PDA

View Full Version : Reflections in a RED Eye: RED ONE vs. Scarlet; Jim; and "Obsolescence"



Elizabeth Lowrey
11-14-2008, 03:51 PM
I hold a reservation for RED ONE # 2223, though I have yet to take delivery due to the once-flawed audio (recently fixed -- thanks RED!) and the depressing saga that is the Birger mount (never mind that I ordered the Nikon version, which has yet to even see a first prototype). I have to make a decision by December 1st whether to pay in full and accept delivery of my RED ONE or get a refund. With the new camera announcements of November 13th, I'm at a crossroads in terms of when I will become a true "RED User" and what type of camera will finally grant me that coveted status.

I am very reluctant to accept the RED ONE and begin the warranty time clock before there is a reasonable mount solution for those, like me, who will be using G/DX series (no aperture ring) Nikon lenses. The long-ago promise of support for these lenses by Birger is what prompted my downpayment on a RED ONE in the first place, as it meant a viable low budget path to producing visually superior images with RED and a leveraging of the investments I was already making in Nikon still lenses. The new Underhall mount gets part the way there but is still a crude solution that gives no electronic or other reliable feedback to the camera or operator on the current aperture, requires precautions before mounting a lens, and, of course, offers none of the intelligent, enhanced focus control that the Birger mount promises (and is even finally delivering for some users of equivalent Canon lenses).

The conventional wisdom says that I will be waiting at least six months (and possibly twice that long) for the first Scarlet incarnation but could take pictures right now with my current lenses and a RED outfitted with the Underhall mount. As nice as the latter would be, there is no compelling financial advantage to me, in my personal circumstances, to be able to shoot "right now" with a RED ONE. Buying the camera was always a stretch for me financially, but I made the commitment over a year ago simply because I thought the price/performance of the product couldn't be touched anywhere and because I think a business model as unique and inclusive of/beneficial to customers as the RED model deserved my financial support far more than Sony or even Panasonic. Period.

I still believe all these things, perhaps more now than ever, although the new camera announcements have complicated the calculus on what I should do:

(1) Go ahead and buy the RED ONE, knowing that it now offers four channels of usable audio and that I can be taking gorgeous footage before Christmas, even if lens control will be a major drawback until/unless Birger or Alesniak offer intelligent Nikon mounts.

(2) Wait for the release of the much smaller, lighter, and more modular Scarlet S35, which ostensibly will offer an intelligent Nikon mount, may even allow me to use my existing Cartoni fluid head (a HUGE savings), will likely require less 3rd party accessories (great but expensive ET gear), and apparently does everything the RED does that I would want except shoot at high frame rates.

That last exception is a big deal to me, however. With Jim's clarification that the Scarlet would never offer the size/framerate flexibility of the RED ONE (i.e., a Scarlet S35 will never shoot higher than 30 FPS -- windowed or otherwise), my first thought was that that was a deal breaker. Then I considered the fact that I could attain almost the functional equivalent of the RED ONE's format/frame rate flexibility in a Scarlet platform by simply augmenting the Scarlett S35 package with the purchase of an additional Scarlet 2/3" "brain" (which will offer 120 FPS shooting over an even larger area and pixel array -- 3K vs 2K-- than the RED ONE) for an additional investment of only $2,500. While detaching and reattaching brain modules will undoubtedly be much less convenient than choosing a frame rate option from a menu, that's a small tradeoff IMO for attaining high framerate capability in an overall platform/package that will likely cost me several thousand dollars less than a RED ONE package (perhaps MANY thousands less, after allowances for tripod and accessory upgrades necessitated by the bigger RED ONE form factor).

I suspect it's this realization that is fueling all the anger from certain quarters about "obsolescence [not in fact] being obsolete" with respect to the RED ONE. Of course I never took that line literally or for more than what it was: a guiding principle of the company's design philosophy, one that is aspirational but not practically attainable, now or ever; an overly-idealistic but earnest sales pitch by an idealistic, eccentric billionaire and self-described "camera geek" (not given to understatement generally) who is manically excited by his enterprise and by what the fantastic team he has assembled is doing, who is genuinely driven to make the world's best imaging technology financially accessible to the masses, and who is genuinely driven to change the rules by which inevitable technological advances are offered to loyal customers. All of that is why I want to be one of those customers, not because I believe that RED ONE, or Scarlet, or any RED camera will be the last camera I ever buy.

