RED DIGITAL CINEMA Komodo Reviews
Rated 5 out of 5
I really like this camera. It's the cheapest RED you can get. Just be prepared to spend at least 2k in extras to rig it up. I use this for live-stream and I love the global shutter. No flickering to deal with. Post-production with R3D is so awesome you just have to be ready to deal with the storage that it will take. Also, RED will be coming out with a Komodo-X which will probably solve some issues like the lack of frame rates. For my use it's not super important but for some people that might be a deal breaker.
Rated 5 out of 5
After years of photography we wanted to dive into video and this really has taken our projects to the next level. Fairly easy to navigate and a LOT of fun editing the footage. Wonderful color science.
Amazing image quality but a few design problems.
Rated 5 out of 5
I'm a DP based in Boston and I bought this camera for higher end shoots, especially independent films and commercials. I've owned it a few months now and thought I would give my impressions so far. I don't own any Canon mount lenses so have not tried the autofocus and I seldom shoot slow motion so the cameras limited slow motion capabilities have not been a factor for me. There is no such thing as a perfect camera. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. Here are my impressions so far.
Superb image quality.
The image quality produced by this camera is amazing. It is comparable to far more expensive digital cinema cameras. Pair this with a good set of cinema lenses and a good DP could shoot a multimillion dollar feature with no compromise in image quality.
Shoots Redcode Raw and Pro-Res:
This camera shoots 6k 16 bit Redcode Raw. Most cameras in this price range offer 10 bit Pro-Res at best. 16 Bit Redcode Raw is perfect for color grading for 4k with HDR or SDR completion. It is the same codec the high end Red cameras use. The camera offers a huge dynamic range. You can also shoot 4k Pro-Res 10 bit if your postproduction workflow cannot handle Redcode Raw.
Super 35 6k sensor with choice of aspect ratios:
I know shooting with full frame sensors is all the rage. Full frame forces you to use longer focal length lenses to get the same shot thereby reducing depth of field. However I prefer Super 35. This is main reason for this is that most full frame lenses (even expensive cine lenses) have some brightness falloff toward the edges of the frame especially wide open. This varies with the lens but always seems to be there when shooting full frame, with wide angle lenses the worst offenders. You have to stop down by varying degrees to get rid of it. With super 35 the falloff is usually cropped out and you are using only the best part of the lens and can shoot wide open and get a evenly exposed image without worry.
The Komodo sensor is actually a 6k 17x9 sensor and produces a slightly wider image than 16x9. There is a choice of 4 aspect ratios with spherical lenses with 16x9 cropping the sides of the sensor slightly and 2:1 and 2.40:1 cropping the top and bottom. There are also many Anamorphic settings so you should be able to use any Anamorphic lens you can adapt to the camera. You can also always view the proper aspect ratio on the little viewing screen and through the SDI output. This is wonderful.
To shoot 6k you have to use Redcode Raw. Pro-Res gives a max resolution of 4k (scaled down from the full sensor). Other lower resolutions in Redcode Raw and Pro-Res crop the sensor but this is probably preferable to scaling. I recommend using Redcode Raw 6k whenever possible to get the best possible image from the camera.
Low light performance seems quite good. The sensors native ISO is 800 and I have used everything from 250-2500 ISO with pretty much identical results. I have not tried really high ISOs.
This is one area where the Komodo is really superior to the competition. The global shutter exposes the whole frame at the same time. This produces the smoothest, most natural motion I have seen in any camera. There is no skew, extra horizontal movement, bent lines, flash banding, distorted cars going by in the background, bent helicopter blades etc. Everything just looks right. There are only 2 cameras listed on the B+H website with global shutter this one and the Z Cam. I can't imagine why every camera doesn't use it. It is noticeably superior to rolling shutter.
Canon RF Mount.
