November 30, 2018

RED to Offer a New Entry-Level Camera Body

RED upgrades its Dragon sensor to IPP2 with the new "Entry-Level" Dragon-X option.

Just a few short months ago, RED simplified its product line and introduced a price cut to make it easier for filmmakers to navigate its offerings. RED would now offer three sensors built around the same DSMC2 body: the 8K Monstro (Full Frame), the 8K Helium (Super35mm) and the 5K Gemini (Super35mm, and dual ISO). 

While there was a price cut involved in this reognization, it still left RED users without an "entry level" RED option that offered the full power of the DSMC2 body, which RED is addressing today with the new  DSMC2® DRAGON-X™ 5K S35. Let's look at this new camera - as well as some other less-pricey "entry level" options.

Why not just buy an older Dragon? That's definitely an option, but RED is massively upgrading its imaging pipeline with the introduction of IPP2. It gives you a simpler interface, with new controls, and overall a cleaner image with better low light sensitivity out of the same sensor.

The DSMC2 Dragon-X keeps the original dragon sensor but updates it with an IPP2-compatible processing system for allowing IPP2 in camera. You get the same 16.5 stops of dynamic range you got from the Dragon (but with the ability to do a whole host of more things with it) and you can still write simultaneously to ProRes and DNx.

Why is this particularly exciting for filmmakers?  While we tend to love the latest and greatest features (dual ISO with the Gemini, full frame with the Monstro), in reality, a lot of the time it's overkill for the project at hand. Yes, a big sensor is great, but there just aren't as many options for covering the Monstro as their are for Super35mm. 

Yes, dual ISO is great, but if you aren't doing a lot of low light work, Gemini might not be necessary. By saving money with an affordable camera body, you open up other areas in the budget where you can spend more.  If getting a less expensive body lets you get the lenses you want, it's worth the trade-off for many filmmakers. 

Let us not forget that RED cameras have been giving us amazing images for a decade now.  If you loved the look of The Social Network, that was shot with the original RED ONE M-X.  This is a full sensor generation beyond that.

One arena where we think this will be particularly attractive is in schools and educational environments.  As a school, you want to offer the latest features to students so that they're well prepared for professional work, and so having access to the latest body and IPP2 pipeline is vital. But schools often have limited equipment budgets, and the ability to get even a single RED in the equipment room for class purposes is sometimes tricky, so this should offer an attractive combination there as well.  

RED has also announced a new top handled and breakout battery plate that includes V-mount and P-Tap that will be coming soon. For more information, check out the RED site.

Available as a kit for $19500 including the following:

  • 480GB RED MINI-MAG
  • Canon lens mount
  • RED DSMC2 Touch LCD 4.7” Monitor
  • RED DSMC2 Outrigger Handle
  • RED V-Lock I/O Expander
  • Two IDX DUO-C98 batteries with VL-2X charger
  • G-Technology ev Series RED MINI-MAG Reader
  • Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Art Lens
  • Nanuk heavy-duty camera case

Note: and - if like it is for the majority of us independent filmmakers - $20K isn't a reasonable "entry level" investment, here are some alternative options for you to consider.

Your Comment

25 Comments

lol. "Entry-level"

November 30, 2018 at 10:14AM

2
Reply

$19500 isn't exactly "entry level."

November 30, 2018 at 11:00AM

5
Reply
avatar
Barry
News photographer
121

Yeah, for the most part, NFS's editorial oversight has left the building these days. This reads like an ad but it's not labeled sponsored material. $20k is not entry level anywhere in the film industry for just a camera and one lens. Red no longer sells gear in the entry level or arguably mid-range either this could be talked about as "upper mid-range". For some years now, entry level cinema cameras usually means sub $10k and BMDCC's especially the pocket series have made this really sub $5k now. mid range is $10 to $20 and high end $20k and above.

November 30, 2018 at 11:29AM

4
Reply
avatar
Stephen A van Vuuren
Filmmaker
292

Agreed. You can get into a C300 or FS7 for half the price of this setup, and those cameras are industry workhorses with high resale value.

Also, anyone else find it odd that a $20k camera is locked to an EF mount? If I'm dropping that much cash on a camera, I want to be able to use proper PL cine lenses. Otherwise it seems a little bit backwards.

