The introduction of the RED Digital Cinema‘s Komodo grabbed the attention of content creators everywhere. The Komodo is RED’s most affordable camera yet. Starting at $5,995, The RED Komodo’s alluring price point makes the camera a perfect entry into the RED ecosystem. The under $10K price also puts the Komodo in competition amongst other mid-level priced cameras like the Sony FX6, URSA Mini Pro 12K, and the C300 Mark III. As we’ve covered once before, the original purpose for the Komodo was to be a high-quality crash camera that could be used in place of Go Pros at Netflix’s request. The Komodo, however, is quickly evolving past its primary purpose.
Large productions and famous filmmakers have already used the Komodo in a variety of ways. Matrix 4, The Suicide Squad, and Michael Bay have all used the Komodo in one way or another. Most notably, Steven Soderbergh used the RED Komodo to shoot an entire feature film which you can get a glimpse of by watching the trailer below.
Usually, the equipment used by Hollywood is inaccessible to the general camera market but the RED Komodo is a camera that many content creators or filmmakers can get without paying an insane amount but why exactly should you get the Komodo? In this blog post, we are going to go through the 5 core benefits of using the RED Komodo.
One of the biggest downsides to the previous RED cameras was their need for expensive media and accessories. A RED camera itself could cost you $20,000 but would be unusable without the proprietary accessories which could cost you another $10,000 or more. The RED Komodo is very different from previous REDs because the only accessories you need to use are a battery, lens, and media, all of which provide flexible options.
The Komodo uses Canon BP-955 & BP-975 Batteries instead of RED Bricks, CFast cards instead of proprietary RED Mini-Mags, and has a built-in RF mount that can be adapted to a variety of other lens mounts such as EF or PL. The Komodo also marks the first RED camera to have autofocus. The phase detection autofocus works with electronically-controlled EF and RF lenses. Altogether, you can fully kit out your RED Komodo for only a couple thousand dollars, a fraction of the Komodo’s price.
RED created a free app called RED Control that allows users to control the RED Komodo wirelessly. The app allows you to access the camera's full menu where you can change the resolution, format, adjust exposure, and preview shots. Multiple users can connect to the camera simultaneously and each user can control different parts of the camera. One user could pull focus from their device while another could monitor audio. The RED Control app has a wide range of capabilities all extremely useful and convenient to be able to control wirelessly. The RED Control app is available on IOS and Android.
If you’ve shot fast action with a rolling shutter, then you probably understand the value of having a global shutter. The modern camera typically has a rolling shutter CMOS sensor. This type of sensor works by scanning an image line by line from one side of the sensor to the other. The rolling shutter CMOS sensor was the solution to CCD sensors, which were more expensive and difficult to capture. The rolling shutter has its drawbacks though. The biggest drawback being the rolling shutter effect when the sensor is capturing fast motion. The rolling shutter effect is when the image becomes distorted because of the slight scanning delay from one side of the sensor to the other.
Global shutter, on the other hand, does not capture distorted images with fast motion because instead of the sensor scanning from one side to the other, a global shutter sensor scans the image all at once, that way there is no delay. The RED Komodo’s global shutter allows users to capture every detail at the highest quality even with fast motion, flash, and burst.
One of the best features of the RED Komodo is the compact form factor. As we’ve discussed before, the original design for the Komodo was to be a high-quality crash camera. The Komodo’s form factor is 4” x 4” and weighs 2lbs. It’s basically a small box and it doesn’t need a lot more accessories for it to be usable.
The ‘RED look’ coming from such a compact camera where you can capture up to 6K and utilize the overwhelmingly esteemed Redcode compression is an amazing feat. Although, a downside to the small form factor is that there wasn’t enough space to put the 7” LCD screen on the side of the camera instead of on top which makes a monitor practically a necessity.
Redcode is a groundbreaking way to compress images that other camera manufacturers have clamored to replicate. Redcode allows you to compress your raw footage without losing a significant amount of image quality. RED was the first to create this compressed Raw codec and has refused to let any other company use the technology. The Komodo gives you the function of Redcode with the option of 3 compressions: High Quality (HQ), Medium Quality (MQ), and Lowest Quality (LQ).
According to the RED website, HQ should be used for scenes with VFX, extreme detail, or if you're grabbing stills from scenes with fast motion. MQ should be used for films or high-end TV. Lastly, LQ should be used for TV, content creation, documentaries, or when you are shooting long takes.
The RED Komodo has great specs on paper but there are nuances to every camera that you’ll only understand once using the camera. For example, RED claims the Komodo can capture up to 16 stops of dynamic range but in tests done by Video Maker, they found the camera can capture up to 13 stops of dynamic range.
There is a lot of competition at the mid-level price point and RED’s Komodo sits right at the center of all of the different cameras. A great way to see if a camera is worth buying before making that huge investment is to rent it at a rental house. Film Gear Club has multiple RED Komodo 6K kits available for rental from $320 a day. The Komodo kits include a Wooden Camera kit, a 5-inch monitor, CFast cards, and basically everything except a lens. Film Gear Club will also deliver the camera along with any other equipment to your specified location and pick them up for you. Learn more about renting the RED Komodo from Film Gear Club here.