A pro camera system to supercede most others? The new Red still and video camera system.

Written by Gary on November 16th, 2008

We have been anticipating increasing convergence of the still photography and video worlds, and up til now, the still cameras have had rather rudimentary video modes, while the video cameras have a still image capture that is not quite there when compared to dSLRs.

But this may soon change for those with the money and don’t mind carrying around rather large and modular camera systems.

RED Scarlet

Red has announced the forth-coming Scarlet and Epic modular camera systems, and here are just a few features that these cameras are purported to be able to achieve:

  • 1 to 120 fps image capture – ie. single photos or high speed video for slo-motion effects
    • all cameras will be able to do 1-25fps but some bodies can go up to 50fps whilst others can go to 120fps – at a price
  • large sensor sizes for improved image quality and shallow depth of field not possible with most current video cameras
    • smallest sensor is a 120fps 4.9 megapixel 12bit 2/3″ (I think this is the size of the old Olympus C8080 digital camera)
    • a panoramic cropped 13.8 megapixel 12bit “S35” 35mm sensor having 30x15mm (1.2x crop horizontally and 1.6x crop vertically) available as 30fps or 100fps models
    • a full frame 24megapixel 16bit 35mm sensor with 6 micron photosites available as 30fps or 100fps models
    • a full frame 50fps 65megapixel 16bit 6×4.5 medium format sensor with 6 micron photosites
      • this resolution is similar to current medium format dSLRs such as Hasselblad, but these usually only allow 1 photo per second
    • an incredible super panoramic 25fps 261megapixel 16bit 6×17 medium format sensor with 6 micron photosites
  • ability to use a variety of lenses via interchangeable mounts
    • 2/3rd sensor bodies can either have a fixed RED lens or a Mini-RED mount, B4 mount, or C-mount
    • S35 and FF35 sensor bodies can have mounts for either RED, PL, Canon or Nikon lenses
    • 645 sensor bodies can have mounts for either RED, medium format, or Mamiya lenses
    • 617 sensor body can have mounts for either RED 617, Linhof, Alpa lenses
  • fully modular system to minimise risk of obsolescence
  • shoot video in digital RAW image files for optimal post-processing
  • 3D video capability by mounting two bodies side by side

Red 3D

Thus for example, potentially, a single Epic FF35 camera body with associated modules and lenses in theory should be able to do most of what a Canon or Nikon full frame dSLR can do (even the Canon 1DsMIII, 1DMIII, Canon 5D MII or Nikon D3) PLUS do it at up to 100fps at 24 megapixels per frame in RAW mode if need be, and still use the Canon or Nikon lenses.

Of course there will be many questions to be asked in its features such as AF capability for action shots, and it will have a live LCD, EVF or video out instead of an optical viewfinder as with dSLRs, and it will be bigger and heavier and a touch more expensive.

What I think is exciting about this though is that perhaps many of these features could be incorporated in the forthcoming Four Thirds Micro camera bodies which would allow a lower end, more compact system to be available to the less well heeled amateurs.

This degree of video capability would not be possible with current optical viewfinder technology in dSLRs but as the Micro Four Thirds system does not use these mirrors, it should be ideally placed to create similar video features whilst retaining continuous AF and creating even more compact lenses especially designed for contrast-detect AF systems.

Of course video is possible with optical dLRS (eg. Nikon D90) by disabling the optical viewfinder by placing the mirror up, and then using the live preview LCD – but current dSLRs would have difficult with continuous AF, although this is not insurmountable.

I am guessing the videographers and photojournalists might be drooling over the prospects of these new technology advances.


4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Carl says:

    Scarlet and Epic modular camera systems 1 to 120 fps image capture and other features, make me jealous, I paid almost $5000 for a Canon XH A1 and I can not get high speed video out of it!

  2. Carl says:

    How does it compare to the Casio Exilim EX-FH20?

    Casio has produced a full range of Exilim cameras with high speed video capabilities.

    The top line model is the Exilim EX-F1, the next step down is mine, the EX-FH20, and now there are another 3 models that are available as ultra-compact, pocket cameras (EX-FC100, EX-FH10, etc.).

    The only complaint about my camera (EX-FH20) is that it uses regular alkaline batteries and it burns through them very quickly (about 2.5 hours max use per 4 batteries).

  3. admin says:

    Carl, you cannot compare the Casio EX-FH20 to one of these pro video machines.

    Leaving alone the fact that the casio is not designed to be modular, the video modes of the FH20 are limited in quality – the highest quality is 720p 30fps (most current dSLRs will do 720p 50/60fps now while the RED base models do 1080 30fps and can do this in RAW images).

    Sure you can get faster video rates from the FH20 but at loss of resolution – thus to get above 30fps you have to drop resolution down to 480×360 pixels, while on the RED models, you still get high resolution RAW mode.

    Of course, the RED system will cost you about 50-100x as much as a FH-20.

  4. admin says:

    Having said that Carl, I am sure the Casion EX-FH20 will suit many peoples needs for high speed shooting on a budget, and the 40fps burst rate at 7megapixel still images is still quite unique in the current camera market place.