Welcome back, intrepid explorers of the RED DSMC2 ecosystem! In the first part of this bisected examination of the DSMC2 ecosystem and what it has to offer, I explained the philosophy behind the DSMC2 ecosystem and went over the first three building blocks of a RED DSMC2 camera: the BRAIN, expander modules, and accessory modules for the rear and side of the camera. In this sequel article, I’m going to cover lens mounts, monitoring, media, and other accessories. So, strap in, and let’s get right back into it.
Part 4: Lens Mounts
One holdover from the original DSMC ecosystem is the interchangeable lens mount. While a camera BRAIN by itself doesn’t come with a lens mount (the RED RAVEN being the exception), requiring you to purchase one, the fact that the end-user can swap mounts in a matter of minutes to fit different workflows further proves RED cameras’ versatility. Lens mounts are offered in a few varieties, which I will break down below.
- Aluminum: Starting from the bottom of the pricing structure, aluminum lens mounts are the most affordable. They are lightweight, yet strong, and work well for mounting lighter photo lenses and stabilizer work. Canon, Nikon, and Leica mounts are available in aluminum. The Canon and Nikon versions have electronic contacts for lens communication.
- Titanium: The first DSMC mounts were made from titanium. Titanium is strong and is resistant to stress from heavy lenses. While not as expensive as magnesium, titanium mounts are more expensive than their aluminum counterparts. The higher stress resistance, compared to aluminum, allows for PL lenses to be used with a PL mount. Canon and Nikon variations are offered, as well. The PL mount has electronic contacts in the Cooke /i position (12 o’clock) to relay lens information. The Canon and Nikon versions have the same connectivity as their aluminum counterparts.
- Magnesium: Stronger than aluminum and lighter than titanium, magnesium offers the best of both worlds. The obvious advantages of the magnesium PL mount is its ability to support heavy lenses while keeping camera weight down. This advantage comes at a cost, however. This magnesium mount is significantly more expensive than the titanium version. At the time of writing, no other mount variations are offered with magnesium construction from RED.
- Motion Mounts: While these are technically variations on the titanium mounts, these PL and Canon mounts have something special up their sleeve, which I think warrants their own category in my breakdown. Aside from being the most expensive DSMC lens mounts, at press time, integrated into the mount is a liquid crystal panel (not unlike an LCD) which can vary in opaqueness. This panel serves a couple of unique purposes. First, it can act as an electronically controlled neutral density filter, offering up to 8 stops of visible light and infrared attenuation. And second, the panel can act as a hard or soft global shutter, improving motion rendering by reducing rolling shutter artifacts inherent in RED CMOS sensors (not that there is much artifacting to begin with). Explanation as to how the motion mount does this and a proper explanation of the image quality improvement are beyond the scope of this article, but RED has kindly dedicated a few articles to this subject on its website, should you wish to research the topic further. Just note that the panel inside the motion mount imposes a 1.6 stop light loss, even when the ND is not active.
Part 5: Monitoring
It’s hard to operate a camera without seeing what you’re capturing. RED offers a comprehensive set of tools for properly observing your framing, as well as navigating camera menus. The most basic offering is the DSMC2 RED Touch 4.7" LCD monitor. Its low profile and light weight won’t disrupt most camera operation, and its touch functionality lets you easily tweak camera settings. If you’re looking to go larger, check out the DSMC2 RED Touch 7" LCD monitor. DSMC2 BRAINs have contact connections that let you attach monitors without a cable—a great convenience. If you want to use a RED monitor off-camera, you can easily connect the monitor using the DSMC2 LEMO Adapter A. Alternatively, everything you’ll need is available in a convenient LEMO adaptor pack.
For cinematographers who enjoy a more traditional viewing experience, RED also offers the DSMC2 RED EVF (OLED) w/ Mount Pack. Using the contact connector on the operator side of the camera, this EVF can attach to DSMC2 cameras without a cable or additional mounting hardware. Using a LEMO cable, the EVF can also be separated from the camera using the DSMC2 LEMO Adaptor Pack listed above.
Part 6: Media
Back in the day, the RED ONE used to record to special CF (CompactFlash) cards. They were only available in 16GB capacity, a serious recording limitation. If you wanted to record for longer periods without reloading, a clunky RED DRIVE setup was your only recourse. RED then expanded to the REDMAG 1.8" SSD drives, and from there to the higher-performance, yet smaller, RED MINI-MAG drives. Without the limitations of years past, RED MINI-MAGs are available in capacities up to 960GB (at the time of writing). Some may bemoan the lack of third-party media and the relative expense of RED media.
However, RED’s tolerances are extremely tight, ensuring that you will receive a RED MINI-MAG capable of recording R3D files and formatting day in and day out.
