If you’ve worked in the film and video world for long enough, you’ve probably encountered those engaged in the age-old debate on whether or not serious cinematographers should use autofocus. Usually, the more seasoned and professional a DP is, the less likely they are to be keen on autofocus, as they would generally prefer to set all of their focus manually either themselves or with a focus puller on set.

However, for the newer, more DIY generation of video creators, the merits of autofocus have become more pronounced both thanks to technology improvements which have made AF technology much faster and smarter, while crews have become smaller and often need to be more nimble. Autofocus can be a great tool to help a filmmaker or content creator keep their subject safely in focus so that the person behind the camera can concentrate on other tasks.

With great fanfare to some, whereas annoyance to others, the RED Digital Cinema company has released a new beta firmware update to its flagship camera line, the V-RAPTOR 8K VV family, which will unlock new face-detection autofocus, plus other new tweaks and features.

Face-Detection Autofocus with the RED V-RAPTOR

So, while there are a few other features to this new beta firmware update, let’s focus on the big one here which is the face-detection autofocus. Known for their high-end cinema capabilities and adored by loyal DPs and filmmakers who use their RED cameras for a variety of professional shoots, RED has been careful about rolling out these AF features just to beta to start.

But, with a 35.4MP sensor powering these V-RAPTOR cameras, the data depth has always been there to provide incredibly fast and accurate autofocus whenever RED chooses to implement it. With this new beta firmware update, RED will officially add face-detection autofocus to those interested in checking it out.

This new firmware update will also introduce an auto-update feature so that any further updates can be automatically applied to your camera as well, although it appears that RED is giving users the ability to toggle this on or off if they’d like to wait and see with many of these new features.



Credit: RED

Other Firmware Updates

This firmware is also set to include some advanced playback controls, RED Connect updates and even a new remote shutdown command. You can check out the full list below:

  • Added Face Detection Beta for Auto Focus
  • Added In-camera Online Firmware Upgrade method
  • Added Advanced Playback Controls
  • Added RED Connect SMPTE 2110 support
  • Added RED Connect Return Feed support
  • Added RED Connect NMOS support
  • Added multiple Calibration management
  • Added ISO Display Mode Gain (dB)
  • Added Remote Shutdown command
  • Added UDP discovery
  • Added Web UI for S3 credentials
  • Added clip name to HANC data during playback
  • Added DSMC3 RED Touch 7" 5.5.0beta firmware
  • Added DSMC3 RED Touch 7" GIO Scope Interface (5.50beta)
  • Added ability to disable DSMC3 RED Touch 7" Page System (5.5.0beta)
  • Added edit list functionality to DSMC3 RED Touch 7" (5.5.0beta)
  • Optimized RCP outgoing messages
  • Improved PTP locking
  • Improved playback transition on DSMC3 RED Touch 7" (5.5.0beta)

However, the big headline here is the face-detection autofocus, a feature which we’ll surely see plenty of examples of with reviews and tutorials online here in the next few weeks and months. Plus, undoubtedly some praise and criticism from various factions as well.

How to Download

You can download the new beta firmware update from RED’s website here. To install the firmware update you can follow the steps below:

  1. Copy upgrade.bin to a /upgrade directory on the CFexpress card.
  2. Power up the camera and insert a CFexpress card into the V-RAPTOR media slot.
  3. Go to Menu > Maintenance > Upgrade and select OK.
  4. The camera starts the upgrade process which will automatically restart the camera.
  5. Go to Menu > System Settings > System Status > Camera Info to verify the firmware version after the camera boots.