To buy a Scarlet or not to buy, that is the question…

20
Nov
2011
Share Button



ethics statement: my opinion is my own. I have never been under contract with any camera manufacturer nor will I. Impartiality is key. Without it then what is the point in writing something like this? These are my thoughts. My experiences and always take them as such. Never base any purchasing decision on one single person’s opinion!

Don’t forget you can win incredible prizes like Adobe CS5.5, Kessler Shuttle Pod, Zacuto EVF by donating £10 or more to fund Prostate cancer research in my HUGE MOVEMBER giveaway. Click here for more!!

I feel this is a really important blog post, as I am reading in so many places some worryingly ill-informed comments from people. It’s less worrying when it’s about a GH2 or T2i that cost less than $1k, but when we are talking about AT LEAST 10 times that I think it’s important that I put down my thoughts about this exciting new camera that is perfect for some but not for all…The Scarlet is now out in the big wide world, so it’s about time I wrote this!

First off, and this is the biggie: Buying a Scarlet is NOT going to make you a better filmmaker. It is NOT going to make your camerawork any better. It WILL cost you more than many of you think, financially. So I just want to put down the facts on paper, so you can make a better informed choice and I also want to give my opinions…less important than facts but maybe worth listening to! These facts are gathered from my own experience as a RED Epic owner for the past 5 months…

First off I love my Epic. The images out of it are so beautiful. I also swear at my Epic more than I have ever cursed another camera…why? Because it goes wrong. The reliability is not the same as any other camera I have owned. Nothing close. But, this is expected (and effin annoying!). The Epic is effectively a BETA camera. When you buy this you need to know this. It’s constantly getting better and improving. In the latest Beta firmware we finally have HDMI working (but not at the same time as the SDI, one or the other. This will change) An alpha release yesterday gave us something essential…playback. BUT it is alpha, so no way am I using this on a shoot. But from my little bit of fiddling with it, I am impressed. Looks great and you can trim and delete clips now. This makes the camera so much better!

So, what is the Scarlet? Well it is not what we were expecting. 2/3″ is gone, now we have an Epic without most of the bells and whistles.

Below is the list of specs…thanks to Phil Holland for these…


So…unlike the Epic, the Scarlet is really a 4k camera, not 5k. 5k can only be achieved at 12 fps..pretty useless for shooting to be blunt, so you lose out on the APS-H sized sensor goodness. That’s ok…most older PL lenses cannot cover that frame anyway, and EF-S lenses cannot either. At 4k you can record up 25p. That’s OK. 4k is about S35 sized and 24p and 25p are the most important frame rates…but no useable HDR-X here (the ability to record 2 streams to capture extra highlight information). You will only get 12FPS in HDRx at 4k.

Our first usable off-speed is at 3k. We can record up to 48Fps. Now remember, there is no downscaling. This is all done via cropping as you can see above. So 3k is effectively more “zoomed in” than 5k. Your lenses’ field of view will be longer. The more common up to 60FPS can only be achieved via 2k mode which is a 3.24x crop of a full frame sensor. To get the rather yummy 120FPS, we are talking a lower than even 720p resolution of 1k. Not great.

This will change as the quality is improving, but currently the 2k on my Epic is rather ugly. Very blocky looking noise. I wonder what the quality of the 1k will be.

For comparison, this is what my Epic does. The Epic is a lot more money. The body only is almost 3 times the price of the Scarlet body.

5k FF up to 96Fps, HDRx 48FPS,

5K 2.4:1 up to 120FPS. HDRx up to 60dps

3K (with new firmware) up to 150FPS. HDRx I assume up to 75FPS

2K up to 300 FPS

So the EPIC does a lot more frame rates, a lot more high speed, has usable 5k and usable HDRx. Quite a lot that the Scarlet doesn’t do. But of course it doesn’t. If the Scarlet came close to these specs then why would you buy an Epic? The differences are rather huge. So on that note, as a Scarlet user are you being short changed? No, it’s still a sub $20k (with bits) 4k 24p camera that shoots RAW. So it’s still very good, just don’t expect to do much usable, if any off-speed stuff with it.

Now what do you get for your money? The sub $10k price is attractive, but in reality what can you do with it? Nothing. It’s a paperweight. With no recording media, no power supply, no batteries, no cards, no screen it can not even turn on! So what do you need to make the camera work? Well the $14k EF version or the $15.5K PL version contains the bare minimum to get you started.

You get:

The brain,

lens mount

SSD side module

Side handle (essential to hold the red volts and to change menus)

5″ touch screen

2 Red Volts (which will give you no much more than 20-25 minutes of on time each. EDIT I am hearing reports that the Scarlet lasts 35minutes in standby which is better)

1 64gb Redmag (which will give you about 35 or so minutes of record time give or take depending on compression)

Red Station for reading the mags

Red Volt Travel charger.

Is this enough to shoot with…just…barely. Two Red volts that take 25 minutes to discharge and 2 hours + to charge is not great, although you do have an AC adaptor which I didn’t even get with my Epic M package!

To be honest on all my Epic shoots I have come close to filling up all 4 of my 128gb SSD cards, never running out, but close. If I shot a feature doc on them for sure I would run out, unless I compressed the redcode to the max. Each one of those cards costs $1800. Yes, you don’t need that many for some shoots, but unless you have someone on hand to offload for you during the shoot, you are playing with fire not having enough cards. It will grind your production to a halt and cost you time!

4 of those cards is almost $8000!!! That has bumped the price up rather!!

If you run JUST on Red Volts, which I do sometimes, and no AC then you will burn through those batteries like crazy. I have 12 of them which will JUST get me through the day. V mount batteries with ViewFactors V mount adaptor is the most cost effective solution. That is $700 but my IDX batteries power my EPIC for WAYYYY longer than a Red Volt. Still they are not cheap either, nor are the good chargers. Just remember 12 Red Volts=$2340 and that is without extra chargers.BTW I love the full metal jacket cage feature below. It’s fab and adds so many important mounting points to the camera.

Now we are talking, this is enough to do a PROPER days shoot on location. It’s not $10k anymore, nowhere near, it’s a hell of a lot more. I don’t want to scare you with the cost so please do the maths yourself! :)

You don’t need all the cards if you have someone to offload, but be really careful if you go down that path. Those cards take an age to offload! Firewire 800 (obviously faster with Esata) will take around 90 minutes to offload to two drives with my MBP (NEVER offload to just one,two is bare minimum…I recommend 3)…There is a reason the M package comes with 4!! It’s always a worrying thing to do format cards in the middle of a shoot. If you are doing it yourself. Best to get it a dedicated person to do that if you are going down that road…

OK…price out of the way. Why do you want 4k? Future proof? Future proofing is a cool argument if you are shooting a movie, but really? I see no future proofing needed for my work. For me I love the resolution. The ability to re-frame is a great “get out of jail free” card. Also the ability to grab frame grabs which are as good as proper stills is amazing. Downsides? Workflow. Not using a RedRocket card or a crazy specced up PC means LONG conversion times and I mean long. I had one project which was 4 cards take around 3.5 days on my MacBook Pro to convert to ProResHQ (all full debayer 2k 300 fps stuff). I now have a Mobile Red Rocket which is big, bulky and expensive (around $6.5k) and it gives me lovely fast conversion…Just at a cost. Are you watching 4k at home? No…it’s a long way off. Full HD looks amazing and is more than adequate for most work. After all, most scripted TV shows are being shot on the 2k Alexa right now and they look rather splendid!

Re-Framing is cool but must NOT be seen as a way to be a lazy cinematographer. Just because you can do a tight shot crop in post from a wide does not mean you should not get proper coverage. GET THE TIGHT SHOT OPTICALLY! It looks better. Don’t do it and it’s just a downhill slope!

One other thing…the Scarlet is not killer in low light. When it gets the (paid for) upgrade to the Dragon chip maybe next year it will be, until then the chip is old tech first seen in the RED ONE MX update, which is already showing it’s age. It’s great at what it does, it is just not good in low light. Push it past 1250 ISO and you will get a lot of noise. Not surprising given its age and the amount of pixels it has. Until the Dragon remember, the Scarlet, like the Epic is a camera that needs to be lit for. Don’t shoot like you would with your 5DmkII. It needs a lot more light than that, and compared to the F3 it is way inferior.

BUT it does shoot RAW, and once you have worked with RAW you don’t want to work with anything else. I love it. I love the power and flexibility. I just wish it could see more in low light! Pushing the ISO past 800 in the camera is the same as pushing exposure in post. Everything from 800 upwards adds noise…Remember that!!

Who are you and what will this camera give you?

The ability to charge more than with your current camera? Probably, though while it is a RED, it will be seen by clients as the cheap RED, and there will be a lot of them on the market in a few months. This is one popular camera!

