Despite its miniature size, the RED Komodo is a hunk, a hunk of burning love. Even though some folks might not see it as the “King”, there are a lot of things to love about this little “Mr. Dynamite” that are sure to find their way into future releases from Canon, Sony, and Panasonic that really make shooting with it a joy.
Just like Elvis, RED gets a lot of guff about its user base’s fanaticism, and often members of our film & video community see any hype about their products as a form of propaganda. But, there really is something pretty special about this little guy, and you can rest assured that this tiny “King” won’t die on the toilet at 350lbs.
Here are 10 things covered by TheBuffNerds to love about the RED Komodo, and a follow up with a few things I hate.
Admittedly, the RED Komodo is a bit of a peculiar camera.
RED Komodo Key Features
- 19.9MP Super35 Global Shutter CMOS
- Canon RF Lens & ARRI CFast 2.0 Support
- 16+ Stops Dynamic Range
- Up to 6K40, 5K48, 4K60 & 2K120 Recording
- REDCODE RAW HQ/MQ/LQ & Apple ProRes
- Integrated 2.9″ 1440 x 1440 Touchscreen
- Wireless Control & Preview via Wi-Fi
- Price: $5,995
In an era with so many cameras hitting the market that offer eye-catching features, most might be drawn to something more like the Sony FX6. After all, the FX6 weighs less, features XLR inputs, a swivel monitor, and has a full-frame sensor that can shoot in moonlight! But just as in love, the flashiest one to cross our paths isn’t always the best, and maybe Komodo’s mix of features is what is right for you.
I am not here to hustle or to work as quickly and tirelessly as possible to maximize my value through retention while meeting challenging client demands or whatever corporate jargon business folk say. My intentions are to film the best footage possible with a camera that is manageable and provides the best lattitude in post.
That’s why I fell in love with the RED Komodo while writing this post RED Komodo Sample Footage Available for Download because it was the first time I got to play with any official Komodo footage in post and the flexibility of the footage was amazing.
Maybe these 10 things just might make you fall in love with the Komodo as well!
ONE – Hot-Swappable Batteries
This is a massive step forward for RED and a design concept that should be copied by every camera manufacturer. With two hot-swappable battery slots, you can run your RED Komodo endlessly without ever having to reboot the camera.
RED cameras are notorious for their slow startup times, and even though this has been significantly improved in the RED Komodo, now there is nothing to worry about. Once you start the camera, it can remain on for the entirety of your shoot.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: this is because the camera has poor battery life, right? No! Not. At. All!
With a lightweight configuration of just 2 fully charged Canon BP-955 batteries (the small ones), the camera will run for 3 hours. Should you prefer to shoot with 2 BP-975s (the big ones) you can expect around 6 hours of runtime.
TWO – Global Shutter
Unlike a rolling shutter sensor, which reads out the pixels from the sensor top to bottom as quickly as possible, a global shutter (like the one inside the Komodo), reads all of the pixels on the sensor simultaneously.
This means there is no ‘image wobble’ when shooting handheld, no skewed telephone poles when filming out a moving vehicle, and no bizarre motion artifacts like you can see in this camera comparison: RED KOMODO vs BMPCC 4K vs GH5 – Global Shutter vs Rolling Shutter Test.
It might not seem like a big deal, Sony and Canon have gotten pretty good at eliminating those annoying artifacts, and there are software solutions for the really noticeable ones, but shooting with a global shutter looks and feels like you’re shooting on classic film. Also, keep in mind post stabilization is much cleaner and smoother with a global shutter.
THREE – Red Raw
RED Raw is the original codec developed by RED for shooting video in raw. It has evolved through the years and is one of the best raw codecs for clarity, file size, color, and metadata.
Compared to BRAW or ProRes Raw, RED Raw is out of this world. Their competitors have tried their best to circumvent their patented technology but as with any copy, the original is always the best.
It’s fully integrated into Premiere Pro, FCPx, Davinci Resolve, and can be fully manipulated in post to affect every conceivable aspect of the image. As long as you expose correctly (see this article for how simple RED makes it to properly exposure your sensor: Exposure Tips for the RED Komodo) your footage will be a step above the rest.
