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RED Scarlet X – Review

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RED Scarlet X – Review

14th February by

The new Red Scarlet X With AI canon mount

Reviewed Set up:
RED Scarlet X with Ai Mount $9995
REDmote $550
REDmag $990
Top Handle $250
Bomb EVF $3200
19mm DSMC® Quick Release Platform Pack $1250
Powered by Red one red bricks on a battery belt clip

$16,235 RRP

Arriving in a square box surrounded by dense foam is one RED Scarlet X Canon Ai. This camera is a little nugget and It feels great. It reminds me of a Hassleblad or other medium format type camera, it has the same charm and simplistic utilitarian beauty. The modular design leaves you with a 2.25 kg block of metal with a hole for a lens in it. I personally want my camera to weigh a bit. With the Canon 5D, you find yourself adding weight to it, just to make it feel legitimate and to get a little less jitter in your shots.

As you start to add accessories to the Scarlet the dynamics change. It begins to feel like a film camera again. Clip on the quick release platform, bolt on some military referenced rail systems, plug in your monitor or viewfinder, and BANG, you’re away.

RED Scarlet X - This is the real deal.

Everything on the RED Scarlet X feels solid and the quality of manufacturing makes you realize why you just spent $250 dollars on a handle to carry the camera. Everything is small run and custom made. I have used cheap rigging parts in the past, they don’t last and you can’t rely on them at all. You’re always fiddling and fixing them at inappropriate moments.

A cheap rig just costs you a lot more in the long run.

Don’t get me wrong, If you cant afford it then you will just have to make do with what you can afford, however, sometimes it is just better to save a little longer to get parts that will last, and more importantly, be reliable when you’re using them on a shoot. Boot time is quick in comparison to a RED One at about 15 seconds.

The menus are like all RED menus. Confusing.

There are options buried deep in clusters under strange names. But the focus, aperture, ISO, REDcode, etc are all right there. I found it much easier and quicker to navigate in comparison to the Red One. Menus feel like they were programmed 5 years ago and have a custom feel in line with the rest of the gear. Red have not ripped off a pre-existing system menu system and mashed it into the camera. They are functional and get the job done, with minimal fluff. However, it does lack that little bit of refinement in design and user experience that could make it a pleasure to use.

The 800 ISO Native 5120 (h) x 2700 (v) Mysteterium X Sensor (APS-C in4k) or (APS-H in 5k) outputs 4k images at 25fps and 5K images at 12fps without HDRx.

To try and put this in to perspective, It feels like a digital still for every frame.

Quite frankly this image resolution is ridiculous in most instances, but so damn good. It is a ‘get out of jail free’ card when it comes to cropping or re framing a shot. I would not necessarily go to 1-to-1 pixel’s as you lose some of the clarity, but you do have a lot of room to move. Then once you go down to HD everything pulls together, it feels crisp and solid. I keep waiting for H264 artifacts and bad aliasing to appear everywhere, there is none, it’s not struggling. There is nothing to hide. and there is nowhere to hide.

All footage is Recorded on solid state drives in RED’s RAW RedCode.r3d proprietary format. It is reliable and very effective when it comes to file size. At 8:1 redcode produces 4k images at a data rate of around 2 Gigabytes a minute.

Once opened in RED’s Free Redcine X software you get the amazing benefits of this RAW codec. It behaves in a similar way to CR2 Canon stills, enabling you to tweak your shots in post.

RED RAW gives the ability to alter your white balance,  curves, red color and gamma modes, access film log settings and then export to your favorite editing codec for final color and grading.

After a day of actual shooting I found my self disappointed with some features.

Audio Mini Jack Plugs

The audio mini jack plugs on the front are strange and poorly  positioned.  I’m not sure what RED have done here. Another important note is that these plugs are mono. Facts like this are poorly documented so be prepared to do your research on www.reduser.net prior to purchasing equipment to check for compatibility.

Fan Noise

Then there is a lot fan noise. It whirls away, which is fine when it is in stand by mode (although still quite distracting). Fans come on at 100% once the Scarlet hits 43 or 44  degrees, which takes around 15-20 minutes on a 25 degree day. This is not acceptable for audio recording. I do not see why the “safe mode” is set so low, my computer can run at 50+ degrees. I am hoping this will be addressed in a firmware upgrade at some stage.

The Scarlet helps you really start to get the best out of your Canon lenses.

Especially if you’re a 7D or 5D user and you have already invested in a lot of kit. This is a good way to see your dollars spent investing in Canon glass continue to provide good value. They act as a fantastic option for doco shooting or run-and-gun solo shooting.

