Getting a $3,000 RED Cinema Camera in 2022

A couple weeks ago we talked about whether an ARRI ALEXA Classic was a viable option in 2022. Today, we get to talk about whether a classic RED Scarlet-X cinema camera holds up in today’s market. Even with RED offering a camera at around $6,000, the ability to pick up a very capable Scarlet-X for under $3,000 might make it very appealing.

It must’ve seemed like a decent idea to Caleb from DSLR Video Shooter as he picked on up and did a rundown on how it performs in today’s world. He even compares it to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro.

The Scarlet-X came out 11 years ago, which is ancient in the digital age. It was RED’s fourth camera after a couple RED Ones and the Epic. The Scarlet came with a 14MP Mysterium-X sensor that could record 5K at 12 fps, 4K up to 30 fps, 3K at 48 fps, and 2K up to 60 fps. Not so mind-blowing today, but actually still decent for many uses.

When we talk about RED cameras we always have to start with the “brain.” This hosts the sensor, processing, and a variety of ports and connections to build on. There are the usual connectors, like HDMI, SDI, power, remotes, etc. There are some critical pieces you need to pick up.

One part is the lens mount. RED made options for PL, Canon, and Nikon while third-party brands expanded this to tons of others. There is no need for electronics on these so you can get whatever you can find that works with your kit.

Image Credit: RED

You can then add a v-mount plate for battery power or go with RED’s REDVOLT batteries. V-mount is recommended as it’ll provide more reliable power and longer runtimes.

To control the camera you will need to pick up a monitor. RED made special options that would give you access to the settings and a way to monitor the image.

There’s a touch panel, a RED remote, and a side grip. You can choose what you want to build up the proper rig. If you go with a remote option or grip you can just pick up any monitor you like and connect via HDMI or SDI. RED’s specific monitor is overpriced for the quality these days.

Next up is a media module that will let you use the RED SSDs. These REDMAGs will be something to look for if you are going for this. Adding a top handle and maybe a rod system would help complete the rig.

All this together ran just over $3,000. Not bad. But how does it look?

Caleb threw it up against the Blackmagic Pocket 6K Pro. This is an interesting comparison since now they are almost in the same price bracket. Very different cameras still, but interesting to see how cameras from different times compare.

Image Credit: Blackmagic Design

For noise, the newer sensor tech definitely benefits the Blackmagic as it produces a much cleaner image. Where it gets a lot more subjective is with a clean, well-lit shot of himself.

The added sharpness of the Blackmagic tends to lean into a more video look. It makes the RED’s softer imagery actually more appealing in some instances.

Then when it came to grading Caleb found it a lot easier to get the image looking right with the RED footage. The raw features just work super well and easily in the NLE. It’s a great workflow. The camera is far from perfect though.

The Scarlet is very heavy, only gets up to 4K 30p, the image is cropped for slow motion, it can get loud, and you have to use the proprietary REDMAGs. You might be able to put up with that if you like the image. It’s an awesome piece of kit at a much more accessible price point.

Would you consider picking up a Scarlet today?

[source: DSLR Video Shooter]

Order Links:

  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro (B&H, Amazon)

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