November 30, 2018 at 12:15PM

3
Reply
BD
755

You can change the lens mount to PL. Swap in something like a PL KipperTie Revolva and you essentially get very close to internal ND.

November 30, 2018 at 5:33PM

0
Reply
Jamie
91

Exactly. This reads exactly like paid content.

It’s funny how I took the exact same information about the Dragon-x and came up a totally different conclusion about it. RED: making obsolescence...happen ever 18 months. Take the Scarlet-W off of the offerings...make its trade it value so crappy that Jared Land himself says you’re better off selling it and buying a Gemini, don’t look at the math, it doesn’t make any sense...and then replacing the Scarlet-W with Dragon-X which is almost exactly the same thing with a few extra FPS’s and IPP2 built in (whereas IPP2 is already available in post for all red’s.). I can’t think of ANY real life reasons that I *have* to have IPP2 through the camera...it’s nice, sure, but not nice enough to take off Scarlet-W off the market. It’s a cheaper camera, it’s their lower end offering...but by forcing its obsolescence by design, not outdated technology, it’s actually their more expensive choice. It’s a big f-ck you to their customers. I used to think I couldn’t afford an Arri, but with how fast they change these cameras (with tiny upgrades so incrementally better as to be not even worth upgrading...) it just doesn’t make financial sense. I just want to buy a camera and not have to think about it for a few years. After the nearly 6 month wait to get our Scarlet-W, and have them announce the crappy trade in 18 months later...and then have the camera off the market 3-4 months after that...it’s so unnecessary. An Alexa Mini today is the same one that came out several years ago and most people would rather shoot on that anyway, most high to middle range productions prefer it...I can’t even keep track of RED’s offerings in that same window of time...who would have thought that the Mini would’ve been the cheaper option when you consider depreciated resale values when cameras have been unncesisarily end of lifed. I’m done.

November 30, 2018 at 12:38PM, Edited November 30, 12:44PM

1
Reply
avatar
Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2120

So what exactly is your problem right now? You said you own a scarlet w, did that camera somehow become less capable now that the new line up is out? You said " I just want to buy a camera and not have to think about it for a few years", what is it that you have to think about now that you own the scarlet and there is another camera out?

Don't get me wrong, the things that Red do sometimes feel a bit backwards, but I just don't get these kind of arguments. You have a very good and capable cinema camera and unless you just buy stuff to put on the shelf for you to look at, you should be making the invested money back without a problem.

November 30, 2018 at 2:01PM

0
Reply

I don't understand how you can't understand what I'm saying. When a camera is end of lifed, the resale takes a hit. American cars used to have 3-4 year product cycles, whereas Mercedes goes on a 7 year cycle. One big exception to American vehicles is the jeep, which has been on a 10 yr product cycle for the past 30 years at least. I sold my 2001 Jeep after 7 or 8 years for a depreciation of $311 a year! Planned obsolescence makes things cost more and depreciate more. Mercedes and Jeep (and Volvo) have unusually high resale values b/c they are around longer.

When something is end of lifed, it's less popular for the resale, causing you to jump so you aren't caught in a depreciation spiral. When the trade in value is crippled, when the produce is changed for negligible benefit, it's just for more income flow to RED. RED owners are caught in a trap of, oh, you gotta get the next thing...and this is no more apparent then the constant posts by RED of "get out your deposit money...you're gonna be blown away by what's next". (They do it constantly---it's super annoying and car salesman-y.) I don't want to do that every few months. It's ridiculous and totally pointless.

Don't get on me about how capable my old Scarlet-W is. Yes, it's great. I love the Scarlet-W as far as it's size and weight and how capable it is for relatively little compared to the more expensive models. I had a RED 1 MX for years, and it was great having something that stayed valid for a long time...but if I played the trade in game all the time, it would've made far less money. Financially, buying a new camera and doing it all over again so quickly, is just unnecessary. I feel like a sucker, I feel like a junkie getting manipulated by my pusher. I just don't want to play that game.

November 30, 2018 at 8:08PM, Edited November 30, 8:12PM

1
Reply
avatar
Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2120

The side effect of this is that I am extremely hesitant to ever invest in a RED. With their Apple-like planned obsolescence and indecipherable array of camera models, it comes across like a very unprofessional company.

