RED has decided to upgrade the specs on RAVEN well before the camera is set to hit shelves next year.
Apparently RED's Jarred Land and Jim Jannard came together and worked out a way to squeeze just a bit more resolution out of the camera, by increasing the sensor size from 20.48mm to 23.04mm (a little over 2.5mm wider in the horizontal direction):
So Jim and I just had one of those Epic all-nighters working away in Stage 4...
Now it is morning.
and now Raven has become 4.5k.
23.04mm x 10.8mm
No additional cost to you.... just to us.
Brought to you by the wonderful engineers @ RED.
There's no point going over everything the RAVEN can do as it's already been written in detail in the previous posts (including the fact that this is really a camera costing well over $10,000 when all is said and done), but here are just some of the resolutions that we can expect now with updated specs (there are many more variations possible, including 3K and 2K):
- Sensor size: 23.04mm x 10.8mm, Diagonal: 25.44mm (Previous RAVEN spec was 4K DCI and 20.48mm x 10.8mm)
- Max Resolution: 4608 x 2160 (this is roughly correct based on 4.5K 2:1 of the DRAGON sensor)
- 4.5K up to 120fps
- 4.5K Full (2.13:1) — 1.62x crop, 4608 x 2160, 23.04mm x 10.8mm
- 4.5K WS (2.37:1) — 1.73x crop, 4608 x 1944, 23.03 x 9.72 mm
- 4K DCI (1.9:1) — 1.87x crop, 4096 x 2160, 20.48mm x 10.8mm
- 4K HD (1.77:1) —1.96x crop, 3840 x 2160, 19.19mm x 10.8mm
- Price: $6,000 body only, packages including media coming in around $10,000
I'm mostly using RED's numbers from their Cinephotography tools as that is the easiest way to see resolutions, crop factors, and everything else all in one. There is a slight discrepancy between 23.04 and 23.03, as that is what Cinephotography tools states for DRAGON, so this might be a rounding issue or it does, in fact, have a .01 difference in size. As a result, those resolutions above may not be perfectly correct, but they are about as close as you can get.
We don't know what RED is doing for the RAVEN sensor, if they're just taking 6K DRAGON sensors and only using a portion like they did with SCARLET MX and SCARLET DRAGON, or actually making a physically smaller sensor. The most financially sensible method would be to just use 6K sensors that didn't pass spec at 6K but can work at 4.5K, and it would likely save a ton on R&D. This is also a way for them to increase specs without changing the physical sensor.
It's worth noting that the horizontal resolution is now the same on both the RED RAVEN and the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K. Is this intentional? Maybe not, but they definitely didn't want to get beat on resolution with a cheaper camera, and Blackmagic still has a taller vertical resolution of 2592 compared to 2160 on the RAVEN, which means that URSA Mini 4.6K is capable of 16:9 at the full resolution, whereas the RAVEN has to go down to 4K UHD in order to get 16:9.
There is no question this makes RAVEN a more interesting camera. You're getting a wider FOV at 4.5K, but you do miss out on 4.5K HD (since the sensor height won't change), which I think would have made this an even better update. If your project is shooting 2.40:1, this new update will make you very happy, but if you planned on shooting more standard aspect ratios like 16:9, this won't make much of a difference, and it doesn't give a ton more room for any sort of reframing and keeping the project at 4K.
What About SCARLET DRAGON & The Rest of the RED Line?
Jarred Land also mentioned to some RED owners that there will be something for SCARLET DRAGON. We don't know if this will be an upgrade path into some sort of middle of the road WEAPON camera, or maybe upgraded specs, but there will be something. To me this is necessary based on how RAVEN is significantly cheaper but has better specs in a lot of ways, including frame rates and compression ratios.
Here's where things could potentially get really interesting for the product line. RED has a huge hole between RAVEN and WEAPON. They really should just drop prices on current products in order for their line to make more sense. SCARLET MX is a 3 year-old camera using 5 year-old technology, and it's not nearly the camera that RAVEN will be, though you do still get interchangeable mounts. To me, that's a terrible way to differentiate the product line, and SCARLET MX should be the true budget camera for a couple thousand dollars.
EPIC MX is also in a strange spot. It's better than SCARLET DRAGON in terms of resolutions, frame rates, and compression ratios, but the image from SD is much more pleasing and rolls off better in the highlights. It doesn't make any sense for EPIC MX to still exist in the lineup, because it has relatively similar specs as RAVEN, but RAVEN should look much nicer. If they're not going to drop all MX products, they should at least drop prices, and I think the most sensible thing would be to get rid of EPIC MX, drop the SCARLET price to nothing, and then introduce the middle of the road camera/upgrade it seems like they're teasing.
Hopefully we won't have too long to find out, especially for SCARLET DRAGON owners who may have only had their cameras 4-5 months after RED made a big push for DRAGON upgrades before NAB. RED has done a good job giving upgrades that other companies really aren't doing, but when the upgrades cost more than a new camera, it's not really that enticing, especially for anyone who owns a DRAGON camera right now. You can buy a couple RAVENs for the price of a WEAPON upgrade, so the company really needs to reevaluate which markets they are catering to, and whether the upgrade programs still make sense as-is.
With all that said, if you've got a RAVEN pre-order on the way, you just got a better camera for no extra cost.