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What Is a RED Camera: Everything You Need To Know

A RED camera is a highly customizable digital camera that’s capable of creating gorgeous pictures in 4K to 8K resolutions. It’s meant for professional and semi-professional cinematography.

Types of RED Cameras

A RED camera comprises the following parts:

  • Brain: DSMC or DSMC2
  • Lens mount: Canon mount, Nikon mount, Leica-M mount, PL mount, or RED Sidewinder
  • Accessory package: DSMC2 Base Package, DCMS2 Handheld Package, DSMC2 Drone/Gimbal Package, or DSMC2 Cinema Package

RED DSMC2 – Camera Body and Brain

The components of the RED DSMC2 ecosystem include the brain, expander modules, side and rear modules, lens mount, monitors, Mini-Mag media, and accessories.


  • R3D RAW, Avid DNxHR/HD, Apple ProRes
  • Max data speed — 300 MB/s
  • Integrated media bay
  • Cable-free peripherals
  • Interchangeable lens mount
  • Wireless control
  • Includes optional optical low-pass filter (OLPF)

Which RED Cinema Camera Is Right for You?

RED now offers the RED DSMC2 as the camera body, as well as several sensors such as:

RED Monstro 8K VV – Full Frame

The Monstro 8K VV delivers 8K resolution in VistaVision (VV) format at up to 60 frames per second.

RED Monstro VV 8K Specs:

  • Price: USD 54,500
  • Size: 40.96 mm x 21.60 mm
  • Effective pixels: 8192 × 4320
  • Dynamic range: 16.5+ stops

RED Helium 8K – Super 35

The Helium 8K S35 records 8K images at 60 frames per second in Super 35 mm format.

RED Helium 8K Specs:

  • Price: USD 24,500
  • Size: 29.90 mm x 15.77 mm
  • Effective pixels: 8192 × 4320
  • Dynamic range: 16.5+ stops

RED Gemini 5K – Super 35

The Gemini 5K S35 captures 5K images in Super 35 mm format at 96 frames per second.  

RED Gemini 5K Specs:

  • Price: USD 19,500
  • Size: 30.72 mm x 18.0 mm
  • Effective pixels: 5120 × 3000
  • Dynamic range: 16.5+ stops

Other RED Models To Consider

There are several other RED cameras and sensors available, including:

RED Raven

The  RED Raven can shoot at a maximum resolution of 4.5K and comes with a fixed EF mount.

RED Scarlet-W

The  RED Scarlet-W is a straightforward camera that records 5K images in Super 35 mm format.

RED Dragon-X 5K

The RED Dragon-X 5K is a Super 35 mm 5K sensor that enables you to film 5K at 120 frames per second.

RED Dragon-X 5K Specs:

  • Price: USD 14,500
  • Size: 25.6 mm x 13.5 mm
  • Effective pixels: 5120 × 2700
  • Dynamic range: 16.5+ stops

RED Hydrogen One

The RED Hydrogen One is a smartphone cinematography device that comes with an Android 8.1 operating system, 5.7-inch 3D display, and front and rear cameras.

RED Product History

RED products offered in the past include:


RED ONE produces image quality that’s similar to that of 35 mm film.

RED Epic

RED Epic originally featured the Mysterium-X sensor, but it can now be upgraded with other sensors.

RED Weapon

RED Weapon 8K/6K was the original name of the system that includes the DSMC2 brain and a new RED sensor.

RED Ranger

RED Ranger consists of the DSMC2 brain and the Monstro 8K VV sensor.


REDCINE-X Pro is a free post-processing software program designed for RED systems.

RED Rocket

RED Rocket is an internal PCI Express card that accelerates R3D workflow.

Varying RED Models

Variants of the DSMC2 include Carbon Fiber, Monochrome, and Xenomorph.

Nectar RED Cameras

RED made custom cameras for a few filmmakers, such as:

Michael Bay’s RED Camera

Michael Bay’s RED Helium features a custom body shape and a “Nike green” paint job.

David Fincher’s RED Camera

David Fincher’s RED Camera is a RED Xenomorph that comes with the 6K Dragon sensor and integrated features such as onboard monitor and wireless controls.

History of RED Cameras

Believing that 4K resolution was the future of film, RED attempted to create a digital camera that’s able to produce images that are as good as or better than film. Founded by Jim Jannard in 2005, RED’s story began in a simple garage.

Revolutionizing the Game with the Mysterium 4K

After creating a RAW 4K camera, the RED team developed the Mysterium sensor for RED ONE. This 12-megapixel sensor was capable of recording flawless 4K footage at up to 60 frames per second.

Early Adopters

Early adopters of RED ONE include Peter Jackson for “Crossing the Line,” Steven Soderbergh for “Che,” and Ron Howard for “Angels & Demons.”

Setting a Precedent

RED made shooting in RAW format an industry standard, giving filmmakers and digital editors more control over their images.

A Double-Edged Sword

Additionally, RED cameras led to the creation of a new role called digital imaging technician and a dramatic increase in demand for data wranglers.

Mysterium, Mysterium-X, and Red Dragon

Besides Mysterium, RED also offered the 14-megapixel Mysterium-X and the 19-megapixel Red Dragon sensor.

What Is RAW Recording?

RAW recording is the act of capturing unprocessed data. It allows you to adjust color, sharpening, gain, and other aspects of your images in post-production.

Why Shoot on the RED Camera?

Some of the main benefits of RED cameras include:

Resolution: Giving You the Freedom To Reframe

The impressive resolution of RED camera sensors gives you greater detail, clarity, and color depth. Additionally, you’ll have the freedom to reframe without sacrificing quality.

REDCODE: Facilitating Better Post-Production Workflow

RED has a wavelet-based compression algorithm called REDCODE that can greatly reduce the size of a high-resolution file.

Incredible Reliability: Taking Your Camera on an Adventure

RED cameras have survived the heights of the Himalayas and the depths of the Mariana Trench.

What Are DSMC and DSMC2?

Digital Still and Motion Camera (DSMC) is a camera system that delivers exceptionally high megapixel count, high dynamic range, high frame rate, and RAW file format. The RED camera currently uses the DSMC2, which is the second-generation DSMC.

Understanding the Relationship Between Resolutions and Full Format

Full format is only available at a maximum resolution. So, if you only want a Super 35 mm format at 4K, the perceived best-in-class system may not be the best option.

What Is the Highest Frame Rate at Which You Can Record?

You can refer to your camera’s operation guide to find out its maximum frame rates.

How To Configure Your RED Camera System

A RED sales representative can answer any questions about configuring RED cameras.

Upgrading to the Latest RED Model

Get the latest and best upgrades from RED to take your filmmaking to a whole new level.

Good News for Filmmakers!

The recent unification of RED camera bodies came with a price decrease for each body. Therefore, it’s now cheaper to get a new RED DSMC2 camera.

Where To Find More Resources

You can find more information about RED cameras at the following resources: RED Learn Articles REDucation RED DSMC Toolkit If you want to have access to a RED camera without the high cost, consider enrolling in the nine-month Cinema Production Diploma program at Nashville Film Institute. Contact us today to find out more about this course.