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"A Computer With a Lens"
November 14, 2008 1:37 AM   Subscribe

RED's new DSMC (Digital Stills and Motion Camera) System is "completely modular and upgradeable in every way."
posted by chuckdarwin (41 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
A $55,000 computer with a $8,000 lens, yeah.

It's really interesting to see them shift paradigms so dramatically though, going to a *completely* modular system, like some engineer's "what if we did this the right way"'s wet dream.
posted by disillusioned at 1:53 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


And my credit card weeps. Neat system, I especially like the idea of keeping my Nikkor lenses. However, having an entire website expressed as jpegs is teh dum.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 1:53 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


The 617! Here I am getting 49 megapixel scans from my Hasselblad and they're talking 261 megapixel digital files. Fucking nuts. They will have to come up with special printing technology to take advantage of the incredible density. Or simply print huge....
posted by roygbv at 2:01 AM on November 14, 2008


Rather, to push the megapixel wars, fuck 'em. Let's drum scan some 8x10.
posted by roygbv at 2:03 AM on November 14, 2008


This thing is gonna be HUGE!

...but why was he able to do what others have not? (And where is that article I read a couple months ago about all this? 'Cause this is that 'Oakley' sunglasses guy, right?)

Nice to see an up-date, lots of commerical films are already being shot on prototypes. It really is a BFD.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:45 AM on November 14, 2008


It slightly annoys me that the Canon-mount sensors can't handle 120fps. Not that I have a huge investment in glass sitting around but it would be nice to reuse/only have to buy once. High FPS make me happy.
posted by Skorgu at 3:45 AM on November 14, 2008


Jesus that's fucking cool.

The thing that blows me away is that in a short time we probably have will have 20+ MP DSLRs that shoot 1080p video with perfect color for less than 1000 bucks, while 5 or so years ago nobody had technology like that. What's gonna happen in 20 years? 50 buck cameras with the same stats? What will the world be like when everyone has a disposable professional grade camera?
posted by afu at 4:26 AM on November 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


You know, afu, that's what keeps me from upgrading my D50. It still works wonderfully, and every time the next generation of cameras comes out, I look, and say, "still not enough to make me change." One of these days, though........
posted by pjern at 4:40 AM on November 14, 2008


Ugly little fucker though isn't it?
posted by schwa at 4:59 AM on November 14, 2008


What's gonna happen in 20 years? ... What will the world be like when everyone has a disposable professional-twenty-years-ago grade camera?

Pretty much what is happening now, when everyone has a disposable professional-twenty-years-ago camera/computer/phone/music system/etc. Some will drool at the future, some will make something with the present.
posted by DU at 5:22 AM on November 14, 2008


Most (cheap, non-DSLR) digital cameras of today are in no way comparable to a professional camera from two decades ago - in terms of image quality, most just barely measure up to a disposable camera, in bright daylight.
posted by unmake at 5:35 AM on November 14, 2008


Ugly little fucker though isn't it?

I couldn't disagree more.
posted by zardoz at 6:14 AM on November 14, 2008


This is pretty radical, at least in terms of brodcast/film applications. I love the modular system. But surely for TV / film, whether it's broadcast or theatrical, there comes a point when our eyes can't resolve any more lines of resolution. Is there any point upping the resolution to 5k, 6k, and beyond?

(However I am glad to see they're also working on low light sensitivity and dynamic range.)
posted by leebree at 6:28 AM on November 14, 2008


It would be difficult to overstate how much uproar this is causing.

RED is doing something the other companies (Panasonic, Sony, Canon, Nikon) could have done but were too caught up in their own mediocre successes to do. And as far as I'm concerned, in 2010, if you shoot for money, you'll be shooting RED or you'll go home.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:43 AM on November 14, 2008


I like the concept, but I wonder if they've underestimated the market. Unlike their "Red One" which was pitched against film cameras costing three times as much, here they're trying to break into the same "SLR / Movie" crossover market that Canon opened this year with their 5D mk ii, which is only a third the price of their Red's "Scarlet" package.

That said, I hope these new products bring out a lot more HD filmmakers. I would love to see more / higher quality content on the web (youtube 5K?) doing an end run around the studios.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:53 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


probably have will have 20+ MP DSLRs that shoot 1080p video with perfect color for less than 1000 bucks,

'perfect color' - prob. not as there no such thing now. But Canon just released a $2600 ish DSLR - so if making such items survive the bailouts/credit crunch/end of cheap energy/no hyperinflation - your $1000 prediction should be spot on.


What's gonna happen in 20 years?

Nothing anyone is gonna like unless man gets a handle on energy, population and environmental degradation.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:59 AM on November 14, 2008


I'm still waiting for someone to make a DSLR-quality camera that doesn't make me look like a total nerd when I use it. Okay, at least one that doesn't make me look like more of a total nerd than I already do.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:54 AM on November 14, 2008


doesn't make me look like a total nerd when I use it.

You get used to it.

