I love what RED is doing to the dinosaurs of the camera business, but I was hoping that a Scarlet would replace my prosumer gear and give me new possibilities. Unless the Scarlet with the fixed lens is dirt-cheap I don’t see me getting it.
Instead RED’s proposed system may well be a revolution for motion camera design principles with the sensor being decoupled from the rest of the gear, but this current design won’t mean anything for me based on these factors:
- Stills resolution
For still images the 2/3″ Scarlet’s resolution is just 4.9 mega-pixels where at least 8 MP or more was needed to become a usable alternative to any cheap DSLR. You need to go up to the S35 sensor to get 13.8 MP.
- Movie resolution
No doubt this is where all RED systems excel, and the 2/3″ sensor’s 3K sounds like a sweet spot where the data rate is still manageable while you will still have the ability to crop or down-sample to HD / 2K. However, I’m pretty happy to get 1080p out of my cheap rig or from a Nikon D90 or a Canon EOS 5D Mark II (which are just the first versions of what will surely become standard features of traditional DSLRs.)
- Frame rate
The great 120 fps frame rate available in the 2/3″ sensor drops down to a mere 30 fps in the other Scarlet sensors (unless you crop in on the sensor and loose resolution and DOF,) which is a bit of a disappointment. Being able to over-crank to get beautiful slow-mo has always been a dream of mine…
You also need to go up to the S35-sized sensor to be able to attach readily available still camera lenses from Nikon and Canon, which suddenly brings us to the next point:
Just the S35 sensor and mount for still lenses bring the price up to $7,000, without a viewfinder or any accessories. That’s a far cry from something that a prosumer could justify spending on a camera body, considering Canon’s and Nikon’s bodies which go for under $2,500. If you get the 2/3″ sensor you need to get new lenses with special mounts.
- Shallow depth-of-field
The 2/3″ sensor is so small (see Stu Maschwitz’s sensor cheat sheet) that you won’t get the cinematic shallow depth-of-field and bokeh that we all love, without putting a DOF adaptor and additional lenses in front of the 2/3″ Scarlet. A super-16-sized sensor is way better most current video cameras (many features have been shot on super-16,) but it’s not comparable with the size and look of a DSLR, even those with APS-C-sized sensors like the Canon 30D.
I was hoping for “3K for $3K”: a camera body that would do 2K or more at at least 75 fps with a still camera lens mount and shallow depth-of-field-look, and at least same stills resolution that my old Canon 30D had. I guess I’ll have to wait another couple of years…