April 15, 2016

RED Raven is 'Incredibly Small and Lightweight': Test Drive with Rare New Footage

A DP took the RED Raven out for a real-world test drive. He was, in a word, impressed.

My wife and I run a production company called CELADORA which specializes in cinematic corporate films and music videos. We put down a deposit on a RED Raven for our business but really wanted to spend some time with one before making the full payment.

My first impression was how small the DSMC2 brains are—this camera is incredibly small and lightweight. 

We rented the camera from a friend—Jacob Schwarz at Mystery Box—for one day. We wanted to put the camera through some real-world shooting scenarios, so we set up a variety of scenes and found some locations and models to volunteer. We shot 5 different scenes in one day; needless to say, we were moving pretty fast.

We shot the footage using two Canon L lenses—24-70 and 24-105—and a basic Arri light kit with some 4x4 flags. Our total production cost was about $400 with the camera rental and lighting/grip. We didn't hire any crew members, so it was just my wife and me on set with our talent.

We shot at frame rates of 24, 30, 48, 60, 120, and 240fps and ISOs ranging from 800 to 2850. Some of the noisier shots in the video were likely shot at higher ISOs.

Shooting with the RED Raven felt just like working with any of the RED cameras.

In post, I exported ProRes proxy files from Red Cine X because it seems that Premiere doesn't support the Raven's R3D files natively yet (the camera is also capable of recording these proxies internally along with R3Ds, which I would have done had I known Premiere doesn't support it yet).

I then cut the footage together in Premiere, then exported an XML into Davinci Resolve where I linked the clips back to the R3Ds. I graded the footage in Resolve then round-tripped back to premiere to cut together the music and sound effects.

Overall, we really enjoyed shooting on this camera. Even in a run and gun situation it performed really well and was easy to use. My first impression was how small the DSMC2 brains are—this camera is incredibly small and lightweight. Of course, when you build it up with expanders and modules, it gets bigger. We were shooting with the base expander and Redvolt XL module.

RED Raven

Shooting with the RED Raven felt just like working with any of the RED cameras. All of the menus and software, usability, buttons, etc. are very familiar. That's saying something, considering the low price point of the camera.

The only thing you have to be aware of is the smaller sensor. It gives you a little bit of an awkward crop, so we had to be careful with how we were using lenses and framing things. For example, shooting 24mm looks closer to a 35mm because of the crop, but the warping and space compression is still that of a 24mm. Not a deal-breaker, though; just something to be aware of.  

Lastly, the camera shoots at 120fps in 4.5K and 240fps in 2K. 'Nuff said. That's awesome. Overall, I was very impressed with this camera and can't wait for mine to arrive in the mail.

Here's more information on the Raven, including specs and price.     

Eric Thayne is a director, DP, and music producer. He and his wife and own a production company called CELADORA, which specializes in cinematic corporate films and music videos.

Your Comment

31 Comments

Some great images, which is to be expected from a Red sensor. Great work by Eric and his wife too. It'll be interesting to see how this camera does head to head with the BlackMagic Ursa Mini 4.6k. Price points are going to make both of them go head to head I think. The Raven obviously has the Red name behind it which should help.

April 15, 2016 at 7:52PM, Edited April 15, 7:52PM

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Charles C.
Editor/ Director/ Director of Photography/ Wannabe Thinker
1117

Thanks for the footage! Raven is looking awesome - can't wait to get my pre-order!

April 15, 2016 at 8:21PM

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Aaron Nanto
Creator/Filmmaker
175

Taking your corporate and commercial videos to the next level. Not to mention the awesome narative work able to be achieved with this camera. Very well done, and thanks for taking use through your workflow and equipment used. Good to know you can do a lot with so little. That Scarlet W looks sexy too.

I am at least two years off from buying a real camera but recently RED has drawn my attention away from Sony and Canon. Right tool for right job though, if I end up doing docs it may not be the right choice. Fantastic work and an exciting camera system.

April 15, 2016 at 8:25PM, Edited April 15, 8:28PM

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That video looks like shit. Not the composition but the video quality, geez. Ugly noise in every scene. Not even sharp. If I didn't know better I would have said it was shot with an FS700 under poor lighting conditions. I feel sorry for anyone who pre-ordered one of these. I sure hope the Scarlet-W is better than this.