But what are you? Are you a production company? A DP? Looking for rental? If you are a production company, I can see a lot of value in this… as a freelance DP, I would not recommend it for all. Renting is far better…and that gets us onto the question of buying one for rent…this will be like the RED one market over-saturation that we had when that came out…maybe even worse. So don’t buy this camera with just rental in mind. Just my opinion.

So all in all, is this the camera for you? Possibly. Weigh up the pros and cons and the costs especially. Working with the Epic is a dream and a massive pain in the butt that almost always pays off in the end. Despite having 3 shoots which have had huge issues with my Epic. Total lockdown on my first commercial, had to be sent back. BAD skipped frames on “Host” making sync a nightmare. On my last piece done for fun, the Redneck Hippie, buzzing all over the audio. I still love the camera and will continue to shoot with it a lot. But this is the first time in 23 years of shooting that I have gone on a job with a camera that I don’t trust. I worry about how reliable the Scarlet will be. I really hope the all the issues will be ironed out so nobody goes through what I have gone through.

My F3…how many times has it gone wrong? Never. How many issues have I had? None.

All I can say is: look at your desire and need for 4k…do you need it now? Is it REALLY necessary? I think the Scarlet has a lot of limitations on it which is fine considering its price, but it’s the price part that is the issue. It is a RED Epic in all but recording frame rates. All the same accessories, same body, same chip (although not as good QC). All the bits you need for the expensive Epic you need for the cheaper Scarlet, and they cost the same price as they work across both cameras.

You may decide to just go with the the bundle and work your way from there. Just remember that you will have to spend more money, a lot more, sooner rather than later.

I honestly don’t think it’s the best camera for everyone. If the C300 was half the price it is, I would say to all go get that, but it isn’t (although to be honest I have not shot on it yet, so am speculating and just going from what I saw).

Remember what I said at the start. It won’t make you shoot any better!!

I will leave you with some of work with my EPIC. I do love that image!

EDIT: I want to address a comment that has come up. Someone wants to use their Ki-Pro mini instead and save on media, but to be honest I don’t see the point…you don’t get the two key selling points of the Scarlet when outputting SDI to the KiPro. No RAW, no 4k. So you get a nice ProRes workflow from a 13.5 stop dynamic range camera, which as I said does not perform well in low light. Doesn’t make much sense to me. Better off going the F3, S-Log route. Better low light, Log recording, 14 stop DR and cheaper…just sayin’. If you get the Scarlet to make the most of it you must record internally…

EDIT: I have cancelled my order for a RED Scarlet.

Bangin’ n Clangin': The Redneck Hippie from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Turin Brakes: Chim Chim Che-ree from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Great Wooden Boats: RED EPIC from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Strongman: RED Epic from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Share Button

Comments

  1. Great review Philip. One thing to keep an eye on is RED said because Scarlet has lower data rates the REDvolts could last quite a bit longer. Tonaci is currently testing this and should have a real world result soon.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      thanks Justin…my concern is my RedVolts don’t get much more than 20-25 minutes of standby time let along record time!

      1. Tonaci just got 36 minutes on standby on Scarlet…so a bit better: http://reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?67129-1st-Scarlet….&p=875431&viewfull=1#post875431

        We often put a v-mount battery on the back of our Epic…the plate only costs about $150-$200 and companies are coming out with ones that go straight into epic (right now we use the b2-b1 adapter cable). This setup easily gives you 1 1/2 – 2 hours per battery. http://www.abelcine.com/store/Switronix-V-type-RED-Battery-Mount-Plate-w.-Lemo-Connector/

        1. Philip Bloom says:

          cheers Justin have updated post…check out the viewfactor plate. it is more money but way neater and requires no rods…i have an rod mounted plate but like you said needs a b2-b1 cable. messy!

          1. Oops, missed that line in your post! I have the Viewfactor on order but I hear Wooden Camera has something similar coming soon as well. Too many options!

  2. Andrew Clemson says:

    Well done Phil, Very useful for people thinking about dipping their toes (and cash) in the RED water.

    People may get frustrated if they spend their savings on a camera that has additional costs behind it (media, power, rocket etc).

    Having said that its still looking like a great camera and I think it will act as a great B camera to an EPIC or even MX that producers and budgets will love.

    Having said that, it could go the other way. I know our EPICs are often requested for the High speed recording alone, so perhaps (unless EPIC rentals end up coming down) the EPIC will settle into a features and specialist field whilst the Scarlet will soak up the Indie and corporate work. 4K at 25fps is no slouch!

    You never know.

    keep up the good work.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      thanks Andrew, appreciate it

      I have a Scarlet on order as a B camera myself. Not sure of the wait time but it was ordered on day of announcement.

  3. Rob says:

    Great article!

    Put me off :P

    I think I will wait a few years before I make this kind of investment. I am still in love with DSLR footage and dont want to start running before I have properly learnt to walk!

    Am excited for this new DSLR from Canon that is in development though. That could be my next “big” spend. Or perhaps the new 1D? hmmm…

    Cheers!

  4. Joel Mielle says:

    Thanks Philip, interesting article, with very thorough and helpful info.

    I myself have just ordered a RED Scarlet, for me 4K is king. If I’m shooting for cinema I need the 2.35:1 ratio. Removing 20% of data from a 16:9 1080P camera to me is utter nonsense. You may as well leave it as 16:9. At $20K Canon have lost the plot!

    At the end of the day, most projectors are 2K, so with 4K if I remove 20% of data I still retain more than 3K which still allows me to recrop my picture should I need to. I am scared though, very very scared about the problems the Epic has had. But hopefully RED has been working on Scarlet for long enough to make it reliable, I’m sure it’s been through vigorous testing. Only time will tell.

    As for price, my (barely usable)package is costing me with Australian TAX and postage just under $18K. A far cry from $10K, I wish people would stop calling it a sub $10K camera as it’s not! And I’m sure I’ll be spending another $10K to get it up to scratch. So anyone thinking of buying a Scarlet, look at the real costs. To me it’s a $20K camera, but it is a 4K camera with RAW, and one has my name on it.

  5. J Davis says:

    Hey Philip, you never touched on a really important thing and that is the use of a ki pro mini, ninja or samurai to record prores or DNxHD off the HDMI. A ninja at $1000 changes the whole post pipeline for the camera. Especially if you are running off dynacore and vmount and using a small-hd

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      what’s the point though?

      You get an inferior camera in low light, you lose the ability the shoot 4k and you don’t have RAW anymore. Makes zero sense to me. The whole point is the 4k and RAW. Without that what have you got?

      1. J Davis says:

        you get the red DR and still hand off prores to the client without eating the time-cost for debayer

        1. Philip Bloom says:

          don’t get it…why bother? sure you get 13.5 stops but that is it. You are FAR better off with that plan in getting an F3 with S-Log. 14 stops dynamic range and log recording to kipro. No RAW, No 4k. The reasons why people should look at the Scarlet.

          1. J Davis says:

            I meant it as an option for those clients that want easy edit deliverables then use RAW for your own personal projects – well this was what I was planning to do.

            1. Philip Bloom says:

              of course. as long as you use the RAW and 4k sometimes otherwise it would be like buying a Porsche and using it to go to the supermarket only!

              1. J Davis says:

                lol – to buy a porsche, or not to buy. Thats really the key isn’t it? Are most porsche owners going to use all that porsche-ness or are they making a lot of supermarket runs? I’ve got lots of thinking to do and BTW – I never thanked you for your blog post (which I agree with).

      2. chris says:

        I wonder though, Philip. I have not shot with Epic, but can you record internal 4k and simultaneously shoot the the KiproMini out of SDI? Aja just released and update to mirror the names of the red files. If you can record both at once, couldn’t you use the KiproMini’s footage as sort of a proxy file?

    2. I’ve been thinking the same thing. Since I can’t really afford to have TOO many cameras, using a seperate ProRes recorder would give me the flexibility for different projects. I often hear about using the right camera for the right job (and the over-used “horses for courses” phrase) but I like the flexibility of using the right media for the right job.

      What about going back to the off-line editing model? Use the ProRes for off-line and web productions, using the 4K RAW for online and archive.

  6. Andrew Clemson says:

    Yeah, you and me both. Was working an overnight shoot so from 4:30AM onward was furiously hitting refresh. Got through just before the server crash, so lets see. Apparently they gave priority to the 300 People at the event in the states.

    Im hoping that first production run ships 500 cams plus, but until then, we always have the EPIC!

  7. Nels Chick says:

    Thanks Philip. I’ve heard of the RED-ache. The cropped sensor thing bites, but thems the breaks. I’m psyched to rent a Scarlet, but I’m one who is much less likely to buy one. For now the FS100 is my camera of choice, the best combination of cost and function for me. I wish I could just adjust my EOS lens apertures with it (sounds like Scarlet can do that, and more). Thanks for being a voice of reason for the indie film-maker.

