Nikon buys Red Digital Cinema, will jump into the pro video space

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The Red V-Raptor X.
Enlarge / The Red V-Raptor X.

Red

Nikon is buying the ultra-high-end video camera company Red Digital Cinema. Nikon has a press release saying that “RED will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Nikon” for an undisclosed sum. Nikon is typically more of a still-image camera company and wants to use Red to “expand the fast-growing professional digital cinema camera market.”

Red was founded in 2005 by Jim Jannard, founder of the Oakley sunglasses company. The company is a big player in digital film production, and, at the peak of its movie market share in 2016, over 25 percent of the top 100 grossing domestic films were shot on Red cameras. A lot of big YouTubers also use the cameras, so there’s a lot more room for growth there. In the early days, the company was a pioneer in 4K digital filmmaking (see Peter Jackson’s 48 fps film The Hobbit as a famous example), but since then, the competition has caught up. The company also made a terrible smartphone that one time.

This acquisition marks a significant milestone for Nikon, melding its rich heritage in professional and consumer imaging with RED’s innovative prowess,” Red’s president, Jarred Land, wrote on Facebook. “Together, Nikon and RED are poised to redefine the professional digital cinema camera market, promising an exciting future of product development that will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in film and video production.

Red and Nikon just finished suing each other a few years ago. Red has a wide-ranging patent covering compressed RAW video and has been suing everyone under the sun over it. Nikon, Sony, Apple, and Kinefinity were all hit with lawsuits and all ended up either not shipping compressed RAW or signing some kind of agreement (presumably paying royalties or cross-licensing) with Red. It will now be up to Nikon to see how aggressive it wants to be with what is a foundational patent in digital video.

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