RED has announced that it is now shipping two HELIUM S35 8K sensor brains: the Epic-W for $29K and the Weapon for $49K.
Back in July, RED announced its new 8k camera sensor, Helium, and showed off some impressive first footage from Jonny Mass and a very cool neon green edition custom built for Michael Bay. Today, that sensor is available to the rest of us, as two of the Helium brains are live for order on the RED site and ready to ship.
To promote the release, RED has created a promo video for the Epic-W that shows off some of the benefits of 8K image capture, especially when finishing to 1080p for the internet. The video shows the tremendous level of detail that can be preserved even with a very dramatic post zoom in.
Both camera bodies are built around the DSMC2 platform, which is short for Digital Stills and Motion Camera, 2. This is the platform that RED first established with the release of the EPIC way back in 2010: the camera is divided into a "brain" with the sensor, a lens mount, and a wide variety of accessories covering power, monitoring, I/O, and more. This makes the camera highly customizable and easy to build into a high-end stills camera or fully functional studio motion picture capture. You can also strip it down to bare bones for action work.
A lot of things that come in a kit with simpler cameras must be purchased separately with the RED line, and these two brains are no different.
The camera's flexibility has helped make it extremely popular, but it also disguises some of the price inherent in buying into the system, since you'll need more than just the body to get shooting. Lenses, viewfinder, batteries—a lot of things that come in a kit with simpler cameras must be purchased separately with the RED line, and these two brains are no different. However, if you already have invested in the RED infrastructure, the purchase price is very reasonable, considering the tremendous benefits of 8K capture. And, of course, there is also an upgrade path for current owners.
Since both brains have identical sensors with identical specifications, it's reasonable to wonder why the EPIC-W comes in at a full $20,000 cheaper than the WEAPON. The biggest difference is that the WEAPON shoots more than twice as fast; that processing power costs money, especially considering the camera manages to weigh slightly less than the EPIC-W. The weight savings are .05lbs fewer, to be exact, due to lighter weight carbon fiber used in the body, which also adds to the cost difference.
In terms of speed, while the EPIC-W is capable of 8K 2.40x1 at up to 30fps, the WEAPON 8K S35 is capable of 8K 2.40x1 recording at up to 75fps. That is a big deal. If you are finishing at 24fps, the ability to capture up to 75fps at full resolution without having to crop your image on the sensor and shoot a lower resolution for the higher framerate is very exciting, particularly for sports and action work.
In terms of speed, there are many productions for which the extra expense of the Weapon is a no-brainer, despite the added cost.
However, we don't always finish to 24 or 30fps these days. The Hobbit ushered us into the world of 48fps workflow, and while it wasn't popular with everyone, it's a format that others are continuing to pursue; Ang Lee chose to go all the way to 120fps for his new film. In terms of speed, there are many productions for which the extra expense of the Weapon is a no-brainer, despite the added cost.
The Weapon also allows for a future upgrade to the 8K VV sensor, which will appeal to users with lenses designed to cover the larger image circle, who also want the added benefits of the larger sensor. However, for most of us, $20,000 is a lot of money, and the EPIC-W comes in at a price point that stills allows 8K capture for the majority of your footage—allowing for faster speeds with a cropped sensor, which is a compromise many RED owners have accepted over time.
The brains are available directly from the RED website. Anyone already ordered one, or think they will soon? We'd love to hear your first impressions when you have them in the field.
- 35.4 megapixel CMOS
- Pixels: 8192x4320
- Size: 29.90mm x 15.77mm
- 16.5+ stops dynamic range
- Epic-W: 8K 2.40x1 30fps, Weapon 8K 2.40x1 75fps
- Epic-W: 275mb/s, Weapon 300mb/s
- Simultaneous recording, Recode Raw and ProRes or DNxHD
- 80db signal to noise ratio
- Epic-W: 30fps 8k recording, 240fps 2k,
- 3.35 lbs Magnesium and Aluminum body (with Carbon Fiber on the Epic, and .05lbs less weight)
- Integrated REDLINK wifi