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Header image for article Geoff's "Ultimate" Accessory Kit for RED DSMC2 Cameras

Geoff's "Ultimate" Accessory Kit for RED DSMC2 Cameras

DSMC2, the latest generation of RED’s camera BRAIN, is not only powerful, but the entire system is extremely versatile. These bodies can house four different sensors: MONSTRO 8K VV, HELIUM 8K, GEMINI 5K S35, and the recently launched 5K DRAGON-X. A wide range of modules and accessories expand the possibilities even further. We asked three of our Technical Specialists to describe their ideal RED DSMC2 package. Here’s a look at what’s in Geoff's RED kit.

My rig would be best suited to projects like short narrative subjects, music videos, longer-form corporate video, and VFX backgrounds ("plates") for later compositing with 2D and 3D elements generated in a computer. I had been building this kit around a GEMINI BRAIN when the new DRAGON-X DSMC2 camera was announced. After getting some hands-on time with this new body/sensor combo, I decided to focus my kit around the new camera – although, luckily most accessories will work with both models, thanks to RED's new unified body design. I've always been a sucker for the look of the DRAGON "tech" sensors with their generous highlight latitude and film-like texture. Having this look available in the manageable 5K size (and in 3-perf Super35, so lens coverage is a non-issue) sealed the deal for me.

 

CAMERA BODY & RIGGING

Since I'm lucky enough to have the opportunity to tackle a wide range of content types, often with little to no notice before jumping into the fray, my kit leverages the flexibility and modularity of the DSMC2 family. I often need to go from having the camera mounted on a tripod, such as for an interview, to running around and grabbing B-Roll and insert shots handheld. I also like to shoot handheld at high frame rates for slow motion "portraits." I already have a good stable of lenses in Canon's EF mount, but own comparatively few PL-mount lenses, preferring to rent these when necessary. Still, I consider both mounts invaluable for capturing whatever is required on the day and always carry both in my kit. I also use RED's V-Lock I/O Expander for power and connectivity to the camera. This module was initially not going to be offered when the DSMC2 system was announced, but thankfully Jarred Land, RED's "Fire Chief" (RED-speak for CEO), graciously bowed to requests from the RED community to make this all-in-one expander (thanks for listening!).

For locking the camera down on sticks, as well as quickly getting it off again, I recommend Wooden Camera's Unified Bridgeplate with 19mm "studio" rod mounts and their compact 8" Safety Dovetail, which has hard stops at either end to prevent an unbalanced build from taking down the whole rig.

Ever since the EPIC-bodied DSMC1-era cameras, I've always loved RED's Outrigger handles. The updated DSMC2 version comes off of the top of the camera and cantelevers out over camera right. Thanks to the new 3-pin/contact connection on the top of the camera this new handle allows the camera to be run and stopped from a discrete thumb button. Alternatively, I'll mount the "3-finger" Universal top handle to save space and accommodate a wider variety of rigging rear of the body.

In keeping with the "small and light" theme of this build, I've been a big fan of Bright Tangerine's Misfit Atom mattebox since its introduction in 2015. Its trayless design allows up to two standard 4x5.65" filters to be inserted or a single filter to be pitched at an angle to help deal with any reflections or flares. While older DRAGON sensor-based RED cameras have at times had issues with IR pollution using high levels of ND (neutral density filtration), I've found this issue to have been largely mitigated with the Standard OLPF included with the DRAGON-X. Just to be safe though, I rely on Schneider's RHOdium FSND filters to banish any color shifting, such as when shooting man-made fabrics in bright outdoor scenarios.

VIEWFINDERS & MONITORS

For monitoring, I find the DSMC2 RED Touch 4.7" LCD to be ideal. It's a bit brighter than the 7" model and, while it doesn't swivel like that one, I find I can easily handhold the camera with the screen mounted on the top POGO ("plug-on/plug-off") connector. With the screen angled slightly away, I find it reminds me of shooting with a medium format stills camera, such as a Pentax 67 or Mamiya RZ using a waist-level viewfinder. RED's excellent OLED EVF remains a must for working in the brightest conditions however.

 

POWER

I've always had good luck with batteries from Core SWX (formerly known as Switronix). For maximum portability, I would start with two of the RED-specific versions of their Hypercore 9 Mini batteries. These batteries communicate RED's battery protocol when mounted on compatible plates (like the one integrated into the V-Lock I/O expander, see above) and show accurate time remaining on connected monitors, rather than only simple voltage. Core SWX's GP-X2S charger is a compact and efficient two-position vertical charger that, when charging only one battery, can take advantage of the Rapid Charge technology available in their Fleet series of chargers, topping up a single 98wh pack like the Hypercore 9 Mini mentioned above in under 2.5 hours. With the right cabling, this charger can also power the camera, effectively serving as an AC adapter for studio or interior location shoots.

 

OTHER

When shooting "run 'n gun" style, I'll generally pull my own focus, but for more complicated sequences, or situations where multiple crew are contributing to a shot, a dedicated focus puller is almost a necessity and good ones are worth their weight in peace of mind. For these situations, I'll defer to the AC, who often come with their preferred wireless control and motor solution, but I find the Tilta Nucleus-M to strike a good balance between functionality, reliability and price for those situations where there isn't budget for an exotic Preston or ARRI wireless follow focus. Plus, it offers the convience of being an all-in-one-solution to wireless lens control.

Geoff Smith
Camera Technology Specialist, AbelCine NY

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