RED has teased for a while that they have something planned that will revolutionize the DSLR business in the same way that their RED ONE revolutionized the digital movie making industry. Today RED presented the modular Scarlet and Epic platform.
Jan Jannards RED presented scarce information on the Scarlet and Epic a while ago, saying that the second generation cameras from the company would be much better than the groundbreaking RED ONE, but not much more except their different uses. Scarlet being a smaller less expensive camera and Epic catering to the professional crowd with large budgets. He has also hinted on a DSMC, a Digital Movie and Still Camera that would turn the traditional DSLR industry upside down.
Today he presented the totally modular RED Scarlet and Epic platform in a forum thread in the RED forums. It turns out that the DSMC was simply a configuration of the platform and that it doesn’t go head to head with Canon and Nikon on their own turf. Why? Because the modular system lets you use any Scarlet or Epic “brain” containing sensors and capture electronics with interchangeable lens mounts and modular accessories. This way you can build a Canon compatible DSLR size camera capable of both stills and movies, using the $12k Scarlet FF35 you will get a 35mm full-frame, 24MP, 60fps 13+ stop dynamic range camera. Bolt on some accessories and you have a shoulder mounted movie camera. When new technology emerges replace the brain and save the rest.
Brains are available from $2.5k although they won’t be compatible with Canon and Nikon lenses. What they do have though is 120fps in 3K resolution; that’s twice the number of pixels in1080p HDTV and a pixel size roughly the same size as a standard consumer DSLR.
The fusion between stills and movies has been rumoured for a while and both Canon and Nikon has released their first entries, the Nikon D90 and Canon 5D mk II. While they started the trend and made it possible to capture movies with the quality of a full-frame sensor in a relatively compact camera, RED takes it one step further by allowing you to configure your camera for either still of movie use.
Too see what’s capable with these cameras, check out RED One’s demo movies(Crossing the Line by Peter Jackson, for example) as well as Vincent Laforet’s Reveriecaptured using a beta 5D mk II.
Why am I happy? I love large sensors and large microns, they allow me to capture photos in any lighting situation and limit the depth of field to reduce clutter in the photo. If I can take those features from the DSLR and capture movies I’m happy, if I can change the ergonomics of my camera depending on the situation and even use my existinglenses that makes me very happy. The price is a little steep for now (a 5D mk II is close to $2.5k for the entire body as a comparison) this whole move is a very welcome one. The fantastic bit is that a single system ranges from digicam sized sensors to medium format and from DSLR sized to feature film cameras, all using the same sensors, RAW-format, storage, accessories and possibly the same lenses. Versatility, that’s the game from now on.