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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Game Is Changing

4K resolution and the ability to pull high-res still frames from full-motion capture are creating a paradigm shift in photography


The Scarlet-X was introduced on the same day as Canon unveiled the Cinema EOS C300 dedicated motion camera. During the elaborate multimedia show, Canon hinted at another intriguing camera: a new DSLR. That DSLR, the Cinema EOS-1D C, was announced formally at the NAB show in April 2012. The EOS-1D C is a 4K DSLR modeled after the EOS-1D X pro still camera. Taking the idea of convergence in yet another direction, the Cinema EOS-1D C can shoot 18.1-megapixel still shots and 4K video. If you're shooting 4K video, you can pull the 8-megapixel image files from the video. The Cinema EOS-1D C is expected to cost $15,000 when it becomes available later this year, a price that makes it tempting for a lot of pros.

Earlier this year, DPP published an article about the incredible possibilities of 4K and higher-resolution video for professional photographers. That future has arrived. 4K opens up the door to a new paradigm—a whole new way to think about shooting—and it's reality now.

You don't have to shoot video or shoot stills—you just shoot—and you can export high-resolution still images from the resulting video stream. Capturing decisive moments is tough; now you can select them from long bursts of high-res video—high enough resolution for magazine covers and spreads.

On the following pages, we'll show you some of the key facets of the Canon Cinema EOS-1D C, and the RED Scarlet-X and RED Epic. 4K is just the beginning.

RED Epic And Scarlet-X
RED is a company that has greatly advanced professional digital movie-making over the last few years, starting with the original RED ONE. RED cameras aren't camcorders or DSLRs; they're Digital Still & Motion Cameras (DSMCs) that shoot such high-resolution (4K and 5K) video that you can export any frame from the video stream as a high-quality still image—high enough quality that they have been printed in major magazines. Effectively, the Epic can produce 5K (13.8-megapixel) stills at up to 120 fps and 4K (8.8-megapixel) stills at 150 fps. The lower-priced Scarlet-X can do 5K at up to 12 fps and 4K at up to 30 fps.

RED cameras are modular systems, based around a "Brain" (a body with a sensor and electronics) to which you add a lens mount, power supply, viewfinder, memory unit and more to suit your needs. Thus, you can customize the camera as desired, and when an improved component becomes available, you needn't replace the whole camera to upgrade.

The Epic and new Scarlet-X are similar manual-focus modular cameras that shoot 5K, 4K and lower resolutions. The primary differences are data rates and processing power: The Epic can shoot at much faster rates. The Scarlet, while slower, is still a very capable DSMC and has the advantage of a much lower price.

5K Mysterium-X Sensor. At the heart of the Epic and Scarlet-X is a Super 35-format (27.7x14.6mm) Mysterium-X CMOS image sensor that can deliver the same high image quality, but at a much faster rate in the Epic. Full-frame 5K utilizes the sensor's full area; lower resolutions are windowed (cropped), thus reducing the angle of view. The focal-length factors (35mm DSLR equivalents) are about 1.3x for 5K, 1.6x for 4K, 2x for 3K and 3.25x for 2K—e.g., at 5K, a 100mm lens frames like a 130mm lens on a full-frame DSLR; at 4K, a 100mm lens frames like a 160mm lens on a full-frame DSLR, etc.

Shooting Speeds. Here lies the major difference between the Epic and the Scarlet. The Epic can shoot 5K at 1 to 120 fps, while the Scarlet-X can do 1 to 12 fps (great for still images, but essentially time-lapse for video). At 4K, the Epic can do 1 to 150 fps, the Scarlet-X, 1 to 30 fps. At 3K, the Epic can do 1 to 200 fps, the Scarlet-X, 1 to 48 fps. At 2K, the Epic can do 1 to 300 fps, the Scarlet-X, 1 to 60 fps (1080p). The Epic also can do the standard video rates of 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 47.96, 50 and 59.94 at all resolutions; the Scarlet-X provides all these rates, but not at all resolutions.

REDCODE RAW. Like all RED cameras, the Epic uses the proprietary REDCODE RAW codec, which employs "visually lossless" compression to produce much smaller files. As with RAW still images, RED's RAW video provides for nondestructive image adjustments during processing—white balance, gamma, ISO setting and the like.

 

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