With no DSMC2 firmware updates for two years and a website redesign missing older models, the writing was on the wall.
RED has recently redesigned its main website, and with it, the company has seemingly swept away all mention of its DSMC2 lineup. This includes the removal of any mention of the flagship Monstro, Gemini, or even Ranger brains, as the company seems to be laser-focused on moving forward on its V-Raptor and Komodo platforms.
In addition, the official word was given on January 10, 2023, via RED Support that the company "is no longer selling DSMC2 and Ranger camera bodies. However, they will continue to be fully supported for service and technical support." With that, the end of an era seems to have arrived. So what are users to do?
The Change Was Inevitable
Some "end-of-life" was to be expected. The 5K Gemini or Ranger, for instance, is now half the resolution of the 8K Raptor. Even the 6K Dragon is looking pretty "long in the tooth" when compared to RED's DSMC3 lineup. Some of these cameras are also over half a decade old.
However, the RED Monstro VV is still competitive with its 8K video. Unfortunately, there is no official word if the Monstro VV has been retired. At this point, we can only assume.
Change is a natural part of the camera business, especially with how fast the technology behind it is evolving. Usually, camera companies don’t completely abandon support for previous models until the new evolution is both firmly established and the development of the previous generation is played out. However, many DSMC2 users have complained that their cameras haven’t received a firmware upgrade since 2020, leading to a soft kind of “end of life” for the platform.
“I feel that RED doesn’t care about DSMC2 anymore, and we, old users, are forced to push into the DSMC3 system,” wrote one user on the REDUser Forums. “I have a feeling that my Monstro is totally devaluated and pushed into EOL. I feel that really soon I will enter into the domain of vintage electronics. It sucks as I still have a potent camera, but I don’t know how long will I have support in order to use this system.”
But Wait! There's More...
This isn't the only complaint.
Another user claimed that RED’s adjustment of the electronic viewfinder in his DSMC2 camera limits his ability to have basic control and that there are also bugs in playback in anamorphic 4:3 that haven’t been addressed in the last few updates.
Yet other creative points out that while RED hasn’t released a new DSCM2 firmware in nearly three years, the company has released four new cameras in the "DSMC3" line. This can limit the resources that the company may be willing to invest in legacy platforms. Many complained that even though they can shoot in 8K on their Monstros, and even with Vista Vision, clients don't want it because it's looking too old.
To this point, another RED forum user pointed out, “...[A]s much as there might be a few things that people still wanted to add, you have to be realistic, with the last update being more than 2 years ago and RED having released 4 new cameras since then, you got to know that they probably have their hands tied from a firmware standpoint.”
So, what should RED users do with their gear?
Obsolescence No Longer Obsolete
Since 2006, RED had adopted an “Obsolescence Obsolete” concept, which enabled users to essentially upgrade their older camera platforms with a new brain to keep them up to date and give them legs. However, moving forward with the DSMC3 line, and how that upgrade philosophy will be implemented (if at all) remains unclear.
That being said, RED has stated that its DSMC2 and Ranger camera bodies will continue to be fully supported for service and technical support. With the Komodo and Raptor now out in the wild, this could be RED's chance to return to the old guard and iron out some issues. But how long this support will last is unclear. With how widely utilized these cameras are in the film industry, creatives will have high expectations.
With the current camera landscape now highly competitive, RED will also need to find a way to support these legacy users or risk having users move to a competitor.
The Silver Lining For DSMC2
RED continues to sell some DSMC2 accessories, including RED Touch, EVF, Mini-Mag, and various supporting cables. Some users on the forum are happy that the prices for the accessories keep dropping. "What's nice is that the prices for accessories for it is just getting lower and lower," another user pointed out. "I might pick up an ultra-bright screen for it and some more long-take mags if/when the prices get right, or I get a project that kind of demands it."
Many users echoed this practical sentiment, stating that as long as the accessories are available and at a good price, then their camera can be useful. Meanwhile, another user said that the used DSMC2 market could be an ideal way to get users transitioned into the RED ecosystem if the company would simply open up the pathway media.
Additionally, at least in the short run, the RED Gemini and RED Ranger brain can still be found at authorized retailers like B&H. Moreover, DSMC2 users have started a petition to get RED’s attention. The petition requests that RED the current fix bugs in a new firmware update for the DSMC2 architecture.
As for the issue of clients not wanting an "old" camera? That is an education issue that all creatives have to deal with, whether or not your camera has been discontinued.
What do you think about this news? Are you a legacy RED shooter? Lets us know your thoughts in the comments!