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RED Dragon Unleashes Its First Image, and SCARLET Camera Gets an Upgrade Path

It may be 2013 in many places around the world already, but it probably feels like a whole bunch of holidays wrapped into one over at RED. The company has been somewhat quiet about their Dragon sensor over the last few months, but thanks to the CEO Jim Jannard we’ve been getting details here and there throughout 2012 about the sensor. It’s claimed that it will be able to achieve over 15 stops of dynamic range, and they are trying to back up that claim with a dynamic range chart showing what appears to be that, and possibly more.

This is the first image from Dragon (click for larger):

UPDATE: If you’re curious exactly what’s going on in the chart, Graeme Nattress stopped by to post this in our comments section:

If the 1st step is at clip, any point below that has detail, so the jump from step 1 to step 2 marks one stop of DR. Each step below that you can differentiate from the background counts as another stop of DR.

There will be a wide range of valid values that you can place mid-grey at, just as with our other cameras. That’s the beauty of how we have ISO gain work on our cameras.

Looking at the raw data here I can see steps 1 through 19 inclusive which would indicate a 18 stop DR, and as you say, and as Jim says, the sensor team is still tweaking…. I can’t wait to see what they send me next to analyze!

Here is what Jarred Land said in the forum:

Happy New Year everyone… just a bit of an update on Dragon.

There are some people that think RED has been standing still.. Quite the contrary. We just have been a bit quiet with our hands full harnessing the fire-breathing power of the Dragon.

Dragon was born from a brand new pixel design, with a new fab process and a new read out architecture that has resulted in a sensor that is cleaner and that has more dynamic range than anyone expected.

One of our most reserved sensor engineers wrote Jim and I this morning after shooting a test and these were his words:

” First time in ten years that I’m speechless ”

Getting Dragon done was one of the most difficult things we have ever done… but it has turned out to be much more than we could of ever imagined.

This much range coming off of a sensor has never been done before.. let alone at over 6k at 80 frames a second.. so we had to beef up the entire infrastructure of EPIC.

This is likely to affect the price of the upgrade a bit.. and its going to close the door on any chance of a Scarlet to be able to upgrade to Dragon.

We are however.. going to be offering a trade-in program much like we did with the R1 for Scarlet customers to get into an Epic Dragon.

So on the last day of the year of the Dragon, I am going to share with you a frame that was taken this morning.

Don’t look at image quality here… this is a dirty debayer with no black calibration, no offset correction and no processing on a special 21 stop DR Chart from DSC.

This is from a prototype ” Frankie ” Epic camera with a really, really expensive engineering lens that really, really sucks at taking pretty pictures, on a non-sealed lens mount ( hence the light bloom ) but it gives you a bit of an idea on just how powerful all your cameras are about to become.

“Real” Images coming soon… ( but not tonight )

A little later he said:

…notice the little piece of tape on the top of step 16 on the chart. That is where it was supposed to end :)

We are getting a longer chart made. We have such precision now we actually need a chart with in-between wedges for Graeme to do what he does best.

The Engineers keep reminding me that this is the worst we will ever see Dragon. There are still alot of knobs to turn :)

Some words from Jim Jannard (all of these are combined from different comments):

It appears that the Dragon will have about 4 stops more DR and less than half the noise of the current Mysterium-X sensor.

I’m not quite sure if everyone fully understands what this actually means. This is the 1st time in history that a digital sensor blows away the dynamic range of film… and at a resolution that rivals 65mm. Couple that with 80+ fps at full resolution. Of course you can shoot lower resolution at higher frame rates. Record to a small SSD. REDCODE. Dragon. RED.

This is the equivalent to HDRx +5. Native. I guess we just obsoleted HDRx. Oh, well. Progress.

Get your wallets full… the increase in ASIC spending means the upgrade will cost a bit more. But well worth it.

