Even though every RED camera can be considered as a premium digital cinema tool on its own, the RED company itself still has a distinct hierarchy in its product line. The RED RAVEN with the 4.5K Dragon sensor, for instance, sits at the bottom of the line starting at around $6,000 (for the BRAIN only). Moving up the ladder, the camera that takes the top spot is the mighty RED WEAPON with Helium 8K S35 Sensor which will set you back almost $50,000.
With a price difference of whopping $40,000+ between the two cameras, many folks are curious to find out what benefits come with spending more for the top-of-the-line RED WEAPON instead of buying the entry-level RAVEN. Anthony Seratelli of Jersey Filmmaker compares the two counterparts in three different test shots to spot any significant differences regarding image quality and overall performance.
The tests began with a shot of a resolution chart to determine the amount of detail that can be obtained with each camera. Comparing the shots from the RED RAVEN and RED WEAPON, both look very similar in terms of color reproduction and detail.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that in order to make the comparison fair, Seratelli had to shoot in a non-log format since that option was unavailable on the RED RAVEN. Instead, he shot in the REdWideGamut RGB Profile with a Log3G10 Gamma, later converting to Rec709 in post.
Apparently, the difference between the cameras in this particular test lies in the captured resolution and dynamic range. Looking at the black-to-white gradient bars at the bottom of the chart, you can clearly see that in the darker areas, the RED WEAPON was able to capture more detail in the blacks compared to the RAVEN.
In the second test, both cameras shot a close-up macro of a human subject’s eyes. In this situation, with matched camera settings, it is extremely difficult to tell the difference. Even when the images were put side-by-side, the video seems as if it was all shot with one camera.
All in all, from clarity to color, both cameras matched seamlessly. Since the RED WEAPON shoots 8K, however, Seratelli was able to zoom closer into the image, in addition to having a wider field-of-view.
The final test had the Jersey filmmaker sitting in front of both cameras in an attempt to figure out how well they can handle mixed color temperatures. As expected, both devices performed very similarly regardless of the different sensor sizes and captured resolution. Again, the RED WEAPON shined through with the wider field-of-view and ability to punch in closer to the shot.
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with using either the RED RAVEN or the RED WEAPON. While the WEAPON does provide higher resolution, wider dynamic range, and more onboard features to work with, the RED RAVEN is still a worthwhile purchase for those who want to get into the RED’s echo system without emptying their bank account and take advantage of the superb image quality this fantastic camera delivers.