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Three three-letter cameras: EX1, F23, RED

An unfair comparison of three entirely different cameras

By Adam Wilt | March 17, 2008

On March 7th, Tim Blackmore and I visited Videofax, a San Francisco camera rental house. Videofax is unique in the area (as far as I know) in having both a RED ONE digital cinema camera and a Sony F23 HDCAM-SR camcorder. Videofax's Leigh Blicher kindly invited us to come by and take a look, following the DCS RED Event the previous weekend. How could we refuse?

I took along our Sony PMW-EX1, because it provides a good basis of comparison: cameras like the EX1 are readily accessible, so they make a nice reference point; and I'm quite familiar with it (Videofax also has an EX1, but it was out for five weeks as the B camera on an HDW-F900R feature shoot). Besides, what could be more unfair: I'm comparing a $6500 EX1 with a $25,000 RED and a $200,000 F23 (all cameras priced in shooting configurations)! That's quite a price span, and I'm not for a moment assuming you can call these cameras equal. Really, it's like comparing apples, oranges... and pears.

It's unfair in other ways, too. I know the EX1 pretty well by now, but I'd never used the F23 before, and only had a brief exposure to RED last September. We only had a few hours to learn enough about the cameras to shoot a couple of interior test before Videofax's prep area was needed to park their camera truck, back from a gig; and then another hour to grab some quick 'n' dirty outdoor images. So our tests are fragmentary, the cameras weren't fully set up, the charts were sloppily lit, and there are some mismatches in focal lengths and framing.

And RED, of course, is a moving target: it's still under development, both in the camera's firmware and in REDCINE, its "digital film lab" application. The firmware we used is supposed to be superceded soon (on average, there has been a new build every two weeks), so take my findings as a snapshot of an evolving product, not as any sort of final word.

Nonetheless, I think this was a comparison worth doing: if nothing else, we'll see just what the differences are between two Sony 1920x1080 cameras, one costing 30x the other's price, and a non-realtime, 4k Bayer-mask camera from an upstart company that didn't exist three years ago.

I'm not going to rate or rank the cameras, but I will compare images and comment on 'em, and (I hope) show detailed enough results that you can look at them, decide on whether you think my methodology allows any sort of adequate comparison, and make informed judgments on your own as to what the different cameras can do for you. Along the way I'll discuss my post-production process (I've already started with this article about pulling stills from FCP), so that—with any luck—you can avoid some of the pitfalls and surprises I encountered.

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Comments

Charles Taylor: | March, 17, 2008

That superspeed looks a bit soapy in the 100% crop of the outdoor scene. Would have been nice to see a Master Prime on the RED, but perhaps its more interesting to compare what the cameras will typically be used with.

I agree about small form-factor cameras, but I see the problems with smaller cameras being mostly a marketing issue.

If the EX-1 was well-built and took real glass, had nice controls, good balance, etc. etc. but in the small form factor and small price, Sony would be making their F23s etc. look bad.

There’s no reason why small camera’s can’t be just as well designed and nice to use as 535s, 900s, etc.

John Smith: | March, 17, 2008

I have not have a chance to use F23, but I have the EX1 and friend and I compared it to the Red for two days. I have to disagree with Adam Wilt findings. We found the EX1 to be about equally sensitive, possibly a hair less, in its progressive setting as is the Red and in an interlaced mode EX1 is about twice or nearly twice as sensitive, for the same noise level. We had a chance to record F900R to SW1 briefly and it did appear to be sharper than the Red camera. We made full 1920x1080 4:2:2 recording. We both agreed that the Red camera in its 4K mode puts out ABOUT 2K resolution. It is a great for its narrow DOF though; no question about that. The connections are flimsy; the monitor does not represent what is recorded accurately. The camera goes out of focus in time and needs to be refocused. I guess you get what you pay for. Too bad Adam Wilt has not rty the camera in its cage. It is a pain to set it up. The camera had to be rebooted several times as it froze. I guess if you need 35 mm DOF, it may be the way to go, otherwise we decided this camera is definitely not for us.

Jim Taylor: | March, 17, 2008

I think that this report is biased; it tries to hide the real shortcomings of the Red camera. I’ve tried it and I can tell you that I would not touch it again with a 10 foot pole. The shallow depth-of-field is the only good thing about it. Put 35 mm adapter on the XDCAM EX and you will get excellent image, very film-like. Forget the Red! It’s all hype! Why does a multibilionaire need to act like a used car salesman?

Christopher Ruffell: | March, 17, 2008

Adam,

Great article - thank you for setting this up - valuable!

It’s been said that Sony reps have said the EX1 is a 10bit camera in that it’s live video feed is 10bit video out via HD-SDI.

Is this true?

Cheers,

- Christopher Ruffell

Mark Weiss: | March, 17, 2008

Great reading, Adam! The charts and frame grabs said an awful lot. Even if the test conditions were not perfect, what I saw told me a lot about the Red and why we Sony owners have nothing to worry about.
One CMOS imager, like the Canon HV20. grin  Red is a glorified single CMOS camera. True, it takes some nice images, but up against the F23, I’ll take the Sony every time. And the EX1 didn’t do poorly either.
No doubt there are subtle nuances in the Red images that I didn’t pick up, but overall, the picture looked too soft and, well, what can one anticipate from a Bayer filtered, since imager?

Good job showing us all a relative comparison!

Adam Wilt: | March, 17, 2008

I am setting up this week to see if the EX1’s SDI output is 8 or 10 bits; stay tuned.

The outdoor shot isn’t a fair comparison for anything other than depth-of-field; the F23’s blacks were crushed and it was oversharpened, while the RED’s 50mm SuperSpeed is indeed “a bit soapy” at T2.8 (great description, Charles!) so that image is softer overall than I think it could be.