FOUR – The Size
The Komodo is a 4x4x4 inch cube. Of course, you need to rig it up with a lens, battery, grip, and a monitor but it is still very small. Its size makes it easier to pack, lighter to carry, mountable on anything / anywhere, and you can rig it out to whatever you want.
FIVE – Pushing The Image More
Going back to the codec and the sensor, the fidelity of the images that the Komodo produces is so high that it is easy to push the grade well beyond what you would expect from a camera at this price point.
Other camera’s footage will start to fall apart much sooner than anything you shoot from this camera, making complex grades and corrections a piece of cake.
SIX – Matching Color Science
The Komodo really is just a regular RED camera in a tiny box. Where other companies would scrap on the quality, RED specifically designed this camera to be a companion to their entire line with the ability to go places the big-bodied cameras just couldn’t fit.
Its color science is essentially the same, and matching it to the highest of the high-end RED cameras is effortless. All grading and effecting done to your RED footage will seamlessly apply to Komodo footage.
SEVEN- Internal ProRes Codec
ProRes is the codec of choice for post and all footage should be transcoded to prior to editing for a smooth editing experience. With the ability to shoot ProRes internally, projects with fast turnaround times will benefit since the codec isn’t as taxing on the editing system’s resources.
Apple’s ProRes Codec retains a massive amount of detail and color information. If you don’t have the time or the need to shoot in RED Raw, this is a great and speedy option to have in your pocket.
EIGHT – Menu System
The menu structure of the Komodo is no frills. Everything you need to access is upfront on the top touch screen and especially simple to change. Deeper level menus are clearly laid out, and you can tell a lot of thought was put into how everything works.
What’s more, all camera settings can be accessed remotely using the RED Control App for iOS and Android, which brings us to No. 9.
NINE – Using Your Phone As A Monitor
Using the RED Control App over Wifi or with the optional Komodo Link Adaptor, allows you to monitor your camera’s video feed and access every setting imaginable. You can even use it to pull focus when using an AF stills lens!
TEN – Autofocus On a RED
Older systems used to be notoriously unreliable, so professionals tend to buck as their use but autofocus has come a long way in the past few years, and this is the first implementation of autofocus on a RED. It’s still officially in beta, but works incredibly well (even compared to Canon’s DPAF) and is a great feature to have when shooting on a gimbal.
Autofocus is the future of filmmaking and it is great to see that RED is headed in the right direction.
Love Isn’t Always Roses
Nothing is perfect and even when you’re completely in love with something there are always going to be things you wish you could change. Those are normally just little things, and being able to look past them confirms that love even more.
Here is my list of things I don’t love about my Komodo.
1 – Ergonomics
The size of the camera is great, but finding a way to hold it is the problem. Lots of parts and pieces are coming out but after owning it for 3-4 months, I’m still waiting for 3rd party parts to complete my rig. I’m an adaptable kinda guy so I’ve made it work, but it would have been great if RED had made a complete system so I didn’t have to shop around.
2 – RED Approved Products
I’m not sure what gets a company’s accessories on the RED Approved list, but on the Komodo Facebook group there have been tons of posts about irregular products not fitting or not working properly with the camera.
3 – SDI Connector
The SDI connector on the Komodo is in a weird spot, the bottom of the camera, under the battery. I often feel like I’m going to do damage to it if I set it down the wrong way so I’m always looking for ways to protect it.
The same goes for the expansion port.
4 – Little Gribes
This is Red’s first camera for the masses so it is totally reasonable to think they’re still tweaking the firmware, and its good to know they really are on it but I’d love to see some changes.
- Ability to display the autofocus box overlay over SDI.
- More in between frame rate options.
- Ability to turn off warning screens on start up when using unapproved batteries and media.
Everyone is different, and the things one of us loves about our camera might not light that spark with someone else and that is ok. For some of us, the RED Komodo offers absolutely nothing to improve our business, but in terms of a RED camera, this is a huge drop that places some very high-end imaging ability in the hands of a large number of people. For me, that’s the main thing you should love about this fantastic, tiny shooting-machine.
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