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RED Unveils 5K Still/4K Motion Scarlet-X
The $9,750 Camera Is Scheduled to Ship in December; "RED 300" Tweet the News 
Beth Marchant
November 4, 2011
While Canon's splashy EOS C300 launch event at Paramount Studios drew to a close on November 3, RED's CEO Jim Jannard unveiled the 5K Still/4K Motion Scarlet-X to a 300 of another sort in Stage 6 at RED Studios Hollywood. Like the Spartans battling the Persian Empire, Jannard's army of faithful users actually did much of the work for his company last night, announcing the news via Twitter to users across the globe.


The Scarlet-X launch, another episode in what the RED leader has loosely characterized as an ongoing Battle of Thermopylae against the Japanese and European camera manufacturers, hit its first technical hurdle shortly after the program began. The public announcement, contained in one of Jannard's famous personal posts, was scheduled to go out over reduser.net just before 6 pm PT. The forum site, however, went down at 6 pm as a result of an apparent cyber attack, along with the rest of RED's server. After a brief pause Jannard, perhaps recognizing the magic number in the soundstage, turned to the crowd—"our army" —and asked them to get the word out. And tweet they did. 
Scarlet-X in hand at RED Studios Hollywood/Photo by Tonaci Tran, via TwitPic

The metaphors didn't stop there, according to the Twitter feed. The original Scarlet, said Jannard, was "a girl. Now it's a woman, with bright red lipstick." The 5K camera, which can only achieve 5K in stills, is not an Epic, he cautioned, "but Epic's little sister." Though it features the same chip and weighs exactly the same as Epic (take that, big sis), the new Scarlet has a much lower data rate, which Jannard says lets RED sell the cameras for the "decent price" of $9,750. And because Scarlet-X is part of the Epic family, all of Epic's accessories are interchangeable with Scarlet-X. RED also announced its $14,015 Canon AL-mount package, putting Scarlet-X's price of entry for new users well above Canon's new 4K EOS C300 camera system. Existing Epic owners and those with limited lenses, however, can avoid those extras.

The other trade-offs? Scarlet-X is foremost a Digital Still and Motion Camera (DSMC). If you shoot 5K footage you can expect rates of about 12 fps, making that resolution an excellent but primarily stills-only option (fashion photographer Bruce Weber is already a RED fan). Shooting in full 4K will give you 1-25 fps; in 4K Quad HD, you'll get rates of 30 fps. But Jannard did say the camera's lower data rates affect REDCODE RAW, netting rougher .r3d compression than you currently get with Epic. Scarlet-X writes that data at 50 MBps ("MegaBytes, not bits, as Canon does," stressed Jannard).



The RED army lines up early/Photo by Tonaci Tran, via TwitPic


And what about the often long wait times after ordering, something even the chosen few who receive the first ten or twenty cameras off the line now routinely accept when buying a RED camera? Said Jannard, "By January, the old RED of ordering and having to wait will be over. You have my word—well, call it February." For the uninitiated, you can only order the Scarlet-X with a deposit of 10 percent of the full list price.

RED began taking orders by phone shortly after the news hit and, once the site was restored, online. By early morning, Jannard had it all behind him, though he was still pointing fingers. "My bet is that whoever targeted our system could not have realized that they actually helped us. I guess this is the definition of ironic."

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