Competition is good: Life after Red

Wide Open Camera by Michael Sutton

Moore’s law is the observation that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. I think this law has changed for our market. At least when it comes to camera technology. Back in 2007 the Red One camera was released. For most of us (who did not finance or were not personal friends of Jim Jannard) didn’t actually get the camera into our hands till 2008. At that time many were still transitioning into HD via Panasonic P2 and Sony SxS based camcorders. 4K was a novelty. Something only filmmakers would consider using. However most of the film makers I knew in 2008 (including myself) were shooting on S16 and 35mm film. Around the same time frame the Canon 5D Mark II was released and affordable HD video with a large sensor was all the rage. Not many people were interested in a $16,000 plus 4K camera when they could shoot 1080p with a Full frame DSLR for under four thousand dollars. To be honest at that time so many people were vested in P2, SxS and HDV that it was not practical to invest in a camera that required a completely new way of working. The costs associated with workflows were too high even for many film producers. You needed a lot more video storage, there was audio issues with the camera, you needed a very fast workstation, there wasn’t many editing solutions that were affordable, etc, etc, etc. Everyone I knew that owned a Red One or had used it, including myself, ended up dumping down to a 1080p deliverable in the end.

Jump to 2010. The Sony F3 Super 35 Digital Cinema camera comes to market. The camera is 1080p but does S-Log and has 4:4:4 output for under $16,000. The camera is a huge success and thousands are sold. This is also true with every other S35 Digital Cinema camera that comes to market. The FS100, the C300, and FS700 etc are all selling very well. It is interesting since the Red Scarlet was released around the same time as the C300. Interesting in that the Scarlet shoots 4K and the C300 and F3 do not. Yet the two sell in numbers that the Scarlet cannot even compete with. If 4K is better than why? Workflow, highlight handling, ISO, hardware requirements and deliverable. In the end its about what its viewed on. You can shoot 4K for a web video if you want to but 1080p does a fine job. read more...

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