April 15, 2016 at 8:29PM, Edited April 15, 8:30PM

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Kaster Troy
Director, DP, Editor
1106

Looks like a stress test to me:
High redcode compression + higher iso noise + web compression

Same thing that reduced the appeal of HFR on Scarlet-D

Hopefully someone will post footage that is well exposed (at least using the GIO exposure tool in Raven), rated at ISO 250-800, shot in normal speed (not overcrank/varispeed), and recorded in 3:1 redcode at 4.5K 2.1:1 (4608 × 2160). That should look super clean. Hopefully, also using Zeiss or Sigma Art lenses (the 24-70 tends to look like mush w/out the aid of the in-camera sharpening canon uses).

Unfortunately, I expect there will be more bad raven footage then good, simply due to the availability of the camera's price point.

April 15, 2016 at 8:57PM, Edited April 15, 9:24PM

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Daniel Reed
Hat Collector
1481

Do you mean because of the price of the camera? You said "price point" and I for a moment thought you were a DSLR generation armchair camera industry prognosticator.

April 15, 2016 at 9:32PM

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Derek Olson
Directomatographeditor
621

How did you know?

April 16, 2016 at 12:13AM, Edited April 16, 12:15AM

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Daniel Reed
Hat Collector
1481

Red posted a short called "Carrion" that shows the Raven in a more traditional production environment, using Zeiss Milvus lenses. The Scarlet-W will look cleaner in low light, if you're using the Low-Light OLPF.

April 16, 2016 at 3:03AM

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Rich Brown
Director, Producer
248

Yup, Carrion is a great example of an indie production shot on Raven.
All edited/graded by one guy in AdobeCC.
Carrion: https://vimeo.com/148809966

The noise in the shots by Eric shown for this NFS writeup is greatly enhanced by the higher compressed redcode modes required to shoot HFR. Unfortunately, Scar-W has the same higher compression issues w/ HFR as Raven (they both have the same recording system limit of 140MB/s).

A little over-crank is OK, as long as you can keep the compression under 10:1, expose well, and don't rate the sensor above 800 when shooting.
(Pushing in post often nets better results then rating sensor ISO higher on set)

In terms of the LLO vs STANDARD OLPF, I recently went back and tried it out, but the loss of color accuracy (especially with mixed light sources) wasn't worth the trade off in favor of slightly reduced noise in underexposed shots.

Treat both of these cameras as normal speed gems, and you'll love'em.
Red's mantra of doing no harm equates to there being no noise reduction in camera. So if you prefer low light setups & HFR, then neatvideo is your friend.

April 16, 2016 at 5:04PM, Edited April 16, 5:49PM

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Daniel Reed
Hat Collector
1481

Its amazing how most cameras look the same now. I really believe that its pretty much a level playing field now.

April 15, 2016 at 9:00PM

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Nothing wrong with the camera work. But I agree with several others here that the image quality itself is not impressive. It may be the low lighting, the sets and locations, frame rates, etc. But the image on my laptop looks flat and muddled. If you turn down the sound the video loses all it's punch. Again, nothing wrong with the framing and composition...just the camera to me doesn't sing at all in this video.

April 15, 2016 at 9:16PM

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"Warping and space compression" follow a crop. A wider lens is usually not as nice a lens, due to a number of factors, but the "space compression and warping" are identical cropping a wider lens vs using a longer lens on a bigger sensor.

In both cases you are at the same distance to the subject - it is this distance that creates the "warping" you talk about. (Warping isn't exactly a technically precise term... Do you mean wide angle distortion?)

It follows crop, because again it is dependant on distance to subject - to get the same shot one could use a Dragon at say 50 mm and a Raven at 24 (this is much closer to the actual difference than what you state). But these two cameras would be exactly in the same spot - so compression and wide angle distortion would be identical.

Now f stop is a different matter. The longer your lens, the bigger the "hole" for the same f=stop, and so the narrower the focus depth at the same f-stop.

Cropping also zooms in on lens and filter imperfections, zooms in on sensor noise, etc.

Also, again, longer lenses tend to be better optically with less distortion/issues in general - which is why super high end photography uses huge sensor sizes - where 85 mm gives you a wide-angle view.

So... yes - less crop is better, but not in the way you misunderstand.

April 15, 2016 at 11:16PM, Edited April 15, 11:17PM

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Robert Ruffo
Director/DP
337

Too much Vimeo compression is gumming up the works. I can't tell what's actually the RED image and what is the crappy Vimeo compression. It would be great if there was a high bit-rate download so that we could judge the image the camera actually produces.

