Jdepic-300x195-224x145James Drake from Denver-based RED rental house 5K Insight gave Dave Dugdale of Learning DSLR Video a hands-on with the RED EPIC camera, and the two videos are an excellent introduction to the RED DSMC system. They're included below, but first, two things every RED EPIC/SCARLET owner should be aware of:

Red-olpf-224x214One, RED has quietly released a revised Optical Low-Pass Filter drop-in anti-flare guard that sits in front of the OLPF (pictured) for anyone experiencing "sensor flare," which I have not encountered but which can rear its head in specific backlit conditions. It's free for existing owners (either to install yourself, which takes 5 minutes, or to have RED do it) and will be integrated into future cameras. Second, there's a new and improved gamma curve on the way, REDgamma3, which I'll be curious to test (note that because the RED shoots RAW, you can apply the new gamma curve not only to future shoots, but to footage that's already sitting on your hard drive).

Because of ongoing issues like sensor flare -- which is fairly isolated as far as I can tell -- many have taken to denigrating RED cameras as a "scam" or "always in beta." And reliability issues are definitely something to be aware of -- they can affect a shoot more than any spec on a sheet. But it's also worth noting that, in the real world, RED cameras are used on thousands of productions every day -- and brought to life several Oscar nominees this year, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, In Darkness, The Muppets, Margin Call, and Beginners (the last of which I found to be one of the most beautiful films of the year -- and not just in a cinematographic sense). 99% of audience members don't care which camera a movie was shot on, so regardless of "which camera is best" arguments, kudos go to whichever tools help you make your movie... and the RED helped a lot of great movies get made this year. With that in mind, here are the aforementioned videos, which should be useful for anyone interested in renting or buying a RED camera -- you know, to make movies.

You can also see the value of having the Side Handle (which I'm still waiting on) -- with only two customizable buttons on the LCD and two buttons on the body, it's not as easy to set up your focus assist, false color, and other monitoring presets. The side handle not only allows you to use REDVOLT batteries, it also gives you a number of preset buttons -- as well as a way of navigating the menu system without "missing" the touch buttons. The REDMOTE will allow you to do this wirelessly, though there are reports of the REDMOTE having reliability issues (when it is connected to the rear of the camera, it uses a more reliable wired connection).

Now, no one's saying you should go out and buy a SCARLET or EPIC. These are cameras that most people will rent, but it's helpful to know as much as possible about a camera when you walk into a rental house. Here, James answers some questions for Dave about rental-specific issues (and note that Dave actually added to the flare in the shot, which looks to me like simple lens flare and not a sensor issue -- but I may be wrong):

Along with Sebastian from Cinema5D's hands-on review and short, as well as how to edit .R3D files natively in Adobe CS5.5, this makes for a solid introduction to the DSMC system from RED. Thanks James and Dave!

[Via Learning DSLR Video (Part 2)]