Since no run-of-the-mill card readers will accept RED MINI-MAGs, you’ll have to look to RED’s available solution. The RED STATION RED MINI-MAG - USB 3.1 uses a USB 3.1 (10gbps) to make short work of the video recordings so you can have your media fresh in the field where you need it.
Now feels like an opportune time to mention that RED DSMC2 cameras can record R3D files and Apple ProRes or Avid DNx files to the same card, so you don’t have to worry about loading a separate card for each format. However, you will have to copy the files separately to hand them off to a client after a shoot. But, if you have a DIT on set, they can take care of that for you, so there should be no inconvenience in that respect.
Part 7: Bundles
It’s easy to get carried away with all the accessories available for the DSMC2 ecosystem. So I don’t go overboard and overwhelm you with the vast trove of accessories available to you here at B&H from all the manufacturers we represent, I’ve decided to limit the scope of this article to RED’s pre-assembled accessory packages. These kits are compatible with RED’s DSMC2 line, and each one has essential accessories for different workflows. Some are more general, while others are more focused on a specific task. Either way, it’s hard to go wrong, especially if you’re assembling your first RED package; this way you know that what you buy is going to work, right out of the gate. Keep in mind: regardless of which package you get, you’ll still need to provide recording media and a lens mount. I’ve linked to each of the product’s B&H pages, so you can learn more about them and what they include.
- DSMC2 Base Package: It’s hard to go wrong with this one as a first package. It’s a good jumping-off point for a first-time purchase since it leaves the camera open to customization later. All the essentials are provided. The Base Expander provides I/O and the Battery Module lets you attach the included RED BRICK batteries with or without the expander. Monitoring is taken care of with the DSMC2 RED Touch 4.7" LCD screen. A media reader is included, as well.
- DSMC2 Handheld Package: This kit is relatively similar to the Base Package. Judging by the name, you can probably infer that this bundle leans toward handheld operation. Based on the same Base Expander, Battery Module, and RED BRICKs as the Base Package, the Handheld Package adds the DSMC2 Side Handle, a battery belt (takes weight off the camera), and the bolt-on Quick Release Platform, which allows the camera to be quickly lifted from a tripod.
- DSMC2 Drone/Gimbal Package: While not as usable all around as the previous two bundles, the DSMC2 Drone/Gimbal Package is designed strictly for those shooting conditions, keeping the camera as small and light as possible. The Jetpack Expander has the power input, accepting power from the included RED BRICK batteries via the belt pack or an external source (preferable in both gimbal and drone operations). For easy monitoring when gimbal-mounted, the included DSMC2 RED Touch 7" LCD monitor can be placed off-camera using the included LEMO Adapter kit.
- DSMC2 Shoulder Mount Package: If you spend the majority of your shooting days handheld, this may be the kit for you. Built around the DSMC Base Production Pack, this kit is designed to keep you comfortable with the camera on your shoulder and the RED TOUCH monitor right in front of your face.
- DSMC2 Studio Package: The Studio Package is built for those who are shooting locked down and need as much I/O connectivity as they can get. What better expander to employ than the DSMC2 REDVOLT Expander Module? It has plenty of I/O (as explained back in part 2 of Part 1 of this series) and is great for the traditional DP that prefers a viewfinder to an on-camera LCD. If you need more proof that this kit is not for the faint of heart, RED’s DSMC Quick Release Platform Pack is included with a pair of 19mm rods to support the heaviest studio zooms and lens accessories.
- DSMC2 Cinema Package: For those who want to have their cake and eat it too, this is the kit you want. No matter what kind of project you’re filming—documentary, drama, or BTS—this kit has what you need. Essentially, this kit provides the best of the Studio, Handheld, and Shoulder Mount packages. It includes the REDVOLT Expander for I/O, six(!) RED BRICKs with two chargers, a DSMC2 7" RED TOUCH LCD screen, an EVF, and a shoulder rig. I probably don’t have to tell you that this kit has a price to match its versatility. But if you know you need everything but the kitchen sink, this is a sure way to get it.
A little extra tip before I conclude: it's worth mentioning that the foolcontrol iOS app is a great utility to control your camera. It’s not a cheap app, by any means, but it’s an incredibly useful tool that gives you complete wireless control of your RED.
After two decently long articles, what did we learn? RED cameras are versatile, and are always expandable to be up to nearly any shooting task in the professional world. The camera system’s modular configuration options might seem daunting, but with a little research, along with some help from this article, you’ll be piecing together your own RED kit in no time.
Do you want to put together a RED kit? Did I (gasp) leave something out? What are you looking for in a RED kit? Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you! The learning experience doesn’t have to end here—if you want to know more about RED cameras, feel free to come down to, or get in touch with the Studio at B&H, inside the B&H SuperStore.