The EX1’s outdoor shot was misfocused so I didn’t do a detailed side-by-side with the other cams.

I’d like to compare noise levels between the EX1 and RED, which I didn’t address at all in this article. I think the RED’s noise benefited from downsizing to HD, while the F23 suffered outdoors from what was in essence a 2x or so gain-up in post; I fixed the T-stop for depth of field and didn’t try to equalize exposures on location.

Hey, I said up front it was an unfair comparison! We had a limited time to work with the cameras available, and without Videofax’s generous invitation we wouldn’t have had even that. This is more of a meet-the-cameras than a proper test, but at least it gives me an idea of what to test next… and I hope to do another, more real-world RED vs. EX1 test some time in the next two weeks (possibly with Master Primes or Ultra Primes on the RED).

o_ren: | March, 17, 2008

We (the place I work at) also did this RED vs. F23 comparison. Without getting into the testing and results, this is my 2 cents.
Since the RED had to be shut down every 15 minutes or so from overheating, and since REDCine and RED Alert crashed on most of our macs, and since when it didn’t crash it had some weird bizarre artifacts… from all this the immediate conclusion is that the camera and the entire workflow is in deep beta stages. I would give it a good 6 months or so for the whole bundle to be stable and then run the tests again.

Cheers

Luc Meisel: | March, 18, 2008

Forgive me if this is a silly question but why was the EX1 misfocused, couldn’t you have merely focused it?

Please be patient with me. I am curious because I was thinking of buying the Ex1.

Barlow Elton: | March, 18, 2008

I tested the HD-SDI output of the EX1 back in December by capturing it to a 10 bit codec (SheerVideo 10bv 4:2:2) via Kona LH on a G5. I sent a sample to the folks at CineForm for analysis. Answer: It appears to use the entire 10bit word.

Word. smile

Jim Taylor: | March, 18, 2008

I’m glad there is finally a site, where one can post truth about the Red camera, without being attacked, without his post being removed or altered and him being banned from posting. Unfortunately it will not take long for the Red fanboys, the trolls, if paid by Red or not - we will probably never find out, come to this site in such a force as to dilute the truth and to push their propaganda that Red is superior to F23, that it has 4K resolution, that it has film-like images, that it is “the camera” that will replace film, etc.

There is another misconception in this report by Adam Wilt. That is the price of the camera. Even to get decent 2K one needs to get lenses with decent MTF, among other things, otherwise the image will look out of focus; it will be soft. One must look at the complete MTF of the syatem throuth and including the projection lens. If the total MTF drops below 30, the image will not be acceptable. This was clearly demonstrated by the softness of the SuperSpeed when wide open. Now add to it MTF of the projection lens and you are in a real trouble. In addition to that there are quite differences in projection lens MTF factors, which vary from theater to theater.

The MTF factor was why Panavision persuaded Sony to go with 2K, not 4K on their Genesis camera.

Taking into all this into consideration, just to get 2K out of Red, you need $100K of glass. Ad to it 50K for a properly configured camera and you are at $150K. Add the problems with the camera, with the work flow, etc. and it becomes obvious that you would be a fool to ever use it on a film production, and it’s not even usable for anything else.

Since you’re going to do post in 2K anyway, the extra density of the photosites on the CMOS further dilutes the usable MTF compared to a 2K sensor.

Why call this camera a Beta version if it actually is not even a final prototype?

I think that a lot of people were conned.

Mike Curtis: | March, 18, 2008

Having shot and sometimes tested with five different Red cameras at roughly monthly intervals since they shipped, I think the important thing to realize is that it is a work in progress, and the status at one point in time is not what the current status is. Early cameras did indeed have some horrible problems - crashing, PL mount issues, etc. But that is not the case today - I’ve shot with my own camera for a few days, running the latest beta firmware, and have not once crashed the camera during operation (although it has failed to boot a few times if I power cycle too quickly, a known issue - just wait 10 seconds and don’t be as impatient as I am!).

Significant image quality enhancements are expected before NAB as well, so that will alter the results as well.

Some folks are impatiently proclaiming “When will be it DONE?!” The mixed blessing answer is a smiling “Never!” from Jim - it will continue to be improved on an ongoing basis is the good news. The downside is that not all features are complete and as stable as people want for NOW. Wait till it behaves reliably for your needs, then consider using it.

-mike

Adam Wilt: | March, 18, 2008

“Why was the EX1 misfocused, couldn’t you have merely focused it?”

An excellent question, and one which I’ve asked myself much in the past few days!  [grin]

I did focus it, or so I thought. Either I blew the focus or the back-focus setting was off: I zoomed in tight to focus and zoomed back out to shoot, but I didn’t check my focus critically once zoomed out. (There are back-focus issues coming to light with the EX1; I’ll be posting an article about them in the next day or two.)

Rob Vela: | March, 19, 2008

Just my two cents, but it appears that Jack Peters and Jim Taylor see the glass as half empty.

When you say “worthless unfinished prototype”  and “you would be a fool to ever use it on a film production” it undermines your otherwise interesting conversation about MTF.

Give us the facts Jack… Why the “attack” Jim?

Expand on your MTF thoughts. Give us a balanced argument. We’ll listen…

Rob

Scott Gentry: | March, 19, 2008

All:
I removed the Jack Peters Comment for a couple of reasons.
1. We tied to contact Jack, not sure if that’s a real name, but the email doesn’t seem o work. 
2.  Jack’s comments were not based on facts, and that can be, and has been proven already. 

Since we cannot contact Jack outside of the open comments here, we’ve decided that this amounts to an unwarranted attack and therefore pulled the comment.

