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RED to Ship Dragon Sensor in Late 2012, Promising 6K Resolution, 15+ Stops of Dynamic Range

04.16.12 @ 4:06AM Tags : , , , , , ,

It’s been announced – the long awaited successor to the MX sensor, Dragon, is finally getting some specs and a release date. Upgrades for Epic will cost $6,000 and begin late this year, while the Scarlet upgrades won’t be until 2013 with a price TBD. Jim slightly broke his rules – announcing specs for something that isn’t shipping yet – but it’s still fun to see what those guys at RED are coming up with. I just came from the REDUser event where the 4K portrait finalists had their films displayed on multiple 4K TVs all at once – my favorite being the Panasonic 152″ behemoth, which isn’t even at NAB – only RED had it at their event.

Here are some words from Jim about the new sensor:

The Dragon sensor is slightly larger than the Mysterium-X sensor and the pixel size is slightly smaller. The pixel design and sensor design makes all the difference in the world. Most all of your current lenses will work.

The full list of specs we know so far:

  • 6K
  • 15 Stops or Greater Dynamic Range
  • 120 Frames Per Second at Full 5K
  • 85 Frames Per Second (at least) at Full 6K
  • Sensor Size: 30×15.8mm
  • Pixel Size: 5 microns
  • Improved Low-Light
  • Late 2012 $6,000 Upgrade for Epic
  • 2013 Scarlet Upgrade

Low light is supposedly improved, as that is an area where Canon and Sony seem to be taking the lead. Not that we should ask one camera to do everything, but being able to push the Dragon another few stops over the MX without noise would be impressive.

Scarlet has not been given an upgrade price but it is expected that it will cost more than the Epic upgrade – and won’t start until 2013. I’m sure upgrades are going to go well into 2013 for the Epic, and possibly 2014 for the Scarlet. We are now finally seeing RED’s answer to what Sony and Canon are doing. Though it doesn’t have quite the oversampling that the F65 has, the Dragon sensor will give a tremendous amount of flexibility recording to 6K. We are beginning to get into seriously high quality video with RED, and it means that shooters will be less and less limited by their cameras and more by their imaginations. There is a lot of potential for what you can do with 6K – and to dismiss it because it can’t actually be displayed at this time would be a mistake.

The RED event really spoke to the fact that 4K is coming, and that this year will be a big year for 4K displays. Many of the screens showing the contest are not actually showing at NAB – including the gigantic Panasonic display. We are going to see all of those displays sooner rather than later – and one comment I kept hearing is that content distributors and display makers want 4K content.

More to come tomorrow at NAB – and I will hopefully get a good look at RED’s projector at their booth (as well as any other surprises they might have there).

Link: REDUser – Dragon


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  • Luke Neumann on 04.16.12 @ 4:13AM

    Check. Mate.

  • Good luck to Canon, Sony and everyone else with their “cutting edge” cameras.

    RED did it again.

    • Yes… for anyone who has 60k laying around they really did it.

    • “Did” in the past-tense? More like “saying they’re going to do it.” As a SCARLET owner I’m of course very interested in this, but until we actually see anything… I’m sure Canon is doing just fine selling plenty of C300s.

    • 6K sensor is not effectively 6K image.. C500 has 8K sensor and i’m sure it will be out long before this

      • Not sure where that information came from but the C500 has a 4K only sensor – and when it records 4K RAW because of the bayer sensor its resolved lines of resolution will be below 4K. Dragon (if/when it’s released) will actually record a 6K image that should downsample to a truer 4K image.

        • yes, my bad, remembered this wrongly, had confused the 8 megapixels with K.. but still the point is same.. F65 at least has 8K sensor down sampled to 4K and this camera has been available for long time.. so in that sense 6K is not so special… the dynamic range is amazing on dragon but you can get to almost the same with F3′s S-LOG. I wouldn’t see this announcement anywhere as innovative as Red originally was… to me it seems they are slowing down compared to others speeding up.

          • Álex Montoya on 04.16.12 @ 8:00AM

            You can get 15+ stops with the F3?

          • Lliam Worthington on 04.16.12 @ 10:31AM

            Comparing the F3, though a great 1080P camera to an Epic with Dragon epic with 6k, 15+ DR and 120 FPS in 5K is bonkers.

            Frankly, I believe it is still not the specs but RED’s obsolescence obsolete philosophy that is truly the most powerful horse in this race.

      • Red’s 6K sensor is effectively 6K. It doesn’t super sample, and their proprietary processing retains much more resolution than many Bayer pattern based single chip sensors, at least that’s how the MX and Epic sensor respond.