April 16, 2016 at 12:02AM, Edited April 16, 12:02AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30062

Ive seen better images from the Ursa Mini.

April 16, 2016 at 12:18AM

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Mustafa Johnson
Director/Videographer/Editor
27

The vimeo compression isn't a valid excuse for noisy/average looking footage, all the quality work uploaded there looks clean.

April 16, 2016 at 2:27AM

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I think most are referring to redcode compression in camera,
which is lossy but required for shoehorning HFR down the data pipe.

April 19, 2016 at 3:00AM

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Daniel Reed
Hat Collector
1481

Regarding the endless babbling of people about "bad" YouTube and Vimeo compression - did you ever realize that 99% of everything ever shot on these cameras will, at some point, end on these and other highly compressed video sites and not a 35/70mm film projector, the only uncompressed broadcasting medium we ever had? Face it: if it looks bad, it's your fault, because, like some others said, why do well shot, high end productions look totally fine on Vimeo & Co.?

April 16, 2016 at 3:28AM

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Gerard M.
1267

"For example, shooting 24mm looks closer to a 35mm because of the crop, but the warping and space compression is still that of a 24mm."

This blog is a joke... What kind of ass-backwards DSLR filmmaker thought process is this? "Crops" aren't an issue and have never been, even since the days of 16mm.

First of all, Raven's sensor is 23.04mm wide. Only 0.76mm narrower than an Alexa (excluding open gate mode), and only 0.26mm narrower than a Sony F65.

Secondly, and more importantly, lenses have nothing to do with "space compression". It's all about subject to camera distance, nothing else. Ever wonder why a zoom is more flat/static/boring than a dolly-in? That's because a change in focal length does nothing to change the relationship of your subject to your background. Only moving the camera changes perspective.

April 16, 2016 at 4:38AM

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Aaron Lochert
Director of Photography
160

Aaron, I hear what you're saying and agree about the mis-use of the word "crop";
however, spacial compression based on lens design is real.

Hollywood explosion scenes have been doing this for decades with 500mm or longer glass. This gives the illusion of the explosion appearing much closer behind the subject then it is. Sometimes, such as the last shot of SW7, focal lengths come across as feeling wrong, due to compression.

In the last SW7 shot, the water appeared as if it was only several feet behind the protagonist(Rey) and the golden fleece (Luke) appeared to be only a few feet in front of her. The establishing shot, clearly shows they were more likely 40-50 feet away from each other. Her cowboy shot, and the shots leading up, also clearly show the water was several hundred feet away.

To test for lens compression, try out a table scene or OTS and see how a 25~35mm creates further distance then a 75~85mm between the subjects.

This compression is also why 85mm is often used by photographers for portraits.

April 16, 2016 at 4:40PM, Edited April 16, 4:49PM

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Daniel Reed
Hat Collector
1481

I'm sorry, but you're mistaken.

Photographers use long lenses for portraits because they have to back up to get a close up. Backing up is what caused perspective to compress, NOT the focal length.

Give this blog a read:
https://livcophoto.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/what-is-lens-compression-and...

April 17, 2016 at 5:47PM

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Aaron Lochert
Director of Photography
160

Sorry Arron, but the article you linked to just iterates again my example of lens compression.

Guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

April 19, 2016 at 3:04AM

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Daniel Reed
Hat Collector
1481

This isn't a matter of opinion; nothing to agree or disagree with. It's physics.

Did read the second paragraph? Did you not see the 24mm shot cropped to the same framing as the 70mm and produced nearly the EXACT SAME shot (save for depth of field)?

Point is, a Raven with a 35mm lens is gonna look like a 50mm on a full frame camera, minus depth of field. That's it. There's no perspective warping/stretching going on as a direct result of a focal length change.

So again, back to the NF article, there's no disadvantage using the Raven, or any other "crop" sensor when we're specifically talking about perspective. Yes, depth of field will be deeper. Yes, wider lenses are harder to design, so they might be slower, have barrel distortion, be softer, etc. Yes, photosites might be smaller on a smaller sensor vs a larger one so it might be noisier/less sensitive to light. There's plenty of advantages (and disadvantages) shooting on larger formats. My point is that 3D space will not change just from shooting with wider lenses.

Try this: take 5 photos of a person from different distances with the same lens. You'll get perspective shift. Now take 5 photos with 5 different focal lengths from the same distance and crop them all to the same framing. You'll get ZERO perspective change.

