RED Digital Camera was not an official exhibitor at NAB 2009, yet it pervaded the event and had a palpable impact upon scores of other exhibitors who gave birth to all sorts of RED-friendly paraphernalia from camera accessories to software.
While these were widely dispersed among the over 1200 exhibitors on the main show floor, they were also concentrated at a day-long RED User event at the Rio Casino. Here, current and future RED camera owners attending NAB could socialize, compare notes and examine the latest wave of RED One accessories and tools for unlocking the potential of the revolutionary camera.
During the user event program, excerpts of features shot with RED One were played from a RED Ray DVD player and projected large on a theatrical screen to display the camera’s incredible detail and color. RED Ray is scheduled for release later in 2009 and will play 4K files from the RED One, and 3K Scarlet video and many HD formats, plus native R3D RAW files from CompactFlash.
As anticipated, a panoply of new PL mount lenses generated the most buzz as they’ve been in been in short supply (particularly affordable ones) since 5000+ RED One cameras came into use. RED Digital’s own set of RED Pro Primes took center stage. This first set of five includes: 25, 35, 50, 85 and 100mm lenses, all T 1.8. The highlight was a test range where the performance of the lenses could be compared with similar lenses by leading competitors like Cooke and Zeiss. The consensus from attendees queried was that the RED primes matched or beat their competition in all cases. ‘Their resolution, color and overall quality was really impressive,’ said early RED One adopter, Clark Dunbar of Mammoth Films.
Leading the competition was Zeiss, which introduced a complete set of new primes based on Zeiss ZF still photo lenses with new housings designed for cinematography. Their set of seven Compact Primes ranges from 18 to 85 mm and from T 3.6 to 1.5, in that order, and each weighs around a kilogram. A second US lens manufacturer, UniQ Optics, introduced their Prime PL Signature Series lenses with 18, 25, 35, 50, 85 and 100mm denominations. Each prime is color matched, with an aperture range from T1.9-T22.
Many other lenses were introduced at NAB, including IBE’s Rebel line of 4K PL mount lenses and its RED Null lens, specially designed to adjust and verify the focal flange of RED Ones to within five microns; Fujinon’s new PL mount zoom lenses, and Thales Angenieux’s 16 to 42 mm DP Rouge, the only wide angle zoom lens in this spring’s bumper crop of PL mount lenses.
Alongside the RED-worthy rails, clamps and cables also on display, there were handheld solutions for RED One operators as well. Tiffen-Steadicam demonstrated their Flyer LE being used in motion by a cameraman motoring down the aisle on a Segway. The slightly beefier Archer (-up to 22 lbs.) is also optimal for use with Red One.
Element Technica offered a less costly handheld alternative with its Mantis, a highly adjustable handheld kit which employs a low-profile two-axis gimbal to achieve Steadicam-like camera moves with a RED One, including pan/roll adjustments.
It is now feasible to shoot with RED underwater as well, using an elegantly simple housing by Aquavideo (www.aquavideo.com) or a splash bag by Air Sea Land. Petrol introduced its RED rain slicker for shooting in rain and snow.
Perhaps the most impressive bit of support gear was the Cmocos, a camera control system by Wunderwerk (www.c-mocos.com). The seven-axis arm offers a limitless range of camera angles and movements all performed by the amazing Cmocos robotic arm – a spin-off of the European space program. But, a warning to budget-conscious RED shooters: if you have to ask the price, you probably can’t afford it.