For those who took the obsolescence line very literally, I understand the letdown, though I question the degree to which such individuals are in tune to the realities of the world, the same realities which have made the RED ONE an attainable camera for them in the first place. For all that Jim is a benevolent dictator (and he surely is), his company is not a charity, and for all its singular qualities, RED must still operate on the same profit motives that fuel all enterprises of innovation and manufacture. There would be no RED ONE owners right now except that someone with the considerable vision, persistence, and personal and financial resources to make RED ONE happen actually made it happen. And the qualities and values evident in Jim and in his realization of the RED ONE are the very same qualities and values that have put even better technology in more compact, modular implementations on the near horizon, some at prices even lower than the original RED ONE.

That is the way it will always be with this kind of enterprise. All technology is a wasting asset from the moment it's acquired, however briefly the RED revolution may have suggested otherwise to the first adopters, who suddenly found they could sell their cameras for more than they paid for them. Consider that momentary aberration in the immutable laws of technology your karmic reward for being an early supporter of a "scammer" like Jim. Still, anyone who seriously thinks that the purchase of a working Epic tomorrow (if that were even possible) would insulate them from this "wasting asset rule" -- or from the inexorable progress of technology (especially from a company like RED) -- is simply not paying attention. Whether it's the invention of new material from which to construct sensors that double or triple existing dynamic range or radical new approaches in data compression or storage or something I can't even imagine, something will come along -- probably sooner rather than later and whether from RED or from somewhere else -- that will "render Epic obsolete" in the same way that some feel Epic/Scarlet have rendered their RED ONE obsolete. If that's too harsh a reality to face, technology acquisition is not for you.

I'll throw out -- for what it's worth -- a suggestion that might satisfy some disgruntled RED ONE owners while protecting the financial interests of RED. Don't just offer RED ONE owners an upgrade credit towards Epic: offer an "upgrade" credit towards Scarlet. Yes, an enhanced sensor, improved modularity, enhanced lens mount options, and overall size/weight reduction can easily be considered "upgrades" for RED ONE owners, upgrades that any reasonable owner should admit are worth at least several thousand dollars. From the outside, I haven't the faintest idea how to run the numbers so that everything makes sense in context (including the price of Epic and a 12% discount on a Scarlet without trade in). But I suspect there is a sweet spot between what a RED OWNER is willing to pay for these upgrades and a price that can net RED a profit when a customer returns a RED ONE (which can be refurbished and resold with shortened warranty for a tidy sum itself) for a camera package based around the Scarlet S35. Any customer who couldn't be satisfied with that kind of arrangement is not a customer worth keeping.

Back to how I'm resolving my own "RED ONE/Scarlet" dilemma. The ability to buy a two-brained Scarlet package that will functionally equal or exceed a RED ONE for less money has pretty much convinced me to forgo the RED ONE and wait for the Scarlet S35 (and its sister 2/3" 'brain'), pending more info on the new "intelligent" Nikon lens mount mentioned in the DSMC literature. And that leads me to ask . . .

. . . why no option for a Nikon (or Canon) lens mount on the Scarlet 2/3"? I understand that the smaller sensor area means a need for shorter focal length lenses in order to attain equivalent FOV to other formats and lens sizes, but that consideration is no different than what exists when shooting 3K or 2K windowed on an existing RED ONE. The only mistake I see, flat out, in the new announcements is the omission of standard (PL, Nikon, and Canon) mount capability for the 2/3" Scarlet. No, we won't be able to shoot wide with most existing lens solutions in those formats, but that's our problem. We should still have the option to leverage existing, mainstream lenses and work around the FOV limitations.

Am I missing something obvious here and thus making something out of nothing? Am I limited, on a Scarlet 2/3" brain, to using ONLY a RED Mini, B4, or C Mount? Or can I detach, say, the Nikon mount from my Scarlet S35 and put it on the front of the Scarlet 2/3"?

Jason Ing
11-14-2008, 04:02 PM
You might want to wait for Jim's post tomorrow. I'm guessing it will be a more detailed comparison chart.

Depending on what you're planning to shoot, you might change your mind again. :)

And I'm in the damn birger mount fiasco too. Except I have my Red One!

Jarred Land
11-14-2008, 04:17 PM
You took the words out of my mind Jason....

Jannard
11-14-2008, 06:49 PM
http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?t=22052

Elizabeth Lowrey
11-14-2008, 08:06 PM
You might want to wait for Jim's post tomorrow. I'm guessing it will be a more detailed comparison chart.

Depending on what you're planning to shoot, you might change your mind again. :)

And I'm in the damn birger mount fiasco too. Except I have my Red One!

Jason, are you referring to the thread Jim just started here:

http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?t=22052

or something else?