Monty Melon: | March, 19, 2008

Great article Adam and some interesting comments. Like many I got caught up in the Red hype, placed an order and eagerly awaited the arrival of our camera. But before taking delivery I was lucky to invited to   take part in some camera tests in which we compared a Red, F900 and a Genesis. Our conclusion is that the Red is a exciting and promising camera. But agree with other readers that its basically a prototype. I think Red has made a mistake by releasing the camera too early. They have lured customers with hype and now using them to beta test the product, which is unfair. I know a lot of people get excited that new firmware gets released every second week adding new features, but if your day to day business is shooting film and television what you want is a stable robust workhorse , you want a camera which works out of the box, not promises which will be fixed in the next firmware update. We work our gear hard and quite often in remote locations, so we we value proven reliability more than some cool new feature. Sadly we canceled our Red order after the tests, we reached the conclusion at it’s present state of evolution is not ready for prime time yet. We wish it was and can’t wait for the day it is. We haven’t shut the door on Red, we intend to have another look at it next year to see how the product has matured and we may re-order then.  Good luck to all those people out there who are brave enough and the time to be Red’s beta testers.

Kenn Christenson: | March, 19, 2008

So… I’ve got a Red that’s supposedly ready to ship.  Red’s got my money - and, now, I’m having second thoughts.  The charts for Red aren’t exactly filling me with confidence, plus all the boot problems and post horror stories definitely give one pause.

If anyone’s shot with the Red, I’d appreciate their 2 cents - would you buy it, again, knowing what you know now?

Thanks

Jerry.Miles: | March, 19, 2008

Red is a 2K camera in its 4K mode, 1K camera in 2K mode. The CMOS pixel count is meaningless. Consumer Bayer filter (1)CCD/CMOS cameras also need to use considerably higher pixel count than the recording section is capable of recording, in order to get the full resolution of the recording format. And these consumer cameras are made by top names, lie Sony, with large and sophisticated engineering R&D;departments. There is no way Red can get higher performance from one sensor than true engineering R&D;with many engineers and scientists departments can. These tests proved it. That must also be the reason that Red does not publish resolution and other charts, despite being repeatedly accused by a number of people that their camera has considerably lower resolution that what was promoted from the start. That is the fact about Bayer. The test here indicates similar resolution of all three cameras. Red would be wise to record 2K or 1080p in the 4K sensor mode and 1k or 720p in the 2K sensor mode. The stream would need 4x lower compression for the same media use, but then it could not be advertised as 4k/2K system, but the picture quality would be better. There is another problem and that is that no one knows the sensor specs and make. Sony in its latest CMOS creation uses proprietary Exmore? noise reduction system. That gives EX1 such a great low light performance. How many generations ahead of the Mysterium? sensor is that no one knows. Sony in regards to the F23 never even claimed it to be 2K camera, only 1080p, which means lower resolution than 2K. Still it resolves more, as we can deduct from the charts and the article, than Red does in its 4K mode.

Graeme Nattress: | March, 19, 2008

The tests don’t “prove it” though, Jerry. I can measure 3.2k (Cooke 65mm), Guy-Louis Mier on CML posted that he could also measure 3.2k (Cooke 35mm S4). That’s a 78% linear resolution factor from 4k through the optical low pass filter, compression and demosaic algorithm. This is very good, and a very similar performance to what you’d get on a good DSLR, so it’s not a magical, impossible figure but a good real world figure. Early on in Red’s development, I was asked about resolution, and I answered on the forums (I think it was on DVXUser back then) that you could expect at least a 70% linear resolution factor.

Consumer single chip cameras are very limited by what can be done in realtime in hardware, whereas we (like shooting RAW on a DSLR) can do a high quality adaptive algorithm.

I’m sorry, but your understanding of compression is wrong. A scaled 2k from full sensor would require at least 3/4 the data rate of the 4k sensor raw data recording. That you think it would be “4x lower compression” shows that you really just don’t understand what is going on at all.

And no, the F23 does not resolve more resolution than the RED in 4k.

Laco Zamba: | March, 19, 2008

Another resolution test http://www.cinematography.com/forum2004/index.php?showtopic=29800

“As always, when a new camera falls into my hands I do two things first I measure real resolution in a chart that has 2000 lines resolution like the ISO12233 to know, what the effective resolution is, and second I shoot a transmitive step chart from Danes Picta that has 28 steps of 0,15 neutral density chips a total of 14 f-stops.

On the ISO chart, RED has surpassed my upper limit easily with 1550 lines of horizontal resolution. Measured with a 50mm Arri Distagon 2,1 in 4 aperture. I can upload the .R3D file for this measurement, but I thing the resolution that this camera has, is toping even 4K scanned film resolution, so it’s almost irrelevant to continue the discussion in resolution.”

Mike Smith: | March, 19, 2008

They are coming in - the experts. Just like in all the other discussions. They are here to attack any statement or test that shows inferiority of their camera. In the real world this camera would not even be called a full prototype, not until all functions would be working - and working properly. Then when everything is functioning, it can eventually become the final prototype. No reputable company would be producing half-finished products.

One of the problems is that usually who pays for tests, get the results he likes. Adam Wilt on the other hand is the most respectable and honest reviewer all the pros are aware of.

If this camera is better than 3.2K, better than 4K, etc., why Sony F23 has better resolution and why Sony calls it 1080p, which is less than 2K?

Why is Sony testing their 35mm sensor F35 camera, a finished fully functioning product, for nearly a year in Japan before they will call it a final product and will release it to the industry? Why? Because there is a difference between a real company that makes their pro cameras in Japan and another company that sends the manufacturing to somewhere in Singapore.