  8. Nick D says:

    So can we call it the new “BETA”Cam

    (I trademarked that…)

    In all seriousness, I am not pleased about the lack of detailed information on the camera, no public opertion guide yet, and does the HDMI and HD-SDI output which many of us plan on using for non-Red prores recorders and external monitors work simultaneous with proper display?

  9. Frisby1999 says:

    Thanks for posting this. I had to search all over the web the day it was officially announced to gather all of this info, and now you put it all in one tidy place.

    After seeing the Scarlet and C300’s price tags, I decided (after watching your comparisons) that the Sony NEX-FS100 will be my next camera. 1080p at 60fps sold me (on top of that awesome sensor). Combined with my 7D and XHA1(and their respective back up cams the T2i and HV40), I should be solid. I don’t think the 1Dx or elusive 5D Mark III will compare to a Sony and 7D combo. At least, I hope not.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      FS100 is a lovely camera!

      1. Frisby1999 says:

        Yes. Everything I have seen has been amazing. I sometimes forget how valuable your info videos can be. No one else has a comprehensive FS100 video. For that, I owe you a beer next time your in Florida. ;)

      2. Matt Davis says:

        +1 on FS100, still remarkable value and a capable little camera. 3rd Nov could have seen it disappear into oblivion if the C300 was half the price, but nice pictures, lego-brick form factor, antithesis of Scarlet (1 day per battery, ”video appliance’ reliability, easy-peasy post workflow).

        Thanks for a VERY realistic breakdown on Red ownership. Less Red-envy, more loving what we’ve got.

    2. Bryant Naro says:

      Same setup for me…I’m absolutely loving the FS100. Thanks for the post Philip, I feel even better about my FS100 purchase after reading this.

  10. Phil Holland says:

    Good points Philip. The decision was fairly easy for me, especially since I’m heavily invested in Canon and other still camera glass. I’ve been working with 4k since 1999 via scanned S35 film which was typically scaled down to 2k. It’s 2011, and while Scarlet X with accessories is a hefty investment, it will keep me working in features by providing something at a price point we currently can’t really get anywhere else. 2012 we will see the debut of 4k broadcast. No camera is future proof, but I won’t actually need to replace Scarlet X in two or three years. I will likely want/need to upgrade to “Dragon” though, maybe even buy an Epic. In terms of a business plan, people usually hire me plus my kit rental (if they don’t provide the gear themselves). I’ll have my investment paid off fairly quickly and I’ll be able to eat sushi again :)

  11. Tony Segreto says:

    Great Article brother! I like your mixture of endorsement and skepticism. I think that with now have 3 separate price brackets for 4k imagery, shooting in 4k will become much more popular, and shooting in 720/1080 will become ousted fast. I feel that now most people are just sending RED footage off to Prores and not dabbling in raw/4k, I see it ALL the time. Once the majority of producers and shooters understand the potentials of 4k and RAW processing, it really will spread like wildfire and will be viable for camera rental budget ranges from $600-$2500

  12. It may sound silly, but the way you describe all the gear you have to ad-on just to make the RED cameras usable, plus dealing with storing and editing 4 and 5k footage, it seems the RED line of cameras is more in line with film cameras; film cameras that shoot digital. It’s all a bit much unless the project really calls for it.

    If I was shooting a short or feature film and I really wanted to shoot 4 or 5k footage, I’d be more drawn to shoot film and make a digital transfer. At least film cameras aren’t still in the beta stage.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      yes and no…there is no huge stock cost that is involved with film and processing. you buy the media and the ability to edit them and bang you are there for all your productions…

      1. nicjustice says:

        There is also the cost of storing your footage “stock” so there isn’t as much savings in film vs digital.

  13. Sam says:

    Philip, great post, thanks a lot.

    Kind of unrelated but have you (or anyone here) gotten to play around with the new Sony a77 or a65? I haven’t seen any good reviews from a pure film perspective and am just wondering how they stack up.

    Thanks again!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      a77 review coming soon!

      1. Sam says:

        AWESOME!!! Thanks!

  14. Daniel says:

    Hey Phillip,

    It’s sort of off topic, but I was wondering your opinion on the “kill 24p” movement. It’s sort of demoralizing to see so many people voice negative things about it; to me anyways cause I love 24p and frankly don’t care much for 60p.

    Just curious to your thoughts.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      i love 24/25p and hate 50p/60p look

      1. Jeremy Dylan says:

        This warms my heart.

      2. Daniel says:

        Bless you.

        I can’t help by gag when I see it. At least in a “cinema-esque” setting. There’s just too much to look at.

        30p is as High as I go.

        Do you think the 60p movement will ever take over Hollywood the way they want to?

        1. Matt says:

          The Hobbit is being shot at 48p. I think they know what they’re doing. We will see! :D

  15. Frank Bach says:

    BUT there is another great thing about a “DMSC” like the Scarlet oder the Epic…

    You can use it with lenses that cost just a fraction of what traditional cinema-grade lenses cost.
    With the Canon-mount people from the world of DSLRs finally will stop complaining that lenses cost way more than the body itself.

    With that in mind, I am far away from owning an Epic or even a Scarlet.

    But I am happy now that I can hold onto my nice and loved Canon L glasses and even far cheaper glass, even the once with crop-factor.
    Tokina 11-16mm… Sigma 30mm 1.4… – it will look ridicolous to put these things on those cameras.

    Greetings,
    F.B.

  16. quobetah says:

    Thanks for these thoughts Phillip, one of the most honest and “sensible” articles I’ve read about RED Scarlet X. I’m one of those drooling for this camera and some of the revelations you said in this article kinda weakened some of my lust for this product. And I thank you for that.

    I am excited though what your thoughts on the latest Sonys though, as i was thingking for the A77 they actually matched some of the Scarlet X’s framerates..even surpass it.

    Sony Alpha A77 – real RAW images at 12fps but at 6K! Scarlet only at 5K
    Both has 13 stops dynamic range.
    Both shoot 1080p at 60fps.

    Is’nt it awesome, how much Sony could potentially be as powerful as a scarlet, if only someone could hack it? Maybe it can record 4K at 60fps thru accelerated image bursts..and you’d get REAL RAW images!:D Maybe even 2K at 120fps. Assuming that it can buffer in 12shots of 24megapixel RAW shots means its processor might have enough throughput to do more.

    Still waiting for your Sony A77/65/Nex7/5N evaluations though..you said you were excited about them too.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      no nex7 yet but a77 soon…

      1. Daniel says:

        Will you be reviewing the Sony VG20?

  17. John Rambo says:

    Honestly I wasn’t much of a fan of yours before and I thought you were somewhat of sell out but now that I’ve read more of your stuff you seem to be very honest in your opinions (counting out the sponsored stuff hehe). It’s damn refreshing to hear a honest opinion about these “best cameras ever”.

    EPIC is great if you shoot 5K, but 2K and below is crap. There are cameras under 1k$ that shoot sharper and more detailed 1080p than EPIC or Scarlet at 2K.

  18. Mark says:

    Thanks for the article Phil, I’ve been trying to rationalise a Scarlet purchase (especially before the price hike kicks in next year) but the more I’ve weighed things up the harder I find it to justify – I think this has helped me finally make peace with that decision.

    Being able to zoom and reframe shots with 4K is a wonderful, wonderful thing (which can offer some considerable time savings on set), but I just don’t think the other workflow hassles justify those benefits for my shooting needs.

    The lowlight abilities of the F3, FS100, C300 simply seem the smarter option for the present (given the lighter lighting kit they’d allow me to cart around).

    And having now seen the external recorder/ProRes workflow in action I think I’m in love with that idea more than I am Red’s resolution.

    I think an FS-100 and Atomos Ninja are now going to be the route I head.

    Thanks again.

  19. Robert Anthony says:

    Will Image Stabilization work when using Canon I.S. Lenses on the EF Mount Scarlet-X? The Canon C300 doesn’t appear to have this feature.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Yes it will and am certain the C300 will do it too.

  20. Great post. Several Scarlets are on their way here to Austin, and unfortunately people (singles/non-rental companies) are particularly buying them for rental to others, and they didn’t know a word about battery life or SSD capacity. Or, it was overlooked. They just jumped on the 14k price package and started spitting prices, with only those 2 batteries…
    I fear there will be an over-saturation in this city certainly and the little rental houses such as Mopac Media will just die. Thanks for all the info Philip.

  21. Stephane says:

    Philip, you love so much RAW for the ability to push the grading ?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      yes, because I can do so much in post that I adore it.

