Cameras have become a lot better over the last three years, and this means you can now own an amazing cinema camera for about $6,000.
You could produce a solid documentary, commercial, corporate video or short film with half of what it used to cost just a few years ago.
It’s become harder and harder to justify a $9,000+ priced camera, as the democratization of filmmaking drives down prices year after year. And I believe it’s going to get even cheaper.
Which brings me to this article. I wanted to compare two cameras from the ‘rebels’ who contributed to this massive price reduction.
With the yet to be launched Red Komodo, a 6K Super 35mm beast at a about $6,000 – Red, too, sees the need to drive down prices or perish.
I’ll compare the two for myself, with available information, to see which one makes the most sense for high-quality commercials, features and shorts.
Obviously the Red Komodo hasn’t been released yet. By all accounts the camera will only begin shipping in May (or later). Even the specifications are not completely public. So treat this as a fun comparison, or a placeholder article, with currently available information. I’ll update this article when more factual information is available.
In many ways, I’m writing this article to understand the distinction myself. Do these cameras serve an overlapping market, or will they appeal to different sets of filmmakers?
Here’s some early sample footage from the Red Komodo:
And here’s official footage from the URSA Mini Pro:
Both look good for this price point and market. Both cameras are probably better than 99.99% of filmmakers, so there’s nothing to complain about.
Comparison of sensors and video features
Here’s how the camera sensors compare:
|URSA Mini Pro G2||4608×2592||Rolling||25.34 x 14.25 mm|
|Red Komodo||6144×3240||Global||27.03 x 14.25 mm|
|Camera||Dynamic Range||ISO Range||Built-in ND?|
|URSA Mini Pro G2||15||200-3200||2, 4, 6|
|Red Komodo||16||At least 3200*||No|
*Jarred has said the Komodo does well at least till ISO 3200, which makes it better than the Dragon in terms of low light performance.
The Red Komodo has one killer feature – a global shutter. In any case, it excels in all departments related to the sensor.
What about frame rates?
|Camera||Max fps at 4K||Max fps at 1080p|
|URSA Mini Pro G2||120 fps @ 4K, 150 fps @UHD||300 fps @ 1080p|
|Red Komodo||40 fps @ 6K FF, 50 fps @ 6k WS, 60 fps+ @ 4K||120 fps @ 2K|
Here the Ursa Mini Pro G2 fares much better. If you want HFR, the choice is decided.
|URSA Mini Pro G2||Compressed BRAW||12-bit||Apple Prores XQ and down|
|Red Komodo||Compressed Redcode RAW||12-bit||None|
BRAW isn’t truly RAW. On the other hand, the question is: How many people in this price bracket care?
I have used both, all types of RAW and codecs. It isn’t an issue for the market these cameras are designed for.
Finally, what you get externally:
|Camera||Connection||Best external resolution and fps||Audio|
|URSA Mini Pro G2||12G SDI x2||2160p @ 60fps||2xXLR|
|Red Komodo||12G SDI||2160p @ 60fps||None|
The URSA Mini Pro G2 is clearly a camera designed to have mostly-everything in the box. The Komodo will need additional accessories.
The Red Komodo has a Canon RF mount. The URSA Mini Pro G2 can be purchased with an EF, PL, F or B4 mount.
You could add an adapter to the Komodo to make it compatible to another mount, or just use RF lenses natively. To be fair, the RF system hasn’t been fleshed out yet, so we should at least balance the scales by assuming you need the EF to RF mount.
|URSA Mini Pro G2||Canon EF, PL, F, B4||$0 ($175-385)^|
|Red Komodo||Canon RF + EF adapter||$199*|
^Price varies according to the mount. I’ve picked $0 to make things equal.
*I’ve assumed one would pick the Control Ring adapter. You could go cheaper or more expensive.
PL to RF adapters are slightly more expensive but still cheaper than Red’s proprietary mount.
Focus, monitoring and ergonomics
The Komodo is smaller. Way smaller:
|URSA Mini Pro G2||281.6 cubic inches||2300g|
|Red Komodo||64 cubic inches||900g approx.|
What about the monitor?
|URSA Mini Pro G2||4″ touchscreen|
|Red Komodo||Smaller touchscreen|
Yeah Wireless is a pretty important part of Komodo…
…Our Engineers put the range increase to 300 feet. But they literally test in a perfect field in the middle of nowhere away from any other RF signals and no metal and no walls and no animals or people in the way and I am pretty sure they even cut the grass a little shorter on testing day to get that 300ft.