Also not naming that 28k monstrosity the "Brainfuck" is a travesty.
posted by Skorgu at 8:40 AM on November 14, 2008


Is there any point upping the resolution to 5k, 6k, and beyond?

Absolutely, when you are shooting background plates for visual effects, many times very large format cameras are used.
posted by phirleh at 9:02 AM on November 14, 2008


So, this company has come out with one product, and rendered mock ups of many more products that get obsoleted by the market before they can actually make it. I could make a Lego camera with unbelievable specs all day long as long as i don't really have to make them.... Granted, their first product was pretty revolutionary...
posted by tomas316 at 9:10 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


What will the world be like when everyone has a disposable professional grade camera?
Not gonna happen: the technology can improve and make cheaper the sensors, but the lenses are limited by the laws of light, and professional grade means big, heavy and expensive. Or smallish, lightish and incredibly expensive.
posted by bonaldi at 9:32 AM on November 14, 2008


Granted, their first product was pretty revolutionary...
"pretty"
posted by bonaldi at 9:33 AM on November 14, 2008


the problem with red has always been reliability. many of the pros that i work with won't use red products because they have a tendency to fail during a shoot... which is why the nikon/sony/canons of the world are still all over the place. i'll be interested in seeing if this line can fix that perception.
posted by mrballistic at 9:39 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


28000 by 9344 pixels. 13 stops of range requires at least 13 bits, and these things tend to get rounded to the nearest byte, so that's two bytes per channel. We gotta assume it's a Bayer filter so there's really only one channel instead of three. Then there's 25 frames per second...

28000 * 9344 * 2 * 25 = 13081600000

Which medium supports a data rate of 13 GBps?
posted by rlk at 10:04 AM on November 14, 2008


Which medium supports a data rate of 13 GBps?

Well IMAX film apparantly records 70 megapixels per frame which equates to about 13 GBps. But I doubt that will be the medium of choice.

Instead, filmmakers will start shipping hard drives around, or movie houses will download torrents (special, industry sponsored torrents). Red has invested heavily in their compression codec to keep file sizes reasonable. I imagine, if projectors / displays grow to similar resolutions, they'll have to have REDCODE (or H264 or something) decoders built in. For now, like phirleh says, the extra resolution will help effects and post guys blur and crop away while still leaving a sharp HD product.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:34 AM on November 14, 2008


I've been excited about the concept of Red Cameras ever since I first heard of it, so I tend to be enthusiastic of any tidbits about their new models.

With that in mind, understand I might be somewhat biased when I say: We are now living in the mother-fucking future!

My want-of-Red just went waaay up.
posted by quin at 10:36 AM on November 14, 2008


RED is doing something the other companies (Panasonic, Sony, Canon, Nikon) could have done but were too caught up in their own mediocre successes to do.

I disagree completely. Red is to Canon and Nikon what Lamborghini is to Honda and Toyota. But a Lamborghini isn't a better car than a Honda except in a few specific metrics. In all others, it is catastrophically worse. You are comparing a $45,000 camera to a $2,500 camera and concluding that it's better, when the real question should be whether it is 20 times better.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:55 AM on November 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


I recently paid $400 for a point-and-shoot with 14.5 megapixels that shoots 720p that basically doubled the quality and resolution of my pictures from my previous camera for the same price point in 2 years. I can't even image what I'm going to be using 5 or 10 years from now. Admittedly they're not DSLRs, but wow, it's awesome to be alive these days.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:01 AM on November 14, 2008


*Self Link*
The Engadget article has hardly any info (and got the digg, the brutes)... I wrote up a pretty lengthy look at the announcement for TechCrunch and CrunchGear. Just to add to the discussion. I think it's absolutely excellent, and comparisons to Canon and Nikon DSLRs are pretty much off the mark.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:03 AM on November 14, 2008


Ugly little fucker though isn't it?

I love that look. It's all "fuck you, I'm practical."

It looks all post-apocalypic alien tech, like something you can cobble together in Fallout 3 from a leaf-blower, a coffee pot and a radioactive scorpion claw.
posted by rokusan at 11:21 AM on November 14, 2008


What's gonna happen in 20 years? 50 buck cameras with the same stats?

I suspect we'll have 50 buck sensor + cpu + storage combos with the same or better stats, attached to glass + bodies at the same $5000 price we see today.

I'm new to the SLR game. Has glass gotten much better / cheaper over the last 20 years?
posted by CaseyB at 11:23 AM on November 14, 2008


Everyone is going to want to use it. We're talking Apple-like Kool-Aid experiences here. I know someone who shot stuff for the WEB with the 4k camera.

And I both smile and cringe over the post handling of such.
posted by filmgeek at 11:44 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Has glass gotten much better / cheaper over the last 20 years?

Not cheaper, but better. 20 years ago we didn't have autofocus, image stabilization, or many lenses with larger apertures than f/8. Most suffered from chromatic aberration since the computer resources to design fully corrected complex lenses (and build them) didn't exist.