  22. Great important post and great read…

    I myself, if had the money would prob get the C300….LOVE what the EPIC can do but for price point..the C300 seems the better way to go.

    I still can’t produce the quality (content, not picture quality) cinematographers put out with the DSLR’s so I am happy still learning that curve first… before i go crazy and spend on a Scarlet or C300.

    I will def rent one if we get em soon and have fun with it, or a few headaches haha.

    To be honest…like Ive said before. I still think a lot of us are still spoilt for choice with DSLR’s. I remember running around with my HVX and 35 adapter (Nightmare, ha)

    try not to stress about the Scarlet like I’m trying not to, ha…unless your putting things out on the big screen, theres no need for it yet.

  23. Delano says:

    Interesting article. But I have one question, why would you ever go in to job with a camera you can’t rely on. I mainly direct commercials, and my producer would never put a camera on set that isn’t a 100% reliable.
    The agency and client wouldn’t like it either when they’re paying a few 100 grand.

    We test cameras and lenses, for insurance purposes, and peace of mind. Every piece of equipment we use is expensive, because it has to work flawlessly over and over again.

    I hardly know anyone who owns their own camera. The prod. Company rents the camera me and the dop decide on. For a very good reason.

    And when shooting digital or film, it’s mostly an Arri.

    If you have so many reliability issues with a Red, why would you use it on a big commercial shoot and have client and a big crew waiting? Unless you have multiple bodies so you can switch.

    If it was any other piece of equipment that behaved this way, we wouldn’t call it professional.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      exactly. it’s a huge problem.I have not done a commercial shoot on my Epic since my problems. I did use it for a documentary but i also had the F3 there. I need my confidence to be restored.

  24. george says:

    Just wanted to thank you for informing me on the Red Scarlet. I was really interested in spending the cash to buy one, but after reading all cons (or whatever you want to call them), it really put it in perspective on how much I would really have to spend.

    When it goes from a $10,000 paperweight setup, to being around $13,000 for a barebone setup, then to $18,000 (give or take) for a reasonable setup, that drew the line on me picking one up. From previous interviews I’ve seen on YouTube, the Red Scarlet was suppose to be $6,500 for a paperweight setup, which would of been great to pick up a reasonable setup for around $10-12,000. I’ll probably just stick with my 7D, or upgrade to a 5D MKII.

    Thanks again.

  25. Ariel G says:

    I must be the only guy in the world who say it but…

    I REALLY think the RED thing is plain rubbish. I’m talking about resolution, workflow, cost/benefits ratio, fan boy ceremonies… etc etc.

    At some point I wanted to write an article (for whomever want to read it) about my opinion of the resolution war… but I thought: WTH… what for ?
    My really short summation of this really long article is like so :

    The film industry is undergoing – as of now – exactly what the audio industry was going through in 2003/4.
    96kHz audio resolution was THE thing. people went bananas just talking about it. then came 192kHz and people drooled over it. the years went by… and 8 years (!) later, we are STILL recording/playing at 44.1kHz. the “elite” records at 96kHz (haven’t heard about 192kHz recording) and then “down coverts” to 44.1kHz (the benefits of this action was – and still is – highly debateable) .

    DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) cannot process files @96kHz without resoting to MASSIVE amouts of horsepower. 192kHz is way off – for the foreseeable future.

    The Film/Video industry is undergoing the EXACT same process (pun not intended). people are willng to sacrify their name/workflow/bank accounts for the sake of the “Shot with [Choose Your Brand Here]” label.

    “Buying a Scarlet is NOT going to make you a better filmmaker”.
    Yes, that was the idiom back at 2004 : “Buying an SSL/Neve/API/[Choose your vintage audio gear here] – is NOT going to make you a better musician”.
    That’s right, you will not be a better filmmaker but being an avarage filmmaker with a RED… umm…WILL make you a “better” filmmaer – by the virtue of the fact that you can state : “I-HAVE-SHOT-THIS-WITH-RED !! ”

    At the end, just remember what are the MOST POPULAR playback means : both in film/video and audio. in the former, it is youtube/vimeo/computer screen. in the latter, iPod/MP3 players. what does it mean ? I guess you know the answer yourself…

    One more thing about resolution : MORE IS NOT BETTER.
    I simply HATE all the detail I am given by those “Neo” cameras. our brain CANNOT cope with all those distracting details. it simply cant. your brain have to “choose” if it wants to “see” the story… or see the visual details. it can’t do BOTH. don’t believe me ? try to watch an AMAZINGLY detailed/brilliantly HDRed piece of movie. watch the clip a SINGLE time. then, please tell me what was it about :-)

    OK, enough blabbing for me. love your work, Phil.

    1. visiblefilms2 says:

      Well put. We have more than our clients become resolution/sensor-centric and too often in exchange of having less or no story.

  26. Hi Phil, as a FS100 user I agree “Frisby 1999″ will not be disappointed with his purchase.
    Am I missing something but apart from the fantastic Phantom shots you could have shot this footage on your F3.
    You are not the only person experiencing problems with RED cameras and for me reliability is top of my list when producing a video, seems a lot of money to spend on camera thats not up to spec.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      There are some off speed shots on the Epic in that piece but look at Chim Chim. That is why I love the Epic.

  27. I’m in the current situation of evaluating a new cam for my employer.
    Calculating all prices for a full setup will make the Scarlet about 1k more expensive then a F3. And yes, this includes batteries, and memory (ssd/SxS) and some lenses (F3 Kit vs EF) as well.
    This is because the $ is currently so weak compared to Swiss Franc while i would have to buy the F3 from a Swiss distributer. How ever this bonus is just because of our location and tax model. So for others its a different game.

    I’m still struggeling to choose between a more reliable or a really tempting 4K cam.
    The Scarlet is also more compact, which would be a plus because i have lors of flights to do my work. And i do like the contrast AF on the Scarlet that could be a plus.

    Decission, decissions…

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      not easy. BTW the Scarlet is way heavier than the F3…don’t get the F3 kit lens set up. they suck. I am about to try an affordable F3/ EF mount solution..

      1. Yes the F3 is lighter but its bigger in dimensions. So with a Scarlet more stuff would fit in the max onboard luggage. Thx for the info about the F3 kit lenses.

        If buying the Scarlet i would buy a Pix240, Samurai or a other recorder along.
        Why?
        As i’m in the situation to do 99% of my work with a single cam, I would gain the option for long recordings on a decent cost investment.
        I know i would missuse the Scarlet and not use its full potential.
        But it would be an option to get decent, long recordings for 2K stuff, like life events.

        This way i’d had a 4K cam with 4K raw, and 2K without sensor cropping due of external recording.

        Btw. I would probably film 3K on the Scarelt most of the time due of most output beeing 2K, but having some possibility to crop if needed.

        I know… The right camera for the right job.
        But not having this option leads to compromises that have to work somehow.

        Renting is a option but for quick jobs not a option.

        The C300 for about $10’000 would have been a pretty game changer.
        But as long as they keep up the price and don’t even support AF for their own stuff its a no go for me.

        1. Philip Bloom says:

          i would steer away from ever filming lower resolution on the Scarlet because “i don’t need 4k”. The Scarlet looks it’s best and has s35 sized sensor/ DOF characteristics at 4k only. Drop down and you have more like an AF100!

          1. So i had a 4K and a AF100 in one cam.
            Its not always needed to have the best output even it would be adorable.
            But filming a 3h no break life event with a Red Cam would be a pretty killer unless big investement in memory and using max compression. But if maxing the red compression external recording would be a option again.

            Because of the vers different stuff i have to shoot I’m still unsure which cam to choose and road to follow.

            Btw. What kind of F3 EF mount are you going to test?

            1. Philip Bloom says:

              but as I said, each time you crop, you lose quality…

              1. True.
                On the other hand it seems a lot of possible Scarlet buyers don’t think about handling a 35mm DOF.
                For me as a, lets call it autodidact intermediate user, it is challenging handling 35mm DOF focus as a one man show.
                Sure i will progress and having the DOF option is awesome, but it can complicate shoots and put risk on it.
                Comming with lots of experience from a current JVC HM100 and some dslr knowhow will be challenging on any high level cam. But some day you’ll have to take the next steps.

                The question is just: Choosing a cool beta 4K cam with some bigger options or a easier workhose with better more prooven features and easier workflow.

                Big toys for boys. Sometimes less is more. But don’t we all like with the cool and fancy stuff?;0)

                1. visiblefilms2 says:

                  We ought not be surprised when one day 4K is found on S16mm-sized sensor for this very reason.

  28. Gordon says:

    Its also worth mentioning here the concept of a 4k sensor outputting 4k video.

