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Why So Much Hate For The RED Lenses?


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#1 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 09:28 PM

Just about every camera guy I talk to thinks the RED primes and zooms suck.

 

Reasons usually being the optics themselves. A secondary reason being the weight.

 

I've compared the weight of Zeiss CP2 primes with a RED zoom and the weight was practically identical. Maybe only a pound difference.

 

I had my hands on some CP2s and a RED zoom at the same time and shot a quick test on the Sony F3, here's a link:

http://xomf.com/g/rkzny

 

From a spec standpoint on paper, I love the RED primes. Great close focus, super fast (T1.8 or so).

 

Both are at 50mm (one has to be I suppose) and opened to around T2.9. The flare in the first image pretty much reveals which lens is which, but can someone articulate to me the drastic different in these 2 pieces of glass aside from the fact one is a zoom and one is a prime?

 

Would like to get my hands on a RED Prime for my own testing because I don't see a lot of shootouts with it. And it's so so cheap.

 

 

Thanks for your thoughts.

 


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#2 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 09:56 PM

For me, the inconsistent sizes and the dodgy focus scales are the main problem. I don't mind them optically, I've got some pretty pictures from them.
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#3 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 10:29 PM

 I don't mind them optically, I've got some pretty pictures from them.

Some of the greatest photos in history were taken with lenses that, by today's standards, are pretty awful. A lot of the hate for the RED lenses came from the fact that they were rehoused stills lenses of uncertain provenance, and they weren't all that well thought out, or made. Also, RED's habitual hyperbole in marketing its products all but guaranteed a backlash.


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#4 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 10:40 PM

I heard they worked with Cooke in some way for those lenses though. Does that count for anything? If they were simply rehoused stills, does anyone know what model of still they were?


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#5 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 02 August 2017 - 11:18 PM

I don't think they had anything to do with Cooke (why would Cooke work on a competitor's lenses anyway?) From what I gather the optics are from Asia, maybe TLS had a hand in the housings.

Only the 17-50 Red zoom can claim lightweight status, at 3.2 lbs, the 18-85 is nearly 10 lbs. The Red Primes are generally 2 to 3 times as heavy as CP.2s and way bigger. Close focus on the Red primes is pretty much like many other S35 lenses, about 12' up to the 50mm. Don't be fooled by specs that mention close focus distances from the front of the lens, the focus marks always refer to the distance from the sensor.

The first generation Red zoom was an awful re-housing of a stills zoom, which trashed any notion that Red lenses might be OK. The newer zooms are better, but still pretty ordinary both optically and mechanically, which is simply a function of their cost. From my standpoint as a technician, they have terrible support from Red who refuse to supply drawings or parts and make people send the lenses back to the US for the smallest issue.

As Mark mentioned, the focus marks are notoriously unreliable and a lot of DoPs I've spoken to just don't feel inspired by the images they produce. It probably didn't help matters that Red and their fan base overhyped them either.
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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 05:30 AM

Cooke had nothing to do with the red lenses, at all. When Red was coming out, Cooke made a set of "red lenses' which were cooke lenses (Panchro 2.8s I think, now called mini S4s) which were "red" banded, as they had red around them etc.
All things said, I'm thinking the red lenses are sigma re-housed? But it's been a long while since this was all hashed out.

They're pedestrian, in a lot of ways, just like the CP2s, an alright lens which'll make an image albeit in this case with the hassle of service of a red lens. If anything, if you want something pretty good, and cheap, the Sony Cine-Alta lenses are, I think, a better deal. The MK1s are dirt cheap (800 ish for a PL T2 prime) though have service issues, and are plastic, whereas the MK2s are more costly but I believe easier to service.

 


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#7 aapo lettinen

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 01:20 AM

I also have the impression that they have Sigma glass inside, either rehoused or custom made. 

 

the only RED lens I have seen in use here in recent times is the 18-85 zoom. maybe it's a little better design or alternatively the range is so useful that it's worth adjusting and repairing when needed.

 

personally haven't shot anything with the red primes but tested them briefly a while ago. the biggest disadvantage seemed to be the size and weight, in that regard they are quite similar to Master Primes but the optical quality is not even relatively close. 

If, however, they would be more compact and lightweight, like in the same range than Ultra Primes, they could be useful if one has time and skill to calibrate them in-house whenever needed. ugly flaring though  ^_^


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#8 Bruce Greene

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 03:44 AM

I used the RED lenses on one project a few years ago.  They looked fine, no issues for me.  The zoom (18-50) was even ok, but got darker as it was zoomed in.  At a good price, they'd be worth getting.


