We love technology here at Fast Company. And we’re big on design too. Which is partly what makes RED’s digital cameras quite so awesome, since they mix the two exquisitely. And the newly official RED Scarlet may even change the DSLR game too.
RED has been hyping the Scarlet for over a year, and it’s taken until now for the company to make the device official. Partly that’s been due to tweaks and improvements, and partly (as the demise of the CrunchPad has shown) it’s because bringing a novel, unique, and potentially revolutionary product to market is no easy thing. Still, the delay has meant the Scarlet 2/3-inch device now has “one additional ASIC and four additional boards” bringing “many new features to the program.” That does, of course mean that while the price shot up, so did the feature set. The price is now a serious sounding $4,750 (up from a projected $3,000 last year), though it does get you a bunch of camera modules that are roughly equivalent to a starter kit that you get when buying a traditional DSLR…just much cleverer.
Though the Scarlet is sometimes referred to as a 4k camera (officially a 4096 by 2048 pixel sensor size) it’s actually a 3k unit–meaning its sensor can capture 3072 by 1536 pixel images, which works out at just 4.8 megapixels. So why do we say it could change the DSLR game, when Canon and Nikon offer so many more megapixels with their consumer and professional cameras? Because the Scarlet is actually a hybrid machine, falling somewhere between DSLR and professional digital video camera–RED dubs it a “digital still and motion camera.” This means that, unlike Canon and Nikon, which are just beginning to adapt their traditional still cameras and dabble with HD video recording, the Scarlet can shoot 3k video–much higher resolution than HDTVs need–right out of the box at 120fps, in RAW format. It can even downscale in-camera to 1080p or 720p at 60fps so its video output is ready for HDTVs.
That, along with the modular nature of the Scarlet’s design–which means it’s easy to bolt on whole new sections to the camera to radically adjust it to your needs, even to produce 3-D-film cameras–means when it arrives in early 2010, it’s likely to shake up Canon and Nikon a bit. Their DSLRs have traditionally held much of the prosumer/professional end of the digital camera market, and are making waves in the digital video market…but perhaps not for long. And, of course, check out the Scarlet’s viciously cool looks–no EOS can match the Scarlet in looking fit for purpose quite so aggressively.