Compared to Sony/Canon/Arri, who have had the same mid and high-level cameras for many years now, buying RED is a gamble. If you bought an FS7 in 2014 you're still getting clients to rent it from you. Same for Mini/Amira/Alexa, C300, and F5.

Those cameras were great when they came out a few years ago, and will continue to be great for years to come. That's the type of system I, as a working professional, am going to invest in.

RED is just all over the place, and I can't figure out who would rationalize that they are a company that's going to be worthy of your investment.

November 30, 2018 at 4:25PM

0
Reply
BD
755

Hmmm $20,000 USD for EF mount cinema camera in 2018 or more likely 2019 by the time its actually in your hands is crazy. For the amount of slow motion that you really need you are better off renting and if you really need something more than 120fps aren't you more than likely switching over to a phantom? I just don't understand the pricing. We all know Blackmagic will come out swinging once again at NAB and there will more than likely be an update to the Ursa Mini probably offering a 6K sensor similar to the MAVO LF. Sony will probably update to a 6K FS system as well. Red makes amazing cameras but they are far from
the most easy to use systems. Nothing beats the ergonomics of something like a C200 or the price of the BMPCC 4K. With all of Reds R&D and models
over the years why can't they give us what the general public wants?? A 4K camera for $4K. Even Apple was smart enough in the beginning to realize not everyone wants a top of the line computer. Content is being consumed at an alarming pace and essentially it would be nice if that content wasn't shot on a 5D mark III. What we need is a red camera with their color science in a small, compact, proper audio/video inputs, cheap media and weather sealed. Imagine a 1DX II with raw, it would tick so many boxes for this new generation of content creators.

November 30, 2018 at 5:21PM

28
Reply
Ted
99

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!

December 1, 2018 at 5:06AM

1
Reply
avatar
Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
1057

It seems more tempting to get a used Arri Alexa for 10k... You get a more user-friendly interface, and an image quality that can rival shooting on film. It's the digital camera of choice, standardly used on films, TV shows, and commercials (and now I sound like an ad too)

December 1, 2018 at 12:02PM

4
Reply
avatar
David Barrington
Videographer
163

And you can get a decent rental rate on any flavor of Alexa you bring to a project. It's an investment that pays itself off. I don't think the same can be said for RED products.

December 2, 2018 at 4:40PM

0
Reply
BD
755

And here I was thinking story mattered... The scary truth is this: No One Cares what camera you used. Hell most folks will watch a poorly composed over exposed film with a great story and compelling characters over a beautifully shot film on the newest sensor.

The viewer wants to be entertained. No amount of pixels or "K's" will make a crap story better. In fact, I find it annoying seeing all the BEAUTIFUL terrible films (shorts and features) knowing that there are wonderful filmmakers out there who get scared thinking they MUST have the BEST camera. Silly.

December 1, 2018 at 6:30PM

2
Reply
Chriss Williams
Film Professor
180

THIS, so much.

December 1, 2018 at 8:44PM

2
Reply
avatar
Chris Santucci
Cinematographer
259

Someone brings this up in every comment section or forum where cameras, lenses, gear, etc. are being discussed. No one is saying that a good camera will fix a bad story. Cinematography is an artistic process and having a better camera can certainly affect the overall project. Imagine if The Revenant had clipped hilights because having the BEST camera was silly. If gear doesn't matter, if image quality doesn't matter (let's be honest, the camera has a big impact on image quality), if all that matters is story then then we should all just settle on a "good enough" camera and call it a day (the GH2 is only a couple hundred bucks now). Heck, while we're at it, why even bother with theaters when we can get the gist of a great story on our phones.

December 2, 2018 at 12:25AM

0
Reply

Yes. I sure remember viewers thanking God there were no "clipped highlights" in the Revenant. And yes. I bet if it were shot with a GH2, it STILL would have been a great film because you had one of the best directors, actors and cinematographers telling a riveting story.

IF you think it was successful because of Arri, you are wrong.

To be clear, I do not discount the value of cameras or your point. Core competencies are at the heart of what I teach. But having learned and taught since the days of Super 8, I stand by the simple idea that story matters more than ANYTHING.

But your jump to "nothing matters" is off. Everything matters. It's just that somethings matter more.

And, as I've said, story matters most.

But regarding your idea of just watching good enough on our phones- well, I think we know what the folks want and care about with that.

Most of this exists because telling compelling stories is hard, it's MUCH easier to master the technical rather than story, performance, and where to put the camera to capture he first two.