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#9 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 03:56 AM

That's the entire draw for me, a good price. If these things were asking for CP2 prices they'd belong in the garbage.


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#10 Bruce Greene

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 07:32 AM

That's the entire draw for me, a good price. If these things were asking for CP2 prices they'd belong in the garbage.

The RED primes have the advantage over the CP primes in that the RED lenses have consistent apertures, and that's a big advantage for many.


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#11 aapo lettinen

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 07:53 AM

The RED primes have the advantage over the CP primes in that the RED lenses have consistent apertures, and that's a big advantage for many.

 

faster wide angles than CP2 yes, that is quite handy.... if they would have made them lenses magnesium bodied to reduce weight they could be quite good for certain productions


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#12 Alex Nelson

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 10:45 AM

The Red Pro Primes were not rehoused still glass. They were designed and developed by the team behind UniqOptics, in California. Kenji Suematsu, who was responsible for the mechanical design, talks about the process (and eventual lawsuit) for a few minutes in this interview: http://archive.densh...-skenji-01-0022


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#13 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 03:14 AM

Didn't they have a tendency to be green, making the already Red "green" issue an even bigger problem? I haven't used them, but everyone I talked with said that was the main issue. Easy to fix in post, but it was required to be fixed.

On a side note, the Rokinon Xeen's also kinda lean towards green as well.
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#14 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 05:39 AM

At least with the MX sensor, I've always noticed sort of a magenta thing going on, especially in the shadows. Maybe that's why the lenses are a bit green?


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#15 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 04:24 AM

The Red Pro Primes were not rehoused still glass. They were designed and developed by the team behind UniqOptics, in California. Kenji Suematsu, who was responsible for the mechanical design, talks about the process (and eventual lawsuit) for a few minutes in this interview: http://archive.densh...-skenji-01-0022


Interesting, he mentions Jannard was responsible for the oversized form of the Primes because he thought bigger lenses looked more expensive! What irony that this is their main drawback now.

Tamron were the manufacturers, which makes sense since I know the 17-50 is definitely a rehoused Tamron zoom.
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#16 Macks Fiiod

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 04:52 AM

What makes rehoused stills so expensive? Are the gears and mount really enough engineering to make the price skyrocket to over $2000?

 

Would I be able to pay someone to rehouse any still zoom I find?


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#17 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 07:08 AM

What makes rehoused stills so expensive? Are the gears and mount really enough engineering to make the price skyrocket to over $2000?

 

Would I be able to pay someone to rehouse any still zoom I find?

 

A proper rehousing fit for motion picture use needs to be manufactured to much tighter tolerances than any stills lens, the zoom cam tracks (usually moving two optical assemblies in two different curves) have to be accurately mapped and machined, the focus travel extended and all glass elements kept as centred and perpendicular to the axis as possible through their movement, as well as the lens having accurate focus and iris markings and a more durable overall build. It's far more than just a gear ring and a different mount.  I'm amazed how cheaply some companies manage it, and to be honest, many don't do a sterling job. It takes very good design skills and quality control to make a decent rehousing, and even then they will be limited by the quality of the original optical housings, which usually get re-used within a new outer shell. It's also worth remembering that the economies of scale are vastly different between cine and stills products, most stills lenses would be exponentially more expensive if produced in limited runs. 

 

I'm sure you could pay the right people lots of money to rehouse any lens you wanted, but a one-off design would need as much planning, design and tooling as a whole range, so you might be paying quite a lot for it. 


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#18 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 01:50 PM

Then again, with digital and focus assist, who really needs accurate focus marks? As long as the lens is capable of doing repeat actions, it's pretty easy to use the cameras focus peaking to determine focus and simply mark the follow focus ring for any moves that one would be doing. I can't think of the last time I looked at a lenses focus ring.

In the film days, this was more critical because the focus aids told you where to set the lens. Plus it's harder to set focus on a film camera no matter what. So having really accurate markings, is pretty important on film.
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#19 Alex Nelson

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 03:57 PM

For AC's doing check-outs in rental houses, taping out lenses against the engraved scale is a quick way to catch back-focus issues. If you don't have accurate marks, you might find out too late that your lenses can't hit infinity. There are also many instances where you just have to pull off the marked barrel and there aren't monitors with peaking or wireless focus systems on hand.


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#20 aapo lettinen

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 04:38 PM

peaking and focus assist can fool you sometimes, especially when focusing with smaller hd or less than hd onboard monitors with wide angle lenses. the biggest issue of course would be the possible inability to focus to infinity if there is something wrong with the scales but accurate focus scales are very important in lots of situations, especially longer dof situations like the stopped down wide angles scenario. some ac:s tend to mostly trust the distance markings when pulling focus


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