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  1. #1 RED Monstro 8K VV & ARRI Alexa LF 4.5K Camera Test 2019 
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Long story shortened; lots and lots of people have been asking me about these two cameras and know I've gone through a couple rounds of testing out all the current larger than Super 35mm Digital Cinema Cameras. VV, LF, FF, and erm.. VF Venice-a-full? You get the point. Now with Mini LF hitting the scene I imagine the conversation will be a bit more vibrant even.

    I had the opportunity to do a couple things here. Test out Ranger, compare it to my Monstro DSCM2 cameras, but also test it against a brand spanking new ARRI Alexa LF. Short summary on Ranger versus DSMC2 Monstro; they are the same in terms of image quality.

    To that point, this is a series of real world and technical tests showing some of the differences between RED's VistaVision 8K and ARRI's Large Format. I'm also dropping in a few tips with working with both as I have a feeling these are new to some people, though Monstro has been out for a year. This is meant to be watched a few times and ideally you can download the ProRes 422 HQ version, because YouTube re-encodes, which is sort of likely cooking pancakes twice. Still a pancake, just not as good and certainly not as tasty.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZPa3yp7lsQ

    ProRes 422 LT Download Link (DCI 4K, 30GB)



    I purposefully am not talking much about what's better or worse, I'm not going to tell anybody what they should use and you can make nice images with both systems. This is a test mainly to highlight the differences and let them decide for themselves really. But there are few notes I think are relevant and even a few things I didn't put in this piece.

    Observations and Notes

    - Testing Notes - This should be obvious, but all lighting and lens apertures as well as camera settings were constant and controlled. Meaning I literally physically locked the iris of the lens via tape or clamp. Cameras were set to 23.976, 180 degree shutter. The recommended Base ISO of both systems from both manufacturers is ISO 800 and you will see the most of that material, however, I did do some funky stuff by going to ISO 3200 (the absolute highest you would ever want to bring an ALEV III sensor) as well as ISO 200 (slightly below the RED recommended range). From my years of experience and how I and others have used the cameras, most are filming between ISO 400 and 800, though I see some people working at ISO 200-ish and up to 1600 for general shooting occasionally. This greatly informed the range I'd explore for this test. You can dig up my other tests for beyond ISO 3200 stuff, but since ARRI doesn't go there, I didn't go there, erm... I didn't include it at least :)

    - Camera Size, Weight, and Power - Notable. The full size LF comes in at 17lbs, the Mini LF at 5.7lbs without anything but the LPL mount on there. DSMC2 Monstro comes in at < 3.5lbs with PL Mount and with the Production Module that gets you up to 5.5lbs with full I/O and Phantom Power XLR. For the Rental RED Ranger it's a smidge heavier with similar I/O at 7.5lbs. The smallest you can get a DSMC2 body at the moment is < 4lbs with just a battery plate, which I occasionally do outdoors. The Alexa LF and Ranger do indeed need 24 volt power, which adds some weight and chaos into the mix. I actually lugged a Anton Bauer VCLX Battery everywhere when using those two. Physical dimensions I'll let you lookup if needed, but the short tale is LF is larger. RED Monstro operations around 60Wh. The full size ARRI LF runs around 137Wh, though it gets up to 150Wh pretty quickly. The Mini LF runs a bit more nimble at 65Wh.

    - Data Rates - We all know the differences between REDCODE RAW and ARRIRAW at this point. It's a Compress RAW Codec versus a virtually uncompressed one. How this manifests in practical terms is really depending on a few factors, but check this example out. For about the same 1TB of space approximately you get in 53.5 minutes of UHD 4K ARRIRAW, in that same space for 8K HD REDCODE 5:1 you get 78 minutes of recording. And I didn't get into the fun of comparing various flavors of REDCODE RAW to ARRIRAW as this test was about the highest quality possible, but I'd say you can certainly give 5:1-12:1 a stab to see where you find your happy place.

    - User Experience - People fall on either side of the fence with all of this, so no personal POV from me. However, I HIGHLY feel Arri needs to work on adding more In Camera Focus tools. Though they have Magnify while Rolling, their general Focus Assist tools are far less and less tuned for the higher resolution 4.5K LF Sensors. All the cameras performed for me and had zero issues during operation, which is good. A lot of the early LF issues have been due to power or heat, which is slowl y getting tackled with user knowledge, more power options, and firmware updates.