What I really need from Jarred or Jim or someone at RED before I make this crucial decision in the next two weeks is to get some idea of what they intend for the Nikon lens mount and when they expect it to be available. The official info I've seen thus far indicates that the mounts will feature "power and intelligent lens data interfaces". Does that mean control and display of aperture for Nikon G/DX lenses? Does it mean software access to the internal focus motors in those lenses by 3rd party companies who might wish to develop or adapt external blue tooth, PDA, or electronic follow focus devices to control the focus and aperture of the lens ala Birger mount? Or does it mean that, in addition to offering an interface or access to such control, RED will itself be making accessory follow focus knobs that can map the focus throw of Nikon lenses and control focus via the knob/mount combo?

And can someone comment on whether a user could attach a new RED Nikon intelligent mount to the Scarlet 2/3" brain, which is currently only listed as accommodating mini RED, B4, and C mount lenses?

brandon thomas
11-15-2008, 01:00 AM
Jason, are you referring to the thread Jim just started here:

http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?t=22052


Yes



What I really need from Jarred or Jim or someone at RED before I make this crucial decision in the next two weeks is to get some idea of what they intend for the Nikon lens mount and when they expect it to be available. The official info I've seen thus far indicates that the mounts will feature "power and intelligent lens data interfaces". Does that mean control and display of aperture for Nikon G/DX lenses? Does it mean software access to the internal focus motors in those lenses by 3rd party companies who might wish to develop or adapt external blue tooth, PDA, or electronic follow focus devices to control the focus and aperture of the lens ala Birger mount? Or does it mean that, in addition to offering an interface or access to such control, RED will itself be making accessory follow focus knobs that can map the focus throw of Nikon lenses and control focus via the knob/mount combo?

And can someone comment on whether a user could attach a new RED Nikon intelligent mount to the Scarlet 2/3" brain, which is currently only listed as accommodating mini RED, B4, and C mount lenses?

Time will tell.. but i wouldn't count on a RED endorsed Nikon/Canon mount on the 2/3" Scarlet.

Stephen Williams
11-15-2008, 01:55 AM
Yes



Time will tell.. but i wouldn't count on a RED endorsed Nikon/Canon mount on the 2/3" Scarlet.

Hi,

As the mount is a seperate module I can's see an issue.

Stephen

Jannard
11-15-2008, 02:13 AM
You can certainly use a Canon or Nikon mount on a 2/3" Scarlet. The only problem is that 28mm wide in FF35 is about 18mm in S35 is about 7mm in 2/3". So you will have difficulty finding a wide Nikon or Canon for that format size.

Jim

Martin Weiss
11-15-2008, 02:52 AM
As the the Underdahl modified Nikon mount - it is definitely a working, interim solution while perpetually awaiting the Birger/Andy mount. If you have used it for a while, you will get pretty good at guessing the f-stop.

So, if you have the funds available, I would go for the RED One now with a Nikon/Underdahl mount. That way you get to see just what phantastic pictures that camera does churn out - and subsequently you might worry much less about future cameras.

Once the new cameras come out later next year, you will already have a huge advantage: working knowledge on how to shoot RAW footage and how to handle the RED workflow.

By then you will know how important the R1´s flexibility is for you. If you like it, keep your RED, maybe upgrade the sensor - or upgrade to an Epic. If you feel you´d be happy enough with a Scarlet, sell your R1 to someone who wants to buy an Epic - that way you will have paid only a few thousand dollars for effectively a couple of month´s R1 rental. Really not a bad deal.

Eddy Robinson
11-15-2008, 06:28 PM
You can certainly use a Canon or Nikon mount on a 2/3" Scarlet. The only problem is that 28mm wide in FF35 is about 18mm in S35 is about 7mm in 2/3". So you will have difficulty finding a wide Nikon or Canon for that format size.

Jim

I wish you'd just go totally metric and start referring to the 2/3" as 16mm, since this is what it's replacing, for practical purposes...16mm is marginally less than 2/3" (16.66mm) but it would help set the camera apart for marketing purposes...leave the outdated imperial measurements to those 'video' rather than 'cine' types.

(Stand by for someone asking for the onboard storage to be calibrated in 'feet and frames' in 3...2...1...)

ericyoung
11-15-2008, 07:43 PM
Good advice Martin!

Elizabeth Lowrey
11-16-2008, 02:01 PM
What I really need from Jarred or Jim or someone at RED before I make this crucial decision in the next two weeks is to get some idea of what they intend for the Nikon lens mount and when they expect it to be available. The official info I've seen thus far indicates that the mounts will feature "power and intelligent lens data interfaces". Does that mean control and display of aperture for Nikon G/DX lenses? Does it mean software access to the internal focus motors in those lenses by 3rd party companies who might wish to develop or adapt external blue tooth, PDA, or electronic follow focus devices to control the focus and aperture of the lens ala Birger mount? Or does it mean that, in addition to offering an interface or access to such control, RED will itself be making accessory follow focus knobs that can map the focus throw of Nikon lenses and control focus via the knob/mount combo?