UPDATE: Jarred Land added later that the Dragon will be getting a brand new IR OLPF, so the issues many have been having because of IR pollution with heavy ND filtering and the MX sensor may be a thing of the past. This is essential as the Dragon is set to be even more light sensitive, and will probably require a bit more ND than the MX sensor needed depending on where the dynamic range is biased. He also said this related to the global shutter/rolling shutter debate:

You guys are going to be thrilled…

Global Shutter creates foundational problems in other aspects of sensor design…. as much as everyone thinks they want a global shutter they really just want the side-effects. We took things to a whole different level.

UPDATE: Jannard also added a bit more about the sensor later on:

I don’t think there is anything left in the “native ISO” thinking. You can shoot ISO 100 to 12,800 depending on how much noise you can tolerate.

I think “ideal” will be somewhere between ISO 400 and 2000.

Conservative… and I think the chart shows 18+ stops. But remember we still have a lot to go in calibration and color science.

I’m not sure where the 21 stops came from but clearly we see a usable 18+ stops of dynamic range. Maybe more given some tweaking. In any event, it is more than any film stock we have ever seen and certainly more than any digital sensor known to man. This is meaningful. :-)

While it’s a little hard to tell where the highlight detail ends because of the blooming, it definitely looks like there is some detail in 2, and I can see it cleanly through 16, which would make this sensor at least 14-15 stops or more. It looks like there is detail in a lot more than just those stops, but at the very least if the chart is accurate it means that Dragon should match or exceed what is currently out there in terms of dynamic range, including the Arri Alexa and the Sony F65/F55. Not to spoil the excitement for some people but we do have to take it with a grain of salt until we see the real images from the camera, but there is no question this is a promising start, especially with the reported ISO 2000 sensitivity of the sensor.

We also got our first details about price. The current upgrade price looks like it’s going to rise for EPIC, which previously stood at $6,000 (and this even included new owners). This is due to the need to upgrade most of the internal boards, and at this point, they are now dealing with all sorts of new R&D. It’s not clear what the higher price will be, but if you’re just buying an EPIC right now, even a $10,000 upgrade would still be cheaper than what people had been paying before the price drop.

Unfortunately, if you were a SCARLET owner hoping for an upgrade, it’s not going to happen. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck, however. From what they’ve said there will be a trade-in program very similar to the RED ONE, which means you’ll be able to take your SCARLET and likely trade it in for full value towards an EPIC Dragon. This is going to mean that some people may not get a chance to use the Dragon sensor in their cameras if they can’t afford the extra price of EPIC, but if you look at it the other way, no camera manufacturer allows you to trade in anything for the full price you paid for it and get a brand new camera with a new sensor. It’s unclear what this will cost, but it’s probably safe to assume it will be $10,000+ above what you already paid to get yourself into RED EPIC Dragon. It will be interesting to see if the amount changes depending on when you bought the camera, considering they’ve now offered the SCARLET at three completely different prices for a working body.

If the sensor can really deliver 15 stops or more, it’s actually a much bigger deal than the 6K resolution or the ISO sensitivity. Increasing the dynamic range means you’re going to have more room to work with when you’re in difficult lighting situations. If there is anything that can save you time on set (unless you’re shooting in the dark), it’s being able to not worry about controlling specific parts of the image if they are too dark or too bright because you know you’ve got the dynamic range there. This isn’t to say that you always fix it in post, but a sensor that can hold detail in almost any situation in the highs and lows makes for a more powerful grading process and a better-looking product overall.

What do you guys think? Is this exciting news or are you waiting for the real images first? If you’re a SCARLET owner, what would you be willing to pay for an upgrade? Does this news mean you might not be able to afford to shoot with Dragon? What about any EPIC users, how much more do you think the upgrade will cost and does that affect you in any way?

Link: Enter the Dragon — REDUser


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Description image 107 COMMENTS

  • It is 1:50AM and you guys are posting articles. I would to say THANKS!

  • Post on New Years? I love this site.

  • Now make an IMAX 70mil sized sensor with that dynamic range capabilities and I’m totally shooting my ‘The Dark Samsara Mastering’ this year. S35 and VistaVision sensors are sooooooo 2012.

