Wednesday, December 02, 2009

RED Scarlet

I'm not a RED expert, and if you want to get positively biased information about the RED Scarlet, then you should head straight to the source.

I kind of ignore RED most of the time, because their $17,000 camera is well beyond my budget and needs. But a while back they announced a "budget" camera called Scarlet that the RED fans have been saying for most of the year will blow Canon DSLRs - and pretty much every other video camera under $10,000 - out of the water.

I just bought a Canon 7D.

RED's been dripping out information about the camera for some time now. It's kind of interesting because I have to admit that I've spent a lot of my time over the past year at canonrumors searching for news on new cameras, and appleinsider for news of an Apple Tablet. So I'm a rumors/news junky. But I have to say, hearing about something months and months prior to it's release is a bit frustrating; with that amount of lead time you have no real idea when the camera will arrive, what it will cost, and whether you should wait. There's a line between pre-announcement and vaporware.

Let's not forget, the Scarlet was shown at NAB in April 2008, and back then was to be priced at $3K. A couple of days ago, they announced a price increase, and new features. But the camera still isn't due until May-June of next year.

What is Scarlet? There's two versions; one with a fixed lens for $4750, and a head unit for $2750. Both supports 3K video up to 120fps and 1080p up to 60fps. It has a 2/3" sensor and can record to compact flash, 1.8" SSD or RED-DRIVE.

RED seems to be aiming it as a competitor to DSLRs and video cameras, though I'd be surprised if it makes big inroads in the still photography market. The body shape goes in a different direction and I don't think it has an optical viewfinder. That said, this is wild speculation on my part without seeing and holding the actual camera.

Clearly where it competes is with all those film-maker wannabe's that are buying Canon 5D's (and 7D's!) If this camera arrives on time, works, costs what they say, and delivers on the image quality (which it probably will) then it will take some gravy from Canon's 5D sales. How will it compete with more "traditional" cameras (say someone looking at Sony's NXCAM or EX1) that will be interesting to see.

But the real question is; when will it actually arrive, what will it cost, and how will it perform? We will have to wait for the reviews!

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