Foxconn wants to make RED cameras $20,000 cheaper

RED, one of the biggest names in digital cinema cameras, may end up working with a huge and high-volume manufacturer to bring the cost of its usually very pricey cameras way down. According to Nikkei, manufacturer Foxconn is trying to partner with RED to produce high-quality 8K cameras that are much cheaper than those on sale today.

“We will make cameras that will shoot professional-quality films in 8K resolution but at only a third of current prices and a third of current camera sizes,” Foxconn chairman Terry Gou said yesterday at a holiday party, according to Nikkei.

Gou said that Foxconn is in talks with RED to form a joint venture or partnership to produce more affordable cameras. That means this isn’t a done deal yet — RED has yet to comment on the potential partnership — but the prospect is still exciting for anyone who’s ever looked at the purchase price for an EPIC-W: the 8K camera sells for $29,500, and that’s before you add on batteries, storage, lenses, and the many other accessories you need to get it running.

Foxconn, which is known for assembling iPhones, is apparently trying to branch out to reduce its reliance on Apple. Half of the manufacturer’s sales reportedly come from assembling Apple products, so weakened iPhone demand or a potential decision by Apple to switch manufacturers are serious threats to the company’s current position.

Even if the partnership comes together, it’s not entirely clear what we’d get. Gou hints at a $10,000 cinema camera, but it’s unlikely that two-thirds of a camera’s price are parts and manufacturing. Much of the value from a RED camera is the technology inside it, including its ability to naturally process color, and that’s a big part of why buyers are paying more.

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Just as importantly, this still won’t make cinema-quality cameras widely attainable; even at $10,000, there’s still thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars of additional equipment needed to build out the camera to a usable state. So things would be getting cheaper and come within reach for more productions (especially with rentals), but Foxconn still seems to think of 8K cinema cameras as expensive, specialty products.

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