December 2, 2018 at 10:04AM

0
Reply
Chriss Williams
Film Professor
180

The fact that story is considered the most important element does not reduce the importance of all the other elements. Cinema, as we all know, is a collaborative medium where numerous crafts all form together to create a singular work of art. If one is arguing against the type of camera used, one might as well argue against premium lenses, using large orchestras for the musical score, makeup on the actors, etc. Where does one draw the line?

Every story is different and yes, some stories are told better with better equipment. I would use Barry Lyndon as an example with Kubrick’s use of the F .7 Nasa lens to capture real candlelight and preserve the “natural patina and feeling of the old castles at night as they actually were”. Could Kubrick have told this story without these lenses? Absolutely. But each decision surrounding the WAY one tells the story adds or detracts to the way a viewer EXPERIENCES the story, whether they are conscious of it or not. Because a viewer does not notice clipped highlights doesn’t mean it isn’t impacting their viewing experience in some way they cannot define. Stating that “no one cares what camera you used” isn’t really an argument. In fact, a good camera might capture more dynamic range and more effectively represent the capabiltiies of human vision up on the screen, and therefore get out of the way of the viewer so that they don’t even notice the camera. This is a good thing. In this example, a good camera is getting out of the way of the story and presenting less obstacles that may distract viewers from the story.

So yes, we all know story is extremely important and without it you have nothing. But I disagree that nobody cares what camera is being used. It is the primary tool that makes cinema even possible. And without it, you don’t even have a film. You have a play.

December 2, 2018 at 11:24AM

3
Reply
avatar
Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
724

Huh? You jumped to thinking I'm saying one doesn't need a camera at all. What did I say that makes you think this? Obviously, a visual artist needs tools. That you seem to read my comment this way is odd.

Still, I think you miss the point. Your reference to Kubrick is case in point. Do you think that film succeeds only because of those lenses? I don't think so. It's technical achievement is surely awesome. But your comment about the lenses begs the question:

Tell me, what camera was used to shoot Kubrick's great film, "Paths of War"? What lenses? Folks only know about Barry Lyndon because folks talk about it, not because you saw it and said, "DAMN those were some lenses." We know it was shot by candlelight because EVERYONE knows that- it's part of the basic Kubrick mythology.

You then go on to detail exactly why the camera is just a part of the process. I agree. But it is just not the most important part, which is story.

As I said, I don't disagree with you on the larger issue that tech matters, but it should NEVER deter an artist from telling his or her story.

IF the story is strong enough, folks will go see it even if it's shot on an iPhone.... And a good DP can shoot something on an iPhone and make it look good. A bad DP cries because they don't have an Alexa.

December 2, 2018 at 12:03PM

2
Reply
Chriss Williams
Film Professor
180

Hear, hear! You took the words out of my mouth. Nobody wants to invest in content and performance, let alone composition, lighting and audio.

December 7, 2018 at 7:13AM

1
Reply
Mano Guha
Producer, DP, Gaffer
86

3 years after I spent $20K on my Epic M-X upgrade, Red told me I needed to upgrade because they wouldn't be able to guarantee parts would be available for my Epic. So much for “Obsolescence Obsolete.” As with computers, I will buy used from now on when I have a need for it.

December 1, 2018 at 8:43PM

1
Reply
avatar
Chris Santucci
Cinematographer
259

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Entry level my ass... also the fact that their "Mini-Mags" cost $1850 ea. is the deal breaker for me.

December 2, 2018 at 5:54AM, Edited December 2, 5:58AM

0
Reply
avatar
Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
1057

There's ALWAYS a lot to say on this forum when Red comes out with something lol.

December 2, 2018 at 10:17PM

0
Reply
avatar
Dantly Wyatt
Musical Comedy & Content Creator.
774

To make memorable this holiday with ur friend by watching best movies for free of cost on ur andorid visit: titanium apk

December 3, 2018 at 3:32AM

0
Reply
zomato
13

A Red One MX 4K is a very good entry level option costing less than 8k even at its fully rigged configuration.

I recently shot a feature with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera with Rokinon primes with amazing results. Tiny format and at 1.2k it is a bang for every buck.

December 7, 2018 at 7:02AM

1
Reply
Mano Guha
Producer, DP, Gaffer
86