Ordinarily, it would be news that RED has decided to boost its new budget RED RAVEN 4K camera to a bit more resolution to 4.5K at 120 frames per second. This gives users another 12.5% resolution, which would be exciting. If it hadn’t been done before.
“So Jim and I just had one of those Epic all-nighters working away in Stage 4… Now it is morning. and now Raven has become 4.5K. 23.04mm x 10.8mm. No additional cost to you…. just to us. Brought to you by the wonderful engineers @ RED. Enjoy.” – Jarred Land, REDUser Forums
Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the move. RED is always wanting to push the envelope and give their dedicated customers and RED fans more bang for their buck. And usually, they are ahead of the power curve. But when you consider that Blackmagic Announced the 4.6K URSA and URSA Mini processors back at NAB last Spring, and did it for a little more than that, it’s hardly breaking new ground.
RED is doing it for about $1,000 more to start (vs. the URSA at $4,995, plus the URSA Mini starts at $2,995), but remember that the $5,950 figure is body-only. When you add everything else you need, then suddenly you’re staring at a $10,000 camera, and so it’s advantage BMD.
The talk is RED may be using DRAGON sensors that maybe didn’t make the 6K cut, and can ‘break them down’ to 4.5K. They did something similar with the SCARLET MX and the SCARLET DRAGON, so as such, they can keep their product lines streamlined without having to create a separate one. That would save a ton of money. And speaking of Scarlet, there’s also a hint of things to come with RED’s smaller platform, maybe even creating a WEAPON-esque upgrade path with lower specs.
But the downside of RAVEN’s boosted processor is that in order to shoot in widescreen, users will lose that bonus .5K to crop to 16:9. The URSA Mini, by contrast, can do 16:9 natively at full resolution. But the RAVEN will also be able to shoot 120 frames per second at full res, while URSA Mini can only shoot 120 fps in HD. So, depending on what project you’re shooting, that could be a big advantage for RED.
Here’s a look at the RED RAVEN’s sensor specs, at $5,950[link]:
- Sensor size: 23.04mm x 10.8mm, Diagonal: 25.44mm (Previous RAVEN spec was 4K DCI and 20.48mm x 10.8mm)
- Max Resolution: 4608 x 2160 (this is roughly correct based on 4.5K 2:1 of the DRAGON sensor)
- 4.5K up to 120fps
- 4.5K Full (2.13:1) — 1.62x crop, 4608 x 2160, 23.04mm x 10.8mm
- 4.5K WS (2.37:1) — 1.73x crop, 4608 x 1944, 23.03 x 9.72 mm
- 4K DCI (1.9:1) — 1.87x crop, 4096 x 2160, 20.48mm x 10.8mm
- 4K HD (1.77:1) —1.96x crop, 3840 x 2160, 19.19mm x 10.8mm
Now, compare it to the Blackmagic URSA [link] at $4,995 with all the rest of their features:
- Super-35mm CMOS Sensor
- 4608 x 2592 Video up to 60p
- Compressed Raw Recording
- Ready-to-Edit ProRes 444 + 422 Recording
- Dual CFast 2.0 Memory Card Slots
- 12G-SDI Output, Timecode and REF Input
- 1080p Flip-Out Screen
- Touchscreen Interface
- 2x XLR Audio Inputs with Phantom Power
- Magnesium Alloy Body
- EF Mount
Bottom line though, is those who enjoying filming with RED are going to stay with the systems they love. They won’t make a switch based on a small price differential. But if you’re looking make the move from HD to one that shoots 4K-plus, it wouldn’t hurt to at least compare the two systems, RAVEN and URSA, with a couple of one-day shoots, and see which would best suit your needs. At the end of the day, specs are just specs; it’s how the camera works for you on set that’s important.
But if you already pre-ordered the RAVEN, you can pop a few proverbial champagne corks, because Jim and Jared just gave you a 4.5K sensor at no extra charge.
Hat Tip – NFS