Taking apart a $45,000 8K RED camera

Jan 21, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Taking apart a $45,000 8K RED camera

Jan 21, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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You might remember that a couple of years ago, Linus Tech Tips spent a somewhat insane $138,000 on a couple of 8K RED cameras & accessories. Well, like most of us after having a camera for this amount of time, they’re starting to notice some of the annoying quirks of their camera.

In this case, the loudness of it between takes as the fan kicks into overdrive. So, they decided to try and switch it over from fans to water cooling.

While not common, modifying our cameras to better suit our needs does happen. Particularly with Sony, apparently. But I don’t think many of us would consider taking apart a $45,000 camera even if just to peek inside, let alone attempting to swap out internal components. But that’s the plan for Linus.

It started off as a bit of a joke conversation about all the things you have to bolt onto a RED body to make it usable for shooting. The suggestion laughingly came of bolting a radiator onto the rig to help keep the camera cool. Well, jokes like this, on Linus Tech Tips quickly turn into “Challenge accepted!”.

The problem isn’t that the RED overheats, as such. But when you’re shooting in warm environments, the fan goes into overdrive between takes to cool down those components before you need to shoot again. It then turns the fan off while you’re actually shooting so as it doesn’t get picked up by microphones. But, if you’re shooting multiple cameras (they do have two of these), one could still be filming while the other’s making far too much noise.

Even when not filming, if two of these go into cooling mode at the same time, it could still get annoyingly loud for those nearby. And that’s why they’re looking into water cooling the camera. Water cooling in some cameras will help to reduce noise, especially on very long exposures. But here it’s purely for noise pollution reasons.

In this first part of the project, Linus dismantles the 8K RED camera into its various heatsinks, panels, and PCBs. It’s quite incredible just how much stuff RED packs into these relatively small camera bodies. And when you do some research on the components inside, you can start to understand why they cost so much money. One chip mentioned in the video costs $1,600. And that’s just one.

Hopefully, in the next video, even if Linus can’t figure out how to put water cooling in, they can at least figure out how to put it back together again without killing it.

It’s a bit extreme on a camera so expensive. I’m not sure I’d have the guts to try it. Would you?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One response to “Taking apart a $45,000 8K RED camera”

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