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Red Scarlet in 2022?

Miguel Angel Calderon

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Hello friends,

I recently stumbled upon this video on Youtube: 


Basically, he compares and "old" Red Scarlet X camera to a BMPCC 6K, and actually ends up prefering the former. Just based on how the sensor feels.

I currently have a BMPCC 4K and I'm fairly happy with it for now (I jumped from the 8-bit slog of the Sony A7 III), but sometimes I struggle with the highlights, trying to not blow them. Dark scenes are hard, as there is some noticeable noise. Playing with BRAW has been wonderful, so it would be hard for me to go back.

I'm wondering, would a camera such as the Red Scarlet X would be a good upgrade? I think with some patience it would not be difficult to find a good deal and probably more affordable than modern options: Komodo (which I've read mixed reviews about), Sony FX6, Ursa mini 12k....

To be honest, I'm not very familiar with the Red ecosystem or history of sensors. From what I've gathered, the Misteryum X sensor falls a bit behind the later Dragon sensor, so I'm trying to get a sense of how they perform and if at this point it's best to prefer a more recent one. If you have some reading or comparison videos, I'd appreciate it. ?


Edited by Miguel Angel Calderon
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  • 7 months later...

RED Scarlet-X is a fantastic camera, if you know how to use it. I haven't shot with BMPCC 6K, so I can't do direct comparison, but I think Blackmagic is good too, because they are used a lot.

Scarlet-X has:

- very nice skin tone reproduction, if you use IR CUT filter all the time. 

- base EI is 800 ASA, in low light you can really push it just to 1280 ASA

- DR is about 13.5 stops (just my rough guessing), not as good as Alexa, but  nice

- very good colours, true but organic at the same time

- excellent data with 16 bit depth, but compressed so you don't need that much hard drives


Scarlet is fantastic for people, who know how to shoot, who know how to light the scene, who use it as a proper film camera.

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  • 7 months later...
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It is a pretty good camera for its time and still perfectly good for indie stuff. there is some drawbacks too

- not as good colour reproduction as the some modern cameras in the same price range have but still pretty ok

- sensitivity is not anywhere near modern cameras. if you always shoot at 800 ISO you would not notice but you need to have a proper lighting budget for it. In comparison, I regularly shoot indoors indie stuff at ISO 4000 and ISO 12800 without issue with more modern pretty basic camera setup

- higher framerates very lacking compared to modern options in similar price range. if you always shoot 24/25fps then no problem

- proprietary media, may be difficult and "expensive" to get if you need extra ones

- very power hungry compared to modern cameras. one could get similar image quality with 1/4 of the power the Scarlet consumes

- very slow booting compared to any modern camera

- slower reacting menus than modern cameras have

- heavier than most modern cameras because most modern cameras use composites/magnesium alloys instead of plain heavy cast aluminium

- no internal ND filters and considerable IR pollution so needs IRNDs

- very old camera design in digital camera terms. The original Scarlet is from 2009 or 2010 I think and is almost 14 years old!  This means that the camera bodies are so old that they can fail anytime for being so old (most digital cameras don't last even this long) and there is a risk of losing value of the investment if you don't get shoot enough material with it before it WILL break up.

There is pros too of course:

+ pretty sturdy for a prosume camera body and compared to some more modern cameras in the same price range

+ if wanting a PL mount camera with compressed raw, there is very little options in this price range so it can be relatively cost effective if the camera body just lasts long enough to get your money back from it


One's main alternative would be a used Ursa Mini Pro 4.6k, either gen1 or gen2 .  OR a new Z-cam e2s6 . They both have pros and cons too. The ursas are more well know so will list only them for z-cams: 

Z-cam pros:

+ small, lightweight, uses very cheap batteries and affordable media, consumes very little power ( I think about 1/6th of what the Scarlet consumes) , most models pretty light sensitive, have pretty good dynamic range

z-cam cons:

- all models I have used or seen material from have just a little bit of DSLR look to them. they use same sensors than Panasonic mirrorless cameras so understandable the look is pretty comparable

- limited monitoring options especially if LUT needed

- limited bad pixel masking

- may overheat more easily because of passive cooling so can develop shaded pixels more easily

- bad raw format for post production. Is much more usable either if shooting prores or if recording externally to proresraw of blackmagic raw

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