Phil Rhodes is one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry and he called the Red camera a 2K camera. See Cinematography.com. What is interesting is how many people, Adam Wilt included, are afraid to call it how it is. The camera is not even a finished final prototype and it should not be sold until it is a final product.

Graeme Nattress: | March, 19, 2008

One of the problems with such blogs as these, as some people hide behind their statements in such a way as we do not know who they are. On CML, when we post, we post who we are, who we work for and with - we are not anonymous. But anyone can post a blog comment, under any name, and say whatever they want…..

But science and facts show us the way:

If you think a camera with three 1920x1080 sensors can produce any more resolution than 1920x1080, then you’re wrong. Simple. If you think it can produce that full 1920x1080 without significant aliasing, then you’re wrong. Simple. Anyone with an understanding of the maths of sampling theory (which isn’t hard) knows this.

An F23 does not, and cannot have a higher resolution than a RED, and if you disagree with that, do it in person, at NAB, and point your F23 at one of our 4K zone plates we use for testing resolution. I’ll point a RED at it, and in a minute or two, we’ll be looking at the R3D file on my laptop. We’ll open it up in RedAlert, spit out a quick tiff, open it in ImageJ, and plot a scanline on the 2k plate and the 4k plate. On the 2k plate you’ll see no significant aliasing, but good MTF output at the edge of the chart showing greater than 2k resolution. Then we’ll look at the 4k zone plate, plot the scanline, and see the modulation drop off at between 70% and 80% of the way across (under controlled conditions I get 78%, but this is not under controlled conditions). We’ll see a little mild aliasing beyond that, but not enough to be in any way worried about. We won’t see any nasty ringing or edge enhancement either.

Then you pull that F23 out, slap in your HDCAM SR tape. We quickly record the test chart, and wait a hour or so while you run off with the tape to a computer with an uncompressed 10bit 4:4:4 capture card and HDCAM SR deck, you spit out a frame as a tiff or dpx, and bring it back for analysis. What do we see…. Well, if you want a preview, go download one of the F23 dpx files from cinematography.net (the web page of CML, the professional cinematography mailing list). The dpx files there don’t look to exhibit the nasty sharpening we see on Adam’s captures (darn those “default” settings eh?) but they do exhibit significant aliasing from about 700l/ph (1.2k). Although heavily over-sharpened, Adam’s charts also show heavy aliasing setting in at this point. On the DPX files from CML we can also see some other interesting things, but the point of this is not to trash an F23, but to point out that the science doesn’t back up your claims.

Mike Curtis: | March, 20, 2008

Hey folks - do keep in mind that Adam made it clear that these were limited tests in a hurry, not lab grade, definitive mandates.

It is the interweb tubes - there will be proponents and detractors on both sides of any issue - and that doesn’t make for Evil Conspiracy on either side, just a difference of opinions (and sometimes understandings).

-mike

Jim Washington: | March, 20, 2008

As to Nattress comments: Adam Wilt’s charts indicate better resolution on Sony 1080p F23 than on 4K Red.

Natress works for Red.

Mike Curtis worked at Red booth at NAB.

Loco Zamba claims that he gets 14 f-stops out of Red.

Give me a break!

Why knowledgeable people, not fan boys and those with an agenda have a totally different opinion on Red?

Why sell to the pros half-done prototypes? Why the heavy handed marketing push on the unprepared professional community, most of whom are artists, not engineers to fully understand the technical stuff?

The MTF theory described earlier is interesting. As Red claims that this is a 4K camera, and the CMOS certainly has some 8MP, for the camera to even deliver 3K performance, after debayering, one needs to have lenses with exceptional MTF, good for 4K resolution. The theory that MTF of the projection lens must count is interesting and true, but there is also the MTF factor of the camera itself that up to now was not mentioned. It is the MTF of the whole chain that must be significant for the piture to stay sharp and not soft.

One needs to have lenses costing well over $100K to get decent 3K performance out of Red, a theoretical maximum, not 4K as Red fanboys claim - and even this type of lenses will not have sufficient MTF at all apertures.

One needs to look at tests like Adam Wilt did here, which indicate higher resolution on the 1080p Sony camera than on the “4K” Red. When it comes to fairness, on must not listen to what a manufacturer with an unprecedented amount of marketing push onto the unknowledgeable customer is doing.

Red should acknowledge to the customers that the camera can’t get 4K resolution, should acknowledge that only some lenses and only at some apertures will get more than 2K non-soft picture out of this camera - when we consider the whole chain through projection. You can’t shoot a film and find out that each time you change F-stop, your picture softness changes considerably.

Adam Wilt and other independent testers should be congratulated on their braveness to publish the real resolution figures for this camera. There were others, who after pressure pulled their tests from public view.

This marketing hype is even worse than what preceded HVX200 introduction, which made everyone believe that the new camera will be 1080p and then tests showed little or no resolution difference between its 1080p and 720p modes.

Laco Zamba: | March, 20, 2008

RED and 14 f-stops? No grin
Danes Picta chart has 14 f-stops.

