In true uber-hype fashion, the RED Company announced today a series of cameras and imaging sensors that will revolutionize the movie (and still image) industry. Some commenters online jokingly said that this is where all the Roswell UFO reverse-engineering went into. RED announced sensors ranging from 10.1×5.35mm (2/3″) size all the way to 186x56mm, and resolutions from 3k/120fps to 28k/25fps (that’s 261 megapixels). If you have trouble visualizing that size, here’s an image that might help. To add to all this, the RED Epic now supports stereoscopic (3D) capturing.
RED pushed the envelop in many fields today, including the ability to completely modify the product, as all parts are interchangeable between the models.
The cheapest product is expected to be the RED Scarlet 3k that uses a 2/3″ sensor, and has an 8x zoom fixed lens. Additional modules, like an LCD screen, audio output, special CF cards, will need to be bought separately, so many expect the basic (but complete for practical usage) package of the cheapest RED camera will be well over $3000. Hopefully, this will push manufacturers like Canon to release “hybrid” consumer/prosumer cameras at around $2000 to stay relevant in the enthusiast’s scene (the kind of scene I talked about here).
All other 7 “main unit” products support interchangeable lenses. The 9k Epic main unit will prove useful for new higher-res IMAX cinemas, while the 28k version will make the life of Hasselband still cameras a nightmare. Overall, RED is expected to take over the professional movie industry, considering that you can have a great practical package for $35,000, at a time that even limited budget TV shows use lower-resolution and lower dynamic range $120,000 cameras (e.g. CSI:Miami).
While all this sound amazing, there is one little tidbit that many RED users have expressed online: firmware and software problems. While the hardware looks amazing, the software is below par during launch dates and RED tries to fix their bugs later in the game. Additionally, their PC tools are less than mature to get the best out of your images. This has created some tension between the community and the company.
One thing is for sure, at a time where cinemas still haven’t finished their transition to 4k screens, TV manufacturers still can’t produce Quad-HD TVs easily, and PCs barely can edit high-bitrate 1080p in real time, RED comes back with capturing hardware to keep us busy crunching bits for months!