1, 2013

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Blah

That is the worst 5d3 footage I've ever seen. We have take our 5D3 and do all the post production on it and it looking great when put with Red Footage that is 2K. This test doesn't look right.

January 31, 2013

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Russell

January 31, 2013

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marklondon

ummm... That makes me thinking about it.

5D with great optics and resources (professionals and gear) for good lighting, art, editing and color treatment makes all the difference.

You can't think you'll have that quality only grabbing the camera with some glass and going out shooting... But people still think they can... Ok.. Not an easy task.

January 31, 2013

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Alex Mand

Looks like crap. What from that video stood out as great? With what seems like unlimited resources, and they choose to rap about how to move weight and be criminals. Seriously, dudes that are worth millions and are famous like them can't honestly expect people to accept this. I mean it was shot in a studio, how gangsta is that? I think gangsta rap hit the end of its own Moore's Law type of thing. The best thing about this production was quick cuts to the gold plated 20lbs. dumbbells and Snoop.

January 31, 2013

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Jorge Cayon

Selling out is the new keeping it real!

January 31, 2013

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Lazy

I feel like the real question you're asking is, "What camera best suits the needs of web delivered content?". And judging from the cost of both cameras, I'd be inclined to say "neither". For all of the fanfare about the 5D mark iii, it's not really much bang for the buck. And while the RED Scarlet is a much better camera for serious work, a lot of that quality gets lost on small screens and web compression.

I'll stick with my hacked GH2 for web delivered content until something comes along that truly blows it away in terms of quality/price. And that might be a while.

January 31, 2013

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Derik

I think the Scarlet is overpriced considering you can't shoot 5K @24p so you really can't call it a 4K camera. The 4K coming from a Scarlet is gonna have a better image due to RAW & Resolution which wil de-bayer in Red Cine-X for a perfect 2K or 1080p file.

Your paying for....

-Production Build and Design
-RAW
-WorkFlow
-Resolution
-Modular System
-No Rolling Shutter
-Sharpness

If the content is there it doesn't matter but there are times when I watch a great video that moves me and towards the end mentally reviewing the video I can be like "man I wish they had better glass" As a filmmaker you gotta use what you have and run with it. So yeah it probably doesn't matter only to stupid nerds like us =)

I own a Scarlet just cause I'm sick of shooting on DSLR. I have interest in a GH3 since it's handy for personal and commercial work not to mention its a contrasty sensor like the MX and cuts well for shots you can't fit a Red in (Crash-Cam, OctoCopters). My DSLR got stolen a few years back and I haven't had much interest in re-investing. The 1DC is cool but I wouldn't pay over $5k for that thing, it still has rolling shutter issues and it looks DSLRy plus the media is stupid expensive to shoot 4K on a 1DC.

At the same time any Director or DP here in Hollywood has a DSLR kit in a Pelican 1510 case ready to go. And allot of times it's all they need and they make better profit margins. I've learned it costs money to be nerdy. Having owned a Scarlet for over a year and a few weeks I can say I've been happy but the transition can be difficult. Some old clients aren't willing to pay more so you have to find clients who can help win your investment back while making the bills.

If I didn't own a camera and needed one I would buy all the Red support and rent the brain for super cheap until you could get a BT Scarlet for $4k. Buy all the glass and a 6D or D600 just to have something to fall back on. $4k BT Scarlets are coming but prob not til the end of the year or 2014.

January 31, 2013

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Cid

I agree with a lot of that. Almost everybody in LA carrying Scarlet or above also has a DSLR, which right now are either the 5D3 or D800. (I haven't tried the GH3 and don't know anyone that owns one).
A lot of successful DPs still successfully using their 5D2s and 7Ds as B and C cams. I know one local cam op who has a C300 and 3 5D2s that shoots a lot for major cable.
It makes sense to carry a DSLR backup, but if you can make the jump to a better cam, do so.
As to the 1DC comments, those I'm not sure I agree with, but ok, you already have a pretty decent 4k cam.

January 31, 2013

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marklondon

Mark I saw Bloom's review on the 1DC and he stated that the cards are $650 which only hold 30min worth of footage. Most shooters who go Dolo carry enough cards so you don't have to dump. Unless you have $$ for more cards or AC then it's an issue for most.

1DC also uses MotionJPEG which is gonna need compression much like the Red but theirs not proprietary app pretty much Adobe or Resolve.

If the 1D C was at $4750 I think they'd be flying off the shelves

4K won't be standardized until 2016 is my best guess when the PS4 drops, so til then 1080p is still viable for web at least. TV not sure how well thats gonna work out.

January 31, 2013

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Cid

I'm lost as to your point? I'm just guessing its not the right cam for you.
Re the price: As JUST a stills cam its worth 8k. The 1DX is selling well with pros at the price. So the enhanced video, up to 4K, is only an extra $4k. That's not a bad add-on if you intend to also use the camera for stills.
As for MJPEG, here's a dirty secret in pro photography - a lot of people shoot JPEG first with the RAW as BACKUP. Sure, the post options are limited, but if you know what you're doing the chances of needing to correct a shot drastically beyond vibrance and sharpening is actually rare. Its why major productions' version of what a 5D will do is different from the average user. Its why you armed with an Alexa are not suddenly going to be Roger Deakins.
So shooting MJPEG is limiting because its sweet spot is much smaller than RAW, but not to the point its unworkable for most of the people who will purchase this camera. They will probably have access to a RAW 4K machine, but are buying/renting the 1DC for a different purpose.
As to the media cost, a) that is no issue for those likely to buy this cam, and b) that's today. By NAB we will see several asian brands come out with cheaper cards.
The 1DC is not a perfect '3.5'k cam. Its just very exciting to have that ability at that size and price. Which we'd all like to be less, but they didn't rush that 25P update out because there's no interest in this cam.

