A New Camera Using Both Nikon and RED Tech Will Come in ‘A Few Years’

Nikon X RED mock up

The ink is still wet on Nikon’s acquisition of RED Cinema, but the two teams are already meeting and working on integrating their technologies.

Speaking to PetaPixel at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) exposition in Las Vegas this week, a panel of Nikon and RED executives explained that while they have only come together within the last week, the wheels are already in motion to leverage their strengths to create something new.

“We know that people in RED who are in the cinema industry are talented people, and Nikon has its own unique technology. So we try to cover each other’s deficiencies to create a more powerful one. Therefore, we expect we can produce much better products for cinema and photos in both industries,” Hiroyuki Ikegami, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Imaging Business Unit at Nikon tells PetaPixel.

“Future products will be a kind of combination of each’s strong technologies. After the completion of the acquisition on April 8 (and widely reported on April 12), the engineers from both companies started communicating and sharing information with each other. Both engineers, their style of approaching tech is similar, so we expect that those will keep a synergistic effect for the future of the business.”

RED and Nikon Executives
From left to right: Tommy Rios, RED Co-CEO; Sean McHugh, RED Co-COO; Keiji Oishi, RED CEO; Hiroyuki Ikegami, Executive VP and General Manager, Nikon Imaging Business Unit; Jeff Goodman, RED VP, Product Management

“They have a strong knowledge in cinema cameras including image compression technology and color science,” Keiji Oishi, from Nikon’s Imaging Business Unit and RED’s new CEO, says.

“We respect each other’s corporate culture and in addition, we will aim to foster a new culture geared toward market development. Future products by will combine the competencies of both. This is a key to success.”

But even though the process has already started and it’s easy to get excited at the prospect of a combined Nikon and RED, it will still be some time before any new product will be announced.

“We are just learning the technology from RED right now. First were need to work on understanding the characteristics of the technology and how we can utilize it on other products,” Ikegami says.

RED Komodo

“Both companies working together and injecting their technologies together is starting now, but will take a few years to release. It will take time. So new products will use RED features and technologies as well as Nikon’s. Nikon mirrorless cameras will integrate features of RED cameras, too,” Oishii adds.

How Nikon and RED Plan to Combine Their Software

There is a hope that RED’s software advancements and its 16-bit REDCode RAW format could be added to existing Nikon cameras, such as the Z8 or Z9. Nikon isn’t saying that’s beyond the realm of possibility.

“[That is currently] under investigation. Please expect something, not soon, but in the near future. Some input came already from RED which is really valuable. We want to try that,” Ikegami explains.

Speaking of REDCode RAW, Nikon now has access to it and its N-RAW format. Support for N-RAW in major non-linear editors (NLEs) has been somewhat slow, which makes the widespread support for REDCode RAW even more appealing. The thought for many, then, would be that perhaps REDCode RAW would replace N-RAW.

RED Komodo

“There are two RAWs, and each has its own features and benefits. Based upon the customer’s workflow, they may use a different RAW. So we will try to provide each RAW to each customer’s needs. N-RAW is used for image quality and has a good balance between image quality and file size,” Oishii says. “REDCode RAW has 16-bit color and rich color gradation and has flexibility in editing.”

Nikon believes there is a place for both, so at least for now, don’t expect one to replace the other.

“REDCode has been around for over 17 years and is the technology that made the original 4K captures possible. We’re very proud of how RAW technology has evolved and become so widespread in the industry. We’re very proud of the fact that the entire industry is moving toward a RAW workflow and REDCode RAW will continue to offer unique benefits for high-end productions where high image quality is the highest priority,” Sean McHugh, now Co-COO of RED adds, perhaps explaining that the two brands still see the RAW format’s use case as most beneficial to those working in larger, higher-end productions.

Nikon is Excited for the Future

While the interview with Nikon and RED was filled with a lot of information — such as when the acquisition process started and what the future of Canon RF on RED cameras is — the companies seemed excited about the prospect of what they were building together. There was an air of energy that was impossible to fake: Nikon and RED are hungry to make something amazing.

“We understand each other and will develop something and hope to make a really ‘wow’ product together. Nikon, MRMC, and RED: these three companies’ collaboration will generate a really great future, we believe,” Ikegami says.

“Each brings something to the table that each can benefit from. It’s very exciting to see where the roadmap can go even if it takes a few years to get there. It’s exciting to see those elements together,” Oishii adds.