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RED Announces V-Raptor 8K Camera

Chris Chinnock

RED Digital Cinema has unveiled their latest camera – the RED V-RAPTOR 8K VV DSMC3 cinema camera. Key highlights are the new sensor that can capture DCI-8K at 120 fps and the affordable price: $24,500 which is available now on B&H. To support the launch, the RED team and distinguished DPs staged a live Q&A session that featured over 1000 attendees.  RAPTOR joins the 6K KOMODO camera in the new DSMC3 line.

Key Features:

  • 35.4MP Full-Frame, Rolling Shutter CMOS
  • Lightweight (4 pounds) & Compact DSMC3 Design
  • Canon RF Lens & CFexpress Type-B Support
  • Up to 8K120 17:9, 6K198 S35 & 4K240 17:9
  • 17+ Stops of Dynamic Range
  • DSCM3 7.0″ Touch Monitor
  • Right-Side Assistant’s User Interface
  • REDCODE Raw HQ, MQ & LQ Options
  • USB Type-C & Dual 12G-SDI Ports

Let’s start to unpack this.  First, the sensor is all new and not the same as the 8K Monstro sensor. It is not a global shutter (like KOMODO) but a “fast” rolling shutter at 8ms. That is fast enough that the bending artifacts for rapidly moving objects that can sometimes show up in a rolling shutter will be very minimal to non-existent, says the RED team.

V-RAPTOR from RED

Sensor

The sensor is also well stabilized thermally with the Thermo-electric cooler that allows the full camera to operate from 0 to 40 Centigrade ambient – a much wider range than Monstro and something DPs will love.  No overheating problems with this one, but it is also very quiet so minimal fan noise. The camera can run for about an hour off its 98 WH battery.

It is a multi-format sensor allowing capture of 8K/120 in a full-frame format for shallow depth of field. But it can also capture in a 6K super35 format for a deeper depth of focus while using a variety of Super35 lenses.  Besides these formats, the camera can also capture at a 3K S16, VistaVision, and Anamorphic formats. Just as important is that the bandwidth of the processing and storage is maintained with these different formats. The result: you can capture at 8K 17:9 aspect at 120 fps, 8K in a 2.4:1 aspect at 150 fps, 4K up to 240 fps, and 2K in 2.4:1 aspect at up to a whopping 600 fps. This can allow this single camera to take the place of multiple ones on a shoot.

In terms of writing data, RAPTOR uses CFexpress cards and supplier AngleBird has developed a RED-branded solution specifically for RAPTOR with a new controller that can reliably sustain the high data rates (read/write rate is up to 800MB/s) (also available as the new Type B card from AngleBird directly).

Having 17+ f-stops of dynamic range is incredible. In the Q&A video, the company showed some charts to illustrate that the performance of Raptor is much better in the shadows than even the Monstro camera. “It is more organic and natural with less structure and blocking especially when you lift the gain. At ISO 800 they are very similar but at higher ISOs, the difference is more apparent. This essentially eliminates the need for the dual-mode sensor as used on Gemini,” said the company.

Recording

REDCODE RAW is the codec used with the camera of course, but the company is also going through certification to offer ProRes soon as well. There are three REDRAW levels as well: HQ, MQ and LQ. HQ is mostly for VFX or stills with high complexity captured with the minimum of compression. MQ is for cinema and episodic and LQ for interviews and longer takes. The company says the MQ level on RAPTOR is essentially the same as the HQ level on Monstro with the new HQ offering even higher quality at modest compression ratios.

V-RAPTOR Options

Other features include a pre-record capability even at 8K/120 which is great for nature, sports or stunt work. The idea is to write to a buffer before it writes to the CFexpress card. Another is remote control of the camera via the USB type-C port. The USB-C port can also allow a live MPEG-compressed 1080p feed from the camera over a Wi-Fi connection, and soon, send directly to storage over a 5G connection.

Cinematographer Feedback

Top cinematographer Phil Holland was able to take RAPTOR out for a few hours for a test drive. “I think RAPTOR is an impossible machine and I am freaky impressed with the sensor. Looking at 8K/120 video, even in LQ compression, they look like still images. It is quite impressive,” said Holland

“It is also tiny and has very fast operation,” continued Holland. “There was no waiting for playback.” He also liked having many options integrated into the body and the light to illuminate the menu options on the side of the camera. “RAPTOR is also a very quiet camera.”

Holland noted that in his work, he often has to stop down to f/8 or f/16 which can create artifacts in sensors that optical low pass filters (OLPF) (anti-aliasing filters) can help eliminate by blocking the higher spatial frequencies in the image. RAPTOR will have an OLPF stack, but the sensor has improved such that these high spatial frequencies can be recorded without artifacts so the lens characteristics can come through and not be impacted by the sensor. “This is a huge deal for me,” said Holland.

The Canon RF mount is chosen as best-in-class by the team for its mechanical stability of the tightening ring and ease of use plus the connections for electrical and power and fit to lots of different lenses. Canon will have more RF type lenses coming that should support 8K. RAPTOR also include internal ND (neutral density) filter slots as well.

The Q&A video also showed a number of accessories that can be added in a modular approach.

The initial release of the Special Edition Starter Kit will include the white V-RAPTOR ST camera, an AC power adapter, two REDVOLT MICRO-V batteries, a dual V-mount charger, a 660GB CFexpress 2.0 card, a CFexpress card reader, a 3′ EXT to timecode cable, the RED TOUCH 7″ LCD, and two V-RAPTOR wing grips. A Black version will come out soon too.