Or easier, just give this entire video a watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbESqYkodmQ

Pay strict attention starting at 2:35.

April 22, 2016 at 12:18AM

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Aaron Lochert
Director of Photography
160

Crop factor isn't an "issue" but it's definitely something to consider when you're shooting. The Red Raven has different crop factors of the sensor at each resolution, therefore a lens's effective FoV changes as you move to lower resolutions or different aspect ratios. I've read that 4K 16x9 on the RR has a 1.96 crop factor, which would turn a 24m essentially into a 48m. Along with that, your DoF needs to be taken into consideration. An F1.4 reads as an F2.0, and so on all the way up and down, not in terms of light coming onto the sensor but the actual range in focus.

The Red Raven may shoot 4.5K, but it's not 16x9 at that resolution. For something more corporate or TV you would need to keep that in mind, and actually crop the image in post-prod to fit as well.

I think a great DP with time and light can make anything look great, but all of these things should be considered before buying or renting any camera. This is probably a great camera for the right conditions, but might not be the Run and Gun low-light capable answer to all of our problems camera. Because none of them are. Find what works for the project.

The compression is really the biggest issue in my opinion. They may sell you that it does 4.5K and can do 2K 240fps, but that's with some higher compression. That would mean you should probably steer clear unless you have the proper lighting setup to support that amount. Only way to know for sure is to test it.

Also, I wouldn't say a Zoom feels boring or is inferior to a dolly-in. That's pretty reductive in just about every way. Different focal lengths (mixed with crop factors) do literally compress an image the longer the lens is.

April 16, 2016 at 7:20PM

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zac
82

Hey, how do these videos (and accompanying text) make it to NFS? What is the criteria?

I mean, if I made a video with a fairly new camera and wrote about the experience, would NFS post it? Are NFS staff members scouring the web for new videos and articles posted by any individual with access to a new camera, regardless of talent or status in the film industry? Or, are these articles submitted, directly, to NFS?

I'm asking sincerely and not really meaning to take a jab at this post. After all, it is a 'Test Drive' but, this footage looks like thousands of other videos that do little to extoll the virtues of the equipment at hand.

April 16, 2016 at 10:44AM, Edited April 16, 10:45AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
1492

Are NFS staff members scouring the web? LOL. I'm wanted to ask are you new here. But I know you're not. No, no one on 'staff' at this web site is working hard. This is most day late, and mostly-unhelpful-posts, web site I know of.

April 17, 2016 at 7:50PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1813

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwzq5NEXSUA

shot with Scarlet-W, Epic -Dragon, & weapon MG

April 16, 2016 at 12:53PM

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No posts about the Kinfinity 12bit 6K for $6K yet? Where's Joe Marine? Other web sites have already posted about it. I'll wait a day or two for nofilmschool to get around to it.

April 18, 2016 at 3:53AM, Edited April 18, 3:53AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1813

Word on the street is the rolling shutter is pretty bad, to quote newsshooter:

"Like previous Kinefinity cameras, there is still quite a bit of rolling shutter present".

April 19, 2016 at 3:19AM

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Daniel Reed
Hat Collector
1481

The crop factor is annoying, but the hugely overpriced media is the deal-breaker. Remember: You aren't just shelling out huge amounts for the storage cards. You also have to bend over for a reader. Or a reamer. Same thing.

You have to hand it to Red for making today's digital cinema cameras what they are. Jannard started it by calling Sony out on its BS. But this camera simply isn't competitive. Red needs to be making what BlackMagic is promising but not delivering. And they can charge a few grand more for it, as long as they switch to at least CFast and stop trying to wring money out of grossly overpriced accessories. We just aren't going to pay that anymore.

Oh, and limiting the camera's resolution to 2K in ProRes isn't going to cut it either. I like raw, but sometimes you need the extra storage. Get it together, Red.

April 20, 2016 at 8:37PM

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David Gurney
DP
1773

It seems pretty noisey in low light....

August 18, 2016 at 9:07PM

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Walter Wallace
Spokesperson/Entrepreneur
1193

This is a camera for a production set. The C300 mark II is better in low light and has pro outputs; partnered with the shogun it is a pretty good combo. This camera is amazing for someone shooting in a controlled environment as seen in the trailer of Carrion red put out. I have a c300 mark 2 and I love it. I shoot mostly documentaries so it is a good fit for me.

August 18, 2016 at 9:11PM

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Walter Wallace
Spokesperson/Entrepreneur
1193