The internet has been abuzz, in cinematography circles anyway, for the last few weeks with a bit of drama created by Jinni.Tech, a UK company that makes third part recording media for RED cameras, including the Jinn1Mag.
If you are finding yourself surprised, since you didn't know that you could buy third party media for RED, you aren't alone...since you officially can't. RED only approves their own media (which is somewhat expensive when compared to, say, just buying a hard drive), but Jinn1mag seems to have reverse-engineered a way to make it work and sell mags that cost around 1/3 the retail price on RED Mini-Mags.
They released a teardown video of a RED Mini-Mag and revealed that it includes about $250 worth of hardware, despite it's $1850 price tag.
In response, RED has lowered the price on their mini-Mags. The 480GB drive will now cost $1,450 (a 22% drop from $1850), while the 960GB drive $2,350 (a 20% drop from $2950). This is obviously still much higher than Jinni.Tech, but it is a discount, and RED owners and especially rental houses will definitely appreciate it.
One key concept that we want to remind users of here is the idea of professional businesses having higher margins than consumer businesses.
RED has customer support staff, RED has R&D staff, RED has stores and testing and all sorts of infrastructure, and they support all that by selling hardware, and there will always be a markup on that hardware to support all those things. That's part of what makes a professional tool a professional tool.
If you make your living with a tool, you want there to be someone at the company to answer the phone when something goes wrong with it. Supporting a professional business is a lot of work (something RED learned with the original RED ONE and really became clear with the pricing on the EPIC platform, which clearly had a bigger margin to cover the professional support required).
While I'm certainly not against Jinni.Tech or Jinn1Mags, if I went to rent a RED camera, I would prefer to pick up a package supplied with supported RED media. As a third-party tool, I'd want to test them thoroughly before using them on a client job.
However, if I owned a RED camera that I primarily used for our my own purposes, where losing media wouldn't be catastrophic (in the way that losing a mag on a music video shoot with dozens of dancers and a rented Ferrari might be), I would consider the alternative as a cost-saving measure.
They also might be attractive to schools where losing the occasional in-class exercise might not be terrible, though I would encourage students to rent official media for their thesis shoots. And it's good to have alternatives out there to help bring the prices down across the board, which is what we see here.
It's impressive that the industry has shifted so dramatically that RED, who famously disrupted the industry with the RED ONE at a price point that many didn't believe possible, is now the "big" company that is being undercut with competition.