Cinematographer/president of the Digital Cinema Society James Mathers was one of the first to receive the RED Digital Camera and in the November issue of Studio/monthly he reviews this eagerly anticipated 4K camera. While you will have to wait a few more days until the issue gets delivered here’s an excerpt to whet the voracious RED appetite:

NOTE: You can now read the full review of the RED Digital Camera here.

Still in Beta, but Already a Dynamic Technology
By James Mathers

This is an unconventional review of a very unconventional camera. First, full disclosure: Although I was hired by RED to do some testing in the early development of this camera, I am now also an owner of the first iteration of the RED ONE. This review is my own independent evaluation of the camera, beta software and camera components I purchased.

It is very exciting to be part, in some small way, of the development of the paradigm-shifting RED technology. Under the terms of a strict NDA, I was barred from previously discussing the camera, but I can now relate how I first became involved. To aid in the search for the “MYSTERIUM,” the heart of the camera, I was hired in January 2005 to shoot some tests of the various sensor choices. It amazes me to think that only a few years ago, RED looked like nothing more than a circuit board with a C-mount lens precariously attached. The team at RED wanted to see how the sensors handled such challenges as camera movement, so I mounted this ridiculous looking “camera” on a jib arm, along with the necessary armada of computer towers on the dolly’s base. All these drives could only record just moments of 4K material at a time (data that now fits onto one of RED’s CF cards, which are smaller than matchbooks).redmathers.gif

This prior knowledge of the project, and a strong confidence inspired by the tireless team assembled to pull it off, led me to put down a deposit and place one of the very first orders for the camera. Out of the more than 3,000 cameras now on order, I was lucky to be number 30. I received my first RED in early September, and am now well into my testing and evaluation of the camera, having shot in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Jackson Hole, WY. The footage has been finished in everything from DV for streaming to HD, 2K, 4K and even output to film. Although the camera is not yet fully featured and there are necessary work-arounds due to the beta status of the first units, the camera is here and making stunning images. It has a silky subtlety that is far beyond any HD camera and is quite filmic. It does not yet match the quality and dynamic range of 35mm film, but it’s the closest, by a long shot, that I’ve seen any electronic image yet come.

Read the full review in the upcoming November issue of Studio/monthly. If you don’t already get the issue Subscribe today!