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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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