Do not be mistaken though, ultimately they are stills lenses.

No manual iris control, no colour matching across the set, breathing and lack some of the build and refined elements of a PL lens set.

I am what RED labels a “early adopter” which gives you the access to this equipment well before it should be released. Where issues are sorted for free with on going support and firmware upgrades. Consider these camera Beta versions. There are bugs, but usually the benefits far out way the set backs.

RED is an interesting company to deal with, there are many positives and there are quite a few negatives.

Pros:

 

Your loyalty is rewarded with generous upgrades.

(as seen with the existing RED One to Epic program) and amazing products that are far beyond commercial quality, delivering cinema grade images at a reasonable price. RED are a small company with a small company honesty and communication. Jim (the founder and CEO) is regularly posting and communicating on www.reduser.net and when you do buy a product, you get your very own RED representative.

Cons:

 

Due to the nature of a rapidly expanding small business there are big inventory issues.

Timelines given to you on expected delivery  is never accurate and can lead to a lot of frustration. If you go into this aware of these set backs, you can save your self from a lot of hair pulling.

Some DP’s (or producers) get frustrated in the debayer time of RED footage and are opting for Alexa over RED for this reason, preferring the straight to HD ProRes work flow.

I am quite happy to lose time in place of quality and i think the straight to ProRes workflow speaks more of the shortening of commercial deadlines than the preferred footage.

All in all upgrading to this camera is like selling your 1990 Ford Falcon which has quirks that you only know and buying a brand new car where everything works. Would I buy one? I did. I have a RED One and now a Scarlet, I see them as a combination that could cover almost any filming scenario.

For more details and specs, check out Red.com

You can hire the Red Scarlet through Ben’s camera hire

Make a Comment/ but be nice!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cspiegl Christoph Spiegl

    I love this post! Thanks to the great comparison and information.

    The RED Scarlet X really must be the go to nowadays in film. If you can afford it ;-0

    • Greg Blakey

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! 

  • http://twitter.com/rpmmu11 Ryan Michael

    I want one :(

  • Lliam

    Hi Greg, great write up. Nice to see an Australian Scarlet review.

    Regarding the fan, I shot about three hours exposed in hot sun the other weekend. Round 30 degrees. I have set my fan manually to 80% standby, 35% shooting, and had no temp issues at all. Got to 41 degrees at highest peak… So she ran quiet through all shots, and never went into 100% mode. Though my takes weren’t too long or arduous.

    Maybe I’m the odd one out, but I actually love the menu system, on the touch anyway? I especially love being able to just tap on the histogram or power display or whatever actual functioning meter and how it just shortcuts you straight into it. To be honest, I found shooting a real joy. But that could also be in part be that I was a bit apprehensive that it would be pretty challenging and then surprisingly found it a total breeze.

    I was also pretty concerned about workflow, but I went adobe, and of course it doesn’t really get much easier. 

    But yes, at the end of day, the images are just stellar and I couldn’t be happier. It’s no longer 3k for 3k it’s true, but in the indie world, it’s truly historical bang for buck.

    * quick edit – it’s 12fps not 15 in 5k isn’t it?

    Best Wishes

    Lliam

    • Greg Blakey

      Thanks liam! 

      The fan is mainly not an issue. The problems i encountered was when i was doing a quiet interview. I set The manual fan settings to 25% shooting. After around 15 minutes the fan would come on at 100% it was very disruptive to audio. I will give it a try at 35 % and see if there is a difference.

      I do like the menus, I was only suggesting that they lack a little bit of user experience refinement. However i was testing with a Redmote with a Bomb EVF. In my next article i will be using the touch screen and side handle. I think the touch screen is where the menus will come into their own.

      Agree with the edit! 

      Thanks again!

      Greg

  • Pingback: Red Scarlet X Review | Moving Images | Scoop.it

  • Tingmasterbo

    Finally the woman in RED, We waited long for her didn’t we?
    Been honing my post re-framing or zooming then render to HD skills,
    ever since I first heard about Her! 
    Seems like 4 or 5 years ago, all the training, raring to go…but no cash in the bush,
    well I am not jealous, enjoy the Babe,
     may the force be with you cheers Bo Dhee

  • Timido_revelde

    Hi wanted to buy a RED Scarlet 3K camera can help me as I can do. I’m from Peru – Arequipa would appreciate much

  • Timido_revelde

     mi correo es timido_revelde@hotmail.com alguna pagina para comprar por la wep  idioma: español

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