    • Roger Freeman on 04.16.12 @ 11:45AM

      Whenever I see strangely optimistic comments like these (that barely make sense) I can’t help but wonder if it’s an employee doing a bit of viral marketing after a launch.

    • I’m still more excited for BlackMagic’s camera,h right now, though, ha ha ha

      • Me too! More because it fits my price point than anything.

        • That is until you start buying SSD’s for it when you are on a full day shoot.

          Just because a camera came along that is cheap and specs seem alright, doesn’t mean you should buy it. In all honesty, your money would be better spent on a 5D3…

  • I do like the looks of RED a little bit more these days. The entertainment of new cameras every other month is old now… I do like the idea of having one machine that i can, to an extent, always “upgrade” on. Reminds me of my motorcycle.

    With the ridiculous prices of Canon’s antics, with yet what seems to be still ‘sub-par’ cameras. With a set of Nikon Primes, I’m really interested to see what Sony, Red and Panasonic have for the “indie.” Right under $5,200 seems to be my max. budget on a camera, a camera i could use for a while and own. And even at $5,200, that’s still quite a bit.. lofty, for me :).

    • Lliam Worthington on 04.16.12 @ 10:55AM

      Totally agree. I’m don’t want crippled cameras designed to drive repeat sales. And while the “different tools” line will always have merit, I personally really don’t want to buy or rent multiple cameras. I’d much prefer to focus on my work using a camera I know intimately, is extremely well rounded and produces stellar images. And if I can upgrade it too… well for me that’s perfect.

      Unfortunately I don’t think RED will offer anything beyond the Scarlet for the Indie at the 5K price point. And canon have shown their hands with their sincerely misguided price points, but the future looks bright still, with Sony seeming determined to kick ass and Panny will almost certainly come to the party too.

      Blows my mind though just how much Canon could have owned the market if they weren’t so catastrophically blind as to what they achieved with the 5D.

    • Look up Black Magic Design’s new camera. 2.5K RAW for 3K. EOS mount, 13 stops of dynamic range, thunderbold and SDI, ProRes and DNXHD, AND coolest of all, a free, full version, of Davinci resolve

  • “Most all of your current lenses will work.”


    • Kevin Marshall on 04.16.12 @ 5:20AM

      The sensor is a little bigger than the current one, which itself is a little bigger than S35. Some lenses probably don’t cover the full 6K, as dome lenses don’t fully cover 5K right now. Good news is, with the smaller pixels, 5K will be closer to (or smaller than) S35-size.

    • the sensor is a tiny bit bigger (30mm vs 27.7mm), some lenses won’t work, most will

  • 6K. My gosh, what for?! That’s one sick update right there. Really nice though. Curious about the lowlight.
    Off-topic: Does anyone know if the 4K Canon short film by Shane Hurlbut will be released on the web? If so when? Same for the Man&Beast C500?

  • Shaun Wilson on 04.16.12 @ 6:42AM

    The big thing though is what the BBC will do with their 8K coverage of the London Olympics and the heralding of H265 (8K file format). 4K seems like a bridge between the almost future – 8K – and what will actually be a determined broadcast format (8K). Very exciting times.

    • Finally someone talking sense. The next broadcast jump in Europe/japan is to 8K folks. This is likre the mobile market wars all over again.

  • Ant idea about resolution/frame rates for the scarlet?

    • Lliam Worthington on 04.16.12 @ 11:00AM

      Nothings been given. All TBA.

      Smart money is on basically transposing the current scaling between Scarlet and Epic specs onto the Dragon… So something like – 6k 12fps – 5K 30p, 4K 60P 3K 120 – for Scarlet would be my guess.
      With 15 stops of DR and significantly improved low light performance, for a camera system for about 22K?
      That will be pretty damn mind blowing.

  • Lliam Worthington on 04.16.12 @ 11:37AM


    I didn’t see this one coming!

    Cleon, this looks hands down like the next big Indie sensation to me. Think I may have just found my Scarlet B cam.

  • These guys are so impressive… They constantly push the envelope and to me are the most exciting player in the industry… I’d love to see some of the new Dragon Sensor test footage when it comes out… I’m sure they’re just scratching the surface with what they’re pushing out and have a feeling that with this sensor will come an additional firmware update showing some strengthened workflow flexibility for the creative…

  • Lance Bachelder on 04.16.12 @ 12:07PM

    Jim slightly broke his own rules? He’s never shied away from announcing things years before they were releaased – remember the spec sheet on the Scarlet w/lens 4 NAB’s ago?

    Blackmagic may trump EVERYONE this NAB!!!

