Cinema camera manufacturer RED has been acquired by Nikon.

Image Credits: Red

Jim Jannard, the founder of Oakley Sunglasses, went on to establish RED Digital Cinema after becoming a billionaire. Nikon Corporation has recently announced its decision to acquire RED, making it a fully owned subsidiary of Nikon.

RED was founded in 2005 as a response to the growing popularity of digital production workflows and the lack of quality in other digital video cameras on the market. The company aimed to create an innovative and relatively affordable 4K digital cinema camera, a significant advancement over the then prevalent 2K standard.

RED developed a sensor that could match the high quality of DSLR cameras, especially in low light, without compromising the frame rate. The sensor’s physical size was comparable to analog film, bridging the gap between digital and traditional film production. The RED One camera, announced by Jannard at the 2006 NAB Show, immediately caught the industry’s attention. The camera’s potential was further demonstrated in 2007 by director Peter Jackson’s short film “Crossing the Line,” shot with prototype RED One cameras. This convinced director Steven Soderbergh to shoot his film “Che” with RED technology, marking a significant milestone in digital cinema.

RED quickly became the go-to camera brand for television and movie production after it started shipping in August 2007. It was the first truly usable digital video camera that shot in raw video formats, combined with compression algorithms that made the enormous amount of data generated by the camera manageable.

Even after Jannard’s retirement in 2013, RED’s legacy of innovation continued under the leadership of Jarred Land. The company’s cameras, used to film more than 25% of the top 100 grossing films shot on digital video in the U.S. by 2016, became a staple in the film industry.

Nikon’s acquisition of RED is a monumental and strategically astute move. Canon, Sony, and Fujifilm have long been industry stalwarts with their respective camera offerings. The addition of RED’s cameras to the Nikon brand is logical and significant. It will be interesting to see what RED can achieve with the backing of Nikon’s budget.

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