Red Digital Cinema has announced that it is partnering with Apple to allow it to be the exclusive seller of its Raven cinema camera. The Raven, which has been unavailable for the past few months, will be sold in a single, $15,000 kit configuration that gives users everything they need to get shooting right out of the box, including a monitor, memory, batteries, and even a Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 lens. It also comes with a license key for Final Cut Pro X, Apple’s professional editing software which retails for $300 on its own.
The $15,000 price is likely to give sticker shock to the average Apple customer, but the Raven is actually Red’s least expensive cinema camera. It is also Red’s most compact camera “brain,” weighing 3.5 pounds, but can still shoot 4.5K footage at up to 120 frames per second. Final Cut Pro has native support for Redcode RAW files and the Raven can also shoot simultaneously to the Apple Pro Res format.
There was a time when Apple computers were the machines of choice for all manner of creative professionals and Final Cut Pro was the de-facto standard of professional video editors. While the Mac has remained a prominent fixture in the creative industry, many professional users have criticized Apple for losing focus on the pro market in the wake of the iPhone and iPad (which make much more money for the company). The Mac Pro went years without an update, and Final Cut Pro X initially rubbed professional editors the wrong way with its iMovie-like interface and slimmed down feature set. More recently, however, FCP X has gained many features, and with the powerful iMac Pro and secretive new Mac Pros on the way, an exclusive deal with Red leaves no doubt that Apple has returned to form, of sorts, with a renewed focus on video professionals.
Still, offering a single kit (not to mention only one camera) is a bit of a head-scratcher. It’s as if Apple wants to advertise its pro status without diving too deep into the world of high-end video gear. Apple is a brand built on simplicity, after all, something that Red has never been known for. The Raven kit is a solid option for advanced users looking for their first digital cinema camera, but it does not make much sense for those who already own lenses, accessories, or other editing software.