    Alot of people may have noticed that all of the professional cameras out there use a much larger sensor that the output of the camera in order to oversample (eg the Panavision Genesis, Arri Alexa, and even the Canon C300). There is a very good reason for this. Its called Nyquist Theory.

    It is impossible to output a clean alias free 4k image from a 4k sensor. Nor an alias free 2k image from a 2k sensor. Nyquist dictates that you need twice the number of pixels than the output you require for the image to be alias and noise free. This is a scientific fact that all camera manufacturers have to deal with.

    In reality anti aliasing filters reduced this required number maybe by 25%, but the concept still holds. Because of this, when Arri and Panavision produce a 4K camera in the future, the sensor will undoubtably be 8k. And for good reason. And its why they use 4K+ sensors to output 2k at the moment. They have to to get the best image possible.

    Red on the other hand produce 4k from 4k and 2k from 2k, going against all established clean sampling theory. When the Red One was first launched as a 4K camera, there was a big education drive in the film industry about Nyquist, so that people could differenciate marketing hype (Red) from sampling reality.

    So its important to know here with the Epic and Scarlet, that as good as they may be, they fly in the face of established physical sampling hurdles that every other manufacturer addresses head on by using a larger sensor than the output.

    The implication of this will be obvious when a true oversampled 4k camera is released, and its output is compared to RED’s 4k. The Red won’t be so future proof after all and its weakness will show up. Its good for 4K to output 2k in post but a 4k sensor for outputting 4k? No.

    You can see this already if you compare Red’s 2K from 2k output with most other 2K oversampled cameras out there. It looks aweful.

    So be warned. Its just something to be aware of when discussing 4k future proofing.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      i am sure the Dragon will improve things but it’s additional cost and it’s not out for some time…

  29. Philn says:

    Thanks Philip for another concise and informative post.

  30. DoLeeP says:

    just rent it if you require it if not chose the right camera for the job!.. honestly how many people in the world shooting feature films that require 4K I don’t know maybe 1% or less

    owning a camera in this day and age is a hard decision .. buy 20K camera today and it will worth nothing after 2 years.
    from not long ago renting was the way to go because you couldn’t buy anything from 10 years now rent is better because nothing hold its value any more.

    Mind the E-mount FS100 is still unbeatable deal if you want to upgrade form DSLR other than that be creative and rent you camera its fun!!

  31. Paul Ream says:

    ummm… 4K or reliability?
    Which would my clients prefer?

    Good points well made Philip.

  32. Very useful information indeed Phil – thanks for the heads up!

    I’ll start buying lenses and keep saving for the Epic methinks!

    Likely that C300 is probably only an interim, they have not created all the lenses for a 1080p camera and this is from a BlackMagic press release this week: “DaVinci Resolve Lite is also limited to SD and HD projects, but the source footage from the camera can still be any resolution such as 2K, 4K or more so you can still work with the files from these wonderful new cameras from Arri, Sony, Canon and RED”

  33. Philip,

    Thanks for this piece and for all of your insights. We are a small company just getting into high end work. We don’t have the money to buy and experiment with cameras. It’s nice to read REAL first hand experience with the gear and not just the 4K / 5K image love-fest that I had previously seen.

    For now, for us, it’s DSLR with good solid glass, GOOD COMPOSITION and good story.

    Thanks again!

  34. Peter Smith says:

    I think, it makes more sense to buy the Ikonoskop A-cam dII.
    It is to early for 3,4,5K. 95% do not need it realy…

      1. Peter Smith says:

        You SHOULD test the cam, its a very radical and cool concept.

        I think you will love the special look of the pictures…

        1. Philip Bloom says:

          I would love to but it’s getting my hands on it!

  35. Jeremy Mayhew says:

    After seeing the red in person yesterday it really clarified for me what the camera is and where it lies in my future of filmmaking. I’ve seen filmmakers I admire (you, chase Jarvis) use it with outstanding results but the issues it presents make it an unusable camera for an independent small guy like me.

    I love the concept of shooting raw, the demo showed how you can mirror the same possibilities as we do in raw photography. The drawbacks to me are just to limiting, such as the file sizes, the touch screen interface, and oh, what’s the last one…oh yeah, the price! Yikes :-)

    Making the next step in filmmaking for me definitely won’t involve the red systems or scarelette camera, just because the technical hurdles are to high to overcome for someone so new to filmmaking.

    But this has only helped me direct my attention to the af100 and sonyfs100, and dare i even think it, the Alexa? (renting of course)

    Thank you for the information, sometimes it’s tough to really make sense of the specs and get past the hype.

  36. All the emphasis on 4K is interesting but I’m MUCH more interested in the RAW-like workflow.

    Coming from a stills background I really appreciate being able to pull the footage around a la Lightroom/Aperture/Phocus rather than having the look baked in at shooting time.

    Quad HD acquisition sounds nice for HD distribution- perfect deBayer for HD, with room to crop if you absolutely have to and all the benefits of oversampling the rest of the time, and 2K 60 fps at a push is all I’d need, I think.

    But bad sound, sync issues and “bricking” does not sound promising, if the Scarlet comes out in the same state as the Epic! Can’t be doing with that.

    I’m starting to wonder if a second hand Red One might not be a better buy. I gather the Red One had lots of issues initially too but is now a bit more robust after a few years of firmware shakedown?

  37. Mike says:

    Philip, why would RED release a camera that is still in beta?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      That is the RED way….the camera is pretty solid. It’s the firmware that keeps changing it.

    2. Josh Rambo says:

      Mike, RED updates its firmwares all the time and adds bug fixes and new features for free. That’s something I don’t think any other company does. ARRI adds also new features with software updates (like 120fps) but for a cost.

      Philip, as you have used both, if Alexa (with 120fps update) and EPIC costed the same, which one would you choose and why? What are the plusses and minuses for both in your opinion?

      I haven’t used either one yet, but from what I’ve seen and read the main things are Alexa gives better image, easier worflow and this thing called “it just works”. EPIC on the other hand wins in weight, size and it’s more customizable (Canon mount etc).

  38. Thomas says:

    Hi Philip!

    Nice article. I was just wondering why so many still convert to ProRes from the R3D files? When I work with RED I do Everything in R3D and it works great and edits fast and saves disk space.

    Why do you prefer a longer route?

    1. Well not everyone has Premiere CS5.5 with a very fast computer or even a red rocket yet.

  39. simon weyhe says:

    Thanks Philip

    Really really good post…

    This is what Shane Hurlbut replied when asked him about stepping up and spending a lot of f…… $ on a new camera.

    “All this new tech is what it is tools, keep your eyes on the storytelling. When you see a great film you never sit in the theater asking what they shot this on if you are engaged in the story and the characters”

    I will stick to my 5D for now and spend some of my hard earned money on some fast glass.

    Thanks for all the hard work Philip.

    Best¨

    simon

  40. Stuart Dennis says:

    Great post, Philip.

    To make a Scarlet work for you, you will need plenty more than $10K, and then you need to give serious thought to post workflow. That’s not to say R3D workflow is a pain, it’s just off-the-shelf hardware just isn’t up to processing it “properly”, so to speak. It’s a funny situation: we’re 3-4 years down the line from the Red One, and here’s the Scarlet (which is a Red One MX squashed down neatly) and yet the best and most flexible R3D workflow (native, full res) is still a top-end DI facility.

    In particular this is a real shame for Mac-based FCP users: you can do all the RAW jiggery pokery you want in Red Cine X, but the reality is you’ll lose half your resolution if you cut and finish in FCP, unless you work offline and conform…which could involve a expensive DI facility at the end of the pipeline. There are times when Apple’s decision to go backwards in terms of capability with Final Cut seems beyond crazy when cameras like the Red exist: no native R3D support in FCPX is somewhat revealing of what Apple’s plan might be for future NLEs in terms of target market.

    Adobe can handle R3D natively using a thing called “fractional resolutioning”, whereby you simply select the “viewing” resolution to allow your system to stay lucid whilst processing this immense data. I have no idea if this works well or what capabilities your system will need, one imagines Red Rocket would be a must, so whack another couple of grand on your Red Scarlet purchase.

    There can be no argument with the quality of Red footage, the flexibility of R3D and 4K, and the incredible pricing of their basic camera packages: no single manufacturer has even attempted to compete with them in terms of price and specification. There are no cameras from Arri, Sony, Panasonic or anyone else that will give you that resolution and flexible file type, recording onto it’s own hardware. I find it incredible that nobody seems to be even trying: one can only guess that there simply isn’t a business case for the other manufacturers to go all out and give you something that has capabilities that will last well into the future. For this reason I’ll always a big soft spot for Red. They’re kind of renegade, and I like this.