The Komodo comes in Canon RF mount which is one of the new short flange mounts developed for mirrorless cameras. This means that most older SLR lenses can easily be adapted to the Komodo. This is great as many of these older SLR lenses are wonderful and affordable. It comes with a Canon EF mount adapter which I have not tried since I have no EF mount lenses. I do have Nikon lenses and tried pretty much every Nikon mount adapter on the market but they all got the flange depth wrong. The measured distance was not sharp, with some adapters too short or too long. I finally tried C7 Adapters which let you adjust the flange depth with shims (be sure to order the shims along with the adapter, they don't come with them). These worked great and allowed me to get exactly the right flange depth. Now my Nikons work perfectly. I got one of their PL mount adapters too. They are very well made and one of the few adapters that let you use shims.
Small and Light Enough for most Gimbals.
The Komodo body weighs about 4 lbs. Add a couple of small batteries and a lens and you are up to 6-8 lbs. This is light enough for many smaller gimbals. I use a DJI RS2 (max load 10 lbs.) with great results. It is great to be able to use a camera of this quality on a fairly inexpensive gimbal.
Red Tech Support.
I would be remiss not to mention Reds outstanding tech support. I have always reached someone quickly and they have always been very professional and very helpful and really know their cameras well. They even return calls when they say they will. They set an example all other tech support should follow.
Considerable Expense in Accessories needed to shoot.
The basic Komodo package comes with a AC power supply and RF to EF-mount adapter and that is about it. You will need to buy quite a few accessories to actually use the camera. You will need a EVF eyepiece, a small monitor, a cage, 4 or more batteries and charger, a top handle. These things will add about $3,000.00 or more to the cost of the camera. This is in addition to the usual baseplate, rods. lenses, matte box and tripod you need for any camera of this type. You will also need expensive C fast 2.0 cards (more on this in a moment). That being said, due to it's superb image quality the Komodo is still a excellent value, even with all these extra costs.
The Komodo uses C fast 2.0 cards. While not as expensive and more widely available than the Red Mags used by previous Red cameras, they are far from cheap. The camera also records at very high bit rates (up to 280MBps in HQ mode) in both Redcode Raw and Pro-Res. Although this is great for quality it eats up a lot of media. The cheapest way to go is to use 1TB cards which cost about $700 as of this writing on 8-22-22. A 1TB card gives you 1hr at HQ 1 hr 37 min at MQ and 2 hrs 35min at LQ quality settings. 512g cards give you half the running time at more than half the price. I understand that cards capable of handling these high bit rates are going to cost more than SD cards but this seems excessive. Be sure the cards you use are rated for a continuous write speed of over 280Mbps or are Red approved.
You cannot delete clips
Coming from Sony and Panasonic cameras this came as a surprise. I even called Red tech support about it and they told me that no Red cameras allow you to delete clips as this is deemed to risky in terms of corrupting the card or deleting something you want to keep. I can understand that. However in actual use this can be a real problem. the Red Komodo is controlled by a touchscreen on top. Other than a hard to find record button on the right side everything is done on the touchscreen including recording. To start recording you touch a red square with the camera letter, A, B, C etc. on it. This red square turns brighter red and the camera records. To stop recording you touch the Red square again. It turns yellow for a second then darker red and the recording stops. The problem is that it is all too easy to touch this and start recording when you are moving the camera around, and all too easy to miss it when you want to stop recording. Either can result in long unwanted clips that you can't delete to recover card space. All you can do is format the card deleting everything. You better have some extra cards handy. A dedicated easy to find record button on the left side would have been a better choice.
Limited Audio Capabilities:
The Red Komodo has 4 channels of audio, all controlled through the touchscreen. 2 of these channels are dedicated to the internal mics and 2 are for external mics. The only audio input is a stereo mini jack (mic level only, no phantom power, no line input) This mic input is quite noisy at any reasonable recording level. I'm not sure why Red didn't give a camera of this quality a better audio section. My Panasonic UX 90 has a very good audio section with XLR inputs, phantom power, line level etc. and cost under $2,000.00 so it can't cost that much extra. Overall I would recommend recording your audio on a separate recorder. If you are shooting a movie you will be doing this anyway but if you just want to shoot some interviews it can be a inconvenience and extra expense.