  • wow you guys are on it… well done and Happy New Year.

    • Joe Marine on 01.1.13 @ 3:00AM

      Happy New Year to you too, Jarred, looks like it’s going to be quite the year. :)

  • The way you read this chart, is you have to hook the camera up to a Waveform. You then read the chips as they climb up to 110% IE clipping. You start at chip 1 and go down till you cant differentiate detail in the toe.

    I feel like it cuts out somewhere around 17-18. The more important thing is that the middle grey chip, seem to fall around chip 10 or 11. This mean if we count Chip 17 lets say, as black, it holds 10 stops over and 7 stops under. Thats the significant thing. This is a more filmlike light response. Digital has always been, far more sensitive on the shadow side, while film has always held the top better. This seem like its closer to a even split, with a slight bias on the highlight side. This is the real break through.

    • OK mildly under the influence of NYE celebration…. I may have been unclear on the first paragraph above. You open the lens till the #1 chip hits “clipping” at 110, then you count down to “black”. Sorry for the confusing first paragraph.

    • Thank you for someone finally talking about where middle grey falls. I was pretty skeptical of their claims, but that’s pretty impressive for digital. Now I want to see a real picture. Still skeptical of the color quality and what-not.

  • As an Epic owner, I’m extremely excited with these new tests! Hopefully the new upgrade price isn’t too high, the original $6,000 price was a no brainer! I was planning on getting a Scarlet as a B cam in 2013…not sure that’s a good idea now.

  • Awesome stuff. This is the very reason I bought into RED!

  • As a scarlet owner I feel a bit cheated. I bought a scarlet because i was assured that i will be able to upgrade it to dragon for better DR etc. Then “maybe” but, if not, they will find a way. Now it’s “pay the difference to get a dragon epic”. “Scarlet users should be doing backflips” said Jarred Land. Why would I do such a thing? This path program was interesting in the past. But for the scarlet ….. It’s 8000$. Epic is 19000. Dragon will finally be around 10000 probably. I have to add more than 20000$. Where is the backflip thing? If i sell my scarlet on ebay I will maybe lose 1000 or 2000$. On a 29000$ camera it’s almost a detail. I mean if I can find 20000$ to upgrade my scarlet, 1000 or 2000$ would be almost nothing. I feel cheated because it was in the initial deal, and because they should have told it a long time ago. I would have jump on the red one deal (as the only drawback was the no path to dragon).

    • Peter Kelly on 01.1.13 @ 7:15AM

      I understand where you are coming from, I would feel the same in your position

    • Well, you have a great camera in your hands and you are complaining? You are probably not shooting anything otherwise you would have been happy already. I recently bought a Scarlet and shot 2 short films currently in post production and I’m very happy with the images out of the camera, on the first short, I shot along with a Red One which also is a hell of a camera, but its too big and heavy, you need a much more expensive gear to support it. I can do run and gun with my Scarlet but not with the Red One, I shot gerrilla in 2 locations, I could have never done that with the Red One, I would have got busted by the size of the equipment.
      Its always good to remember 2 things:
      – Cameras are not investments for you money, they are like cars, will be outdated in no time and you lose money as soon as you buy it.
      – Do never buy anything based in speculations, buy the camera for what they currently are.
      You have a good deal in your hands, just go out and enjoy it.

      • Always the same arguments …. you don’t own a red …… you don’t shoot anything ….. Well just read my messages. I’m not complaining about the camera, I’m complaining about red communication.

        • I did read your messages, You bought your Red based in some early information given by Red, you’re probably expecting way more than it has ever been said. Red did comply with what ( at least so far) they promised: an upgrade path to scarlet users, they never mentioned about prices, and honestly what’s the difference on spending probably 20k in upgrading your current camera or 20k in a fair trade (im speculating the price)? Buy cameras for what they are currently offering. Red communication wont change, they post out of excitement, usually things get better and pricier after they first announce, as long as you understand that you should be fine for the next purchases. And if you still have a problem with Red communication you can join the line along with all the others who waited 2 years for the 2/3 Scarlet fixed lens for $3K.