    But people should – surely by now – know what they’re buying into with Red. A camera in constant flux, a wonderful but unreliable work in progress, a machine that is maybe a bit too far ahead of it’s time. So long as people know this (and don’t whine about it…Red-haters are the most tiresome people in the industry) and are WILLING TO LEARN AND ADAPT INTELLIGENTLY then they can make it work. It’s a camera system for commercials and drama, for top end documentary and special effects and needs to treated with the appropriate craft and discipline.

    No camera is a magic picture box and there are no shortcuts. Red is just another image making tool and it won’t be the right one for everyone.

    1. Paul Watt says:

      My almost two year old Mac Pro Quad has no problem editing 5K footage on Premiere 5.5. The files can be graded with no rendering within Premiere too, so you don’t have to use RedCineX at all really (although HDRx shots are dealt with better, and there are a few colouring features in RedCineX pro that aren’t in the Premiere interface). When you output, it’s a bit slow without a rocket, but still doable. The Red One became a rock solid camera after a bunch of updates, so I think the same will be the case with the Epic and Scarlet.

  41. Mark says:

    Phil, how do you find the noise in the shadows on your Epic?

    I’ve just come home from a 4K screening of 10 short films, all shot on Epics, and I was literally shocked at how obvious the noise was in basically any dark part of footage.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      i have not had any real issues to be honest!

  42. carlosprio says:

    Great Article!!!! You have shed allot of light on Red and the Scarlet!!! First and foremost… when investing in Red you have to come to terms that it is always in “Beta” and issues and how you deal with them will determine your success! I have never endorsed the dev of the Scarlet… I believe it steals resources from what Red’s focus should be- EPIC!

    Cheers brother!!!

    Prio

  43. neilhartop says:

    Where does this leave the redmx on all this?

    Scarlet and redmx have similar resolutions ( redmx being 4.5) with the redmx being better at the 120fps (2k). But the scarlet does have other advantages. HDR, cheaper, form factor.

    Does anyone also know the latitude for redmx, scarlet and epic? I’ve shot on redmx and the latitude is astounding. For that alone, if the scarlet is the same it’s worth cosidering let alone everything else.

    Yes I agree it’s more that 10k for a decent setup but I have lived shooting redmx so much that if I can get the same for less, then it’s worth considering.

  44. Don Whitley says:

    Thanks for the post was very informative, me myself currently own a Red One MX, my question for you is – Have you ever shoot with the red one and would you trade or sell your red one for a scarlet if you had one.

    I thought about selling because the weight of the Red one and the scarlet is more form factor, But financially I’m not able to buy the scarlet so thought about selling to use the money to buy the scarlet

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      no i have never shot with one. sorry can’t answer that!

  45. Luc Meisel says:

    There is also some sort of issue with the red channel not working properly as per a Peter Jackson video explaining that they had to paint Hobbits and Ghouls a brighter color of red or flesh tones.

    Because though its RAW footage, when its color corrected the red channel turns yellow when boosted!?

    He says that they would desaturate later in post. ouch!

    Now i haven’t heard of this anywhere else but would be curious if anyone else has had this issue, though and I am not one to think for a moment that Mr. Jackson with his double digit Reds and crew of techs are likely to be wrong.

    1. disuye says:

      I think the Peter Jackson video you are talking about was referring to the deliberate over saturation of flesh tone make-up (& wardrobe & sets) to compensate for the fact that the RED 3D rig captures two images shot through a partially reflecting mirror.

      RED itself is not the problem, it’s the mirror rig that is/was affecting colour.

    2. Mike says:

      The Hobbit Behind-the-Scenes Production Video Blog #4 [HD]

  46. Matt Moses says:

    Philip,

    Thanks for the post! You have definitely pointed out a DEAL KILLER for me.. that 2X + Crop! To get a characters full body in frame @2k on Scarlet, you will need to be about 45+ feet away- DEAL KILLER in many cases, especially in any common interior shoot. For the rental, you can do sooooo much better… and Scarlet prices for a full rig warrant renting instead… Alexa, F3 with SLOG upgrade, Canon C300 is a deal… renting, and saving all the headaches… My GH13 has a 2x crop… its a major pain to have a “Zoom” camera. The lens choices, once you have been spoiled by full frame, just make composing shots so much easier, and crop factors really do matter when you are guerilla filmmaking. 5D just can’t hold up with the binning issue, but one could CERTAINLY do all the tests and and pre-production work using GH13,GH2,7D,5D and package something that sells to investors and backers – Then rent a camera that you can depend on that is not cropping any more than traditional film cameras – Super35, etc.

    THX again!

    1. Matt Moses says:

      2x crop means you need a wide – like 14mm – just to shoot “standard” wide.. well there are Many times you want a 50mm.. because you want that 1:1 zero barrel distortion, and the kind of depth and feel that a fast 50mm provides on a traditional stills cam or 35mm film camera. Well that is out the window on scarlet or any other 2x crop… because you are now 45-50ft away.. and you are now getting the DOF of a wide angle… so you are throwing away a large majority of shots you can do with a 1:1 crop or 1.2 – 1.3 , 1.4, 1.5 crop that really lend themselves to the film look. being able to have actors whole body in frame, while the camera is 8-9 feet away, provides the depth of field we are very accustomed to when watching a film. And If you want to shoot in 2K to reduce filesizes … forget about it on Scarlet.. 3.24x crop!

      Right now, I “get by” with the GH13’s 2x crop, ONLY because I have a Voigtlander 25mm .095 as my fast 50… but it acts like a portrait lens at 8 feet away. I compensate by using very little extra lighting… and shoot F1 (F.095 has subtle fringing) to get a shallow, typical 50mm look…. but MAN, I miss being able to have 1.4 or less crop factor! (I shot on 7D/5D’s for a while – Never owned them.. and it was a spoiler for sure!)

  47. J Davis says:

    Philip, in your experience, do you find its possible on a deep focus shot to get a sharper more detailed image from 4k capture scaled to 1080p vs straight up 1080p capture (say from an F3) ?

    1. J Davis says:

      Actually can I put in a request? I understand if you don’t have time to do it but I thought I would ask and hopefully you will consider.

      I would love to see 1920×1080 stills taken from prores, comparing fs100, af100, f3 and a of course a scarlet(epic) at 4k scaled to 1080p

      A head and shoulders for skin tones but deep focus with lots of detail.

      Objective would be to see how much advantage we have for detail on 4k capture over 1080p capture when its 1080p delivery with todays $5000 – $20,000 camera/codec combinations

      Do you think this is a worthwhile exercise? Or might it stir up too much debate?

      1. Philip Bloom says:

        i wish i could…not time. sorry

  48. Ajit says:

    Thanks for the honesty! I’ve used it a Red One with an Mx sensor. A successful project but there were a lot of nervous moments with the camera on set. The start up time would be unusable for anything but narratives.

  49. Joe says:

    “BUT it is alpha so no way am using this on a shoot.”
    I won`t use the Epic for shoots? But Peter Jackson does it.

    Had he any troubles with the Epic? He seems to trust the camera…?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Am referring to my new firmware that has playback. That is Alpha

    2. Mike says:

      Peter Jackson has reported problems with the RED EPIC. There seems to be a problem with the red channel.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHF536TJ0iE&feature=player_embedded#

      Maybe the Red Epic starts to drop the red channel at a higher ISO.

      I know the Panasonic GH2 the red channel takes a drop at ISO 800.

  50. deeple says:

    i direct commercials and have a production company and the scarlet because of price point makes sense to buy. however the “reliability” issue is a huge problem. right now i think alexa and the f3 are really work horses depending on budget, but unless the situation calls for high speed or cropping been reluctant to rent the red. also workflow is so much easier with native alexa and/or f3 with kipro.

    but scarlet now introduces an interesting point of entry for buying. renting red epic in nyc roughly $1500. so literally two commercial shoots could pay for a scarlet body. that’s a very good argument to buy. how do you compare image quality to alexa? i know zacuto are testing these cameras as we speak. just would love your opinion since i think you’ve shot on both.

  51. Wow, for all the work arounds we implement with the Canon 5DMKII, RED sounds like a nightmare and the Sony F3 sounds like the pick of the bunch if using a proper reliable video camera at the $20K price point. There’s a lot of talk about hard decisions regarding a camera body purchase but not a lot about lenses. I find this curious as there is such a large community of EF lens owners who are continuing to shoot on their 5D’s really glad of their 3 year old purchase. And think about it – who can afford cinema lenses for a C300? The 5D has full-frame glory and a wonderful choice of fast, relatively inexpensive EF lenses. If it’s a serious shoot then we all use double system sound anyway and with Mosaic Engineering’s anti-aliasing filter – the 5D is still for me the best bang for the buck.
    Thanks Philip for a very interesting write up.

