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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

RED’y for takeoff

RED Digital Cinema is rumored to be releasing a hybrid digital motion-picture and still camera. Just don’t call it a D-SLR.

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redy for takeoff
RED Digital Cinema has taken the HD video market by storm and has recently announced intentions to do the same in the still photography world. Details are few, but considering the deep pockets and commitment to creating paradigm-changing equipment, the results will be very interesting.
RED’s strategy in announcing the DSMC a year in advance (giving competitors plenty of time to react) surprises some, but to many familiar with the company’s unorthodox strategies, it comes as no surprise. Within a two-year span of announcing the RED ONE to a wave of skepticism, RED has become a major player in the motion-picture camera industry and has put added pressure on established companies such as ARRI, Panasonic and Sony to produce a 4K digital camera. Obviously, the company is now looking to build the same type of buzz in the D-SLR industry. Will it have Canon, Nikon and other manufacturers shaking in their boots? Will still shooters be salivating at the chance to use RED’s revolutionary technology at its usual revolutionary price point? Only time will tell.

At NAB 2008, RED announced two new cameras that are currently in development. Some speculate that one of the cameras, the Scarlet, might be merging with the new DSMC camera. The Scarlet was initially announced to be a 3K, RAW, 2⁄3-inch-chip, 120 fps, fixed-lens camera originally aimed at the prosumer video market for a price point of around $3,000. (A 3K image would produce approximately a 14-megapixel still image.)

“Wipe your minds of the past-announced Scarlet,” says Jannard. “Forget the design and forget the price. It is all different now. We think you will be surprised.”

Obviously the big question is, What will this DSMC be? Since RED doesn’t have any legacy platforms to deal with, it has left the company free to explore, develop and prepare a new platform for the camera.

“Looking at RED’s history and how they come at things, I think there’s a high probability that the camera will have an electronic finder, which makes it not so great as a still camera,” offers cinematographer Matt Uhry, who himself owns a RED ONE system. “The maximum resolution of an electronic finder won’t be the same as an optical one. I think that will probably be the defining difference between the RED and a Canon or Nikon, especially in terms of video capture.”

The other question Uhry brings up is whether or not the camera will offer interchangeable lenses. “Is RED going to have a proprietary mount or a universal mount?” asks Uhry. “Perhaps they’ll adopt the Four Thirds format, where a lot of manufacturers are making different fly-by-wire lenses that have a universal control system at different price levels. That might be an interesting way to have interchangeable lenses without having their own lens program from day one.”

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Since there are so few details, this is all speculation, and we’ll just have to wait and see what news emerges in the coming months. Taking a look at all of the rabid RED fans and their posts on the RED discussion boards, it’s safe to say that if Jannard builds it, they will come. “If we can’t change the future, we want no part of it,” he says.

Learn more about RED Digital Cinema at www.red.com.


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