The RAVEN camera might not be officially announced until Friday, but RED's Jarred Land has announced many crucial details.
I did say I was only going to update this previous post on RAVEN and not keeping posting new info, but there is a lot to talk about, and expectations need to be reined in. First off, here's what we know so far:
- RED RAVEN uses a DRAGON Sensor, Shoots Max 4K
- Sensor Size: 20.48mm (smaller than APS-C, slightly bigger than Micro 4/3)
- Assuming it's the same pixel size, crop factor compared to full-frame 35mm is 1.87x
- 4K Up to 120fps
- 4K 23.98 at 5:1 Compression (at least)
- Takes Mini-Mags
- Same body as WEAPON, but lighter (and made of some kind of metal)
- All WEAPON modules work
- There is at least one model with Canon EF mount (likely fixed)
- Built-in WiFi
- Built-in Scratch Microphone
- Price: $5,950 Body only
The sensor size is kind of small compared to true APS-C, though it is slightly bigger than Micro 4/3. This is going to be a downside compared to the other RED cameras, especially if you're trying to take advantage of full-frame 35mm still glass. It doesn't seem like there would be any way to have a Speed Booster attached to the camera (that would require something like an E-mount or MFT mount), so this will likely be the biggest sensor size you can take advantage of on RAVEN.
He's posted a number of teaser images, which I'll post again throughout.
What RAVEN Will Actually Cost
This may be a $6,000 camera body, but it's going to cost far more to get it actually shooting. I'm assuming this camera will only come with the mount (presumably Canon EF to start), and the Mini-Mag Side SSD Module. If that $6,000 price doesn't include the SSD Module, then they'll have to start selling a WEAPON SSD Module in the store, and the price will go up — but let's just say it is included in the price for now.
At this point, you need a few things to make it work: media, card reader, a touchscreen monitor or switchblade, batteries, and if you want to connect any other kinds of monitors, a module with HDMI or HD-SDI. You could theoretically just use WiFi to change settings, but that's honestly not a long-term solution, and really more for when the camera is in a hard-to-reach-spot. This is what a barebones RAVEN will look like without power or external outputs:
- RED RAVEN Body: $5,950
- RED Touch 4.7": $1,450
- 2 x RED 120GB Mini-Mag: $1,700
- Mini-Mag Card Reader: $195
- Total: $9,295
If you ever need more than the RED touch, and want to connect a monitor with HDMI or HD-SDI, you'll probably want this module, which also has timecode and more:
- WEAPON Base Expander: $1,750
- New Total: $11,045
What about power? This one is a bit tougher, especially since you can choose to bring your own V-Mount or Gold Mount bricks, and you might get some good deals on third-party or cheaper versions of these batteries. You could choose RED's power system, but it's not the most versatile and the batteries will only ever work with RED's cameras. The best use I've had so far with REDVOLTs has been as a way to hotswap batteries without powering down. I got some good deals on Dynacore bricks, which are a little cheaper than Anton Bauer and some other companies. With 3 230wh AB mount batteries, I can essentially shoot all day. All together that was a little under $1,500, so if you add that to the price, now you're looking at over $12,000, though at least you could take the batteries with you to your next camera.
We don't know if RED will offer a special RAVEN-only package that sells for cheaper than if you bought the accessories separately, but if they did, that could change the above numbers quite a bit.
What RAVEN is Not
RAVEN will not be the budget camera you want it to be. I've said this before and I'll say it again, I've bought into the RED system and still own and use their cameras. I like the images they produce, and I like the flexibility of compressed RAW, where I can save on hard drive space significantly, especially if I'm only shooting 4K. RED can also work on many different computer systems, even older ones (as long as you're not trying to edit full Debayer).
But that doesn't mean any of their cameras are cheap. The best deal they've had in a long time was the RED ONE MX for $4,000. The RED ONE, unlike the rest of their cameras, can be controlled via the body without needing additional modules, and already comes with external ports like HDMI and SDI for viewing the image (and even XLR). That is truly a budget RED camera, even if it does take a minute to boot up.
