April 13, 2020

RED Reveals Komodo Will Have Touchscreen Phase Detection Autofocus

Is the RED Komodo inching closer to its final release? 

Over the weekend Jarred Land of RED posted on Instagram about the phase detection autofocus capabilities of the Komodo, saying the firmware build is "coming along nicely" but RED engineers still have "miles to go to make this new AF perfect."

Judging by the clip, it's already in a pretty sweet spot. 

RED first teased Komodo back in July of 2019, but there's no doubt plans for the camera have been well underway for much longer.

Since the initial series of Facebook posts, specs about Komodo have trickled in, including its 6K sensor, displayglobal shutter mode, anamorphic support, and its wireless video module, among others. 

The Steven Soderbergh feature Let Them All Talk used Komodo, and it has been in the hands of many other high profile filmmakers. More recently, the short clip above of Brad Pitt was shot with Komodo. But the biggest hint that it could be coming soon is that RED released the dimensional drawings for third-party developers. 

Here's what we know so far at Komodo:

  • It will not replace DSMC2
  • It does not have a Monstro, Helium, Gemini, or Dragon sensor 
  • It has a new 6K sensor 
  • It's not full-frame or large format, but similar to Kodak's Super 35mm 3-Perf 
  • 4K SDI output (either 12G or 6G)
  • No XLR ports but 3.5mm audio inputs for a microphone and a headphone
  • Will not record to proprietary media
  • Will record CFast cards 
  • There will be a wireless video module 
  • The display is touchscreen 
  • Phase Detection Autofocus
  • Features a Canon RF mount, no fixed lens
  • Box design, no dimension longer than 4 inches
  • Cost will be around $5000

While autofocus was planned for Komodo, the video confirms the display will be touchscreen and will integrate phase detection autofocus. The Komodo will be RED's first camera with autofocus, which may not seem like a big deal to some, but adding autofocus to REDCODE RAW is going to make this camera interesting. Building an autofocus system from the ground up can't be easy, so I can see why Land mentioned RED still has miles to go. 

The video showed the autofocus took about a second to focus on one image to the next, so there is some room for improvement. Though I kind of like the lag. It's doesn't have that digital feel to it. It seems more natural as if a hand did the rack focus over a processor. But Land, if you're reading, what lens are you using? The focus breathing on the lens is noticeable. I'm hoping that it's the lens and not part of the autofocus system itself. Tell us below? 

You can also see in the images above the icons for Komodo's dual battery system, the wireless video module, and that its 6K will be a 17:9 aspect ratio, similar to Canon EOS C500 MK II. Not sure why the dual battery system is not being talked about more, but I think it's a great feature. One battery to power the camera, another to power accessories through D-tap. Hot-swappable without powering down. All solid features if part of the release. 

In the mirrorless world, the major players are somewhat known for specific things. The Sony alpha series is good at full-frame IBIS, Canon is exceptional at autofocus, Nikon has great glass, Panasonic has robust internal codecs, and its S1H can just about do everything well. That's what I'm hoping for with Komodo – a camera that Frankenstein's what each camera manufacturer does well and adds RED's compressed RAW with a battery that doesn't die in 30 minutes. The fact that it's Super 35 doesn't bother me. ARRI will be releasing a new Super 35 camera soon, and it's still my preferred shooting format unless a client specifies otherwise. 

It would be surprising not to see Komodo come out in 2020, but at this point, your guess is good a mine. What do you think of latest Komodo specs? Tell us in the comments below.      

Your Comment

11 Comments

Was ready to bash this product as a wannabe Z-CAM at 50 times the price... but $5000 is pretty good. :)

April 13, 2020 at 6:31PM

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Red starting prices are like Tesla starting prices. You dont buy it at stock. You always upgrade and buy options. Want a memory card? Proprietary. Want XLR audio? That module costs 25% the price of an entire BlackMagic 4k cinema camera... Likely at léast...

But - will clients pay more for you to bring your Red? Does it make the price back from production rental fees?

Thats kinda the business model. And thats their choice so no hard feelings.

I am happy they are pushing the industry forward with AF. That pushes BlackMagic (and others) to invest into useable AF. Even if just for basic shoots would be nice.

Plus... You are shooting on a Red!

Travis Johansen
Minneapolis, MN
http://www.minneapolisvideoproducer.com

April 16, 2020 at 10:05AM, Edited April 16, 10:07AM

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Travis Johansen - Minneapolis
Director of Photography & Producer
207

Rf mount would have been good on the pocket 6k. Hope mounts go
In this direction.

April 13, 2020 at 9:46PM

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cee dee
179

100% agree about RF mount and using Sony NP style batteries like their grip. But hey - if you buy the grip then you get more power. Still everyone complains which is kinda funny.
Especially the 4k for like $1500... Or 6k raw at what... $2500?
I own both and they each have their place.

April 16, 2020 at 10:01AM

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Travis Johansen - Minneapolis
Director of Photography & Producer
207

There aren't any RF cinema lenses with AF that I know of, so it's not surprising to see focus breathing.

April 13, 2020 at 11:52PM

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Will the AF track? Because touchscreen AF is of limited use if it can't track. It's good for shooting locked down, static shots where the subject doesn't move. Which is basically a scenario where I don't need AF at all.

April 14, 2020 at 10:57AM

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Derek Doublin
Director, Cinematographer, Large Scale Artist
766

It is what I was looking for, but the price will play an important role. Watch my photography related video tutorials @ Morphix TV. Your feedback is appreciated.

April 14, 2020 at 12:01PM, Edited April 14, 12:06PM

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I have to disagree with two points.

“I kind of like the lag.”
But... there *wasn’t* any lag! The focus begins to rack the moment the screen is touched. And it would look weird if it refocussed instantly. (Presumably, they will let the user choose rack speed.)

“It seems more natural as if a hand did the rack focus over a processor.”

Urgh, NO! It’s slow but (for the moment) looks horribly digital! It's a linear rack with no natural curve to the start or end of the focus-pull. And the end overshoots and backtracks. It’s a great work in progress, but it’s not the things you’re saying here!

April 16, 2020 at 8:52AM, Edited April 16, 8:53AM

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Alex Kalimát
Photographer ~ Filmmaker
106

The 30 second video about AFI movie club - you didnt give much context for it. You mentioned global shutter / features then the video. What am i missing?
How is that video related to the article. Generally I trust if you embed a video it is related to the content but is NoFilmSchool literally embedding videos just for ads?
Android using chrome.
It wasnt super salesy or long - seemed like a camera test?
Should we not assume videos in blog posts are related from now on?

April 16, 2020 at 9:58AM

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Travis Johansen - Minneapolis
Director of Photography & Producer
207

That video is one of the first official Komodo samples.

April 16, 2020 at 1:03PM

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Rakesh Malik
Director of Photography/Colorist
106

"The Komodo will be RED's first camera with autofocus..."
Not true. Since the introduction of the DSMC2 line, the RED have AF, but it doesn't work, meaning, it's not accurate. They have several types of AF and AF detection areas but all of them are useless, since in the majority of the cases it misses focus completely (regardless the mount used, lens or even available light or subject contrast/texture. It's a feature that is in the specs but no one can use.
Let's hope that with this new camera, the Af becomes something that works reliably and that RED do not forget all the previous RED owners and make this function working for all the other cameras with a firmware release.

April 16, 2020 at 10:54AM

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