Monty Melon: | March, 20, 2008

Well as Jim Taylor predicted it hasn’t taken the Red evalengists long to turn up on this blog. I have great respect for both Graeme Nattress and Mike Curtis, over years they have made an outstanding contribution to the pool of quality information about digital video, but they are both too close to Red to be unbiased in their discussion of the camera. They make a valuable contribution to the debate and have answered many of my questions, but they push the good aspects of the camera and gloss over or ignore the negatives.I don’t hold that against them,their job is to promote the camera and protect Red from the heretics:) And Red like any other has the right to employ people to promote their product and deflect negative comments. Sony and Panasonic do similar things, but they are not as sophiscated as Red in using the internet as a marketing tool. All I’m interesting is finding out is how the product performs.I’m neither pro or anti Red. As John Lennon once sang “All I want is some truth” There is a tendency of both sides of this discussion to treat this all as some kind of holy war, which bores me to tears. And trying to win this war thru technical one upmanship and bamboozlement is very silly. I’m tired of people trotting out focus and resolution charts to back their opposing stances. Cameras are about pictures not charts. So the real issues are the pictures any good and what the camera is like to work with. So guys please get out of the test bay,take off your propeller hats, suppress your inner geek and go outside and do with the cameras what they are designed for, making films. Lets hear from the D.P and colorists who actually have to make the images from these cameras for change instead of the geek boys sprouting techo babble. To paraphrase Academy award winning D.P Dean Semmler when asked about using the Genesis on Apocalypico, said he wasn’t interested in the numbers it was pictures which governed his choice of camera. I’ve seen the camera tests for that shoot they pushed the camera to its limits in real world conditions not the test bay. The most extreme shooting at night with camera rated at an ASA of 3200 and the shutter off. In our Red tests we never got to push the camera that hard (unfortunately we were confined to test bay and our car park at midday ). I would love to hear from people who have given the Red a similarly hard work out as Dean did with the Genesis. Our low light testing with the Red left us underwhelmed. Looking forward to more good information and less tired old arguements.

Graeme Nattress: | March, 20, 2008

Exactly. You know who I am and who I work for and with. My biasses are known. Mike is similarly honest about his biases. But who are you??? Unless we know who you are, your comments are worthless.

The comment about needing $100,000 lenses is just bunk. You can measure the 3.2k on the Red lenses, which are significantly less than that price, or you could use your Nikon or Canon SLR lenses on an adapter. They will give you the resolution too.

Graeme Nattress: | March, 20, 2008

I think that 3 or 4 of the above posters are the same anonymous person posting under different identities.

At least Adam, Mike and myself are real grin

Dylan Reeve: | March, 20, 2008

I don’t own a RED and I’m not likely to buy one anytime soon. I’ve never shot with a F23. But I have served a post-production supervisor on two RED shoots, and from our experience (even using old Zeiss lenses) the real-world performance of RED surpasses what might be inferred from the tests here.

Don’t take this quick and dirty test of Adam’s as some sort of definitive shoot out. It’s clearly not. The RED is definitely capable of more, and I think the F23 can probably do better too. Also, the RED with it’s RAW nature still has a lot of scope for image improvement after shooting. And, according to RED, they aren’t quite done refining the quality of the image the camera does produce.

If you’re not convinced, that’s fine, go and find a RED nearby and try it for yourself - maybe it’s what you’re looking for, maybe it’s not. But the hostility toward RED here is bizarre.

Personally I’m looking forward to when Adam gets another chance to really give RED a good going over. And maybe a revisit of the F23 too.

Graeme Nattress: | March, 20, 2008

That’s because the hostility is not coming from real people with real names, email addresses, websites or identities. And as such, their “opinions” are worthless. Not that I’m one to let any inaccuracies pass through unchallenged.

I’d very much like Adam to look again at the F23 with the sharpness turned off, as that really did muck things up. Actually, it’s rather good it happened as it shows that raw recording is a darn good idea, and that default settings need to be checked carefully, and we as people who make cameras need to be really sure about what we set as default.

Monty Melon: | March, 20, 2008

Dear Graeme,
Sorry if offended you in someway. All I’m attempting to do is move the debate forward as I feel its stuck in a rut. I think you misread the intent of my post. So I won’t take offence at your descriptions of my comments as being worthless. But it is not a very good opening for what I hoped would be an interesting discussion on the pro and cons of the camera. I have no axe to grind as I said in my previous comments I am neither pro or anti the Red. I’m interested in hearing what everyone has to say. That includes you and Mike. We are you know work for Red and you have never tried to hide it. As I wrote before   I have no issue with that. I think is great to have have a Red employee and some one as knowledgable as yourself playing an active part in this discussion.
Mike Curtis put it well when he said “there will be proponents and detractors on both sides of any issue - and that doesn’t make for Evil Conspiracy on either side, just a difference of opinions (and sometimes understandings)”
As the lens comment being “bunk”, you are aiming wrath at the wrong person. I never made that comment. And believe you when you say a Red lens can measure 3.2k. Any lens choice is a very personal choice and is often done for creative reasons. And that decision can change from project.You don’t always want the sharpest glass. Take the examle of “Saving Private Ryan” they used old Panavision lens because they were soft and flared a lot, because they wanted that look. Which illustrates one of the points I was trying to make in the previous comments. Lets not to bogged down in the numbers and forget the purpose camera are designed for. It is a creative tool,not a device designed to measure contrast and resolution. What I see on the screen matters to me. I don’t walk out of a cinema say I didn’t like that film because of “significant aliasing from about 700l/ph”

I have enough nothing to hide. We ordered a Red we tested what was important to us and decided to cancel. I don’t think that makes me a bad person (or a good person). As I said before the Red isn’t right for us now but it may be in the future.
So please lighten up Graeme.  At the end of the day its just camera. Its not going to cure cancer or end poverty.
Where do you want me to send my CV, blood samples, credit report, criminal record and the photo of us together to? I don’t like feeling worthless:)

tai krige sasc: | March, 20, 2008

Fun and games, and yes lets get out of the Test Lab and look at the pictures.
I have not worked with a RED yet, but have worked with the interesting 2K camera from Silicon Imaging; the SI-2K. - Iam a profesional DOP from a film background and have only recently started testing the ellectronic waters….Have any of you learned gentlemen come across this camera? Love to hear your comments and I must say that I do like the pictures coming off the SI-2K, especially at 85fps and 150fps, creamy smooth, very film-like IMHO. And I dont care too much about ultimate resolution since I de-grade and tend to soften the image anyhow during my final grade, depending on what i am shooting…its dynamic exposure range (latitude ) that I am more interested in, coming from a film background and thats where I find all the HD cameras I have used fall down…...Last week I shot a quick latitude test with the SI-2K and found the claim of 10 to 11 stops very belivable,...way better than anything out there…..and if anyone is interested I can post the test results done with the RED up against the SI-2K regarding latitude shot by a highly regarded rental company out of NewZealand that service the camera needs of people like Peter Jackson…...
Also, I hear the RED’s compression ratio is 10:1.-The SI-2K people claim 5:1…anyone comment?

