Nikon And RED camera Big Deal : I received some very exciting news this morning when I woke up. The venerable still camera maker Nikon has decided to buy RED, the business behind some of the most well-known cinema cameras available today.
Now, to be clear, I originally learned about this from a post on a satirical Instagram account that was centered around the film industry. I wasn’t entirely certain at first that I wasn’t falling for a phony news article. Next, I looked up news on Google. And that is accurate, that much is true. With the acquisition of RED, Nikon has combined the two brands under one roof.

In my opinion, this is fantastic news. Having worked for thirty years as a professional photographer and filmmaker, I have always had a bit of a split gear closet. I have developed and maintained my career as a professional still photographer using Nikon still cameras. But because Nikon hasn’t had much of an influence in the film industry up until this point, I frequently find myself needing to rent alternative brands when it comes to my filming. I’ve talked about how much I adore my Nikon Z9 in previous posts. A large portion of my affection originates from the fact that this is the first Nikon camera that I feel has truly given me the tools I need to function as a Director/DP at a level that is on par with other systems. I’ve now produced several movies and commercial content using my Z9. Without skipping a beat, films I’ve shot with the Z9 have practically shared a movie screen with projects shot with Panavision and Alexa cameras. My main complaint with my Z9 is that I wish it were possible to obtain the exact same functionality in the shape of a cinema body box.

Having said that, some of my team members have undoubtedly resisted a little bit. Without a doubt, the Z9 is among the top mirrorless cameras available for shooting high-quality footage. However, many industry veterans aren’t used to thinking about Nikon cameras in that way because the film industry is extremely brand aware and Nikon doesn’t currently have the same reputation as firms like Arri, RED, or Sony. They come to like the outcome. However, it might need some persuasion.

In contrast, RED has established a superb reputation within the film business. The firm is well-known for its trustworthy products, which have supported both large and small productions for almost 20 years, starting with the original RED ONE and continuing with the V-Raptor and Komodo cameras. I’ve enjoyed using RED systems to shoot a number of projects. Furthermore, even though I don’t now own a RED camera, I’ve frequently added the systems to my purchasing cart.

The idea of these two businesses merging into one seems like the least likely thing to happen. particularly in light of the well-known patent dispute between RED and Nikon from the previous year regarding Nikon’s use of raw video capabilities. There was a perception that the two businesses had just decided to get along when that lawsuit resolved amicably. Perhaps, though, some of the backroom discussion included strategies for reaching a win-win resolution to the conflict.

Nikon now has a position inside the reputable film business as a result of its acquisition of RED. This eliminates the need—something I had previously hoped for—for Nikon to create its own line of cinema cameras. Alternatively, if it continues to create movie cameras under the Nikon name, it may do so by utilizing some of RED’s technology to have the best of both worlds. The business suddenly rises to prominence in the motion and still imaging industries.

I still have a few questions, which will undoubtedly be resolved in due course given all the options. How will Nikon, for example, promote its brands within the ecosystem? Both businesses, in my opinion, contribute distinctive values to the union. In the realm of still photography, Nikon has a rich past. It has an illustrious assortment of lenses, many of which have spent decades being utilized on movie sets. It is widely available in the consumer and prosumer markets and boasts incredible autofocus technology.

RED is well-known among pros in the film industry. In the business, the REDCODE Raw codec is frequently utilized. I have been gushing over the new Nikon NRaw video. However, it has just recently entered the market. Furthermore, a firmly established film industry is accustomed to its creature comforts. Colorists who have worked with REDCODE Raw for years are just more accustomed to it than they are to NRaw. Physically, RED is experienced in creating goods that are tailored for filmmakers. The mirrorless cameras from Nikon are fantastic for the hybrid market. However, they currently lack any cameras specifically designed for filming. Simple features like easier-to-use form factors for filmmakers and tools like goalposts and traffic lights for exposure are brought by RED, and these can help improve Nikon’s products.

But name recognition is unquestionably what RED contributes most to this transaction. The fact that equipment actually matters in the film industry is one of the things that completely enrages me about it. Not the equipment per se. You can use practically any current camera to create a wonderful film if you know what you’re doing. However, in the film industry, the name badge has significantly more influence than in the still business. I have presented projects to clients that could have been completed with my Nikon at half the cost and produced same outcomes. However, the majority of customers still choose to spend more money rather than less simply because they feel more at ease using the well-known brand name cameras in the market. I have nothing but praise for those cameras. They’re really good. However, although Nikon cameras also make amazing videos, they are frequently excluded from discussions. That cannot be said of RED, which is welcomed in any conversation between agencies and clients, regardless of the project’s size. In practical terms, this frees up filmmakers to use more Nikon goods on high-end film sets. Gradually, this achieves Nikon’s objective of increasing its penetration into a video market that has shown reluctance to give the newcomer a chance.

As a result, Nikon will have to exercise caution in how it distributes the initial set of RED cameras after the purchase. They could decide to keep things exactly how they are, giving little indication to the outside world that the Komodo II (or whatever follows next) is a Nikon product. Alternatively, they might start branding everything with a yellow logo rather than a red one, which would be the total opposite of what they already do. I’m not aware of their plans. If I were in charge, I might keep the more expensive items, such as the Komondo-X, Komodo, and V-Raptor, under the RED brand.  Next, I would adamantly declare Nikon mirrorless cameras to be the industry leaders in both consumer and professional video markets. Consider the Sony Venice vs. Sony a7S III. For content creators, Nikon would be the top brand, while for professional filmmakers, RED would be the top brand. Nikon would end up with all of the money. However, by employing this tactic, the business would be able to maintain the RED brand’s established recognition while also establishing its own reputation for the Nikon lineup of cinema devices.

The acquisition presents a fantastic opportunity to combine the technology of the two organizations. Could REDCODE RAW be made available, for instance, in a Nikon Z9? Is it possible for a firmware update to grant the RED Komodo the Z9’s autofocus capabilities? Could Nikon cameras have features like traffic lights and goal posts? Is it possible that RED cameras may now take still images in Nikon raw format? I take it that Z mount cameras, rather than RF mount cameras from Canon, will be used in the development of future RED cameras?

Consider the potential for product development related to cinema lenses as a result of manufacturers now having to provide the Z mount as a choice. All of these minor details would only help Nikon get more ingrained in the film industry without eroding its present product lines. Better yet, Nikon now offers a whole range of camera products thanks to this merger, much as how Sony and Canon offer cameras for everyone from point-and-shoot enthusiasts to filmmakers who have won Academy Awards.

There are countless options. As a veteran filmmaker and Nikonian, I must admit that I’m really enthusiastic about this news. I might be able to bring everything I need for my camera under one roof at last. Even though the label itself still reads “RED,” I see this as a significant step toward making Nikon a key player in the film industry. What about you, though? What inquiries do you have in light of the acquisition’s announcement?


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