I think that prices for high quality photography / movie equipment will remain pretty high for some time. Quality images mean big pixels (such is physics). Millions of big pixels mean big sensors (see the sensor size of Red's 617, which if released as presented, would very much surprise me). Big sensors mean big lenses. All of that costs money. More the extra weight turns off most casual buyers, so the market shrinks, so you can't sell as many, so the price goes up. In short, the future will be full of whiz-bang point and shoots that produce crap images but cost nothing, and about the same number of high quality cameras costing about the same as today.

But it would be really cool if they shrunk an Adaptive Optics package to fit an SLR sized telephoto lens.
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:47 AM on November 14, 2008


Which medium supports a data rate of 13 GBps?

In all likelihood the image would be broken up into chunks sent down multiple concurrent channels.

Is there any point upping the resolution to 5k, 6k, and beyond?

Yes. Your target medium isn't always going to be a television. Think: billboards, signs, banners, the sides of the Space Shuttles... all kinds of places. :)

The thing that blows me away is that in a short time we probably have will have 20+ MP DSLRs that shoot 1080p video with perfect color for less than 1000 bucks, ...while 5 or so years ago nobody had technology like that. What's gonna happen in 20 years?

It's already getting pretty close. Personally, I think this plus easy-to-use video editing software (Final Cut Pro, Premiere, etc.) could lead to a huge new wave of independent filmmakers. It's getting to the point where the barrier to entry won't be production costs, it will be the price of talent--both the acting and directing kind.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:48 AM on November 14, 2008


Oh, and...

Has glass gotten much better / cheaper over the last 20 years?

Yes and no. There are some really great lens designs out there these days, and the introduction of anti-vibration technology and enhanced focusing systems means more shots in focus than ever before. You don't see as many really awesome specialty lenses like you did in the 60s (like the UV lenses that cost more than a new car). But Canon and Nikon are still doing their best to keep it 'real' for the old-school contingency. For (Nikon) examples: 200mm f/2 AF/S VR or the 24mm f/3.5 Tilt-Shift.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:55 AM on November 14, 2008


20 years ago we didn't have ... many lenses with larger apertures than f/8.

What the hell sort of crazed lenses were you using in 1988? Musta taken a tripod everywhere!
posted by bonaldi at 12:16 PM on November 14, 2008


Two things: the ridiculous resolution helps because the output is truly a RAW format, meaning among other things, no sharpening at all. One of the first things to do with that output is shrink it to about half the size - an extremely effective method of sharpening that sacrifices resolution without destroying IQ. Nevertheless, the 28K should absolutely be called the Brainfuck.

And the 5D mkII (and to a much lesser extent the D90) are cool and much less expensive, but are coming at the idea of convergence from the photographer's side, not the filmmaker's side. One of the things filmmakers really desire is true RAW output, not quicktime files that have been pre-processed (albeit by that Digic IV processor, which is pretty sweet).

I'm just glad they're working on the ultimate DSMC from both angles.

(Before somebody beats me to the punch, yes, Reverie was shot by Vincent Laforet with a 5D mkII ... and also a helicopter.)
posted by EnjoyBed at 12:57 PM on November 14, 2008


The idea of this being something that scares Canon/Nikon in the short term is absurd. The cheapest system you could assemble with this is something like $6000, and in sensor size it'll be vastly inferior to the multi-thousand-dollar Canon/Nikon option. The Honda/Lamborghini comparison is spot on - not that it's absurd to say that RED won't ever get cheaper, or that its low end will go up against the Canon 1Ds line, but that's very far in the future.

The competition here isn't Canon, or Nikon; it's Hasselblad, Mamiya, and now Leica, in the medium-format professional range. If a camera doesn't cost multiple tens of thousands of dollars, this announcement isn't competition to it in any way.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:20 PM on November 14, 2008


bonaldi: What the hell sort of crazed lenses were you using in 1988? Musta taken a tripod everywhere!

Yeah, I figured someone would call me out on that. I exagerated, but it seems to me the trend is towards wider lenses, especially at the telephoto end.
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:25 PM on November 14, 2008


It's really interesting to see them shift paradigms so dramatically though, going to a *completely* modular system, like some engineer's "what if we did this the right way"'s wet dream.

My Hasselblad 500c/m is completely modular and it was designed quite a while ago.


Personally as a professional I could care less about this (why anyone would want to have to edit video footage down to stills? what a nightmare). I can see how this would be useful for event shooting though, especially if you are covering it with video anyways.
posted by bradbane at 4:41 PM on November 14, 2008


The competition here isn't Canon, or Nikon; it's Hasselblad, Mamiya, and now Leica, in the medium-format professional range. If a camera doesn't cost multiple tens of thousands of dollars, this announcement isn't competition to it in any way.

The full name of the company is RED Digital Cinema Camera Company. I think this was made mainly with filmmakers in mind. So the competition is Sony.
posted by afu at 12:04 AM on November 15, 2008


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