          • I was not expecting more than what was said. I was told “obsolescence obsolete”, upgradable camera. Today’s announcement just told us that it’s the end of the scarlet road. Or I have to add probably 3 times the price of my camera to have a path.

          • Well maybe I shouldn’t be replying again, but… “obsolescence obsolete” applies for few other things not just the sensor exchange, since I bought my Scarlet I upgraded the firmware twice and I have a a better camera today with some cool features. All the accessories will be still compatible with epic/dragon stuff. Currently there’s a path from Scarlet to Dragon, a painfull one (expensive), however it’s there. Scarlet is a low cost hardware, it’s sort of expected to cost a lot to go to dragon, if it’s a surprise for you you should research more before buying anything or you can apply for a marketing position and help Red with their communication issues :)
            Im not worry, my Camera is capable of very good looking images and I dont need a Dragon sensor for the next few years I believe. Your grief is just painful to see.

    • Eric Santiago on 01.1.13 @ 7:38PM

      I got the my Scarlet to get into digital cinema.
      There was no promise made just talk which is cheap.
      You only lose on the body.
      The misc you purchased will work with anything above the Scarlet in the RED eco-system.
      I for one love this option since its an option.
      I have no use for Dragon and doubt it will make my learning and getting my creative ideas on screen.
      Its an option that most of us can look forward too but thinking far ahead and not doing anything with what you have now is a dangerous game in this industry.
      The digital cinema field is not stocks and bonds.
      Its a creative medium that needs to be used at all times.

  • “but if you look at it the other way, no camera manufacturer allows you to trade in anything for the full price you paid for it and get a brand new camera with a new sensor”. That’s true but Red is making his communication on it. It’s part of the product promise. Obsolescence obsolete. If you claim “don’t buy other brands, buy our camera, we will not let you down like others, look in the past, we offered red one customers super cheap epic, etc etc” you should expect people to wait for it. It’s in the price. I don’t take it as a gift, because it was a sale argument.

    • Joe Marine on 01.1.13 @ 5:24AM

      I hear what you’re saying, but an upgrade path is an upgrade path, there was never any promise that it would cost a specific amount of money. It’s unfortunate for a lot of people that they probably won’t ever be able to afford Dragon, but there are still a lot of details left we don’t know about. There are going to be a lot of leftover EPIC boards – who knows what they might do. If they offered $6,000 for an upgrade to EPIC with an MX sensor, would that be worth it? We don’t know what they might do yet, but we do know that you can’t get a deal like this from any manufacturer. It’s not a consolation, but EPIC was always going to be the camera that got the most love because it cost the most.

      • I was more ranting about red communication behavior than about the prices in fact. We never had any answer about scarlet and pal users for example. When the red one was suddenly half the price of the scarlet, nobody answered about the possibility to add the red one specs into the scarlet. Just a yes or a no would have been enough. I would have preferred “we announce the scarlet camera but given the price and the positioning of the epic, there is not a chance that you will have a better camera with some dragon upgrade in the future”.

      • I’m not expecting anything like that. It worked with the red one and the epic. With the scarlet it’s a different situation. Some epic owners already screamed when people were just asking if 4.5k would be possible to implement in the scarlet. An epic for 14000$, they would have a heart attack. I was just hoping for a dragon scarlet with better DR and iso, even just 4.5k, around 10000$. Too bad.

      • Peter Kelly on 01.1.13 @ 7:28AM

        Are you not pretty pissed Joe, and for that matter Ryan, that you will not be able to upgrade your Scarlets to dragon sensor?

        • Joe Marine on 01.1.13 @ 7:38AM

          Why would I be pissed? No one held a gun to my head and forced me to buy it, and the camera doesn’t all of a sudden become extinct just because a better version exists.

