November 19, 2018

Which RED Cinema Camera is Right for You?

RED Cinema Cameras
Let’s look at RED’s current DSMC2 lineup to find which (if any) is the right option for your film or video project.

RED’s digital cinema cameras seem to have a polarized effect on people in the film and video industry. Groundbreaking when first launched almost 20 years ago. Like founder Jim Jannard’s previous company, Oakley, RED Digital Cinema has been about disruption, brand-heavy aesthetics, and opening up a new, budding technology to the masses.

In a recent event hosted by RED at the Austin Film Society, was able to get a hands-on look on RED’s current DSMC2 lineup and get some insights into their top-of-the-line digital cinema camera offerings. While there’s no reason to suggest going out and buying a RED is a necessity for anyone, if you are looking for a certain value camera that can shoot 8K and utilize REDCODE RAW recording, here are the best current options on the market.

The Top of the Line: RED MONSTRO 8K VV

RED MONSTRO 8K VV

While we didn’t get to go hands-on with the RED MONSTRO 8K in our workshop, RED did show off the impressive list of first run features and series which have been shot on the MONSTRO 8K for Netflix and the like. With a similar sized sensor as the HELIUM (which we did get to try out - more on it below), the MONSTRO boasts up to 17 times more resolution than HD, and over four times than 4K.

  • 35.4 Megapixel CMOS Sensor

  • 40.96 mm x 21.60 mm (Diag: 46.31 mm)

  • 60 fps at 8K Full Format (8192 × 4320)

  • 75 fps at 8K 2.4:1 (8192 × 3456)

  • Price: $54,000

The 8K Offering: RED HELIUM 8K S35

RED HELIUM 8K S35
After having written about the RED HELIUM 8K’s historic voyage to record the first 8K video footage from space, it was cool to check out the HELIUM 8K S35 in person and try it out. RED to their credit has a brand closely aligned with its core film and video base (which does create fanboys) but also shows how much they put into practicality and functionality with their cameras. The RED HELIUM 8K does offer a pretty useful integrated media bay and wireless control setup which was simple and responsive in the demo.  

  • 35.4 Megapixel CMOS Sensor

  • 29.90 mm x 15.77 mm (Diag: 33.80 mm)

  • 60 fps at 8K Full Format (8192 × 4320)

  • 75 fps at 8K 2.4:1 (8192 × 3456)

  • Price: $24,500

The Flexible Option: RED GEMINI 5K S35

RED GEMINI 5K S35
Pegged as the “flexible” option by the RED reps for its dual ISO sensitivity sensor (which does seem quite handy when shooting in less controlled environments). The RED GEMINI 5K S35 hit the closest to home for being a powerful option for documentary-style interviews and run-and-gun shoots. In an already dark studio, the GEMINI 5K showed an impressive low amount of noise when the lights were dimmed. Would need to pull the REDCODE RAW footage into an edit to really get a feel for its flexibility, but was impressed with its performance in the shadows.

  • 15.4 Megapixel Dual Sensitivity CMOS Sensor

  • 30.72 mm x 18 mm (Diagonal: 35.61 mm)

  • 96 fps at 5K Full Format (5120 × 2700)

  • 75 fps at 5K Full Height 1.7:1 (5120 × 3000)

  • Price: $19,500

BONUS: RED Hydrogen One

RED Hydrogen One
We also got a chance to check out the RED Hydrogen One. While we didn’t get enough time with it to offer a proper review (but if you are interested, here are three reviews that haven’t been all that favorable based on some beta samples). For filmmakers, it definitely presents an interesting new avenue for 4K smartphone cinematography, but for many it’s probably not a ready solution - plus while the 3D display is every bit as attention grabbing as advertised, it’s also just as oddly cross-eyeing as reviews have led it to be.

  • OS: Android 8.1 (Oreo)
  • 5.7 inch 3D Display LTPS-TFT
  • 6 GB RAM
  • Rear Camera: 12.3 Megapixel, 4056x3040, LED Flash
  • Front Cameras: 8.3 Megapixel, 3840x2160
  • Video: 4K video recording
  • Price: $1,295

Your Comment

7 Comments

RED's been around for almost 20 years? That's... not possible. Maybe 12 years.

November 19, 2018 at 4:43PM, Edited November 19, 4:43PM

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Patrick Ortman
I tell stories. Sometimes for money. Sometimes, not.
596

I noticed that as well. But that's not the only mistake in the article. The 8K Monstro does not share a sensor with the Helium. They might have the same resolution, but are two completely different sizes, ergo they are not the same sensor or even sensor architecture.

But wait, that's not all! In the Gemeni section, he equates "low distortion" and low light. Ummm, did you mean "noise?"

Finally, the headline has nothing to do with the content. Writing a few vague specs and a couple sentences on each camera doesn't provide very much insight into helping someone decide "which RED cinema camera is right for you?" This site has had some generally useful articles, but this one is all just filler.

November 20, 2018 at 1:26AM

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Kyle Wright
Cinematographer
6

I have to agree with Patrick and Kyle,

Did someone not proof this article?

I was expecting an article with really good talking points about which RED is right for you, the real question is what are you trying to do and is that camera RIGHT for you. . . . . .

-.- but GEMINI is for me :P

November 20, 2018 at 9:39AM

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James Blanco
Filmmaker
84

Classic Jourdan Aldridge article: confusing, inaccurate, pointless. Can someone please check his homework from now on? Between this and the bonkers “mirrorless vs dlsr” article he wrote, NFS is on a quick ride to obscurity.

November 20, 2018 at 4:46PM

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Monstro IS A SENSOR. Helium IS A SEPARATE SENSOR. I will admit Red hasn't made it easy in the past but this is as easy as it has ever been to understand the Red camera and sensor lineup.

This article is full of misinformation. It doesn't do what it promises to do in the title. It's too bad this article sucks, I was really curious what writers on this site thought about why filmmakers should choose certain Red cameras.

This article is bad.

November 21, 2018 at 1:06PM, Edited November 21, 1:06PM

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Andrew Lewis
Writer/Director/Producer
173

Do you still have to buy proprietary RED media and overpriced accessories to get XLR inputs?

What about a viewfinder, is that included or do you have to buy one separately?

November 21, 2018 at 6:09PM, Edited November 21, 6:09PM

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BD
626

Forgot to mention the M42 lens mount.

November 23, 2018 at 4:18PM

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Chris Santucci
Cinematographer
280