9 Months with the RED Komodo Review - By Joey Helms

Gear Reviews
Tips & Advice

Gear Focus

May 19, 2021

blog image
Is the Red Komodo worth it? Our friend Joey Helms shares the nine things he's learned about the RED Komodo Review after 9 months. Be sure to check out his video below. And also take a look at his gear shop on Gear Focus! Thanks to Joey for putting this Red Komodo 6K review together for us!

9 Things About the RED Komodo


Number 1: The Image Quality and REDCode RAW is Amazing.

Okay, the reason why I wanted to move up from the mirrorless world to a RED was without a doubt the REDcode RAW codec. The image and skin tones you can get out of it with very minor work in post are gorgeous, and I mean minor... by slapping one of REDs conversion LUTs on it. Now, no matter what dynamic range this 6K sensor has it has always served me well. While some overly focus on the DR, what many don’t talk about is how a sensor handles highlights. And the highlight roll off on the Komodo is just smooth and good looking. Would I love to have higher frame rates? Heck Yes! Would I love to not have a significant crop when shooting at lower resolutions/higher frame rates? Yes! Do I think there will be updates addressing this? Definitely from what I understand. Has all this been an issue in the context of my work in real life? Not really.

Number 2: Handling/Shooting Run&Gun is Certainly Possible - But Come Prepared

So how is it actually to shoot with it? Can it replace a more compact mirrorless camera in run&gun or documentary style shooting? Well, if you know the challenges and downsides of this camera in such circumstances you can certainly work around many of them. Though what I found easier is nailing the right exposure to get most out of the sensor. In simple terms I set the ISO to 800 and look at the traffic lights, the unique metric showing you if the RAW image is clipping,  and then I give the sensor as much light until the first traffic light goes off. This sensor is light hungry, feed it and you will get a gorgeous image to work with in post. The camera has AF but honestly for my work I have not used it since it does not have face or eye tracking. So for my self-filming session for the YouTube work I honestly am considering getting one of the latest mirrorless with their amazing autofocus with face tracking... like the Sonys and Canons have.

Number 3: The Komodo Helped Me Grow as a Filmmaker

The Komodo was certainly a big technical and creative challenge that pushed me as a filmmaker. I had to learn new concepts by playing in the RAW world, adapting my shooting style for example when it comes to exposure of R3Ds, and follow a whole new workflow that makes me as a filmmaker to stop and think more. I have become much more intentional. Trying out and getting to know this camera with the ambition to push it so that I am actually making use of its horsepower got me out, it got me out creating and was a motivation to shoot. It is not always easy and smooth in the beginning, but the end result usually makes it totally worth it.

Number 4: It’s Eating Up Media, Like Crazy

Okay, if you have not shot RAW video before you will be in for a shock. The rough material I shoot for an average YouTube project range from 500 GB to 2.5 GB… like the shoot where we tested batteries during the polar vortex and shot this project on two REDs. One way I keep my data consumption manageable is by shooting in the lowest quality… which is still insanely high. So unless you are shooting highly detailed shots or work for 3D animation, you may be fine with LQ as well.

Number 5: The Post Processing is Delightful and Can Suck, Especially During the Render

Now as it comes to post I was actually pleasantly surprised how my 2015 iMac and 2017 MacBook Pro handle the 6K R3Ds. During the edit I still convert the clips into proxies for smoother editing. When it comes to the color grading this is where I personally found a lot of joy and you really get to feel the power of Red Code RAW. You can really push the image on this 16-bit raw codec insanely far without it falling apart. Though sometimes the RED clips mysteriously fall apart during the render. In the beginning it was some random glitch which, if you look for it, you will notice is a few YouTube videos. Now the glitches are gone but sometimes during the export the red clips are just a green screen. This is obviously very annoying as I sometimes have to re-render projects until it is gone. Clearly this is due to the lack of processing power on my machines but if anyone happens to have a solution please let us know in the comments. Much appreciated.

Number 6: The Design and Build, with the Right Accessories but it is heavier and larger

One thing I think many surprises when they first see the Komodo is how small and light this cube is. I had the same impression but on top it also feels sturdy and robust. I mean after all it was designed as a crash cam. Once you rig up your Komodo to a working package though it is certainly heavier and more cumbersome than your general mirrorless, but compared to many cinema cameras it can be built very compact for one person operation.

Number 7: It is Actually Reliable

I heard many times that RED cameras are not reliable. But frankly I don’t know where this notion is coming from. Must be from big sets. Yes, the camera crashed a handful of times since i got it but it is still on beta software, and outside of that I have had no reliability issues. Heck, I shot for two days straight at -20c and had zero issues. So far so good! I will be taking this camera to the highlands of Iceland soon, so that will be the ultimate reliability test for me.

Number 8: Finding the Right Accessories Takes Time... and Money

So because the Komodo is just this metal brick with a sensor and screen to make it a working machine you need a couple of accessories. Frankly it took me a while to find the right accessories that suit my needs and it was a little hit and miss in the beginning as gear came rolling out. If you are getting one now you should have enough review and experiences from others to guide you and the best way is to try it yourself first if you can. The Key camera accessories that I am using pretty much every time are:  
Outrigger Handle RED Komodo Outrigger Handle It’s pricey but just feels right
SmallHD Focus Pro SmallHD FocusPro Monitor I like the size, though it is a little dim and the resolution isn’t great
Tilta V-Mount Tilta V-Mount Battery Plate Fits snug to the camera powers through the battery ports
The Anton/Bauer Titon Micro Batteries Power both my Komodo and accessories reliably… even in the craziest conditions
Polar Pro Basecamp Matte box PolarPro Basecamp Matte Box An ND filter solution - I am either using this or the breakthrough photography drop-in filters in the EF-RF adapter
There is also a bunch of stuff I got and I certainly don't need for my style of shooting. So I will sell some pretty much brand new gear.

Number 9: The Community is a Treasure

Last but not least I learned very early on, heck even before my Komodo arrived that the RED community is incredibly supportive.Such community is very helpful as you get started and have seemingly basic questions. I have not encountered any judgement no matter how simple my beginner questions were. Also, brands of this expensive cinema gear, especially the lens manufacturer are much more approachable making the entry into the cinema world through the Komodo much smoother

In Conclusion

Overall I am, you guessed it, very happy with my decision to get the Komodo amongst all the other great camera options that came out over the past months. Do I recommend it to everyone? Definitely not! It is a very different camera system and certainly an investment. You need to know what you get yourself into. So before you make the plunge, rent it or borrow it to get a handle on it and see if the workflow is something you want to engage in. RED Komodo Review

Shop Gear Focus

Special thanks to Joey again for putting all of this together! Great job, awesome content as usual. Be sure to head over to Joey's YouTube page and give him a subscribe while you're there. And check out all the gear he has for sale on his Gear Focus page!
Joey HelmsJoey Helms is a Chicago-based filmmaker and video creator who geeks out on gear and buys way too much of it. Join me in capturing the world, exploring cultures, and being stunned by the beauty of our planet!      

Own one like this?

Make room for new gear in minutes.