…You can control Komodo wirelessly from any phone ( in fact that was actually the only way to control the first komodo prototypes) , but you can not wirelessly monitor ( i.e. watch a video feed ) from your hydrogen or any other phone.Jarred Land
The Red Dragon-X also has a built-in R.C.P. Wi-Fi antenna though without further information on the Komodo we can’t compare.
With the Red Komodo you have to purchase a separate “Cradle” for Genlock, and it also has USB-C and wired control (CTRL).
Clearly the Red Komodo isn’t fooling around. The URSA Mini Pro doesn’t have wireless features or Genlock.
And then there’s this:
|URSA Mini Pro G2||None|
|Red Komodo||PDAF – Kindergarten Class|
Having some autofocus is good, but is hardly professional if you can’t rely on it.
Still, you have to hand it to the Red Komodo here.
Batteries and media cards
Here’s a look at the media options:
|Camera||Dual card slots||Price per GB for 480/512 GB*||Card Reader*|
|URSA Mini Pro G2||Yes, plus USB-C (CFast 2.0 + SD + USB-C)||$1.37/GB||CFast 2.0 Reader ($49.5)|
|Red Komodo||No, CFast 2.0||$1.37/GB||CFast 2.0 Reader ($49.5)|
*Sticking to Sandisk Extreme Pro to be fair.
What about battery life?
|Camera||Battery life with 2 batteries||Cost of two batteries and charger||Cost of 6 hours of operation|
|URSA Mini Pro G2||4 hours||$268||$400|
|Red Komodo||Unknown, but should get about 240 minutes*||$372#||$1,314|
*Two batteries for the Komodo gives you this battery life. Total guesswork on my part here.
#With the Watson dual charger.
You can hot swap the batteries from the back on the Red Komodo, and this is important for continuous shoots. You can also use the larger Canon BP-975 batteries for even more juice.
The URSA Mini Pro G2 has XLR for DC input. The Red Komodo also has a 14.4V DC port as well as an AC adapter.
DC – power connector is made by ODU (not GDU). ODU comes from medical/military world so I expect them to be quite good. Hate to throw shade on Lemo, but I’ve had too many instances where it seems to get “stuck” and removal is a bearJarred Land
Since both cameras would need a top handle, I’ll just discount that here.
Even though the hot swap feature is good to have, it is only needed in rare cases. I’d give this to the G2 as well.
Which is cheaper to own?
|Camera||Red Komodo||URSA Mini Pro G2|
|Media (2 cards)||$1,403||$1,403|
*Jarred said the price is less than $5,000 for Hydrogen users, so the price should be $6K. $6K for 6K is my guess, but it could also creep up to $7K.
To be honest, if you can find cheaper batteries (which is what I’ve used for the URSA Mini Pro G2), the prices are actually close enough to not matter.
- XLR inputs
- Cheaper media alternatives
- ND filters
First, a recap:
|Dynamic Range and colors||Red Komodo|
|ISO and Low Light||Red Komodo|
|Frame Rates||URSA Mini Pro G2|
|Variety of Lenses||Red Komodo|
|Media||URSA Mini Pro G2|
|Battery life||URSA Mini Pro G2|
|Wireless||URSA Mini Pro G2|
From the footage and tests I’ve seen online, clearly the Red Komodo has better image quality. But the question is: Will those using it take advantage of that difference?
I interact with thousands of filmmakers every year, and I can tell you: No. We all like to think we’re the next Roger Deakins, but the work doesn’t really warrant anything better than what the URSA Mini Pro G2 is capable of producing.
Where the Komodo might excel, though, is in better low light performance. The URSA Mini Pro G2 performs terribly underexposed.
Before we take our final decision, we’ll let each camera tell us what it offers that the other doesn’t:
|URSA Mini Pro G2||XLR, ND Filters, Davinci Resolve Studio, HFR, Multiple media cards||Large and heavy, Narrow exposure envelope|
|Red Komodo||Global shutter, Size, Wireless, Hot swappable batteries||Need extra accessories, No XLR for audio|
The choice is pretty obvious.
A word about service and support?
Depending on which country or territory you’re in, service could be stellar or non-existent. Neither of these companies have the network of a Sony or Canon.
I can speak for my country, India. Neither company has an office in India. Red has one dealer, and Blackmagic has about 3 million. Neither offers repairs. However, Red has been a solid company service-wise, and they do offer upgrades to their loyal customers. Otherwise, in the short term, the difference is nada.
For my projects personally, these are the features that really matter to me:
- Global shutter (4K 60fps is good enough for me)
- Wireless ability
- Image quality and color science
- Size and weight
So the Red Komodo definitely appeals to me more. The ugly noise artifacts and past experiences with the Black brand keep me away.
What do you think?