The three-year-old camera is already seeing some solid discounts, for a variety of reasons.
The Komodo’s release in 2020 marked a huge change for RED’s lineup and philosophy. The often controversial manufacturer shed its proprietary RED MINI-MAG media, utilized Canon’s easily adaptable RF mount, and even included a screen. This made for the most affordable RED camera we’ve ever seen, at around $6,000.
Since then, there have been four major releases from RED. The V-Raptor comes in Super 35mm, Vista Vision, and XL varieties, as well as the new Komodo-X. All four of these cameras share the exact same color science. The original Komodo is different.
A Baby Camera
Arri’s Alexa Mini was intended to be used in tight situations, where a full sized Alexa wouldn’t fit. That’s why they stripped the camera down to its bare bones. The Alexa Mini doesn’t have any screen or any extension to hold a battery.
In the same vein, RED built the original Komodo to be an IPP2 compatible crash camera. Something secondary to their larger setups. However, it obviously garnered a rabid reception. People use it as an A-camera all the time, even though it also functions as a great FPV drone camera.
When the Komodo-X was released recently, it brought the Komodo’s specs in line with something more worthy of A-cam status. A locking lens mount, better slow motion capabilities, and a “completely overhauled sensor architecture” to match the V-Raptor.
The Secondhand Market
So, the original Komodo now sits in an awkward spot. It’s the only modern RED camera to use older C-Fast media, use an older sensor, and lack I/O that users will likely need to work around with accessories.
If you check out ShareGrid’s secondhand market, you’ll see plenty of RED cameras. Most of them are Komodos. While some people are probably realizing that Komodo was too much for them, others are surely upgrading to the Komodo-X before it’s too late.
The price to buy a new Komodo, with enough accessories to get it up and running, sits somewhere around $10,000 and $15,000. You’ll want batteries and media, as well as a cage, monitor, and lens adaptor.
What about a secondhand option? Here’s somebody selling a pretty decent package for $7,800. A great price for a white model, and they’re even throwing in a Pelican case. If you need a zoom lens, this $9,250 package comes with a DZOFilm Pictor 20-55. Finally, here’s somebody selling one with batteries, cards, and a lens adaptor for the same price as the $6,000 base camera. Anecdotally, I met somebody on set that picked up a near-new model for $4,000 last month.
Ian Tunney testing out his RED Komodo FPV rig.
I suspect that the mid-tier cinema camera market is going to have a competitive few years ahead, which will drive the Komodo’s price down further. We can expect new cameras from Canon, Blackmagic, and Panasonic to bring similar specs to the market. In addition, RED’s raw-recording patent may expire in a few years, losing a huge competitive edge.
While the appetite may be waning for the Komodo, it’s still a very capable camera that could be the perfect fit in somebody’s production. There’s nowhere else that you’ll find a global shutter in such a tiny package.