          Also, who knows what will happen in a year when the upgrade program finally starts rolling around to SCARLET. They already stated they would start with EPICs first, so I don’t realistically see any SCARLET owners actually having the option until well into next year.

          • Peter Kelly on 01.1.13 @ 4:37PM

            Well you said one of the reasons you bought a scarlet was for the upgrade part to dragon sensor. Now that is not going to be possible if I’m not mistaken.

            I didn’t mean to attack you btw.

      • Yes they apparently did promise the Epic to Dragon upgrade would be $6000, as you said in your article. Now they switched that without consideration.

        Imagine buying an Epic for $39,000 just a couple months ago, thinking the Dragon would be $6000 more and available soon. A few weeks later, RED cuts the price of the Epic in half as Sony announces the F5 and F55. You’d be devastated as we heard from some who were. And then just a few weeks after that you’re told that the $6000 upgrade won’t be available but some upgrade will be made available at some unspecified but higher price at some point in some future. You’d be forgiven for ramming your head through the wall at that point.

        What we’ve learned over the last year from RED and BMD and Digital Bolex and Kinefinity et al. should be clear:

        1) Buy or rent what you need right now regardless of what’s promised for the future. If you sense a product is at the end of its lifecycle and will be replaced or outmoded soon, rent instead of buy.

        2) Don’t pre-order anything unless you can cancel at no charge, no money is tied up in the preorder or is of no consequence to you if it is, and you are able to make unbiased decisions even after preordering.

        3) Don’t buy things from Kickstarter unless you are essentially being charitable. If you actually receive something you bought on Kickstarter at some point consider it a bonus.

        4) Pay no attention whatsoever to future upgrade scheduling, quality, or promised pricing. Consider that all marketing spiel and be pleasantly surprised if it ever materializes.

        5) Buy into a system that’s in stock and returnable for a full refund from a reputed dealer. Buy the camera itself first in a minimal configuration, ensure you like it first, and then buy rigging for it…do not buy rigging for a camera that you don’t have direct experience working with and aren’t sure when it will arrive.

        6) If a camera can’t be purchased on returnable terms, go ahead and rent it if you can’t borrow one from a friend for a few days. Consider the rental or restocking fee an insurance policy that you are buying into the correct ecosystem. Getting used to renting is only going to be a good thing for you…may save you the purchase price of the entire camera and ecosystem.

        7) Assume all samples and reports on a camera’s performance prior to its being generally available to the public are bunk. Look for independent appraisals once a camera is generally available…preproduction cameras are typically made available only to people “on the team” under conditions where certain problems are not to be mentioned. And nothing replaces direct personal testing in a risk-free situation.

        All that said it’s fun to keep up with what’s coming down the pike. However don’t make bad financial or planning decisions while you’re having all that fun. Having to wait an extra couple of months because you didn’t preorder may not give you “first kid on the block” bragging rights but compare that momentary glee to all the people who have been frustrated if not straight shafted in a 2012 more memorable for its marketing than its cameras.

        • They didn’t promise one from SCARLET to Dragon, that’s what both of us were talking about. Companies don’t owe customers anything, as much as we like to think they do. If people don’t like the product, they’ll stop buying it, and the company will have to adjust.

          Imagine if you bought a C300 for $16,000 in early August, mere months after they first became readily available, and then Canon announces that they’ve produced a camera capable of the same image quality with an external recorder for only $6,500? Think of all the money those people would have saved…

          People buy cameras for all sorts of different reasons, and renting is just as viable an option depending on what you’re doing and the project.

          Clearly we need a forum for you because you have quite a hard time staying even remotely on topic, and for someone who runs a recording studio for a living, you spend an unbelievable amount of time on this site talking about cameras and giving advice about what people who shoot for a living should be buying or renting.

          • Well Joe I want to thank you and Ryan and the rest of the people here I’ve learned so much from this past year as I expand my service offerings into video. I’ve always made it clear that I contribute here strictly at your pleasure and will withdraw accordingly. I have the setup that fits me now and am happy I was given an opportunity to share back the very hard-won lessons decades of investing in media production equipment have given me.

