youtube channel for steve oakley
Facebook logo for steve oakley

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sell Your RED for a C100 ? Maybe !


First you can click on the image above or HERE to read this article that has stirred up some controversy. I in many respect agree with the guy. Dealing with RED RAW files is a pain - big files, native vs transcode proxies for your NLE, RED Rocket now on AMD GPU decodes, pre-grade a base look vs LUT in your NLE if it has the hardware to do it ? Lets face it, while RED _can_ make some great images dealing with those images once they leave the camera can be a pain. In fact I recall doing a RED shoot where the drives would drop out of record because of the intense sound vibration of auto racing. Yup, those engines were so loud that they vibrated the drives and caused them to drop recording. That led the camera to crash, 90 sec reboot ( RED ONE, Epic's are quick ). Now that was a couple years ago, now SSD's would of solved the problem as in RED's expensive solid state media.

So lets talk about this post. This guy isn't the only one to make their way to a C series camera from other more expensive cameras. First C series cameras just make the best HD you will get for sharpness and having a small compact lightweight body with amazing low light performance. Add an external recorder and you can shoot ProRes for about $1k with storage. As Dave above points out, all his dslr rig parts didn't work well with the RED so he had to get a pile of new bits. The C series camera for me required a new base plate as my old ( cheap ) one set the lens too high to work with the matte box. I bought the Berkey System unit, cost $400 and I was done. All the other bits moved over fine. I added an extra third party battery for $75 and I'm done. I already had a pile of fast SD cards to use. So my extended investment around the camera was very little. All my glass works with the new camera including some older ones I wasn't sure would hold their own but have surprised me that they do.


As for shooting I'm gonna disagree with him. He posted  a test video of side by side shots. First if that was an EF 50 1.4mm lens, what a crap lens to flare that badly. Thats not a what I would call a good shot for camera testing but I'll go with it. Next is his claims of the RED making a less than ideal color rendition of images for his tastes. The images are labeled graded, but really ? seriously ? Some clearly have different WB points. Perhaps the issue here is his lack of critical grading skills because I know I could of easily of matched the color tone of the 2 shots. I've certainly matched shots that where far more out that than. I won't say its easy, but in the case just some warming and mid lift would of done the trick. In fact who knows what the C100 was set to as well. Having just graded my short I can say that the C100 material handled much better than dslr shots and was a pleasure to work with. Most of the time the adjustments where pretty small with the Clog camera settings, the stock ones at that ! I've certainly made a modified version that gets a better in camera image that I shoot with most of the time now. I still keep tweaking it.

Perhaps the much bigger difference is the sharpness of the C100 vs the ok but somewhat soft / not as detailed RED shot. Given that the C100 does the 4K->1080 scale in camera vs the RED doing it in software, I suspect user error here. For example, were the RED shots done at full or 1/2 res ? was it properly processed in the RED app with some appropriate detail setting or not ? There are just too many potential handling errors here to write off the RED as looking more like a 7D for sharpness. I'd expect the RED to be in the same ballpark as the C100 for sharpness but of course requiring more work to get there.

However the comments about the Scarlett not making for creative images I can somewhat see. If you need a bigger heavier rig to shoot it on then yes that can at times get in the way. However just like you can strip down the C100 to barebones you can also do that with the RED. No the Scarlett isn't quite as small but it certainly qualifies as a compact body, it just weighs a lot more. So I kind of find this point a failing. While the RED takes a bit more effort its not something that should really make a difference.

Did he make a good decision ? yes I think so in the end although the reasoning may not of been the best. There are other ex-RED owners who also pitched their cameras for C300's for many of the more practical reasons I've mentioned - handling the images after shooting. Perhaps another is that some users have had problems with their RED cameras. Word has it that EPIC's have a nasty problem of bricking up as of late. Its one thing when you have to power up and down, its quite another to have to carry another backup body simply for the just incase factor. Well who I am I kidding because I have a backup body too with my 60D but usually thats for 2nd angle shots and other less critical uses. However the reliability of RED's has never been their strong point so for that alone one might consider switching to something else. With the BMD 4K camera still not shipping thats still a ways off. On the other side for $22k you could go to a C500 if you really need and want 4K.... oh and don't forget an AJA recorder for it so maybe more like $27-$28. Still in the ballpark of other options. There is also the NS700, F5 and F55 cameras too. 

In the end, find a tool that works for you. Camera, NLE, whatever. All the cameras being made are so very good these days and the differences are often generally small. The other part of the question is if a peice of gear makes good business sense - can you pay it off fast enough and will it actually make you money ! Sure RED has a certain mystique and snob appeal, but no one would turn their nose up at a F55 or C500 either.  However, I know people with RED's who get work simply because of the name on the side. Hey if some agency will give you work that way who am I to argue .... well as long as you are also a good shooter that is ! As always Think before you buy., When changing gear upgrades that doesn't always mean paying more for your new item  than your last one. What I paid for my C100 was about the same as my first SD camera, a Sony DXC-327 and we won't compare them, will we !