  52. George says:

    Philip since you have experience with both the epic and f3 with slog, how does the grading compare. I know RAW is better but is the difference significant compared to 4:2:2 slog.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      yes it’s totally different. Not saying slog is bad. its amazing but RAW is RAW

  53. Andrew Gupta says:

    I think this is among the most valuable of articles you’ve ever posted. I suspect there are many people out there making many sacrifices to buy this Scarlet — and they have no idea what they’re getting into — with expectations high enough that can never be realized.

    Am I the only person on Earth more excited about clean ISO 25,000 recorded to a higher bit rate intraframe codec on a 1DX than by this Scarlet?

    Any notion or plans of getting your hands on a 1DX and evaluating it relative to video?

  54. Robert Sawin says:

    I think the camera is fine to buy if you have at least 25k on hand. But I honestly don’t have that kinda money lying around. However, for what it is it is a fantastic addition to there lineup. But and there is the BIG BUTT. the fact is RED and Canon have both proved that you can buy film quality cameras for the indi budget. and Canon has proved that True HD is affordable to the masses. Now Joe nobody can pick up a canon T3i and know he is getting footage that is comparable to film. Obviously we can all agree that Digital still has a ways to go to fix the glaring problems such as rolling shutter. What ever in tarnations was going threw the minds of these camera makers when they added rolling shutter is beyond me. Its so odd that HDV cameras don’t have the rolling shutter issue yet these DSLRs and others do?? Its almost like they purposely work backwards when they work forward. I mean its not that hard. Film is frame by frame so why is it so hard to capture that way on a photo camera?? I swear some days filmmakers tell these guys what they want and they are always saying NO this is what you want. Its like they want bad press. I honestly think actually I know if canon knew that the DSLR revolution would have started they would have sabotage the video feature of there cameras. Its funny how Iphone now has HD video recording in there phones now. I really hope these camera manufactures smarten up before they get left in the dust by another REDvolution type company.

  55. josh korb says:

    got the down payment on the scarlet … cant wait … used epic and its amazing … when u downscale 3 or 4 k its better! u people think u shoot hd and its hd when u upload to web or any deliverable .. when u scale down 4-5-3 k it crunches and it has much more info .. when u crunch shitty hd it looks like a home movie … scarlet will be my baby .. iv used red one for 3 years and epics im excited about scarlet .. i got a pic on my imdb with tim with the first prototype # googleswagg _ josh korb official site #korboration.com VLOG #iamdokus.com

  56. Adam Palmer says:

    Hi guys first Scarlet X footage up on YouTube today!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6IQ8RfdDNg

    Enjoy

  57. J says:

    Hey Phil. I was wondering what Red Tails was shot on and the types of problems the camera crew may or may not have run into with their cameras? I’ve never been on a “film” set before and was curious, even though it may have been shot digitally. Thanks.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      it was shot on F35s. Problems? Not many! Reliable cam

  58. Ronan C says:

    Very well said Philip. I hope you’re prepared for the fanboy backlash though!

  59. Jai says:

    PHIL I HOPE YOU GET SOME ATTENTION FROM RED AND JIM READ THIS …GREAT PIECE
    THANK YOU!
    jai

  60. Lee Dashiell says:

    Loved the Redneck Hippie. Nice work.

    Installing playback software today on EPIC. Shot in Vermont all last week with it and can only say that it was unsettling. It was the only camera I had with me and my first shoot with it. Came home, rendered, and I believe that it has a quality that I’ve not seen before.

  61. do re mi says:

    if canon c300 do 3k, maybe philip on this choice…
    canon was frustated with this killer baby now..

    1. Dohn says:

      scarlet do 4:4:4 and canon c300 do 1080p on 4:2:2, please go away from $14.000

  62. co;ld says:

    canon was frustated now, he was fight with big giant

  63. Nook Kim says:

    Very informative and honest article. There will be less disappointed people after their purchase now.

  64. Kapoue says:

    The good thing about Scarlet is you can start “small”, do lot of job with and after upgrade to a Epic brain if you need. If you working with video as your main pay job, buy the camera you need to make money, if it’s a F3 good for it, if you prefer RAW and need resolution go for a Scarlet and after change for a EPIC brain.

    The good thing about Scarlet is that every accessories you will buy will fit on a EPIC.
    Scarlet is like Duplo, when you grow up you can use Lego and still use you Duplo brick.

  65. Nook Kim says:

    I also hope that Epic gets reliable sooner than later. I hate to see the Red One debut repeating all over. People are bad-mouthing Epic for how incomplete it is..

  66. Joe says:

    Oops, okay ;) Thanks

  67. Ben says:

    Personally don’t see any point in buying a camera nowadays.
    Just get the production to rent a RED with some nice lenses and let someone else stress about the kit going wrong – its nice to have someone other than yourself to blame when the shit hits the fan!
    If the job you’re on can’t afford a RED then it probably doesn’t warrant being shot on 4K and you could use a Canon or something?

    As for being able to reframe your shots at 5K thats fine if you’re a DP/director/editor/filmaker etc etc but as a ‘just’ a dop I’d rather not give the director that many options to reframe and resize my shots, I’d rather just change the lens….

  68. artur says:

    Sony F3 + S/Log + Pix 240 = best mid term investment ratio for docs, tvshows, indie film feature.

  69. artur says:

    and + PL glasses, of course!

  70. Bill Vincent says:

    Philip, great article and (IMO) very fair. Honestly, unless you are a production company with deep pockets and a penchant for spending tons of money on all of the necessary gear for both production and post, why bother? A small production company considering this purchase would end up spending so much just to get geared up properly to use and edit in 4K that it seems they would have to charge incredible amounts for their work just to break even. And as you mentioned, I don’t think clients will be lining up just because you have a Scarlet.

    Personally I think both Canon and RED have totally missed the boat when it comes to making a camera that will capture the momentum of the DSLR filmmaking trend. Neither the Canon 300 nor the Scarlet are viable steps up from the 5D… There is still a huge gap needing to be filled in the sub-10k market. I was always VERY skeptical that RED would ever do it… And they didn’t…. Not even close. They also have done nothing to make me think more of them as a company for their horrible, horrible leading on of the release of Scarlet, promising it for three years without delivering, and then coming out with something markedly different and much more expensive than they teased with. What other company does that?? None that I have ever seen. Combined with their holier-than-tho attitude, their obnoxious obsessed user fanboys who berate everyone in their path (logic and truth be damned), and your documenting of serious reliability issues, I see absolutely no reason to EVER put my trust in RED as a company or a product for that amount of money. If they were the only game in town, maybe… But they most certainly are not.

  71. Hi Phil,
    Great review. My take on all this is:
    1. Thanks Jim Jannard for goading SONY, CANON et al – otherwise we’d all still be filming with shitty 2/3″ chips with cheap glass.
    2. Camera “backs” [any brand] are good for 2-3 years. So don’t think of them as investments. Like computers. Invest in your GLASS.
    Phil, thanks for championing the cause of good film-making. Legends like Stanley Kubrick were crazy tech-head photographers first which helped inform their cinematography – Clockwork Orange, 2001…still breathtaking after all these years.

    1. artur says:

      Kostas, maybe I put my items in wrong order: Pl glasses should be first, obviously. And, yes, cameras and peripheral stuff are investments “mid term” as I told. If you earn money through gear, you have to see it as investment. I’m medium size post and production house Prores based workflow, so, F3 is our logical step up coming from HDSRL, because I’m not forced to change dramatically all my gear and improve quality from capture to edit and finish. C300 price tag is insane, Scarlet is a closed environmental, so, I’m very happy with my Cookes and F3.

      1. Hi Artur,
        I haven’t had the chance to try the Cookes [I use 3 X 5dmk2s]but love using my Hasselblad Zeiss [3 sets] – large 6X6 glass works a treat with large 5d sensor combined with Blad “film-oriented” lense controls [focus and smooth f-stop]. Strangely, my Leica glass didn’t do it for me. My big test – people’s portraits. Zeiss makes people look “3D”. Leitz makes them look “FLAT”. Just like the 7D and RED sensors make them look “FLAT”. Love the 5d “organic look”. Reminds me of Velvia digitized compared to using Phase-One backs on a Hasselblad.
        Here’s a doco [rough] I recently did in Venice with the 5d and 60d[slo-mo]:http://vimeo.com/32163992
        rgds
        Kostas

  72. Hi guys,

    Put a deposit down for a Scarlet not even 24 hours after its release. Really appreciate the article Philip, but I feel physically sick. I have sold my EX1, Canon 5D and Zeiss primes to move up a rank towards the RED (yes I know, the glass, but with the crop factor I just want to re-evaluate my choices and try and find a good all rounder lens to start of for the Scarlet), partially because my work as a DP is moving increasingly more towards shooting fiction and I have been sick to death of shooting with the 5D and having to deal with all its side effects.