            Have a happy 2013!

          • I don’t think Joe means you should leave, but maybe it’s time to sit back, post less, shoot and learn more so that when you do give advice it’s accurate and from field experience.

            Nothing wrong with being green, everyone was or is at some point.

            Happy New Year man.

          • You know what Kholi I think I’ve contributed everything I have to say and it’s time for me to speak in product rather than words. And the product really isn’t there yet and all my attention should be on that. Bantering with youzeguys is a very fun thing to do while I sip my morning tea or wait for something to render but I can find something else to kill time with. I’m either all in or all out on things…just my personality and why I (eventually) get good. I learn a lot from writing explanations and being forced to defend my position in debate but it’s too much for a lot of people.

            Making a film worth seeing (obviously music videos in my case) is a serious challenge! I salute you for mastering it to the level you have. The equipment is there now and I should start ignoring the topic and thinking more about art. You are completely right in saying that an awful lot of things you initially think may matter don’t in practice. Learning what you do need to obsess over, while making everything else routine, is most of mastery. Equipment doesn’t much matter after all, but it’s fun.

            Anyway, please don’t deny me the distinction of being kicked out of No Film School! =D

          • Joe,
            Without going into full disclosure, I can safely say that the C100 with an external recorder is not….not the same image coming off of the c300 natively…….!

            • Joe Marine on 01.1.13 @ 1:01PM

              Yeah it wouldn’t surprise me if they weren’t exactly the same as the hardware is different internally – but I wasn’t saying it because I necessarily think it – that was a conversation Peter has been bringing up for a while.

              I would be interested in seeing the difference between the two though, and how much of that difference will actually make its way through post production. I do know the FS100 and the F3 can look very different, even though they share the same sensor.

        • Peter, excellent summary and thoughts!

        • Peter, wherever the advice is coming from or what you may be basing it on, I would have to say that your post is really good advice to how to be measured, conservative and rational in your camera purchases and avoid excessive disappointment and surprises.

          For some people, there are other criteria that are so paramount to them that they are willing to take a risk, but I think it is important for people to acknowledge that risk.

    • there was never any price put on anything, and it always comes down to money, be it an upgrade or a trade in or just selling and buying. So it’s moot.

      I think the point is that Jarred and Jim always maintained that those investing in RED win. You can be assured by their track record that they will provide good opportunities.

      Also remember the recent ‘attitude adjustment’ post about looking to yourself to create value, not the camera per se. RED provides an opportunity, not inherent value.

  • I wonder how will such high dynamic range affect midtone/shadow, especially skintone, as the higher the DR, the more sacrifice on midtone signal bandwidth.

  • FYI, only the very brightest step is at clip. Yes, it may appear that lower steps are clipping, but they’re not clipping in the raw data. We ask our sensor team to put the top step at “just” clip so that we can measure the DR easily and also confirm we’re getting everything due to the top step “just” clipping.

    • Joe Marine on 01.1.13 @ 8:01AM

      Thanks for stopping by and clarifying Graeme. Is that confirming what I was looking at by seeing detail starting at 2? It’s hard to tell without looking at the RAW data from the camera if 17 and 18 are above the noise floor, but do you believe those stops will have usable dynamic range?

      Also, where do you think you’d place middle grey at this point? How many stops over/under are you seeing right now in the testing?

      If you can’t answer these we still appreciate you correcting any misinformation that might be floating around. I’m being conservative in my estimates right now since the sensor is still being tweaked.

      • If the 1st step is at clip, any point below that has detail, so the jump from step 1 to step 2 marks one stop of DR. Each step below that you can differentiate from the background counts as another stop of DR.

        There will be a wide range of valid values that you can place mid-grey at, just as with our other cameras. That’s the beauty of how we have ISO gain work on our cameras.

