Thread: Which RED to consider for a new owner/operator in 2020

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  1. #1 Which RED to consider for a new owner/operator in 2020 
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    Hi everyone, first-time poster long time lurker.

    This year I plan to buy a RED for my business. I am an independent contractor (DP, specialty camera op.), but I also hope to rent my future RED out on the side to help cover the costs of the camera.

    Which RED brain would you guys recommend I start with? I want something that will be as future-proof as possible without breaking the bank. So far I have been looking at an older Epic Dragon 6K, or the Scarlet-W. Both of these because they're within the 10k-15k price point for a ready-to-shoot kit, and I have experience in working with both.

    Is it worth it to spend the extra $$ to go for the Epic-w 8k kit in 2020?

    Any advice is welcome. Thank you!
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  2. #2  
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    I own DSCM1 Epic Dragon 6k - this thing is still a beast. How old is it and for me still better then FX9 and similar cameras... So if cash is a problem older models are still great. Dont count on renting out too much, even the newer models as if you are not a rental house it will be only here and they that someone will rent or if you already have a base of shooters that might rent...
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  3. #3  
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    I wouldn't recommend an Epic-8k. If you want to go the 8K route then DSMC2 helium is the way to go which is more expensive but has better and more future proof frame rates (8k/60fps). There are catches to helium though, like severe cropping for slow motion (windowing of the sensor), green tint that will need to be consistently dialed out, and it's somewhat of a noisy sensor if not lit properly. Not sure where you are located and what market and connections you have but a lot of people that may want to rent a RED from you don't necessarily need 8k or have the media storage and computer hardware to edit 16-bit 8k successfully (be sure you do as well). 4K-6K resolution is still very relevant (most clients ask for 1080, 2k, or 4k deliverables) and it will be much easier for a majority to deal with in terms of file sizes and rendering during post-production. Unless your clients are asking for 8k, YOU DO NOT NEED AN 8K CAMERA!

    I would say Komodo first because you can get that brand new with warranty built out for around 10-12k depending on how you want to rig it. I know the camera retails for 6-7k but by the time you add a monitor, rigging, batteries (v-mounts if you want to go that route), expander modules, etc. and tax it comes out close to 12k minimum. The Komodo is very interesting as it has a global shutter and its form factor is great, however it doesn't have the best frame rates so keep that in mind and it is not an upgradeable "DSMC" camera and more of a "one off" so that is something to consider as well in the future if you want to upgrade later to DSCM3 you might be upset you didn't pick a DSMC2 camera. Similarly, Komodo is DCT based compression not wavelet based, so the file sizes are very large for a 6k image and you do not have as many compression options to reduce file sizes for say an interview or documentary shooting. You can shoot pro-res to combat file sizes but then you sacrifice resolution (tops out at 4k) or the flexibility or REDcode raw in post.

    I personally shoot on Gemini and think it is the best RED made outside of Monstro. I have seen some Gemini kits going used for around 20k if you look hard and it absolutely is worth 5k more than a Dragon or Scarlet-w as in my opinion they aren't even in the same league in terms of usable IQ outside of perfectly lit sets. I know someone that just picked up a used Gemini brain for around 13k so built out you could definitely fall under 20k if you buy everything used and look for deals. Gemini has Dual-ISO and the sensor is really clean which I personally love and has saved my ass on a few jobs where I couldn't light what I was shooting due to various constraints (i.e. real estate, run-and gun doc work, etc.). Gemini also is the best RED camera for slow-motion as it does 5k WS @ 120FPS with basically no cropping in of the sensor. I can't express enough how good of an image comes out of Gemini. Dragon may look slightly more filmic outdoors in good light but at the cost of poor lowlight performance and noise in underexposure which is important to commercial DP's, small crews on small budgets, and one-man bands if that is your routine. I tend to prefer to add grain/texture to Gemini rather than having it all the time with say Dragon sensor. You can always dirty up a clean image but its harder to clean up a dirty image so to speak. If you can't afford Gemini, I would say go for Komodo but for some reason I don't see a rental market for that camera being to great for very long once the hype dies off (will be obsolete once DSMC3 comes out) but that is just my opinion as it seems to be more appealing to the YouTuber crowd and people coming over from DSLR's it appears but I could be wrong.

    Gemini or the older Dragon's would definitely get rented for sure and are tried and true with more modular build out options and better compression and frame rate options which will appeal to some professionals. Gemini is also a wonderful sensor for anamorphic. I say go Gemini and don't think twice about it but I am also biased :-)
    Last edited by Andrew Reese; 08-28-2020 at 11:56 AM.
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Joseph Hutson's Avatar
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    First off, welcome to this great community here at REDuser.

    Multiple different routes available, and I don't think any are bad...but you decide which is best...


    The Komodo is a phenomenal camera, and if we were talking simply about where your current business is, I am sure it will be everything you and your clients need. As both a Komodo and Helium owner, I think the Komodo might tick 75-80% of the boxes that my Helium might.

    The advantage of the Komodo for you is the small and lightweight body. You do a lot of gimbal and aerial work. The Komodo is perfect for this.

    But my thoughts are that you want to rent the camera to other people. This might be difficult with a Komodo.

