RED Gemini Real World Test “iPhone Only” ;)

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So – what does the #Gemini look like at high ISO in the wild?
i.e. in “real world” use – vs a studio test?

That’s likely what every RED Digital Cinema​ user, filmmaker and DP is asking right now, especially a few days before #NAB2018

I too was curious … so much so that I took the fresh off the assembly line body with me to Sedona, AZ and the Grand Canyon during spring break with the kids… and natch: I put everyone to work. (Thanks to Bruce Dorn​ for being such a wonderful champ, guide, model!)

In many ways this video re-defines the “iPhone Only” term to some small degree – as a series of scenes is shot purely with iPhones … which I thought said everything one needs to know about the Gemini.

The fact that this was shot POST sunset for the most part – and in the 30-90 minute + range is what is exceptional to me specifically. That’s something I’m only used to when I shoot time lapses on DSLRs. Until now. (And we had to turn the iPhone screen brightness levels down!)

Filmmakers, TV shooters, doc, and pretty much everyone will be pleased with the excellent low light performance of this body as well as the smaller 5K size. I noticed I was filling up those SSDs much more slowly than in 8K… I was able to fill 5 days of footage on two of the new tiny G-Technology Europe​ 2TB SSDs and filled them each only 60%. That’s cool!

The results are incredible to me. I think the body easily sees 1.5 to 2.5 stops more into the shadows than any RED I’ve used to date and any 4K or above camera that I’ve used to date as well.

The lenses used played a big part of this as well – as you’re pushing the limits of optics here too. I used the ZEISS Camera Lenses​ Otus 55mm 1.4 , the Milvus 25mm 1.4, and the Sigma Corporation of America​ 14mm 1.8 for the most part. Almost always WIDE open. Exposure, shutter angle, FPS, compression and all details are overplayed on each clip.

Some other bodies may see more into the shadows perhaps, but not deliver the level of detail, color, or especially dynamic range as the RED bodies do. Let me step away from comparing this to other camera quickly – and go back to RED because it’s a fight no-one can win in the end. I know RED works for what I do … flawlessly. From using multiple mounts (PL, EF, Nikon, Sony, Hasselblad adapters, and Leica M lenses… as well as the Motion Mount – I’ve got everything I need.). Being able to shoot from 1 fps to 96 fps at 5K … well that’s just a dream for me for a package that’s not much bigger than a Pentax 6X7 or Hasselblad​ Medium format kit w/ filter.

For me this vacation was a big step. It was the first time I did not bring a STILL camera. And I don’t regret the omission one bit. I think it’s all RED and motion for me from now on – and pulling still grabs when I want to make prints. 8K is 36MP (up to 60 times per second full RAW!) and 5K is 16 Megapixels up to 96 times per second. Basically it’s iPhone + RED kit for me.

I’m not seeing much, if any, loss in detail in the highlights thanks to the two modes the body offers. There’s a low-light mode, and a standard mode (each optimized for each particular situation.). With the exception of the Daytime shots, all of this test was shoot in Low Light (LL) mode. (You’ll notice that I did TWO versions of Bruce walking around the tree … the first is exposed correctly at 6400 ISO and is quite clean … the second is underexposed by more than one stop (we were 49 minutes POST sunset! at 3200 ISO and when pushed not as clean. So don’t be afraid of 6400 ISO!) My daughter was side-lighting the scene from camera left with just her iPhone’s LED light. NUTS!

The only test I haven’t done yet is the RED Weapon 8K (Helium sensor) vs the Gemini – which I think the Gemini would win – as well as including the RED Monstro VV camera (which could make things interesting once downsampled from 8K to 4K … some have said the Monstro is the king in the end given pixel pitch/size etc. TBD!)

Here’s what this camera is NOT: It’s NOT a Sony​ A7xx killer.
Those still cameras still have 3-5 stops of signal-to-noise-ration on pretty much everyone. Those bodies do well in the 6 to 7 digit range … However that’s in still mode and you simply can’t compare the compressed video to the quality you’ll get from a RAW 5K or 8K file from the RED IMO. The Dynamic range and ability to work on the footage in post simply isn’t there.

One other note: I pushed the exposure a bit under moonlight. I was limited to 1 second exposures (I didn’t know there was a multi-sampling option until Jarred Land​ answered me at 12:30 a.m… but by that time the kids were tired and we had to go…). I can’t wait to do 16 second exposures – that will make things VERY interesting. And one more thing: How cool is it for a CEO or a major brand to answer a text from overseas (I think he was in Japan) when you’re on the edge of the Grand Canyon? Pretty cool IMO.

Regardless here are the results. Should note that I DID use Neat Video​ on all of the files starting at 3200. I debated giving you the RAW files but I realized I would never release anything shot above 1600 ISO on any motion picture camera without at least some minimal noise correction. Especially since I like to push the contrast and colors a bit (my style I guess) which directly accentuates noise in general. In most cases I pulled the noise correction down by 60%-80% and blended the original back in – I left the noise in there even though I could actually have made these images silky smooth with ZERO grain – I like the organic feel to the noise. This was mostly to remove pattern noise. So to be fair – with the exception of the moonlight footage, the noise correction is relatively minimal. Only the last shot in the video was pushed very hard in terms of noise correction – and even then I left the blemishes back in.

I did this on VACATION so please excuse the less than perfect editing … and see you all at NAB!!! I get in on Monday at noon.