        Looking at the raw data here I can see steps 1 through 19 inclusive which would indicate a 18 stop DR, and as you say, and as Jim says, the sensor team is still tweaking…. I can’t wait to see what they send me next to analyze!

        • Joe Marine on 01.1.13 @ 9:33AM

          Thanks again for responding Graeme, looks like some pretty amazing stuff. I’ve added your response to the post above.

  • Holy fuck, RED.

    A near IMAX resolution that can film at 80fps? Film is definitely being put into the coffin, and within the next 5-10 years the nails will be in and it will be deep underground.

    But shit, 6k at 80fps! I wonder what speeds they are aiming to get at 4k and 1080p!

    • Film is not being put in the coffin for this alone – film still has the best looking skin tones motion and tonality and “magic factor” – I.E. Compare looking at the Master shot on film vs Hitchcock shot on the Red Epic. Of course, it’s not that simple of a comparison, but I still prefer film.

    • I’m not exactly sure why this is being said but, IMAX/65mm film resolves fully at around 10-12k. 6K resolution would be just over the “diminishing returns” point of 35mm film. The DR latitude however is now being surpassed.

      Medium format film and even digital Hasselblad pulls out about 10-12k. So this is HALF of 65mm, not nearly equal at all.

      • You mean to say 10-12 megapixel, which is about equivalent to 4k. 6k has more than double the information than 4k.

        • False. Medium format is FAR beyond 10 to 12 megapixels. 35mm still film (practically vista vision) is around 20 megapixels with some of the slower fine grained films. I would guess that Imax is around maybe 80 megapixels. Once you get enough sensor, you’re really limited by the resolving power of the lens. I’ve seen photos from the Fuji GW690 still camera that are only limited in resolution by the lens, and the film still had plenty of grains left for more detail.

        • Also, I’ve heard Wally Pfister in an interview say that Imax is like dealing with 16-18K. That’s impressive.

      • I have been hearing about superiority of larger film formats all the time. About the amazing 80MP+ resolution etc. Some people even claim 6K resolution for 35mm film! But I have NEVER EVER seen footage that bests 4K digital resolution.

        So perhaps you would like to put some prooff to your words guys. Have you got some links to some scans or something like that? I would love to see that.

        Shooting, processing, projecting 70mm film is not easy. I think that in real world production (outside of lab testing) there is pretty much no way to reach close to 100% of possible quality of the film media (not even for timelapse style movies). I think that’s why in real world productions current top digital output easily matches film (70mm too) output in terms of resolution and noise. And that’s what matters, not some hypothetical lab tests with some very special ISO25 grainless films.

        So I ask you once again – I would like to SEE some proof of your farfetched 80MP film claims. Thank you.

        P.S. Check Chronos BluRay for some IMAX footage :-/

        • Well, I’ve never seen anything as fantastic as Imax footage, for starters. Even The Hobbit, “filmed” in magical 5K looked somewhat lacking in sharpness to me. The color looked like crap, as well. Every movie or tv show these days captured in digital (usually the Alexa) looks washed out with fringing in the highlights and an overall flat look.

          Here is a link to a 30mp drum scan of a 645 slide. You can just make out the grain of the film, and it doesn’t appear that the film is the limiting factor in the resolution of the branches. That would be the lens. And 645 is about half the size of IMAX. I did not take this picture.

  • That’s astonishing. The 5D Mark III gets about 11.5 stops in stills mode at ISO 100. So if you expose the Dragon to clip at the same point you will have an extra six stops worth of information in the shadows. That would be the equivalent of exposing the 5D mark III at ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 and 6400 simultaneously! This thing is going to be both the best motion picture camera AND best stills camera out there.

    • 5D Mark III has a base ISO of 400, therefore it should be approx. 11.5 stops at ISO400, same applies for 1D X, about 12 stops at ISO400

      1D C with CanonLog can achieve about 12.5 stops at ISO400.

