Gadgets – The Red Scarlet Gets (Modestly) Better

Yesterday, RED finally rolled out a revised spec list and a release schedule for the upcoming RED Scarlet. And, while I confess my excitement for the Scarlet has cooled as I’ve realized it’s going to take nine months of saving to buy even a basic camera, I have to admit, I’m pretty happy with the overall specifications.

First, the dreaded price increases are…not so bad. The “Complete” fixed-lens kit is up a thousand dollars, to $4750…but that’s about the price of most professional and prosumer cameras in that range anyway, and it comes with all the goodies. The 2/3″ “brain” with an interchangeable (in so many ways) lens mount has risen a much more modest $250, for a $2750 price.

Otherwise, the work done has basically been to align Scarlet and Epic to the point that they’re essentially the same camera line, just with different steps of resolution, and remove a few minor hassles. Scarlet and Epic now share the same accessories, which is nice in that it streamlines a lot of things and also makes abundantly clear where Red’s heart is: gee, I can’t imagine why they’re selling a starter kit with all the modules you need at a modest price. I’m honestly a little surprised Red is bothering with the Scarlet name anymore (although I suppose since they’ve copyrighted it they may as well use it). Among the changes:

Data rate and color science has improved. This, for me, is really the big one, and why this camera is worth literally the cost of a semester of graduate school to buy. The Lumix I’ll be getting will be amazing, but the Scarlet will be a true cinema camera.

The sound input is greatly improved. Which is great if you’re a documentary filmmaker, although this should really come with a flowchart. Otherwise, from my perspective, SNORE.

Touch Focus Tracking, which is a fancy way of saying electronic follow focus. Which is great, but unnecessary when you can get a decent follow focus for dirt these days (Google “IndiSlider”, it’ll take you to a whole new world).

There’s WiFi and Gigabit Ethernet ports, to make offloading internal memory and updating the firmware a simpler process, which is nice.

Oh, and we FINALLY got an accessories price list, although less details on those accessories than I would have liked. But the tradeoff with that is…I and other low-budget filmmakers can accumulate new accessories over time.

In short, the camera industry is about to get light-years more interesting. As I’ve mentioned before, only Panasonic seems to really be taking Red seriously. But once Canon, Sony, and JVC see themselves losing a huge chunk of the pro videography and indie feature film market, things are going to get busy, and possibly very, very ugly, in a hurry.

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