Only one SDI out, no HDMI.
The Komodo only has one SDI out connector and no HDMI. If you want to use a eyepiece and separate monitor you better have one with a loop through or you will need a splitter. You can't use many small monitors because all they have is HDMI connectors, unless you have a converter. Furthermore Red warns that the SDI circuits can be damaged if you don't power on the accessory before connecting the camera. I have been careful about this and it hasn't happened but if it does a non functioning SDI port would render the camera useless. There is no way you are going to be able to frame shots, operate and see focus from the tiny screen on top and there are no other options. Be very careful and follow Reds instructions closely regarding the SDI port. Red should really have provided at least 2 of these and a HDMI port as well.
Overall I love the Komodos image quality and can work around the disadvantages. Red should be commended for offering a digital cinema camera of this quality at a reasonable price.
Rated 5 out of 5
As a director I haven't found the time to film with my own camera as much. On set over the years we mostly fly Arri. I must say though, after trying the Komodo out I had to pick one up! The global shutter reminds me of film, the small size is great for travel, and the skin tones and color have improved over previous Red cameras. The noise "grain" is very natural looking, much like an Alexa. I enjoy having at least one camera I own and can use for smaller personal projects and this fits that bill. In the right hands it can easily project for theatrical and create images just a beautiful as any other cinema camera. It also has more color depth and texture then S1H, C70, FP, Black Magic, ext. I have used all those cameras for personal work and the Komodo is much closer to film and better suited for narrative. Lock in wardrobe, lighting, and story, then watch the Komodo do great things for you. Highly recommend this camera!
Better than expected
Rated 5 out of 5
I thought this camera was going to be really good but it still impressed me. The picture quality is amazing and the traffic light system is amazingly easy to get used to. Editing RED raw is pretty easy and I have no issues at all on my M1 max MacBook Pro. I was surprised how usable the autofocus is with EF lenses and I use the Canon EF to RF adapter with ND to control exposure. The down sides are as expected in startup time, audio quality, black shading but in the end it's worth it for the image quality. I still grab my C70 for quick run and gun but for a thought out project with the highest quality image I'll use the Komodo with my Sound Designs MixPre 3 MK II and I'm happy with the results. I'm using the 7 Atomos Shinobi monitor with both cameras and absolutely love it.
Rated 5 out of 5
The video which comes out of it is simply amazing to look at. Worth it.
Beast Of A Camera
Rated 5 out of 5
I came from a GH5 to the Komodo and I have to say this cinema camera is a beast! I'm running it with the Sigma Art 18-35 and the image I'm getting with the combo I'm very happy I would recommend this big time!!
Great Camera! Great Image! Great Size!
Rated 5 out of 5
I rented this camera for 10 days prior to purchasing to test it's capabilities and workflow. After owning it now for about a month I am even more pleased with this purchase. The latest beta firmware update offers R3D ELQ mode, which saves a lot of space and looks great if you're uploading to platform like YouTube. The Gio Scope option within False Color is one of my favorites for setting exposure. I set stops 1,2,11 (which is middle grey for this camera) 12,15, and 16. I love this tool! It now offers Face detect auto focus. It seems to works ok on my wider lenses (like Sigma 18-35), but on more telephoto lenses it hunts a bit. Many people have stated purchasing accessories for Red is a significant cost increase, however there are many options for Komodo cages, handles, battery plate options that are similar in cost to other camera accessories. I love the size of this camera and how I can build it out. The Canon 0.71 adapter makes this sensor a bit wider than my other full frame cameras and I love the depth of field it produces. It is not a low light monster like the Sony FX3, however after grading my night time footage it is more than good enough. I am very pleased with this purchase and I have my eyes on the Raptor to pair with it. If your workflow and customer base calls for this type of camera I recommend it.