Do you want to shoot 8K video? Chances are, you could take it or leave it. But for some professional filmmakers, the possibility of capturing 8K content is very enticing. And no one knows this better than RED Digital Cinema.
As a camera company, RED has a knack for promising features that seem to be years ahead of their time. So it's not surprising that, at the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas, RED announced what appears to be the first commercially-available 8K video camera—ominously dubbed, "The Weapon."
The Weapon isn't just a new sensor like the 6K Dragon, which RED has been showing off for the past year. It's a whole new camera body, or "brain." In addition to having the capability of shooting 8K video, the Weapon offers a number of upgrades over RED's other "brains," which currently include the Epic and Scarlet cameras.
That said, RED is marketing the Weapon as a smaller, lighter version of Epic and Scarlet, although the company will not disclose its precise weight. Maybe that's because the Weapon comes in two forms: one with a magnesium body and one made from carbon fiber. The carbon fiber unit is the lighter—and more expensive—of the two, costing a total of $49,500, compared to $34,500 for the magnesium Weapon.
Both Weapon bodies are designed for use with RED's latest 6K Dragon sensor, but the carbon fiber Weapon is the only one with the ability to upgrade to 8K. This upgrade costs an extra $10,000 on top of the initial $49,500 you need for the camera itself. RED also says this fee will probably go up, possibly even doubling, in the near future. And even though you can pay for this upgrade now, the 8K sensor won't be available until the end of 2015.
If you settle for the magnesium-bodied Weapon, you still get an impressive set of features. Both Weapons can shoot RAW 6K video of up to 100fps with RED's R3D file format. Both units also have the ability to shoot 2K ProRes video, with the carbon fiber unit offering frame rates up to 120fps and the magnesium Weapon topping out at 60fps with 2K ProRes.
Aside from video specs, both Weapons have WiFi, built-in stereo microphones, and speakers, and are backwards compatible with existing RED accessories like power adapters, batteries, DSMC lens mounts, and cables. RED also claims the Weapon makes better use of the 6K Dragon sensor, particularly with regards to low-light performance.
If you already have an Epic or Scarlet, RED is offering credits if you trade in one of those cameras and upgrade to a Weapon. The specifics of the upgrade credits vary wildly depending on when you place your deposit, so it's best to check out RED's website if you're considering the switch.
We understand the market for a cinema camera like this is minuscule, as most people (even pros) don't have upwards of $50K to shell out on new equipment. We also realize that RED's promise of 8K recording is still many months away, if not more. But it's still exciting to see a company push the boundaries of what's possible with video production. Just as people are getting comfortable with the idea of 4K video, RED has its sights set on something much bigger.