Over the history of photography, technology has provided the common consumer with access to the most elite performance in smaller and smaller packages. Early examples such as the Brownie Camera marketed by Eastman Kodak in 1900, changed the market for photography and created a new consumer base in a field once only feasible for the professional.
The Brownie Camera was designed specifically to bring photography at the most accessible price, the effect was the innovation of consumer photography and the development of snapshots around tourism and everyday life. Though I wouldn't go as far as to call RED Digital Cinema the Brownie Camera of the 21st century, it's effect on capturing history via photo and video means will surely be as profound as the Brownie Camera was to the average consumer in the early 1900s.
Though the current RED One, availible today for $17,500, doesn't seem like a worthy contender for your pocketbook, it has however totally flipped the film industry on it's head. Digital cinema has been gaining popularity as the flexibilty and technology has creeped slowly up to the performance of film. More and more movies are shot 100% digitally and it really won't be that long till most everything you see in a theater or on TV is shot with a digital cinema camera.
This has however been a niche market, with only a few manufacturers dominating the playing field, selling $100K+ cameras, like Sony, Panavision and Arri. RED has accomplished what they have not, a digital camera with the performance of a vastly more expensive camera, or arguably better in some respects, for a fraction of the price. Their dedicatied consumer base, many of whom took a large risk in ordering the first few cameras before they had been actually built or tested, offers their expertise and suggestions in the most information packed forum community I have ever seen. RED's success and camera performance, due largely to the determination of their founder Jim Jannard, former owner and founder of Oakley, is breaking all barriers of the industry and is leading the way of the future.
What does this mean for the average user or even the pro-sumer? Little at this point in time, but keep your eyes peeled. In under a year, RED will be releasing their new camera, the Scarlet, and intends to deliver many of the features of the earlier RED One with a smaller package and a fully functional system in one package, including a T2.8 lens rumored to stretch from 28-200mm. This Scarlet has the potential to become the new Brownie camera of the professional video market, changing the game for high quality video for indie and budget cinema crews.
Keep your eyes peeled, RED Digital Cinema.