Thursday, July 10, 2008

Camcorder News from Kodak and Red

I've got news about two camcorders, one low-end model that will act like it's more expensive, and one "expensive" model that will act like it's much more expensive. The first is the new Kodak Zi6, a pocket camcorder priced at $179.95 that will compete with Pure Digital's Flip Ultra and Mino. What makes things interesting is that, unlike the Pure and similar Creative Labs pocket camcorders, the Zi6 records in HD (720/30p), and according to Benny Goldman of Gizmodo, the video looks great on a 40" flat-panel TV. The Zi6 won't be quite as convenient as the Pure Digital models--it has no built-in software, and it comes with no memory (SD and SDHC memory cards with up to 32GB of flash memory will be supported)--but it can support both the low-end YouTube shooters and people who might have considered an entry-level HD camcorder from Sony, Panasonic or Canon. And, of course, it's got the Kodak name. According to Kodak, the Zi6 will ship in September.

The other camcorder is Red's Scarlet. Jim Jannard, the founder of Red, just posted a new rendering of the Scarlet on its Scarletuser.com website. As you may recall, the Scarlet will be a fixed-lens camcorder with 3K resolution (digital cinema-quality) that will sell for under $3,000. According to Jon Sagud of Red, writing in the same thread as Jim Jannard, the Product Requirements Document (PRD) is just being completed. In most cases, Engineering departments wait for a completed PRD before they start designing the final product, but the broad outline of the Scarlet's functionality has been known for some time. In any case, we're still at least nine months away from Red shipping the Scarlet.

The Scarlet can't help but have a big impact on camcorder sales in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. If you've got to have a camcorder in that price range right now, by all means go ahead and buy one. However, if you're looking at a fixed-lens Panasonic or Sony model in that price range and you've got some time, wait at least for IBC in Amsterdam this September to see what Red shows. If the Scarlet they've got there is still a non-functional milled aluminum model like the one they showed at NAB in April, you've got at least another six months, and perhaps as much as a year, to wait for the final product.
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