RED V-Raptor - Filming wildlife in Africa
Updated: May 28, 2022
Taking the RED V-Raptor out into the field. My thoughts...
Finally I had the time to take the Raptor into the bush and get some tests done. Here are my thoughts for wildlife filmmakers:
The first thing I noticed is the insane dynamic range this camera has. Filming in high contrast scenes like animals in a forest with shadows and light patches all over the place or filming animals at sunsets, the Raptor covers all the details like a boss. The Raptor kept all highlight and shadow information in all my scenarios. So for tricky, contrast rich scenes, the Raptor's 17 stops of dynamic range will cover you!
Pre-record for wildlife filmmaking is almost a must have. And the Raptor provides a fantastic pre-record option. As the Raptor has individual user menu options, I have set my pre-record on one of the programmable buttons. This allows me to quickly switch on and off the pre-record function of the camera. I tested pre-record in all resolutions and framerates and the Raptor never run into any issues.
The only thing you need to get used to is, that you have to press the record button again to re-enter pre-record after you stopped your take. Other cameras like the zCam I am used to, start the pre-record automatically after stopping a take. So keep in mind that you have to manually restart the pre-record function on the Raptor. Other than that, the pre-record function worked without any problems.
I was expecting good results on the high frame rates, but I have to admit that the 240fps in 4k are insane for wildlife. You will be able to freeze any detail whatsoever and I can't wait to film a highspeed cheetah hunt with the Raptor. Before you needed special cameras like the Phantom Flex to record extreme high frame rates, though the Raptor does not reach the Phantom Flex max fps, but I am sure that 240fps are more than enough for most of the natural history productions.
I did try the 8k 120fps as well and have to admit that seeing the recording time shrink to around 17min on a 2TB card made me sweat a little bit... If you are planning to shoot 8k 120fps, make sure you have plenty, and I mean plenty of HDDs for backup with you. The Raptor is very hungry!
I was recording most of the time in 4k and I was using my SIGMA 120-300 f2.8. As the Raptor applies a crop to the sensor when choosing lower resolutions other than 8k, you will get a tighter field of view. For wildlife this will enable you to get a "closer" shot. The crop factors on the Raptor's sensors are:
4k 17:9 = 2x / 5k 17:9 = 1.6x / 6k 17:9 = 1.3x / 7k = 1.1x
In my case shooting 4k, I had a focal lenght equivalent of 240 - 600mm which was more than enough in most scenarios.
The new DSMC3 monitor looks great and the touch panal is nice and reactive. The different monitor tools provided by the SmallHD software are really helpful and coming from a SmallHD Focus, I got used to it very fast. The peaking works great as well as all the other exposure and monitoring tools. So no issues on that side.
The monitor itself is really bright, the only thing I am not so happy about is the mirroring of the display itself. I might have to look into a matt screen protector to get rid of the heavy mirror effect when shooting outdoors. As there are only limited sun hood options right now, I tried to built my own sun hood using Velcro to fix it on the monitor. But due to the extreme heat the monitor produced, the glue of the Velcro dissolved and the sun hood fell off... I think the only way forward is to use a sun hood with some kind of rubber band solution... Still have to figure that out.
But I have noticed that the monitor gets burning hot after using it in the late afternoon with the sun hitting it. At some point I was barely able to touch the back of the monitor! It did not affect the monitor functions itself, but I wonder if this might causing an issue when it comes to hot shooting environments.
Another thing I am not too happy about is the monitor mount itself. For run'n'gun it's good but for wildlife it needs to be modified. I will look into different solutions and will keep you guys updated. In the long run I will definetly use the Zacuto Kameleon Pro for the wildlife productions.
I was using 150wH Bebob micro batteries and they last around two hours. As you leave the camera on most of the time while filming wildlife, this is a point to consider! With all my batteries available (2x 150wh, 4x 98wH) I would reach a maximum runtime of around eight hours. But that means you need to charge the batteries on the spot while filming or you need a lot of chargers... I might consider getting more 150wH bats to have a bit more runtime over the day.
If you want to get more information and feedback about the RED V-Raptor 8k VV and filming wildlife, do not hesitate to drop me a mail: email@example.com