    Whether the Scarlet will help me with the smaller jobs I am not so sure and it’s a huge gamble/investment for me. I have already spent in the region of 15K and still need more memory. But I have experienced the RED workflow and loved the post, first with ProRes 422(HQ) and then re-linking the proxis. Seamless on FCP 7. So… time will tell whether this gamble will pay off and yes, I am moving forward with trepidation…

  73. Scott R says:

    a few points/questions thanks to your excellent article:

    the feed from the HD-SDI port is for monitoring, yes? i assume that the entire image (4K, 3K, whatever) is downrezzed to 1920×1080 for the monitor output… it would have to be. so, if this is decent quality, then you won’t be using a crop frame if you record out to a nanoflash, etc. hence a quality advantage over recording internally to 2K. one positive aspect of using an external recorder.

    also, i thought that you got the 13.5 stop dynamic range only in raw files. which means you wouldn’t get this out the HD-SDI port? or would this still be true if viewing in raw mode? something akin to S-log?

    the one serious criticism i’ve heard regarding the sony fs100 is that, unlike the scarlet/canon/sony f3, it has a fairly small dynamic range, which means more of a DSLR look, i.e. clipping in the highlights and less shadow detail. that might be a deal breaker for me. what’s your opinion of the look of the fs100?

    regarding the scarlet cost, if you factor the camera with the accessory package (about $15K), add 2 x 128GB SSD drives, a red rocket, and a fast computer, you’re up to at least $26K. that doesn’t include an EVF ($3200) or a Pro I/O (approx. $3800 when available). so really the scarlet is more of a $30K camera.

    finally, a request for a subjective opinion. the canon isn’t an option for me (price + non-interchangeable mounts + 8bit 4:2:2), so i’d love to know your feeling about the look of the epic vs. the sony f3 (4:4:4).

    thanks for the great work!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      the canon has dropped in price. i will do a shooting review soon. I cant compare apple to oranges, its not fair. The epic is…epic. The F3 is great though

  74. thanks a lot Philip
    very informative and useful

  75. Matt Popay says:

    Nice review.
    Having some doubts about the Scarlet now. All the positive comments on the Sony FS100 are interesting. Might look into that one some more.

    Too many cameras!

  76. smd says:

    Philip,

    I can’t believe how much free, useful information you provide. I check your website daily. When do you sleep?

    This Scarlet article is great, so much info, clearly written.

    RED has its rightful place, perhaps they started this whole DSLR revolution with their indie-affordable RED ONE? Others had to follow suit.

    I worked for a production company, one of the first in Ontario (Canada) to buy a RED ONE 4 years ago. After kitting out, I’d guestimate a $40k investment, double the “body” price. The images from this 4 year old cam ranges from crappy (bad in low light, rolling shutter, skew), to nice, to just-like-film.

    You are spot on about roughly doubling the sticker price (for Scarlet body only). Thanks for all those helpful accessory lessons.

    You are Truly Spot On about a camera doing nothing for your abilities. Practice makes your talent better, not $$$.

    I have a Panasonic GH2, but am fortunate to use a wide assortment of cameras as needed, as a freelance shooter (happily used an AF100 for a music video on Sunday). Honestly, I’m usually drawn back to the GH2. Because it looks like a toy DSLR, I look like a tourist, which has hands down meant we can, when needed, taken beautiful looking guerrilla shots in places we never would have been allowed to go otherwise. No other cam has that ability.

    With all the hype about cameras, while gear is not important as the gear-user, I will say that the right lenses (L-glass, Nokton, or sometimes even $100 used lenses) add a certain magic that’s hard to replicate.

    Thanks for your wonderful work Mr. Bloom.

  77. Hey Phil,

    I’m curious to know how compression affects the bit-rate of the Epic/Scarlet. In other words, do you find that a high compression (e.g. 12:1) is still pretty good, when compared with the 35mb/s of the F3?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      oh god yes. The 12:1 is terrific!!

      1. Thanks Phil, glad you find it terrific, as this is one of the main points for me, as the redmags are efin expensive. Cheers and congrats on the fantastic (and very honest) article about your Epic.

  78. Bill A says:

    Phillip,

    Thanks so much for your thorough thoughts! For many of the reasons you have raised, I am torn between Scarlet and the C300. I think the best thing to do is to wait and see as both cameras (and perhaps others?) hit the streets.

    Thanks again:)

    ba

  79. Brynn says:

    Philip, as one of what I’m sure were scores of people emailing you for your thoughts on this matter, I have to say I think you have done an outstanding job with this article and done a great service to the low budget filmmaking community. Your approach was exactly what I was hoping for, and I truly appreciate your objectivity and candor.

  80. Thanks Phil! A review like this is invaluable.

  81. TC says:

    I like that you stress a camera is only a tool. However, regarding pricing, you should probably stress that shooting with ANY system is going to cost more than the price of the camera…whether that be a 5dmk2, AF100, FS100, Scarlet, F3, C300, Epic, Alexa, etc etc etc

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      true, but some cost more than others. ignoring lenses the FS100 requires just a couple of cheap batteries and a couple of cheap SDHC cards…The F3 needs expensive SxS cards, but can be used with SD cards with an MXM adaptors. 4 batteries are needed for a day. The only camera i know that is all you need out of the box is the iphone 4s!

  82. Joseph Murphy says:

    Phillip, thanks for frank assessment regarding RED. Your words are exactly what professionals in the real world with demanding clients need to hear. I’ve been drinking the RED juice for some time but my biggest question, which is rarely talked about on that other site is reliability in face of stringent deadlines. Trial and error can certainly expose weakness in eyes of impatient producers/clients. Not taking chances here, I’m waiting for Dragon post-Beta. Already tough to deal with some producers, I’d rather have sound in-camera and legitimate playback with minimal firmware glitches. When they get it right I’ll be there with hopefully a reasonable wait list.

  83. Kofa says:

    Great article. Meet you when you came to LA for canonfilmmakers. It would be a dream to shoot on one of these. Till then I’ll be doing my best with my 60D.

  84. Prendi says:

    Finally, someone talking sense. I tried of the “cult like” attitude over at Reduser that will not accept any criticism of Red whatsoever. It’s nice to get a balanced point of view from someone who is respected.

    Great Job!

  85. Tom says:

    4k gives you great possibilities to do image stabilization though.. you could shoot handheld and make it look like a dolly!

    1. Bah! Fix it in post is a bad attitude!

  86. great article Philip… and i unbelievably read through all the comments too (my light insomnia issues)

    if anyone uses info from comments, i want to offer mine..

    trend from comments (and not just here) sometime goes by a logic of
    “with all the side effects, i’d rather stick to my good ol’ 5/7 D or any other inferior cam”

    EVERY camera ever made has side effects. from 35 mm film and the cost, problematic monitoring, the need to print dailies, and god how awful it can look without proper post processes (DI, cleaning etc’), and to 5/7D and the hassel of shooting video on a still camera, the line sub-sampling, aliasing, 420, 8 bit, long GOP, low bit rate format which might look great on the set, but gives back hell in post work (i own a small post studio and do online and finishing for many years)… i can go on, i’ve shot, and done post with almost every camera/format around, each had its limitations, side effects, and dirty secrets (to me, extreme high costs, like on an F35 are a limitation/side effect too). its part of our trade and knowhow, from Production to Post to deal with the limitations and side effects in order to create beauty.

    people will always try to rationalize in favor of their situation, but side effects and limitations should be brought down to what can i change with my skills/budget and what i can’t,

    things that i find important and i can’t change are:

    what a camera has for internal recording, ie the shooting format.
    what it gives out as a signal for external recordings.
    how standard its full frame is compared to popular sensor sizes and lenses.
    its price.

    on these points Scarlet wins, big time to my taste…
    with the rest i can cope, we always did.
    the perfect camera still does not exist, and waiting for it won’t help.
    Alexa comes close, but its too expensive for most, Sony F3 is a nifty cam which i really like, but its limited to HD, and the internal recording is somewhat nasty.

    the A-cam from Ikonoskop was one i believed could come close too
    http://www.ikonoskop.com/dii/

    but a small user base (and frankly.. s16), added to a small company, are not minor issues.. see what happened to Si2K… RIP

    this reasoning made me order our Canon mount Scarlet a few days ago. we spent 16.5K on a basic kit (which is almost 2X body price) with 2 SSDs and a few more gizmos and metal. and we know we will, eventually, spend more.

    BTW, if a power outlet is available, then 2 chargers and 3 Red Volts should let you work consistently on battery power…spartan :)
    thanks for the info Philip, made us order that extra charger (125$), at least until we get a V mount solution.

    i think that for a very wide array of purposes Scarlet is the best option we had in years.

    very exciting times

    hector