    I think you would also want to use the fact that you have an 8K camera to add to your credibility when seeking out new clients. You don't want to only stick with the clients you've got, but reach out to new ones and let them know that you are moving up a bit in the world. You want to go where you want to receive a new puck. Not where your puck has been. :)

    The 8K Helium has been out for quite awhile. Nearly 4 years. But Red hasn't yet come out with any replacement. This means there will be a lot of used cameras available and I don't think this would be a bad idea. You might even find a good price for a package that includes many other accessories to build out your package. This is why I do not recommend you buying a new Helium from RED right now. Too many good options for used cameras and accessories. Since the helium has been out for so long, this also means that the DSMC3 might be a year or two away.

    So, do you get a used DSMC2 now and then look at an upgrade to stay current? Or do you get a Komodo and learn how to push it to its limits and be ready to get a DSMC3 in a year or two?

    One other thing to consider. Cameras are good, but lenses are a necessary component to having your work stand out as well.

    If renting your gear out is not imperative, you might want to get a Komodo now, and put any extra cash into your lens investments. And then consider making this your B camera in 1 or 2 years or whenever exactly the DSMC3 comes out.

    I know I'm going back and forth, but these are all options that you need to weigh out and I think only you can answer. Also, ask people who know you personally and know your situation. People like Tabb at Freefly, I'm sure would possibly have some advice.

    I didn't have the clients at the time of me purchasing my first RED camera at the age of 20, to buy a RED camera package for 75K. But I took a chance and reached for buying the best camera I possibly could. Worked hard to build relationships and opportunities and had it paid off within half a year. I can't promise you it'll be the same for you, but you never know. Believe in yourself and I believe you can expect others to follow suit by believing in you as well.

    Good luck! The community here is always ready to support you.
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member Patrick Tresch's Avatar
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    Senior Member Wil Wong's Avatar
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    Yeah, as much as I love all the DSMC 2 cameras, if you're new, I would suggest Komodo too (purely based on price and what it offers) UNLESS you need 'really slow motion' OR 8K OR you can't wait till the Black Komodo models come out.

    If you get a really good price on a Raven or DSMC 2 Dragon or Epic-W (which I do recommend), then perhaps that's fine but it's really hard to beat the price of a Komodo.

    I would not get a DSMC1 unless the price is extremely low (since it is no longer repairable by RED).
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  7. #7  
    As written above. Best value and most future proof right now. I would say get a komodo. The dsmc2 line is great but it comes with quite costly aks and most likly there will be a new linup of red cameras out shortly which will likly makes the older cameras drop in price.


    The demand for Epic and scarlets are on the rental side is very low. I would not personally go trough the risk and hassle it comes with for the low rates people are willing to pay for thos cameras. I think much better to get a komodo early and with a bit of luck you have it paid off really quickly if a bigger production looks for a small agile b cam as they are still quite difficult to source. Supply is sinply smaller than demand wich is the oposite for dsmc1 and even dsmc2.
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Christoffer Glans's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Swoboda View Post
    Hi everyone, first-time poster long time lurker.

    This year I plan to buy a RED for my business. I am an independent contractor (DP, specialty camera op.), but I also hope to rent my future RED out on the side to help cover the costs of the camera.

    Which RED brain would you guys recommend I start with? I want something that will be as future-proof as possible without breaking the bank. So far I have been looking at an older Epic Dragon 6K, or the Scarlet-W. Both of these because they're within the 10k-15k price point for a ready-to-shoot kit, and I have experience in working with both.

    Is it worth it to spend the extra $$ to go for the Epic-w 8k kit in 2020?

    Any advice is welcome. Thank you!
    What type of things do you shoot? If you are working primarily alone and handling the camera by yourself you might want to give the Komodo a chance. Otherwise, if you want a competitive edge, just get the Monstro or the Gemini.
    But I would say that owner/operator is a dead game today. If the production requires something like a Monstro, then the production has the budget to cover renting it from a rental service, which provides much better deals when it comes to insurance policies etc. So any project that want and need a cinematic image can get away with it using less expensive gear like the Komodo or a DSLR.

    That's why I'm aiming for replacing my gear with a Komodo setup instead. I don't need high speed over 50 fps, so that's not a dealbreaker for me.
    "Using any digital cinema camera today is like sending your 35mm rolls to a standard lab. -Using a Red is like owning a dark room."
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  9. #9  
    Senior Member Josef Gatti's Avatar
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    The rental thing never really worked out for me either, though I guess that depends on where you're located and if you already have a base of people to rent to. I would not prioritize this in your decision.

    I've still got my Epic Dragon since 2015, never have had a reason to upgrade it. The images it produces are amazing still, the sensor is reasonably large with 16 stops or so, and you can shoot in higher frame rates okay. It's not the quickest camera to work with though.

    And I've found that the images from it get much better with a healthy amount of light, something to think about!
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  10. #10  
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    Thank you RED community for all of your helpful insights!

    You are all definitely part of the reason I am looking forward to joining this group of owners in the near future.

    Sounds like Komodo might be the ticket honestly. Things like sensor cropping at lower res/lacking high frame rates were a turn-off at first, but after hearing your responses I believe this is the way to go.

    Does anyone have an idea of when Komodo's official release is planned? Last I heard was September 2020.

    Thank you all again!
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