Monty Melon: | March, 20, 2008

Seriously Graeme please contact me offline if you want to verify that I’m a real person and only post from one real address. For reasons of commercial sensivity I can’t name the company I work for or the other company who invited me to their test, in a public forum. Its complex but I can fill on certain details off line.

Monty Melon: | March, 20, 2008

Tai,
Please post results. Didn’t know there was a SI-2 in NZ. Rubber Monkey? Wonder if they tested it against their Viper. Haven’t shot in NZ in quite a while. You based there?

Graeme Nattress: | March, 20, 2008

Monty, none of my comments have been directed at you!

I have no problem with someone doing their own camera tests, and deciding that any camera (RED or otherwise) is not for them. Every user is unique, and therefore it’s important to have different types of cameras, with different formats and attributes so that people stand more chance of finding a camera that suits them best. All RED has done is offer more choice to more people. SI do the same - a similar philosophy of compressed RAW, done differently, but again, opening up choices and possibilities where there was none before.

I’ll drop you a email. Thanks!

Graeme

Monty Melon: | March, 20, 2008

Thanks Graeme,
I made the the mistaken assumption that as your comment came after mine it was directed at me. I appreciate you pointed out my error.
cheers,
Monty

tai krige sasc: | March, 20, 2008

In Wellington we did a presentation to 14 of Jackson’s ‘tech-boys’ at his in-house 140 seater cinema at Park Road Post where the main boffin/ technical director, when investigating the post workflow, commmented that he thought the camera interface for the SI-2K was far more sophisticated than the RED ONE interface.
Yes you’r right Monty. At Rubber Monkey we ran the SI-2K against their VIPER and the RED…..I quote:- “..seems like the dynamic range of the RED ONE is only 8 stops and the VIPER 6 stops compared to 11 of the SI-2K. Another interesting fact is that the compression on the RED is running at about 10:1 as opposed to the SI-2K at 5:1.”
In Auckland the Panavision guys were very supportive indeed….....
Iam based in Johannesburg.

tai krige sasc: | March, 20, 2008

Rubber Monkey have received two of the four RED ONE’s ordered…..

tai krige sasc: | March, 20, 2008

Gentlemen. We’ve all been at it hammer & tongs twix the RED and the Sony,...what of the poor little EX1? - Someone on a feature using it as ‘B’ to a Sony 900R?..A lot of bang for ur buck it must be at +- $6500:00. Good for SONY, an entry-level, full-on HD camcorder. Boy o boy. Whos used one?
Questions, questions…..

tai krige sasc: | March, 20, 2008

If anyones interested and since someone asked for it; A short clip of what I really like in a HD camera…slow motion…...Look at Federal Health spot:- Google :- tai krige, then click on:- Velvet: Tai Krige, turn up the sound;- Cindy Lauper at her best. Honest. - I directed this, shot on a common ole Panasonic Varicam… Nice…..

Adam Wilt: | March, 20, 2008

I’ve been staying out of the catfights, but I have to correct one mistaken impression: my tests do NOT show the F23 or EX1 *resolving* more than 1080 TVl/ph or more than 1.92k horizontally. They cannot; that’s a fixed physical limit determined by 1920x1080 sampling. The absolute upper limit of any of these cameras, when their images are sized to 1920x1080, is 1920x1080!

There is more *detail* shown on the F23 and EX1 charts because those cameras “cheat”; they let higher-frequency information through their processing, but it appears as aliasing (so some detail appears at 1200 TVl/ph on the charts, but especially at the top & bottom of the zone plates what you mostly see is moir

Monty Melon: | March, 20, 2008

11 stops I didn’t realise it was that good. I’m going to have to track one down for a play. Nothing wrong with the Varicam, still some of the best out of the box pictures. Just turn it on and it looks great. I wish it did 120fps. EX1 looks like a very promising camera. Evidently it has some fangled new noise suppression technology in it. A mate bought one and he has fallen in love with. Its a very unhealthy relationship. His HVX feels jilted and is gathering dust. The only way I’m going to get to test it is steal it from him while he is a sleep

curtis smith: | March, 21, 2008

hey guys - it’s interesting to hear all the hacking on red- i’m mainly an audio guy ,but isn’t it obvious that new ideas can go a long way? i am blown away by graeme’s progress with red data. do you remember what the first cd’s in the 80’s sounded like? the sophisticated downsampling techniques developed over the last 10 years have rendered the dvd audio and sacd formats almost obsolete. i have an $80,000 mastering system that has a hard time showing a difference between the cd versus hi def audio version of the same recording! they were not even close 10 to 15 years ago. for that matter, look what sony has done with mpeg 2 gop algorithms. is the 20 plus year old bandwidth of cd technology able to produce true audiophile sound today? yes. will graeme be able to drastically improve red’s apparent video fidelity as he furthur develops more advanced wavelet algorithms? of course! mpeg is fairly basic compression compared with some of the new school math. it’s actually amazing that 3 chip technology got as far as it did. let’s see what a 3d red feature look like on a 50 foot screen in 2 or 3 years.  “great spirits will always suffer violent opposition” - albert einstein.

