I’ve been using the Red Epic Dragon Camera for a good time now and I’m ecstatic every single time I see that ridiculous resolution that it gives me. This past year I found myself shooting a lot of commercials for cooperate companies and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to work with great prestigious powerhouses. However, the work that I’m most attracted to is documentary, and this year I will be dedicating a lot more of my down time to shooting more of those. With that being said, the Red Epic Dragon camera will most likely not be my camera of choice. I have not made this decision lightly mainly because I cannot ignore the incredible imagery that I have been able to pull from that camera. With that being said, here are my main reasons as to why I wouldn’t be using my RED to shoot documentary work.
When shooting documentaries, more often then not, find myself using only what available light I can find, which means a lot of low-light shooting. RED cameras are not good unless used with good production lights. I’ve come across some real nasty footage due to poor lighting or lack of proper setting adjustments. Nonetheless, the bottom line is that when there isn’t enough light hitting that RED sensor, your image is going to come out really poor. You will get some real ugly grain in your shadows. Granted, when downscaling from 6K to 1080p you will loose a lot of that grain, but I like to have that option to maintain my full image available. Im just getting started…..
Shooting documentaries requires shooting an enormous amount of footage most of which you will not be using in your final product. Can you imagine capturing that much 6K footage? You’re looking at hundreds and thousands of dollars worth of storage space. Just to give you a little more perspective on this, a single 256GB RedMag(Red Memory Card) gives me approximately 35min of 6K footage at a 8:1 compression. Lowering the quality, which I hate to do, I can extend that to about 1.5 hours of footage. Can you see how this all adds up? I am all for shooting more then what you need, but I am not okay with spending that much money on a “just in case” scenario. Not to mention the amount of time it will take to dump all my footage to the master and backup drive. In my opinion, that is time and money down that drain.
It takes some time to fully assemble the Red Epic Dragon for a shoot. Every single piece needs to be attached independently and with separate tools. This creates a big problem when you want to run-and-gun. When you need to capture certain events, this is definitely not the ideal scenario to have. In addition, the RED body alone weighs approximately 5lbs. Add only the basic essentials needed to even shoot the camera like the lens, top handle, side handle, RedMag, LCD monitor, and RED brick, you’re looking at about 12-15lbs minimum to lug around. If you’re looking to follow a subject around all day, this is definitely not the ideal setup for you.
I cannot emphasize enough how much I absolutely adore that RED image. When Shooting with the right lighting I’m RED all day. With that being said, I have actually seen instances where even RED footage looks really really bad. This is a result of poor RED usage which hurts my soul. However, at the end of the day, it does not matter what camera setup you have or the equipment you are using; the way you use it is what makes all the difference. With all that being said, the views expressed in this piece are mine and mine alone. Im sure many would disagree and just simply do not mind spending the extra time and money to shoot on a RED. As for me, I simply choose what works for me.