Red Unveils Modular Camera/Camcorder Hybrid System

Nov 13, 2008
By Dan Havlik, PDN Technology Editor


Cult camcorder manufacturer Red finally took the wraps off a new product it had been teasing on its website and in online forums for weeks -- a multi-purpose hybrid camcorder/digital SLR that lets the user create their own custom imaging device based around Red's sensors.

Though Red had said at the NAB show in Las Vegas last April that it would release two camcorders -- the professional-level Epic which would shoot at up to 5K resolution; and Scarlet, a more prosumer camcorder that would shoot in 3K, it now appears that those two models have become the guts of an entirely new module-based product. What that product is exactly is still somewhat unclear which is, perhaps, the point.

Along with a series of images showing the new camera/camcorder hybrid in various configurations, the most revealing piece of information Red released this morning was a new brochure outlining the Red DSMC (Digital Stills and Motion Camera.) The headline of the brochure reads: "Scarlet. Epic. An Extreme Case of Multiple Personalities." According to the brochure, "Scarlet and EPIC are the DNA of RED's new DSMC system."

To create a system, the potential customer would select a "Scarlet Professional or EPIC Master Professional 'brain' and start configuring." These "brains" use either Red's Mysterium-X and Mysterium Monstro sensors. With three Scarlet brains to choose from -- two 3K models and a 5K and 6K model with prices ranging from $2,500 to $12,000 -- and three Epic brains -- a 5K, 6K and 9K, ranging in price from $28,000 to $45,000 -- the options are numerous.

The buyer would then pick and choose from an assortment of parts including handles, lens mounts, batteries etc. to "build" their own camera. Along with using Red's own lenses, the DSMC system would accept Nikon and Canon lenses via special mount adapters. According to Red, the new system provides "2,251,799,813,685,248 possibilities (as of today)." While that's obviously overstating it...perhaps not by that much. The new DSMC system gives new meaning to the term "modular."

Whether potential customers will be thrilled with this new hybrid offering from Red or just confused remains to be seen. If the online chatter is any predictor though, Red has lived up to its reputation as a hype master that delivers. Online blog sites and user forums were overwhelmed this morning with a range of positive comments that bordered on apoplectic

"I have to say this is one hell of a product," one commentor on the Gizmodo gadget blog noted. "The fact that over the years if you love your camera all you would have to do is switch out the sensor when the hottest new one comes out is fantastic, and would save photographers a truck load of cash over the years. Add to that i can use my collection of lenses that i already have and you have one hell of a camera to take on Nikon and Canon."

To read Red One user Jerome Thelia's take on the new Red hybrid camera, click here.

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