Those of you following our blog on a daily basis have probably read some of my posts about the big day for the RED shooters coming up next week on October 11th. In case you haven’t, go ahead and check out this post here. Despite the fact that some details have already been revealed by RED, such as the new Epic-W, there’s plenty of unknowns that remain to be cleared up next week; which is to be expected, but one thing is for sure thought – come October 11th, just about every RED camera owner will have an opportunity to upgrade to the new 8K Helium sensor line in one way or another depending on which path they are into. For most RED users, and even more so for those getting into RED with their first camera purchase, the world of RED can be quite intimidating.
There’s just some many factors to consider – from post-prod workflow (which is quite established, but still demanding), to accessories, proprietary media, lenses, etc. Sure, those are questions that are on the mind of everyone considering a new pro camera purchase, but the RED ecosystem is predominantly comprised of proprietary elements such as media and monitoring solutions for example. Sure, you can add a third party EVF like the Zacuto Gratical Eye, or an Atomos Shogun Flame (which won’t be able to record 4K from the cameras, but at least get you awesome monitoring capabilities), but that’s not the point. In either case, getting into the RED ecosystem is a major investment and an important decision, which requires careful consideration.
Owning a RED camera is a long-term investment that needs to considered very carefully – RED cameras or certain new RED cameras are not for everyone. There are lots of folks out there who don’t need to be shooting in 8K or upgrade at all, simply because their cameras deliver images that are either satisfactory to their existing client base, or they see the benefits of upgrading as only a marginal improvement to what they already have. And more importantly – an upgrade to 8K means a major increase in storage capacity, possibly new media SSDs (and those ain’t cheap), as well as increased workflow requirements for editing 8K REDCODE Raw footage.
Of course there’s possibly a myriad more reasons why some RED users won’t upgrade, or don’t think that’s necessary, but for those that want to see some of the benefits of the new 8K Helium sensor, popular RED shooter Mark Toia, who was the first to receive a Limited Edition RED Weapon Helium 8K Super 35 “Stormtrooper” (you know that those that sold for $59K in ten minutes) gives his reasons in a beautifully shot and edited piece you can see below.
My Future with RED 8K, by Mark Toia. from Mark Toia on Vimeo.
According to Mark, the new Helium 8K sensor is much cleaner in the shadows compared to the Dragon sensor; however this doesn’t mean that the Dragon sensor is obsolete – quite the contrary, it’s just a different tool. The new Helium sensor appears to be sharper and produce cleaner images overall from the above examples compared to the predecessor. But of course, it’s about how you shoot, and what you shoot. Mark prefers to keep his workflow Raw based as much as possible and start with a clean, solid, properly white balanced and corrected base before transcoding into ProRed or DNxHD/HR.
Mark also makes some very good points in his piece above especially about “cameras ticking boxes” for him – this is something that I have tried to get ingrained in my head for a long time. It’s not about the badge or the brand or that fact that camera X has a certain feature that camera Y doesn’t… When it comes to picking a camera (and it’s never easy), but at the end of the day – the most important thing is to get the tool that ticks the most boxes for you in terms of features most important to you.
For some the RED Raven, will be just perfect, and that’s great, while for others the move to a Helium 8K based camera would make so much sense in terms of future-proofing and delivering unique images. However, there’s plenty out there who’d still make good money and produce lovely work with their Sony A7sII’s…