    - What's up with your Magnifications of 200%, 1:1, and 182.4% - Though I am often finishing in 8K with Monstro, I geared this test towards 4K theatrical production scaling down/down sampling the 8K and 4.5 footage down to a DCI 4K 4096x2160 finish. For RED Monstro 8K VV that means a scaling factor of 50%. For ARRI Alev III LF 4.5K that's about a 92.1% scale, 200% of that gets you the 182.4%. As this is a test and people occasionally punch in on stuff, I'm basically showing what you can get away with and where things fall apart.

    - Resolution Stuff - RED obviously has more pixel resolution than ARRI here and I didn't even scratch the surface of what's possible in the RED world in terms of finishing material. There are many scaling options and even slapping a smidge of sharpening on there can help carve out a unique look if you are looking for a more toothy vibe. As myself and Cioni have mentioned a few times, more resolution actually leads to smoother images. This is actually what you can see when comparing those magnifications and down sampled finished images. It's interesting because through post efforts you can indeed match them at 1:1 resolution, damn near it. It's also interesting that at 5K you have more resolution that's a bit more relevant to film's Super 35mm resolution in an equivalent format and out resolving the LF.

    ! Important Thing about Resolution and Image Quality - I feel I need to bold, italic, and underline this everytime I do a test. It's not all about resolution, but the combined image characteristics that are derived from Sensor Performance through the Color Science. However, as it pertains to Bayer Pattern Sensors, more resolution = more color and tonal information. This equates to more captured and usable information, smoother draw, etc. At this point this shouldn't be part of the conversation even now that Arri with 4.5K, Canon with 5.9K, and Sony with 6K large format cameras out there, but RED has received a lot of hell for 5K-8K resolutions and it's simply silly.

    - Color Matching - You will see at various points in the test I Color Matched Monstro to LF mostly to show that variance there and that you could bring them together, which is relevant as even shows that primarily capture on ARRI often dips their toes into the RED world for VFX or other types of shots. You'll see I took the grade mostly there. What I didn't do is add the green tint to shadows that the LF demonstrates, sort of a well known character of the ALEV III sensor. If you pause the test around the Skin Tones area give it a pause and check the 2nd girl from the left's hair. So I would say my match is more of the tasteful variety as I would personally grade out some of that green.

    - Total Captured and Usable Dynamic Range - When you look at the Magnifications of the Color Chart and the Xyla you can make a few observations about where you would and wouldn't like to work with either system. Color Stability at higher is always a thing and you see Monstro dip a bit there and Alexa LF certainly let's it's shadow tint known quickly. Interestingly enough even the standard Rec.709 curve for LogC is a bit aggressive in the shadows IMO to combat some of that. Monstro certainly sees more into the dark, with all 3 OLPFs. This is somewhere between 3-4 stops of additionally Captured and Usable Dynamic Range. This is rather relevant in these times as HDR finishing benefits a great deal by more shadow detail. ARRI's Highlight Roll-Off is rather pleasing, I'd say if you are aiming for that (and I've been saying this for years now) use the Skin Tone - Highlight OLPF and if you really like that subtle diffusion up there, KipperTie might be worth investigating. If you look closely at the Dark Warehouse Scene, when I put both in Log3G10 and LogC and then push the image up to ISO 3200 (don't do this, it's a test) you can more clearly see the sensitivity and noise differences. I shot that on the Ranger and I should have likely tossed a fresh Sensor Cal on there as some FPN shows up and this is flat/pushed to the extreme, but you'll notice on my charts at ISO 3200 that is not visible. Those were shot on my Monstros and not the earlly Ranger.
    Last edited by Phil Holland; 04-07-2019 at 12:59 PM.
    Phil Holland - Cinematographer - Los Angeles
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  2. #2  
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    - Optical Stuff - I made a couple note cards on that in the test. ALEV III hasn't changed much and it's still super prone to IR Contamination, it's super important to get filters that play well with Arri or you will be in grading hell on exteriors and shadows through midtones. RED's cameras lately are less of an issue from about Dragon on. But I do suggest getting modern NDs that feature nano-coatings rather than old school often not color accurate dyed filters. Deep Aperture Grid Patterns can occur with both RED and ARRI cameras. With RED we see this manifest as magenta orbs, with ARRI it typically occurs as small round dots that are a bit more spread out. Either way, ND accordingly, or for the RED ecosystem tap into that Skin Tone - Highlight OLPF. Same could be said about holding onto highlights a bit more. If this wasn't a test where I needed to keep light levels, lens, and exposures constant and controlled, I'd likely tackle something like the Warehouse Scene slightly different with the Standard OLPF, but the easier answer would have been to shoot that scene with the Skin Tone - Highlight OLPF.

