RED Digital Cinema has announced some revolutionary news regarding two of their new camera lines: Scarlet and Epic (hey, cool name!). But these are more than just cameras — they represent entire collections of interchangeable and modular components. While RED cameras are aimed at the cinematography crowd, there are a few things that we photographers should pay attention to.

First of all, the cameras have the ability to shoot motion and stills. We’re seeing the same thing happening from the dSLR market with the Nikon D90 and the Canon 5DII. So RED is bridging that same gap, but from the other side. Eventually, I’d expect that the line between still and motion cameras will be hard to distinguish. In fact, doesn’t the camera below look an awful lot like a medium format dSLR?

Aside from the actual hardware that they’ve announced (which is quite impressive), the real revolution here is the modular approach they’ve taken. You pick out the “brain” (or sensor/processor), you pick out the accessories that you need, and you pick out your lenses. How cool would that be in the dSLR market? When something like a new sensor comes out, you would just replace the sensor unit rather than the entire camera. Or maybe you’re fine with your sensor but you want to upgrade your old 2″ LCD and backpanel.

You get the idea… Does anybody else out there think the concept is downright amazing? Is this kind of approach even useful for digital photographers? Be sure to check out the links below for more information.


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I’ve been reading about RED for a long time now and each article makes me more excited for it. Of course each article also makes me wish I was able to use one. I think there is some use for modular bodies in DSLR’s, but even more so as they begin incorporate video. How cool would it be to swap out your normal viewfinder for a big video monitor eye piece on your 5d mark II.

November 13, 2008 8:56 pm

When you replace the sensor, you are in effect replacing the camera as far as I understand. The sensor and associated circuitry (including the cpu) pretty much needs to be all in one package since it is all tuned electrically and adapted for each other. The rest is a lens mount (which really could be part of the camera/sensor package), a lens and an output device.

Interesting, but medium- and large-format systems really have had this concept a long time already. I suspect this is probably a much bigger deal for the video crowd than for camera users.

November 14, 2008 12:33 am

@Janne: You make a good point about the rest being a lens mount, though from the brief information I’ve read so far, one of the biggest benefits is being able to integrate your current lens collection from Canon or Nikon into the system. I suppose other cameras do this as well though.

This also seems like a suitable place to ask a quastion I’ve wondered about ever since Brian posted that D90 50D comparison.

In video mode do you/can you manually focus? I love the effect of shallow DoF in video and I seriously doubt I could ever afford one of the systems that do that, but I wondered whether the DSLRs video mode changed much according to different lenses. Obviously you could use wide angle and telephoto for good effect, but it would be awesome (and probably unrealistic) if you could use the aperture as well….

November 15, 2008 5:10 pm

I’m pretty sure that the dSLR video has manual focus capability, and I would assume that aperture control is available (at least based on the sample videos I’ve seen). Anybody know for sure?

November 15, 2008 6:34 pm

That’s a very beautiful camera. I like the fact you can use it for photography and filming.

November 19, 2008 4:10 pm

That is a great looking camera. I like the fact that the camera can be broken down and changed around. Modular is the way to go. Stills and video…that makes the deal really sweet. $30,000 is a bit steep though.

February 18, 2009 10:21 am

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