RAVEN is at least a $10,000 investment, even if theoretically it seems like you could pay less. Maybe you're buying it only to put on a gimbal or drone and you're fine with changing settings through WiFi. In that case you probably can get by with fewer accessories. For the vast majority, however, this isn't going to be as cheap to get going as a Sony FS5 or URSA Mini 4.6K (and it should be reminded neither of those actually exist in the wild yet).
What Happens to SCARLET?
According to Land, RAVEN isn't replacing SCARLET, RED's previous lower-end model:
The Raven doesn't replace Scarlet, It's a new category in our line up. Raven is a younger, hungrier, more "spirited" member of the RED family with a bit of a chip on his shoulder ready to take on the entire sub-$10k market with images that you will be incredibly proud of.
Realistically it's not taking on the sub-$10K market, it's taking on cameras that are in the $10K-$15K range. The original SCARLET may have debuted just under $10,000 (and the price did rise shortly after that), but it was not a sub-$10K camera either, in fact, it was closer to a $15,000 to $17,000 camera or more.
At this point you might be saying, "But no camera price includes media and whatever else it takes to make it shootable." That may be true, but plenty of these budget cameras come with a battery and have a built-in LCD and buttons on the body. Generally media has been cheaper than what RED has offered, or at least it has come way down in price over time — something we will continue to see with CFast 2.0. Lots of cheap cinema cameras exist in this range, and some of them even do RAW. The biggest difference is that for the most part, they don't need a ton of proprietary accessories just to get going.
Generally speaking, the SCARLET is using technology from 2009-2010 when the EPIC was being developed. The sensor is pretty old by today's standards even if it does still produce fantastic images. It's time for RED to make the SCARLET the real budget camera. If the price falls off the face of the Earth, they'll have a true competitor on their hands. To really be a budget camera in the $4-7K range where I think RED wants to be, the SCARLET would have to come down to $2,000 to $3,000 for the body with Canon EF mount and Side SSD (And at this point it should just sell with the Mini-Mag, since they are phasing out the old mags and modules).
Does that sound crazy? To RED I'm sure it does, and it's very possible they can't drop the price that much, but if they really wanted to make a "4K4All" camera, that's where the general public would really start to take notice. Otherwise people are more than happy to look at the other cameras in the $3K-$5K range that can shoot 4K essentially out of the box.
The other SCARLET camera, the SCARLET DRAGON, is in kind of strange spot since it's nearly three times the cost but is limited to 60fps at 4K (whereas the RAVEN can do 120fps). The SD does have certain advantages like being able to shoot 5K up to 48fps, removable lens mounts, and removable OLPFs, but for a lot of what people need, RAVEN might have made more sense as an upgrade and at much lower cost. SD does have a bigger sensor at 4K, but it's unfortunately missing those higher frame rates and abilities like WiFi that RAVEN has, not to mention compatibility with the newest WEAPON modules.
Advantages for RED
With all of that said, there are still major advantages to getting into this system. If you're doing mostly cinema work or controlled-environment shooting, it's tough to beat the image quality and flexibility of DRAGON. Sure, RED can be shot run-and-gun style, but it doesn't have built-in ND filters, and it doesn't come close to the low-light abilities of any Sony or Canon camera in this range. We don't know if RAVEN will have ProRes, but if it does, that is a huge advantage — though it's still not a camera you can just turn on and shoot — you've got to know a little bit about how it works.
RED's biggest asset is compressed RAW and it's workflow. At this point it's pretty rock solid, and it's supported by basically everyone. REDCINE has gotten much better, and the control you have in post with a RAW camera like RED is exceptional. Having compressed RAW helps save on space quite a bit, and even though some other cameras are capable of compressed RAW, nothing really comes close to the way it's been implemented on RED's cameras.
The official announcement should be coming on Friday, September 25th, and hopefully we'll find out more about where RED has decided to position RAVEN and if SCARLET will get any sort of price drop (and what they plan on doing with EPIC MX cameras).