RED’s Camera Throwdown Ends Before It Begins

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

In retrospect, I’m wonder if Jim Jannard wishes he hadn’t made the challenge.  Frustrated with how the Zacuto Great Camera Shoot Out wouldn’t allow his RED cameras to shine in contrast to the other competitors, Jennard took to the RED Forums to declare that Zacuto was behind the times and that 4K is the true standard that should be reached for in a camera by camera comparison.  He then went further to issue a challenge of his own for all takers.  So was it really a surprise when he had few takers?

There can be no unfairness if every camera company can attend and bring their own cameras and techs… then take their footgear to wherever they want for processing. That is what is missing from other “so called tests”. – Jim Jannard, RED User Forums

Not surprisingly, Jannard got no takers.  And it really didn’t take long before he got a respectful defense by Steve Weiss of Zacuto in the RED User forums themselves:

I will take one exception with a conclusion that has been made that 4K is here in 2012. In fact, the numbers do not pan that out in worldwide theaters today … Most theater owners have already bought 2K projectors making it the defacto standard in 2012 but if that changes in 2013 or 2014 then we will do our shootout in 4K, 5K or 10K…

Weiss went on to defend the Zacuto shootout, reminding RED Users Zacuto made a similar offer to Jannard and the folks at RED.  They could pic their own team to shoot and light the scene any way they wanted and that they would have complete control over their post production, right on down to post processing.   Weiss infers he got no response from Jannard and that he had to get feedback from the Forum to make sure any user of the EPIC was done to spec for the Shoot out.

The result over the past few days has been a very good debate over the value of comparing cameras based on what they’re being used for verses what they can be used for, and what, if any, virtue can be found in showing the best possible footage, even if only a small percentage of theaters would be able to showcase it.

And in the end, it seems that Jannard thought it simply wasn’t worth the hassle to make his point:

This idea of a real test has gotten out of control apparently.
Several companies have refused to participate. I guess if I were them I might consider the same thing.
Resolution is not everything. But it is something.
Dynamic range matters. So does the “feel” of the image.
Frame rates matter.
Size matters.
Price matters.
Upgrades matter.
Support matters.
Community matters.
We are going to take down our offer to do a comparison test at RSH. The grief and complication doesn’t warrant the effort. I hope that everyone can do some testing on their own that includes all aspects of image capture. We just aren’t up for the grief. We have better things to do.  There are lots of options for you to consider. I hope that RED is one of them.

To which, ironically, the first response to Jannard’s White Flag was “Well it was a good idea.”  I’m sure Jannard meant well.  He issues an invitation for each company to bring their cameras and shoot footage that can then be presented in the best possible light for all to judge on.  Jannard would even provide the lunch.  Seemed innocent enough.  But Jannard offered to host it on his own turf, where he could control light and other conditions to his camera’s advantage.  And then there’s his ability to project with his new laser powered RED Projector.

Additionally, he wanted to future proof a challenge, that would be presented in both 2K and 4K with results screened on 10′, 20′ and 40′ screens.  Is that really a huge deal?  And is there value in saying how well your college team can play now, when the rest of the field is currently participating in “prep high school football?”

I think that it would be cool to  see what these cameras can do to their full potential, but Weiss has a point.  It really doesn’t how cool a Porche, Lamborghini and Ferrari can handle speed and handling when US Freeways can only allow cars to run at 55mph.  The same would be true with projection technology.

But at the end of the day, if Weiss is accurate about Zacuto’s invitation being rebuffed by Jannard, then perhaps Jannard has no right to complain about the conditions of the test in the first place. It’s certainly hasn’t hurt REDs bottom line.

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.


  1. Philip Goetz says:

    Nice coverage and commentary. Thanks.

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