WHY I SOLD MY SONY A7S AND BOUGHT A RED EPIC
Everyone who starts shooting video, whether they shoot skateboarding,fashion,music videos,short films - They all want to own a RED one day.
Why wouldn't you? Shoots 5K and up to 300fps slow motion. That sounds like a dream camera and it should solve every problem you have with shooting, right?
I'm making this review to tell you this camera won't solve any problems you have. It's a tool, not a problem solver. Do I love shooting 5K and having super slow motion? Always. Do I love the RAW workflow and amazing dynamic range? Any time of the week. Let's talk about what I don't like about it and what most people don't know about the RED, and why I sometimes wish I had my trusty a7s instead.
The A7S records onto SD cards, you can get a 256GB card for less than $150 and you'll be set for a few shoots with that one card. It's amazing
The RED runs on redmags, which are mini ssd's (hard drives) and they range from 48GB-1TB. The ideal person would think "I'll get 1TB and I'll be good" This is correct until you look at the price of the 1TB redmag..
About $4K, that could buy you a new camera (or a few), 3 DJI ronins, the list goes on.
Okay well, what about the 48GB? That works but you can only record about 2 minutes of slow motion and 15 minutes of 24p so you will off loading all day. This isn't a problem if you have a lot of them and have some running DIT but if you're doing run and gun and have a time schedule this will waste a lot of it. This is when owning an A7S with a huge (cheap) SD card works!
To run the A7S you can buy 3-5 sony batteries and usually be good for the whole day. You can buy 5 for about $150 and have your power solution figured out. RED makes batteries called RedVolts, they run for about $125/each and last 20-25 minutes. This is not a reliable source for your power source so you'll have to buy a battery plate. Either Gold Mount or V Mount to be on external batteries. Let's see how much this will run you.
For a gold mount plate (what I use) I have the swintronix jetpack.
Now what about batteries? I use AB batteries and they last about 1-2 hours depending on the use I give them. Let's see how much those will run. For a full day shoot you'll need about 3-4
So for a battery plate + batteries you will need to spend an extra $1500 just to turn on your camera. This is about the price of a used A7S
Why I chose RED
Like I said in the beginning, the camera is a tool - not a problem solver. Just because you own a RED does not mean your work will be better. Hunter Gulan - who works along side VSZN always says this and I think it's so true "No one asked Picasso what kind of brushes he used" You know why? Because the artist is behind the tool, not the other way around. I've seen videos shot on a Canon 5D that look better then videos I've seen on RED and vice versa. Everyone doesn't need a RED and I'm gonna tell why you might need one. Spoiler: You probably don't need one
I chose the RED for a few reasons:
1. My industry calls for it and I was losing jobs for not having one
2. I wanted a camera that was future proof. This camera will be up to date for the next 3-5 years. (it was released in 2012 and still holds up to be one of the best cameras on the market)
3. Modular camera: This camera can be stripped down for handheld work or suited up with a matte box,follow focus,side handle in less than 3 minutes. This is amazing. Not many cameras can have so many things added or taken apart without spending some time with it.
4. The RED community is amazing, I know 4-5 people who work for RED on a first name basis and they do nothing but help grow the community and bring everyone together for workshops or events where you can show off your latest work. No other company offers this
Who should own a RED
If you are in high school or college and you shoot films for fun or rarely have paid shoots, something like an A7S or even a GH4(My 2nd favorite camera) would be perfect. Both are great tools for almost any job. Instead, rent it for a day or 2 and get familiar with it. Learn how to use it and get on set with whoever has one and learn the in's and outs. If I know of a PA or AC who is a student and knows how to work with RED, I hire them every time.
If you are making decent money and have a constant influx of shoots, the RED might be what you need. You definitely need to save up. My RED epic brain (not the monitor or batteries or memory). Was $8000, before I could even use it I had to spend another $3000-$4000 just to use it properly. It's a huge investment and their is no reason to go broke over it, if you can't afford it thats fine!
Money Vs Time
Before you sell your A7S/Car/Pet to buy a RED, think about why you need it. Do you want slow motion? (A7S does 120fps), Do you want 4K? (A7S2 does 4K + 120fps).
Cameras all share one thing, they need light
This is something I've just been taking seriously this year and it's changed how I shoot. Last month we had a shoot and had to use the A7S. My DP Hunter Gulan lit the scene and it looked amazing. Some people thought it was my RED (and were shocked when I told them it was an A7S). That's how much lighting something can do to an image.
So before you go out and spend $$$$ on a new camera, think about learning how to light and buy a basic LED light kit from amazon for $300-$500. I recommend this one
What Should I Do?
If you have no idea what you think is best, rent!
This is a way cheaper option and could save a lot of money down the road. You might hate how cumbersome and extensive the RED is and not like it. It's okay if you feel like that, there is no perfect camera.
That's why millionaires drives eco friendly cars - It does the job by getting you from Point A - Point B.
Same thing with a camera, it shoots high quality video and get the project finished. Every camera on the market is amazing, it just needs a great artist behind it to make it perfect.