  • Yes, as much as I may love RED (I own RED cams), BlackMagic Design’s new Cinema Camera is the one I think indies have been wanting and needing for some time. In some ways it looks like it kills Scarlet (without dragon, of course). Which explains why Jim Jannard broke his own rule about announcing things before they’re ready.

    I love that it’ll use standard SSDs (cheap! not like RED’s). I love that it’s much more open, as far as format, cables (broke a $300 cable on my most recent RED shoot… UGH), etc.

    Can’t wait for dragon, it’ll be great. I’ll enjoy it on Epic. But BMD claims these new cinema cams will ship in July, not sometime in 2013.

    I’m buying at least one.

    • >Scarlet

      >BMD Camera


      • Lliam Worthington on 04.17.12 @ 12:54PM

        Yep. You also left out. 5K stills. HDRX. 2K 60p, upgrade path, modularity…
        I think this BMD cinema cam looks fantastic, and I think I may purchase one, but to call it a scarlet killer is crazy imo.

    • I agree! The Blackmagic Camera is perfect for the ones who missed the 3K for 3K Scarlet.

      While I own a Scarlet I am seriously considering purchasing this as a B-Cam plus the the $1,000 worth of software that comes with it.

  • Red always has the corniest, stupidest names. Epic? One? Scarlet? Dragon? RED??? Studid.

    • *STUPID

    • Also I doubt it’ll actually be 15 stops. The Scarlet was said to have 13.5 stops, and the Sony F3 with S-Log has more dynamic range than it, although it’s also said to have 13.5 stops.

    • Maybe, but it is better than the alphbet and number soup of the others. th Hgmk-3650, or the VFX-T-100. Lol, I much rather have a real name vs a bunch of random letters and numbers. (The same with cars as well.)

    • their products are impressive,but I feel as if they seek the advice of 12 year old when come to naming their cameras.

  • I’m not as smart as most of you are on here so I’ll ask this question. What is the advantage of being able to shoot 6K? And how can you effectively take advantage of it to watch it? Don’t you need a tv or projector that can show 6K?

    Also, how powerful of a editing station do you need to process this footage?


    • Cappy – 6K will (probably) look better downrezzed at 4K. 4K projectors already in VUE cinemas in the UK. Coming to the home at some point. I imagine you will need the same edit station as multi-stream 4K. The boards to do this are not too expensive and getting cheaper.

  • Patrick is right. The BMD will destroy the Scarlet market, Dragon or not. Also, I note the old RED ONE won’t be getting it. :-)
    The FS700 will cling on as at first glance it seems sharper, but unless there are significant operating issues/delays in shipping the C300 just died.

    • The BMD sure looks like a very interesting camera but it’s a very different animal than the Scarlet, which has better depth of field control, sensitivity and resolution.

      And the R3D’s are lighter: they weight the same as the BMD at 4 times the pixel count.

      • That said, RED should really consider making their SSD’s a lot cheaper.

        • Some of you guys are nuts, this is awesome news, scarlet will have the dynamic range of an Alexa, and the low light of a c300, and the resolution of a epic x mx. It’s near perfect in it’s price range.

          • Lliam Worthington on 04.17.12 @ 1:00PM

            Couldn’t agree more. Because that is the simple, factual, truth. People just seem to make an opinion irrespective to reality and facts. It’s insane.

  • Also REDUSER has closed 3 threads so far on this camera :-)

  • I always laugh at Red’s announcements, it will be out late 2012 which really means 2014 maybe LMFAO!!!

  • >Though it doesn’t have quite the oversampling that the F65 has

    F65 sensor isn’t anywhere near 8K. It’s 6,5K at best.

    • But it only needs to resolve 4K since that’s the final recording resolution – I think you just proved what I was trying to say.

  • I’m a little confused. Is RED going to offer the exact same sensor for the Scarlet with the exact same frame-rate, resolution and dynamic range specifications?

    How would it make sense for them to do that, what would differentiate the Epic in that case?

    Obviously it’s going to be somehow crippled on the Scarlet, right?

    I’m debating between a used Red One MX package that I can get around 10-12k or a new Scarlet for around 16k, leaning towards the Red One right now, although it’s heavier but confused about this potential future upgrade which may cost an arm and a leg and still be crippled?

    • It will be the same sensor, but with data rate limitations. You may end up only being able to use the S35 4K area of the sensor at 24p (more at slower speeds) — same as the current SCARLET — but with more dynamic range and better lowlight performance. Or they may also replace some SCARLET circuit boards with the sensor upgrade, which might give you more options but will cost more money. Until they announce, no one outside the RED camp knows for sure!

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