The RED V-RAPTOR and V-RAPTOR XL 8K now come with S35 sensors. Here’s everything you should know.
RED’s DSMC3 line of cameras continues to evolve with two (technically one) new additions to the series. With its older cameras now discontinued from production, the DSCM3 series is the next step for RED.
Today, the RED V-RAPTOR and V-RAPTOR XL can now be configured with an 8K Super 35 image sensor, which maintains the same resolution as the full-frame VV version, but at roughly half the size.
But why give up all that sensor real estate? Isn’t a bigger sensor better?
Not The First Super 35 DSMC3
The RED V-RAPTOR and V-RAPTOR XL were originally released with 8K full-frame sensors that, according to RED, delivered 17+ stops of dynamic range.
Both cameras packed all the features necessary for production into a small (or small-ish) form factor that did away with the modular design. The V-RAPTOR XL also offered extra SDI out, GenLock, more power options, an interchangeable lens mount, and a built-in electronic ND filter (a first for RED). It was built to handle anything a set could throw at it.
However, there were some creatives who needed all that oomph, but from a smaller sensor.
Wildlife documentarians and cinematographers wanted to utilize their range of zoom and Super 35 lenses while keeping that 8K resolution. This is where the RED V-RAPTOR RHINO came in, a Super 35 cinema camera that met those requirements. Here's the Rhino in action:
This brings us to the new models from RED. While there has already been a Super 35 V-RAPTOR, the RHINO was a limited release made to support wildlife. The new black version is technically the same camera but is now made for mass production and the narrative market at large.
The RED V-RAPTOR XL 8K S35, however, is all new. Kind of.
It has the same Super 35 sensor as the Rhino and includes all the bells and whistles of the 8K VV version, which technically just makes it the same camera with a different sensor. From what we’re seeing, there isn’t a whole lot of new with these releases, but just an expected evolution of the current camera models.
But the big question is why? Why go with Super 35 when you could just corp into the full-frame sensor instead? Well, that comes down to who (or what) is still king of the hill.
Super 35 is Still King
As much as camera manufacturers want full-frame (or large format for you cinema folks) to become the next standard, traditions are hard to undo.
While it hasn’t been around for as long as cinema in general, the Super 35 frame became so popular, it defined what cinema should look like. Because of that, there are countless Super 35 lenses out in the wild.
From vintage glass to new releases, Super 35 glass is not only more affordable but allows for increased versatility due to its cheaper design and manufacturing costs. That’s why we see so many affordable f/0.95 MFT lenses. The smaller your glass, the cheaper it is to manufacture those types of elements.
The camera itself is also cheaper to make, with the V-RAPTOR costing $17,995 or $7,000 less, and the V-RAPTOR XL coming in at $34,995, which is $5,000 lower.
Finally, the demands of the cinematographer still hold sway among camera manufacturers. Especially with an outfit like RED and ARRI rely on these cinematographers for longevity. Until the creatives demand a larger sensor over the one that made movies what they are, we’ll keep seeing cameras like the ARRI Alexa 35 and the Super 35 versions of the RED V-RAPTOR.
But what do you think? Are you excited to see RED delivering a Super 35 camera? Would you want to use it on your next production? Let us know in the comments!