Charles Taylor: | March, 22, 2008

I love the comment that you can’t have a film whose softness changes every time you change aperture.

Has this person ever used a lens? Or shot a movie?

Hilarious.

tai krige sasc: | March, 22, 2008

Someone mentioned using the EX1 and ‘slapping-on’ a lens adaptor to use suplimentary lenses….How does that work? Can one use Pl mounted lenses over the existing lens??? Sounds a bit dodgy to say the least…Please enlighten me someone…. Who makes these adaptors? Price?

tai krige sasc: | March, 22, 2008

Happy Easter to all by the way. Must say, i’ve enjoyed listening to all of you alot…Thanks for taking the time to post….gr8 site….
By the way, if any of u would like to see ‘nice’ footage of a music video I shot with two Ford GT40’s racing down winding sea-road, shot from a 2-stage jet minature, remote controlled helicopter,( put the camera where no other camera has ever gone….) go to:-

www.wheelnuts.co.za

Pics of the shoot on the site under FREE WALLPAPERS…..

Joe D'Arcy: | March, 23, 2008

And although the angry and disillusioned experts attempted to crucify Red, he said, ‘Forgive them. They know not what they do.’ And then on Easter Sunday, he rose again, to be worshipped for thousands of years to come.

Scott Gentry: | March, 23, 2008

Might I suggest we take this discussion to the forums?

Boom Boom: | March, 27, 2008

So, the EX1 wins then?  Haha, just kidding.  Truth is, we all win.  Competition and the constant increase in rate of technology advancement means that those who pay attention to state of the art can reap its rewards.

Jason: | April, 01, 2008

Coming in mainly as a producer, Red comes across more as a film makers tool and the Sony as something that attempts to be all things. I would much rather have 4k of RAW image resolution to play with, with proper computers,  than have a semi ok image that is mainly achieved through inside camera engineering. It’s a no brainer really and some of the arguments presented here appear to be motivated by something other than glory of the end product of fellow film makers. Give me the data straight from the sensor and then let me decide what to do with that. From a marketing perspective RED comes across as marketing towards film makers and end results. Sony comes across as what you test in the showroom. Both are valid methods but I for one prefer REDs because i know at the end of the day, I can get that image looking exactly how I want and any one who has worked in RAW in digital photography knows exactly what i am talking about. I’d much rather have 8 cores and a dedicated software engine working on those files rather than some tiny camera board chip just so the initial image might appear sharper. But that’s me.
I’d also like the size of red and its adaptability. You can do such more with a versatile camera like that and versatility is important to me.
If I was interested in ENG work I might have to think more. But I’m interested in film style work and for me there is absolutely no comparison. You just have to look at the images. The RED wins hands down.
One has to agree with graeme. There seems to be other motivations coming along here and I guess with 4000+ cameras in sales @ 20k a camera plus spares there are going to be some unhappy sales people around. That means 4000 cameras people aren’t going to buy from someone else. I wouldn’t call it a conspiracy but rather, obvious reaction from someone who has just had the wind taken out of them.
The arguments attest to that. People are excited about this new camera for a reason and it’s not a marketing base reason. It’s because the camera has been designed by film makers for film makers with the goal of the best possible image in an “open source” situation. And it’s here where the tests should be going. Give the two cameras a go in real world situations including finishing on a similar budget and then see what comes forth. That would be a test worth considering.

tai krige sasc: | April, 02, 2008

Yes I agree with you Jason. Being a ‘film-man’ with a film background I am very excited to finally work with digital RAW negatives and enjoy extracting various film type looks from these new cinema capture devices. Spent all day yesterday at Panavision’s Johannesburg set-up; Panacam (Africa) shooting tests on the RED alongside a SI-2K….shot both cameras with one lens and later we plan to run a back to back ‘shoot-out’, under fully controlled conditions, shooting tests on film with a 16mm, 35mm and the SI-2K and RED….Take it all the way thru to film prints and project onto big screen in a decent four waller to really compare the lot…..Ask invitees to pick what they think is what…Should be interesting ....
I am about to DOP a feature film her and iam looking forward to seeing how these all shape-up.

monts: | April, 20, 2008

Dear firends
It is so wonderful to see real passionate people crucifying/glorifying, depends which side of the boat you are, a new piece of technology which has caused so much interest in the film production world.
But all I want to know, as a small production house with a decent but limited budget, we are planning a 120 min first Bollywood feature film to be shot in New Zealand on a RED camera which we have ordered. Once on screen, and later DVD will it give acceptable results or are we commiting sucide. Any honest results will be very much appreciated.
cheers