Can Jim or Jarred or anyone from RED weigh in on this? December first is approaching, and I have to decide whether to complete the RED ONE purchase or wait for Scarlet. While I know better than to lock any specs in, I'm just looking for intent with regard to lens functionality on these forthcoming mounts so I can compare with what the Birger and Alesniak mounts proport to offer for R1.

ETA: And thanks for the helpful advice, Martin.

Jarred Land
11-16-2008, 08:29 PM
Elizabeth... if we gave you an answer on the mount right now it would most likely change 4 times over the course of today and when the mounts where on the shelves, so unfortunately we can't guide you on your decision..

Gary Stone
11-20-2008, 10:05 AM
also, elizabeth, the RED ONE is shipping almost immediately now. if december comes and goes, all you need to do is make the decision between cameras after all the detailed information is released.

Matt Uhry
11-21-2008, 06:22 AM
2/3" (16.66mm) but it would help set the camera apart for marketing purposes...leave the outdated imperial measurements to those 'video' rather than 'cine' types.


Metric and imperial aside, The 2/3 inch figure is the diagonal of the chip. Which works out to be 8.8x6.6mm quite a bit smaller than regular 16mm frame: 10.26x7.49mm.

It's going to be rough to find high performance wide lenses from the world of stills lenses.

Matt Uhry
www.mattuhry.com

James Brundige
11-21-2008, 08:28 AM
Elizabeth, I gather you shoot docs, as do I, and here is my experience of the Red One.

I only use it for B-Roll because of it's limitations in an EFP setting. Still using my Sonys for situations where I have to move quickly, use audio, or shady situations with high contrast highlights. It takes beautiful pictures when you have the time and resources to run it right, but as a solo in the field, it is heavy, slow, and very hard to hand hold. And with no communication between lens and camera, it takes much more time to nail focus and exposure. In the middle of a fast moving situation, I need to be able to hit the auto iris button. The R1 works better with a crew and good support options. I think it is a real winner for the feature crowd who have these resources, and time to set up and meter each shot.

I'm very excited about the new Red line up, because it appears to fix all of those problems. Some great thought and design has happened, with a lot of feedback from the first generation of Reds. I think we will all want to migrate.

Here's the math as I understand it (we know this is all subject to change)
If you intend to end up with an Epic, its a no-brainer. The generous trade in makes the R1 free until that time. Go for it.

If the Scarlet is more your final destination, wait. The R1 may lose much of it's value in the intervening time. Only get it if you are prepared to take a $10K-$20K hit for using it for the next 12-20 months, when the newer, better cameras will be truly available. In my opinion, these cameras will make the Red a worthy tool for docs.

Elizabeth Lowrey
11-21-2008, 12:01 PM
First Light, I've pretty much come to your conclusion. I am definitely not aiming for the Epic but for Scarlet, actually a two-brained Scarlet. The 2/3" I can use for high FPS specialty shots and the S35 for 90% of my shooting. With a few extra accessories, that gives me two cameras for multi-cam shoots. And the total investment (considering the hefty $ needed for beefier tripod head and R1 accessories) is likely to be less for two Scarlets (one 2/3, one S35) than a single R1.

I am mainly a solo shooter (dance and docs) but do hope to produce my own narrative projects with new cameras. I've now decided to switch to Canon lenses (between Alesniak, Birger, and RED, I'd be shocked if I could get an intelligent Nikon mount in calendar year 2009 for ANY RED camera) and just ordered the new 5d Mark II, which I may even use for a short until I get my Scarlet next year. Shame about the switch, too, cause I love my brand new Nikon 24-70/2.8 AF-S.

Brian Luce
11-22-2008, 11:43 PM
I sure like the socalled "Elizabeth Two Brain Solution". It also creates a huge safety net should you be on a paid shoot and one brain malfunctions.

To summarize, the ETBS gives you:
1) lower entry cost
2) more frame rates
3) better sensor and more latitude
4) back up camera for malfunctions
5) the modular system

Is the two brainer a no brainer?

Tarek S. Kandil
11-23-2008, 12:20 AM
I'm in. Currently planning to purchase RED one body, was planning to switch to epic and get a 2/3 scarlet. If I go for ETBS my red one purchase is not so necessary.

Is it?

If I want an epic.

Does Elizabeth's solution rule out a need for epic? (unless of course you need 6K at 100fps)

Elizabeth's solution takes care of all my creative needs.

that's 9500 for the brains. Way lower than R1 purchase.

Elizabeth Lowrey
11-23-2008, 10:23 AM
Is the two brainer a no brainer?

:) :)