How RED Cameras Changed Cinema Camera Industry?

Red is now one of the leading cinema camera makers in the world. But did you know that this famous company started its journey with zero experience in the cinema camera industry? And, within 16 years of establishment, how much has it changed the cinema camera industry with the digital revolution? But how did Red company manage to do all this? Besides, why do directors like David Fincher and others use Red cameras? Do you know that Red has a strategy that keeps beginner filmmakers stick to RED cameras even when they become professionals? To answer all your queries, we have come up with in-detail content, where you can get to know step by step about how Red cameras changed the cinema camera industry. 


Jim Jannard of Oakley, in 2005, started the journey of Red camera. During the time of establishment, red branded itself as a high-value camera with an affordable price tag. 

Red cameras came in when the market was debating over 4k vs. 2k. Even many Filmmakers were also skeptical about the necessity of higher-resolution footage. And Red came up with 4k raw. Up until then, most of the cinemas were shot digitally at 1080p. Red was the first cinema camera manufacturer that brought the concept of more resolution to provide Filmmakers more freedom in post-production. Red also pioneered the trend of shooting in high-res raw to get more dynamic range and other digital facilities through heavy post-production.

Camera Lineup

The first camera that the red marketed was the Red one in 2007. It included a Mysterium sensor. That was a powerful camera, with the ability to capture 120 frames per second in 2k mode and 4k at 60 frames per second.

It also came with a native color balance of 5000-degrees and a dynamic range of up to 66Db. And also, it was good enough to be used in some of Hollywood’s mainstream movies. In 2009, films such as Knowing and District 9 were recorded using the Red one camera. 

Though it had impressive video specs, there were some significant disappointments with this camera. First of all, it was big, which makes handling it a bit challenging. Then there were heating issues. But again, it was the first product from Red. 

Keeping all the Red One camera issues, the manufacturer invested heavily in research and development and came up with another improved sensor called the Mysterium X, or more popularly MX. This camera gained the attention of filmmakers. And its reasonable price makes it a good choice for filmmakers. It even featured 4.5k videos back then. The Red One MX camera was used in movies like the Social Network in 2010.

Another thing that made RED popular among the users is that- when the company comes with an upgraded sensor, you don’t have to purchase the whole camera for a newer sensor; instead, you just buy the new sensor and attach it to the already existing body. And this freedom of modularity has given it a new height in the cinema camera industry. 

Another milestone for red is the launch of a hybrid camera called the ‘Digital Still and motion capture’ or DSMC. So RED made these cameras capable enough for shooting for commercial photography as well as film production. The Epic-x camera was launched in 2010 with an MX sensor as well as DSMC features in it. But because of the huge popularity and high price of these cameras, the company released a cheaper version of the Epic-x camera in the following year, called the Scarlet-X. The users also appreciated the Scarlet-x, but it was not as good as the Epic x camera in terms of frame rates and other features. 

To improve the Epic series further, the Dragon 6k sensor was released. Again, the epic body remains the same, and the user just needs to buy the new sensor for the camera. Scarlet-x series also got the upgraded 6k sensor in 2013. After that, RED continued to feature new camera bodies, such as DSMC2, weapon, and Scarlet W, in the market and a few experimental projects as well. Red even launched RedPlayer for watching 4k r3D files directly on your TV.  

After that, Red started to shift from its philosophy of being a cheaper cinema camera manufacturer to a brand for elite cinema cameras. Of course, the features also increased as well.   

Red came up with the EPIC-W camera with a Helium sensor. It was basically a super 35 sensor that was capable of shooting 8k raw videos. It also started to put more emphasis on some essential features of cinema cameras. For example, it marketed the Monstro 8k vista vision sensor, which could retain 17 plus stops of dynamic range. Apart from that, it also launched the Gemini sensor, which featured dual ISO for superb low-light performance.   

cinema shooting with red camera

So far, we have seen that Red has been continuously bringing new technology and improvements to the cinema camera market. They came up with new sensors and camera bodies almost at a regular interval. Those signs of progress also indicate how well organized its research team is. 

Early Adopters 

So from the beginning, the Red One camera definitely had a good influence in the market, especially on those looking to digitalize their production workflow. The Red One’s 4k RAW was able to create a standard in the industry.

The early adopters of the Red cinema camera took the brand name to a new height. The Red Epic camera was used in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” movie. Apart from that, Steven Soderbergh is an American director who put his trust in red cameras. He used the Red One camera to shoot “The Girlfriend Experience” in 2009. Moreover, you might have heard about a movie named “The contagion”. This movie was released in 2011, and It is now the most-watched movie during the covid era and was shot on the Red One MX. one of the most glorious chapters for the red is the Oscar 2021. David Fincher, a renowned director of Hollywood, shot the “Mank ”movie using a Red ranger helium 8k camera. And this movie won the ascar 2021 for best cinematography.

Apart from that, in the “Suicide Squad part 2”, Henry Braham, the Cinematographer, used 8 RED cameras, including RANGER MONSTRO 8K vista vision, WEAPON 8K vista vision, and a RED KOMODO, which were mounted in different ways according to set requirements.

Consumer-Grade Cinema Camera

By far, we have talked about cinema cameras for professional-grade filmmakers. But how about the consumer end cinema-makers who have a tight budget for their production. And this is a huge market, captured mainly by Sony, Canon, and other consumer-grade camera-makers. To capture that market portion, Red introduced the KOMODO 6k in 2020 that was equipped with a super-35 sensor and came with a 6k price tag. And when users buy this camera, they just don’t purchase the camera; they also buy accessories. So what red is doing is, basically it is making a low-budget entry point to the Red Ecosystem for those who are just starting their filmmaking journey. And if they are accustomed to the RED ecosystem, they are less likely to switch over cinema camera equivalence. So Red serves almost all types of filmmakers, starting from beginners to experts cinematographers who make high-budget cinemas for Hollywood and other film industries.  

Final Verdicts

So that was all about how Red has changed the Cinema camera industry. Red has brought 4k Raw in the cinema industry, which is considered to be the standard in the film industry. Moreover, its ecosystem is suitable for almost all types of filmmakers. Red also has a strong community base which has contributed a lot to the increasing popularity of Red cameras. Hence what do you think about the future of RED? Is it going to rule the cinema camera market in the future? Let us know in the comment section.

Joe Pfeffer

Joe Pfeffer

What started off as just a dream for Joe Pfeffer, turned into his passion and livelihood. He started his career as a wildlife photographer and then transitioned into becoming a cinematographer. With a decade of raw on-the-field experience, Joe Pfeffer has all the technical knowledge about the ins and outs of cameras. Now, he uses his vast experience to educate others about photography.