    - One raging critique towards Codex - ARRI doesn't make their media, Codex does. Dear Codex, Please get your $5,000 SXR Docks/Ecosystem working with Windows. It's 2019. Other than that, love you guys. I'm not saying that the RED Mini-Mag Reader is sub-$200 and works with everything, but I sort of am saying that. P.S. For the tech savvy, you can get this to work, but come on.


    Anyways, hope this test is interesting and informative. I've been wanting to do something like this for a while. It almost transformed into all current large format digital cinema cameras, but at that point I would have needed hardcore sponsorship as this got rather expensive in time, gear, labor, talent, and even licensing music pretty quickly.
    Phil Holland - Cinematographer - Los Angeles
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    2X RED Weapon 8K VV Monstro Bodies and a lot of things to use with them.

    Data Sheets and Notes:
    Red Weapon/DSMC2
    Red Dragon
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  3. #3 Link 
    Senior Member Harcharan Singh's Avatar
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    Hi
    Thanks for all the effort for the test.
    The link on youtube dosn’t seem to work or did I catch u too early.
    Harcharan
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  4. #4  
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harcharan Singh View Post
    Hi
    Thanks for all the effort for the test.
    The link on youtube dosn’t seem to work or did I catch u too early.
    Harcharan
    Click the link above, it works here and all over. Might be an India thing however.
    Phil Holland - Cinematographer - Los Angeles
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    2X RED Weapon 8K VV Monstro Bodies and a lot of things to use with them.

    Data Sheets and Notes:
    Red Weapon/DSMC2
    Red Dragon
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member Harcharan Singh's Avatar
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    Hi
    Its working now...
    Harcharan
    AVAILABLE NOW MONSTRO VV (CF) / ALEXA LF
    ARRI ALEXA SXT plus , ARRI ALEXA MINI WITH RAW/4:3, RED EPIC W ,RED DRAGONS, RED EPIC's

    ZEISS SUPREME PRIME ,COOKE S4i, MASTER PRIMES , ULTRAPRIMES , CELERE HS , ZEISS CP2 , ALLURA ZOOMS , BASELIGHT 2 GEN 6 WITH BLACKBOARD ,
    Oconners 2565D, Oconner 2065 , Movi M15 with MIMIC.

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  6. #6  
    Senior Member rand thompson's Avatar
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    Really great test Phil !!
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member Donald MJ Anderson's Avatar
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    Great to see. Low light the monstro hands down. I was thinking the two cameras seemed VERY similar UNTIL the yellow flowers. Then Alexa moved ahead. Then the four girls in the workshop put the Alexa ahead again. There was just something more appealing about the Alexa in those two examples. Saying that the monstro overall is very good as it covers low light and gets somewhat close to the high bar set by Alexa in the important skin tones department.

    No camera is perfect I guess.
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Jacobo Martinez's Avatar
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    Thanks for the test Phil. It highlights the characteristics of each system. I think the competition of DR is irrelevant now days. Now it is only about color, and which one each project needs. The skin tones of the LF are amazing. Thank you again.
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  9. #9  
    REDuser Sponsor Andy Jarosz's Avatar
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    Great test Phil.

    I'm a little worried about the 4.5k resolution not being enough to oversample to 4k without losing quality, as we saw with 2k and 1080: http://endcrawl.com/blog/2048x1152-i...eX8PbqzdCVCTAQ.

    Have you noticed any difference in detail when viewing the Alexa footage at 100% scale vs scaled down to 4K?
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  10. #10  
    Senior Member Chris McKechnie's Avatar
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    Yea, Arri has been doing amazing work and continues to do so with their sensor tech. To think that their 10-year old sensor still surpasses most cameras. RED continues to push resolution at the forefront of their game. I just wish they'd focus more on overall image aesthetic, color, etc as opposed to pushing the K's, because as this test proves, 4.5K is more than enough.

    IMO, I still think the dragon sensors is one of the best sensors RED has made, although, Monstro looks mighty fine as well.
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