tai krige sasc: | April, 21, 2008

Hi there monts.
Let me toss in my penny’s worth.
No, you will defintely NOT be commiting sucide. You are spot on track. Its a fine camera, the RED with huge potential….I have shot tests on it as you can see from above and really, most of the gripes etc are related to things that will and can be sorted out. The main or biggest complaint/s it seems, is folk wanted it sorted before it was sent out…Little things like handles on the rod attachments breaking off…other annoying cosmetic things…not really important…its a technically very advanced camera very much like the SI-2K which I have done alot of work on and has alot of advantages going for it;...eventual high res. data aquisition, single sensor doing away with all the problems of splitting incoming data into RGB via 3x prisms onto 3xchips and all that entails,( as you see above, the ‘new’ Sony F35 now has finally gone the same route with its single 35mm sensor…way to go..) RED & the Silicon Imaging SI-2K camera were/are way ahead…You’ll have 444 RAW data coming in ....grade it any way you want, play with it, make it look like film, all that fun stuff….Just make sure you’ve got a competent HD DOP who knows his stuff and knows the limitations of HD over film…still the exposure latitude problem, ( you’re not going to be on film. )Need to know how to light to avoid any problems. Need to make sure your post. prod. people know how to cope with the post prod Workflow etc…Shoot all nessesary tests before you go on set….make sure you use a good piece of glass in front of the camera body….and away you go…What a buzz….I have just come back from Nigeria and 4 weeks in DRC Congo on two big budget commercials shoots and we shot it all on a common old Sony HD 750, ...great pictures if lit and graded properly ....looks gr8 on the big screen too…..no problems.
Also just seen a full-on feature film produced here shot also on the Sony 750….offline AND online plus grade all on laptop…never went of it or near a lab ( saves bags of money to spend somewhere else). Excellent digital projection onto big screen in four waller theatre…looks 100’s. This is the way forward, no question… film isnt dead, but tape certainly is…..Tapeless, direct to disc etc. is the future….for awhile anyhow.. Fun & games….
Let me know what your dates are and if Iam free, I’ll come over and shoot it for you.
All the best

monts: | April, 22, 2008

Hi krige
Thanks a lot for your informative and encouraging comments. We are planning a 4-5 week shoot in Sept end or Oct, primarily in Auckland and Fiji. It would be a great pleasure to have you on our project which is an action comedy film. Please email me on .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Would send you some details and synopsis.
Thanks a lot for your comments.

an actual DP: | April, 25, 2008

I would like to see the charts and testing between the Viper, the new Arri D-21, Sony F35, and the Red. All using the same lens. And real world info would be nice too….low light response, dynamic range, chomakey/mask/edge detection, streamlined workflow techniques….all minus the ego bruising that seems to happen from differing “expert” opinions here. I have to agree that too many test are skewed to a certain cameras strong points and gloss over the glaring problems that limit its potential use.

The hd camera most used currently in hd/film production is still the Viper…yes? There is something to that. But a half million is a lot to swallow…..no doubt. And storage solutions (with redundancy, like a film production REQUIRES)make things tricky quick shooting/capturing raw 4:4:4. There was an 8k display (4 4k pannels if I recall correctly) hosted by a Japanese tv station at NAB last week, and as beautiful as it was, begged the question how much is too much before your workflow pipeline chokes…

Luc Meisel: | April, 30, 2008

I would like to see RED’s focus at T4, I am very interested in the focus issues with RED.

Would love to see a more detailed article about that with varous stops, etc.

Thanks for a great article.

tai krige sasc: | May, 02, 2008

To:- An Actual DP. - So am I.
Futher up this very interesting thread you will see results from tests shot in New Zeeland at Rubber Monkey, the rental company that services Peter Jackson’s crowd, between a VIPER, a RED and a SI-2k. Read it. Their words not mine; “VIPER 6x stops, RED 8x stops and the SI-2K 10 stops.” of exposure latitude or dynamic range you ask about. My own personal test of 10 stops for the SI-2K, I found to be so. Rubber Monkey have ordered four, yes 4x RED’s, so they certainly arent ‘anti’ them at all. Nor am I. - I just love it. Sony/Panacynic must be shitting them selfs…...
Also read what the main boffin at Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post facility said about the user-interface twixt the RED and the SI-2K. - This I also agree with, having worked with both of these capture devices. The 9x segmented user options displayed on the ‘touch-screen’ of the SI-2K is just fabulous…and sooo simple to use.
Forget about the VIPER, F23, F124, F35, Arri, Genisuis whatever…..they’ve had their day…we’ve all been ripped off enough now…..now its the turn of the ‘new’ generation; witness the RED SCARLET at + - $3000 the RED EPIC and the SI-2K….these are the cameras of the future, not these other way over-priced bemouths…..Sony and the boys have had it all their own way now for toooo long…so has Kodak. Pity. I love film…Iam shooting on Kodaks new absolutly fantastic 5219 Vision3 hi-speed stock on my next production, but they/Kodak have made it virtually impossible for folk out there to think about using film these days with their totally ridiculous pricing…...Shame, if they dropped their prices way back film would still be very much around…but no…they have to ripp the guts out of us…Wicked.
Enjoy the new adventure out there.

tai krige sasc: | May, 13, 2008

Dear An Actuall DP.
Forget about the Vipers, Arri D-21, F24/25’s…. The RED’s and SI-2K’s are in town…..
Sony, Panacynic etc., along with Kodak have had their day(s). Ripping the guts out of the industry, forcing and keeping it in the hands of the Elite. Well, like the music industry, a revolution is and has taken place. Making movies is no longer the preserve of the rich Elite. There is no excuse anymore. Go out and make that movie!
3K for $3K…Way to go. - Two RED Scarlet’s for the price of a Sony EX 1. - I love it. Good ‘cinema’ capture devices. Thank you RED and Sillicon Imaging (SI-2K). 
If Kodak had smelt the celluloid burning they would have dropped the price of film drastically long ago and folk would still be shooting on it. Shame. I love Film. Pity kodak killed it. The Pursuit of the Dollar. Must make an increase on the profit. All short term planning….

Isnt there anyone out there who has shoot on the SI-2K?....I would love to hear from them. I have shot several high end commercials and a music video on it and have had nothing but good experences….creamy smooth 85fps/150fps slo-mo, just like film….Great use-friendly interface etc., Indestructable RAW data capture etc…Iam looking to use one on a feature film soon and would like to hear from any other DP’s out there…..Enough RED now guys….

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