January 31, 2013

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marklondon

PS4 is out this year

January 31, 2013

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Neill Jones

thats not what Sony CEO Kaz says (end of interview, last question).
http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/8/3852976/sony-ceo-kaz-hirai-interview
Everyday I keep hearing more and more rumors, Sony has a "Playstation Meeting" in a few days so stay tuned.
http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/01/31/sony-teases-the-future-of-playsta...

February 1, 2013

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Cid

Media for the 1DC is affordable. 128 GB [30 minutes] cards at 1000x can be had for $240 a piece. Not sure where you are getting the $650 number.

Scarlet media, propriety SSD, 128GB will set you back $1250 for typically 46 minutes.

DSLR's and RED cameras are just two different cameras.
The more expensive one has better resolution? No s**t.

February 1, 2013

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I only shoot SanDisk when it comes to CF, BH has the 128GB for $650. Are you looking at the Lexar? There maybe a shortage of the SanDisk? Where are u getting $250 for a 128GB thats a steal.

February 1, 2013

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Cid

>you really can’t call it a 4K

Just like 35mm scanned at 4K res. In reality it's about 3,5K

January 31, 2013

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Natt

No rolling shutter on the Scarlet?

February 1, 2013

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The best part is that in a year or two you can get a 4K super-35 RAW camera for the cost of a 5D Mark III

January 31, 2013

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john jeffreys

The camera to beat right now is the C100. You can take it anywhere, you don't need light (you don't always have the time or a choice), has ND-filters, has mic, shoots to dual SD cards (relay or backup), battery lasts for ever, can be hand held like a DSLR, native EOS mount and a great 4k sensor that shoots perfect enough 1080p and just over $6k.

Seriously, people dismissing this camera probably haven't used it. The BMCC is a really nice effort and it's great that it exists but it is such a niche product compared to the C100. Seems awkward and clunky in comparison. Granted, images are beautiful, but you're also paying the ultimate we-don't-have-a-codec-yet price.

And the C100 can do anything a Scarlet can do when delivery is 1080p and probably 5-10 times as fast. But I can probably think of a few scenarios where Scarlet would struggle against the C100 in available light.

I think RED is great but they need to bring a sensor to market that is clean up to at least 3200.

I you think the C100 is over priced you need to get your bearings straight.

January 31, 2013

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How about slow motion or 4k?

January 31, 2013

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4k: no argument there. I also stated for 1080p delivery in my post when I compared to Scarlet.

Slow motion: I have used the FS700 and it was great fun. But it was sad at the same time. SloMo is such an instant crowd pleaser, but it gets old really fast. It has its good uses in commercials and what not, so if that is your main business then sure. But then again... the FS700 is performing very well here....

But actual amount of footage shot in 4k or SloMo is dwarfed by normal vanilla 1080p 24/25/29.97 fps.

January 31, 2013

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Agree the c100 is a nice Cam indeed for what it does, Its not 2k 2.5k nor is it 4k but at the same time "it is what it is" and " does what it does" Basically its a C300( Underated amazing Cam) WITH an external recorder, take away the recorder, xlr, nd filters and the c100's price is not justifiable at all.

The only thing that sucks about the c100 in my opinion the 422 8bit color space limit, dont get me wrong its nice but at the same time, i feel Canon could have gave us the option of 10bit 444 for a better dynamic range, more details in black and better highlights paired with an already amazing low light pedigree

January 31, 2013

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JayClout

8 bit is not optimal, but I don't think it's thaaaat easy to fix. It's more a codec issue than anything else.

Both C300 and C100 are 8 bit as a consequence of their respective internal codecs—not because Canon thinks 8 bit is super great. I would have liked a 10 bit signal out of the HDMI though.

But again, I don't think it's as simple as Canon limiting the cameras just for the sake of, even if I'm not ruling it out. I think it's dependent where Canon has chosen to tap the Cameras for the signal. In this case after the conversion to 8 bit but before encoding. Could that easily be changed in the design process? Maybe, but again maybe not...

February 1, 2013

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I think slow mo is over used too. Unfortunately though, I'm one of those over-users. My main winter job is shooting skiing and snowboarding, TGR, Standard films, Warren MIller, RedBull etc. In the off season I do a little bit of everything but it almost always needs some kind of slow motion, recently was 2nd cam on a ford spot and shot and directed a web spot for a helicopter manufacturer. I still use a P2 for the majority of the the long contract snow winter travel work and it doesn't have 1080p slow motion either. But that generation of camera has also been out for 7 or 8 years. I'm not saying that it will hold it's own against a c100 but it seem like at the rapid rate of technology advancing the big companies (maybe excluding sony) should be trying harder. I'd buy and epic if I had the cash, but would more likely go for a scarlet. I think if you had enough work to pay off the c100 and or upgrade in a year it's probably a great choice. I'm the kind of person that uses stuff until it breaks or at least a few years. I'd hate the idea of having a 720p camera in 2016.

February 1, 2013

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I'm keeping an eye on RED. They have many rights and lots of wrongs.

I actually bought a Scarlet but cancelled the order before it shipped. I'm glad I did now.

But I really like the concept of one single camera that shoots both still and video raw. I don't need crazy resolution for stills. Dragon would probably be a great camera for me if they can fix power and media. Then I could live with sub optimal ergonomics. They are kind of cool after all. That's gotta count for something...

But I feel that RED hides a little bit behind the "we make motion picture cameras" concept. It's kind of a catch all for all the little things that are difficult to solve, but where other more established brands are still trying.

I also wish they'd get out of the garage and work more like a normal business. But I feel they are getting better.

February 1, 2013

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Who thinks the C100 is over-priced? In Canon's priceline it fits perfectly.

January 31, 2013

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marklondon

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