Thread: Upgrade from Variicam LT to Gemini. What to expect?

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  1. #1 Upgrade from Variicam LT to Gemini. What to expect? 
    Hello, my name is Alex.

    I've been lurking on this site for a while, and reading a lot of posts. I am thinking to upgrade my Varicam, primarily because of size and weight issues. I am thinking that the Gemini might be a lateral or even an upward movement. To be honest, I've been very happy with my Varicam and haven't really nerded out over camera gear since I got it. But over the quarantine I was thinking how I could stream line my work, and started thinking a smaller camera would be a smart move. I started checking out some Gemini footage (never saw any before lol), and liked the look.

    I work primarily as a product photographer and videograper in the Tattoo industry. It involves shooting tattoo needles, tattoo machines in use (slow mo!!), furniture, inks, tattoo artists at work, and trade shows/conventions. Most of what I shoot goes online, but some content is used to create large banners at trade shows, print catalogs, and now we are doing a portrait video presentation as well.

    I also shoot music videos, and am getting into some narrative stuff as well. I shot a pilot in December on two Varicam LTs on vintage Panchro's, and I am getting into anamorphic photography.

    I am looking for a camera that can cover all of those areas. One thing I like about the Varicam is of course the 800/5000 ISO, which from what I have seen online is much better than the Gemini. So I guess I would be taking a hit there, but the increase in resolution, and 16bit color I think is a respectable trade off.

    I read some things about fixed pattern noise, and hot pixels. I don't know if that is still an issue in 2020.

    I was hoping if anyone on this site has experience with both cameras, they could share with me the differences and similarities.

    If I go this route, what would be the smallest and most compact rig I could build. When shooting in a live tattoo session I have to be as unobtrusive as possible. And being able to shoot handheld is very important.

    Key questions?
    Best accessories for compact on location shooting.
    Can I shoot on a monopod
    What do I need to shoot quality handheld?
    XLR Mic input or adapter?
    Does Red have an Internal ND option?
    5" or 7" monitor or EVF? Can a red brain be controlled without their monitor, or a wifi phone app situation?
    Is there enough resolution to pull stills from the Gemini R3D files for 8.5x11 prints?
    What are the smallest and lightest battery options?

    Any help would be kindly appreciated..

    Attached are some stills from a couple years back, to give an general idea of what I do.

    Last edited by Alexander Derrick; 07-09-2020 at 07:50 PM.
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  2. #2  
    Personally I would get a Komodo for the kind of work you do. Simply with the money you pay to get a Gemini you can kit out a komodo to be a beast. Sure not the same slomo features but the image, the none rolling shutter, the small size, autofocus, low weight and low cost for for batteries, screens etc. To me it all makes komodo a very good camera to own compared to pretty much any other camera. Sure there is bigger sensors, hight frame rates etc. But if you shoot for the web, then cropping in on the sensor to get slowmotion does not hurt much.

    And the cost ratio is pretty steep you get 4 or 5 komodos for the cost of a kitted out Gemini... Or money to rent a phantom 4k for the times you really want to over crank.

    Also colors, skin tones etc looks very promising on komodo.

    Not to mention the ability to run 3 hours straight on two small low cost canon batteries.
    Björn Benckert
    Creative Lead & Founder Syndicate Entertainment AB
    VFX / Flame / Motion capture / Monstro
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  3. #3  
    Quote Originally Posted by Björn Benckert View Post
    Also colors, skin tones etc looks very promising on komodo.

    Not to mention the ability to run 3 hours straight on two small low cost canon batteries.
    Hey Bjorn, thanks for your response.

    To be honest, I don't know much about the Komodo camera, I need to do some research. But I don't see anything on Do you know where I can find official product specs?

    Given my list of wants in a new camera, Komodo is even smaller and lighter than DSMC2 bodies, and of course my fatty Varicam. It might be a contender. I need to see more footage from a Komodo, before I decide if I need to test.

    I am going to rent a Gemini and/or a Helium this weekend and give them a spin.

    The pictures I posted before went into our print catalog, and they were from 4K Varicam files (Sorry I had to take them down, I dont want to share too much about our company on public forum). So I feel like 5K Gemini could be a good solution.

    But the photographer in me wants to test 8K as well. I shot fashion for years in NYC, and lived in India for 2 years and shot landscape and street photography. The ultra resolution is kind of scary but super sexy!

    The sensor size of the gemini is also really nice for anamorphics. Will test and circle back with images from Gemini, Varicam and maybe Helium.............

    Last edited by Alexander Derrick; 07-09-2020 at 09:29 PM.
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  4. #4  
    Junior Member
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    Mar 2020
    I just bought the Gemini. I was thinking about picking up a Varicam LT one day down the road to supplement the Gemini, for extreme low light situations.
    I was talked out of getting the Komodo, mostly because of frame rates and I think a larger form factor actually makes hand held shots look better. lighter cameras hand held kinda look “trembly” and less cinematic. just my subjective opinion. I dk why, but i’m skeptical of the Komodo’s bit depth and DR for some reason...
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member Blair S. Paulsen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I wouldn't worry about the bit depth and DR on Komodo vs Gemini/any DSMC2. The real issue for your use case would be frame rates. IAC, I expect your biggest issue in the transition from the VaricamLT to the Gemini will be RED's less processed image. Panasonic, Sony, Canon, etc use on board DSP to "fix" the signal upstream from A/D conversion. For a lot of shooting situations this step does a lot more good than harm and requires less effort to get a decent image. OTOH, it can tend to homogenize your look and give you less control in constructing a nuanced RGB image.

    With RED files there is so much there, there. The Bayer data set hasn't been truncated by DSP profiles. When "developing" the data set into an RGB image you have a tremendous array of options in how you choose to characterize that image. There are plenty of "preset" workflows and in camera look controls for projects where a more vanilla rendering of the scene is all you need, so you don't have to dig deep on every project. Just know that when you do want to tailor a look, a well exposed RED R3D raw file gives you more to work with than the VaricamLT offers.

    Cheers - #19
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  6. #6  
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2007
    Blair sums it up perfectly. You made a good choice with the Gemini. The best low light of any Red Camera, arguably the best colours, and gives you all the frame rate options of Red's top of the line cameras.

    The image out of it is absolutely stunning, and - Blair said it much better- you have lots of room to tailor your footage. And the dynamic range is amazing. Its one thing you'll immediately notice VS the LT.
    Sérgio Perez

    Weapon Monstro #03294 "Amochai" in Macau

    Video Director/Creative/Producer
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