A friend was starting in on a project that he thought he might shoot on the RED One. Understandably, he shot some tests. He was concerned about shooting in low levels of tungsten-balanced light, which is understood to be a situation that does not play to the RED One’s advantages. He was going to test against some other digital cinema cameras, and invited me to come play.
I think he was rather surprised when I told him that I would rather not. I explained myself thusly:
I’m glad people test cameras, in the same way I’m glad people test condoms. But a condom-testing event doesn’t sound fun to me at all. At some point, you just want to pick a condom that you have reason to believe will do its job satisfactorily, and get busy.
Cinematographer Geoff Boyle just posted this dutiful comparison of three 50mm cinema primes; Cooke S4, Zeiss Master Prime, and RED. I highly recommend that you download the full-res DPX files and compare them at the pixel level, because it will cure you of ever wanting to do such a test on your own. The differences are so infinitesimal that they could be accounted for by light bouncing into the scene off the operator’s cargo shorts.
Are camera tests useless? Not at all. I’m grateful that so many people want to do them. It frees me up to grab a camera that I think is going to be pretty much right for the job, and get busy.