updated 06:40 pm EDT, Fri October 30, 2009
RED details EPIC-X beta, Scarlet 1080p60
RED this evening provided an update on the progress of its greater-than-HD EPIC and Scarlet cameras with a beta program for the EPIC-X and a feature boost for the Scarlet. The 5K resolution EPIC-X should now be available as a "beta" test camera before the end of 2009 and, in a first stage, will give those buyers a pre-production core body and all the equipment needed to use it outside of the lens, such as CompactFlash storage, an electronic viewfinder, a mount and power. This initial run should be available only in very limited numbers for $28,000 and will get special support up to and including CEO Jim Jannard's personal cellphone number.
A second stage will be destined for existing RED ONE owners that want to keep their camera. It will cost $19,500 and have virtually a similar load-out to the first stage but should use production hardware and come with a 5-inch LCD in place of the viewfinder. These models will ship after the earliest testers are satisfied but will have serial numbers that aren't eligible for trade-ins, like later cameras.
Stage three owners are those who want to trade in their RED ONE units and will only pay $10,500 after having exchanged the old camera. These models will have 2.8-inch LCDs and ship after stage two. Stage four applies to all other buyers and will include just the main body for the full $28,000 price.
The 2/3-inch Scarlet camera has also been upgraded as a reaction to major video-capable DSLRs like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and should now have features that beat these cameras besides the additional resolution. RED claims higher bitrates in the native REDCODE format that should allow for 1080p at 60 frames per second. It will now also have a gigabit Ethernet jack for networked shooting, tap-to-focus when linked to a touchscreen LCD, a more modular design and the same color, gamma and light sensitivity features as the EPIC line.
Jannard is aware of the company's repeated delays in launching the cameras but, along with promising shipping cameras, explains that the company both has a better control over its development process and also that the economy gives RED little reason to accelerate any launches until customers are more willing to buy into the system.
The EPIC and Scarlet are both part of a new modular design system that lets videographers choose as much or as little equipment as is needed to record, including different grips, previewing systems, storage and lens mounts. When completed, the new system should also allow for recording 3D or using the Scarlet for still photos.