Will The New RED Komodo Evolve Past Its Primary Purpose?

The recently released RED Komodo is a prime example of the ever-evolving camera industry with a focus on convenience. This isn't surprising since The Komodo was made to be RED's answer to the need for a high-quality crash camera on large productions. What's also not surprising is that it was Netflix that asked RED to create this new camera because they wanted to stop using Go Pros. The Komodo has already been used on productions like The Matrix 4 for this exact purpose. 


The Pros To The Red Komodo

RED’s latest release has many different features that distance itself from its older counterparts. 

  • A global shutter to capture every pixel at the highest quality
  • A CMOS 19.9MP super 35 6K Sensor
  • CFast cards and Canon LP 900 batteries which are widely more accessible than Mini-Mags or Bricks
  • A built-in LCD screen with touchscreen controls
  • Phase detection autofocus
  • RF lens mount compatible with Canon RF lenses and adaptors
  • A quiet fan that keeps the camera cool
  • A small form factor weighing only 2lbs
  • Alleged 16+ stops of dynamic range


To top it all off, the Komodo only costs around $6,000 which is a fraction of the price of past RED cameras. The Komodo marks an important achievement for RED to become more accessible to the average camera user. With The Komodo, there aren’t any extra accessories you need to purchase before you can use it. The only things you need to use in the Komodo are the quintessential battery, lens, and a memory card.


The Cons To The RED Komodo

Now, there are tradeoffs with picking the Komodo over other cinema cameras. You can't expect to get everything you want for only $6K… unfortunately. If you're looking to use high frame rates for slow-motion or another reason, then The Komodo may not be the best camera for you. The Komodo can record up to 40 fps at 6K (50fps if using 2.41:1 aspect ratio), 48fps at 5K, 60fps at 4k, and 120fps at 2K. On top of that, each resolution change crops in the frame. This isn't new for RED but should be kept in mind.


The new phase detection autofocus also has limitations. Currently, the autofocus can only work with electronically-controlled EF lenses and not RF lenses but this is expected to be corrected in a firmware update. The autofocus does a pretty good job of keeping subjects in focus but it's not reliable. Especially if there is more than one subject. This is also expected to be improved in a firmware update. 


R3D RAW

When recording in R3D Raw, you only have 3 options for compression: HQ, MQ, and LQ which is different from other RED cameras that can offer anything from 2:1 to 22:1 compression ratios. You also cannot record simultaneously in different codecs on the Komodo. 

Summary

The RED Komodo has impressive specs and an alluring price but the question remains, who exactly is this camera meant for?


Jarred Land, the director of RED, insists that the Komodo was not made to be an alternative to RED’s higher-priced cameras and that it shouldn’t be anyone’s first camera but the undeniable RED color science along with the versatility & low price point could make the Komodo a worthwhile option for lower budget films. Much like how the ARRI Alexa Mini evolved past its original purpose, a compact camera for drones & gimbals, I can easily see The Komodo doing the same.


The RED Komodo is available for purchase for $5,995 on the RED website.


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