      • I think the base ISO is 100 for the 5D Mark III, but I will indulge you. Set the Dragon so it has two stops of highlight headroom compared to a 5D Mark III when exposed at ISO 400. That would still be the equivalent of exposing the 5D mark III at ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 and 6400 simultaneously.

      • Anyway, good to hear the 1D C has a little more dynamic range. And happy new year!

        • The sensor information is written in the metadata of 5D Mark III files, which clearly indicates that the base ISO is 400, and that’s the why it’s roughly two stops better in low light than Mark II.

          Happy new year to you too :)

      • For stills base ISO is almost always the lowest possible. If you check DxO Mark sensor test, you will see that the best performance (DR, SNR, color resolution..) is always at the lowest ISO (on all the cams I checked). I’m not sure how is it with video modes of non raw cameras.

        • There’s different meanings of the word “base iso”.
          Very often the lowest possible ISO is called the base ISO – that has nothing to do with the other meaning of base-ISO: the technical base-iso of the sensor (which is usually not disclosed by the manufacturer).

          I even read some articles where “base-iso” had a third, totally differen meaning: the normal, recommended ISO range of the camera (like 100-6400) that can be set without activating more extreme values in the menu.

  • It’s a truly amazing announcement I think. Looks like 18 stops to me? I think RED cameras achieve amazing images already, but have still always preferred film. But in all likelihood, this is almost certainly about to irrevocably change. That would be pretty historic.

    Regarding the Scarlet upgrade path. As an owner I had always thought I’d likely be able to afford to upgrade, but had posted my concerns that if it was priced too high, quite a few others of the user base may not be able to do so… but now (ironically :)) I highly doubt I will be able to afford to upgrade either. As I never thought the upgrade would be more than the initial cost of my camera.

    Fortunately I love my Scarlet as is. Hence why I bought one. I would have been pretty stoked with a no brainer 3K upgrade that nudged my camera forward in DR, low light and frame rates, it’s true. I would have been more thrilled by an intermediate upgrade that cost a fair whack but significantly advanced my camera…

    But this is RED, so no surprise really, that instead I’m being offered the chance to buy into some revolutionary cutting edge tech that would totally blow my mind… but sadly it’s very likely gonna cost me more than I can afford. So I do empathise with those who will naturally wish to be able to upgrade but won’t be able to afford it. But Joe is right, an upgrade path is an upgrade path. And who knows, RED does amazing things, they may throw us a bigger bone than expected… But not holding my breath, I’m just going to go make films with my Scarlet instead.

  • I should also add we don’t know what or the upgrade will take specifically. Someone asked RED to consider financing… They may offer the old epic boards maybe? Or a reduced spec Dragon for a reduced price?

    • Arrrgh, hate not being able to edit my typos. Sorry everyone, should read… we still don’t know what “form” the upgrade will take specifically. Actually on review, that’s rubbish. We do know. It will be a trade in to Epic Dragon. What we don’t know is how much it will cost. But close to 20K would seem likely?

      Other options like upgrading Scarlets to epic boards are just wishful thinking most likely on my behalf.

  • Clayton Arnall on 01.1.13 @ 11:42AM

    So maybe they’ll be some nice battle tested Scarletts for a couple thousand off?

    • Andreas Kopriva on 01.1.13 @ 12:21PM

      Definitely. It’d be quite funny if the Scarlet ends up fulfilling the initial promise of 4k for $3k :D That’s pretty much how you get 4k cameras in pretty much everyone’s hands :) It’s an interesting strategy to say the least.

  • Thanks for picking out the postings full of content from the forums. I had stopped reading them because of the massive “awesome” trash. What I like about Red is how they push the industry forward. If it was not for them, we might still be waiting for Sony-Canon, to come up with something innovative….

    • marklondon on 01.1.13 @ 1:08PM

      Very true. Looks really good.
      Its a very interesting product, but with all things RED, let’s see how it shakes out. We’ve learnt our lesson with you Jim.
      Despite what was said above there will be quite a few pissed Scarlet owners, especially once cheap 4K cams start hitting the market post NAB. I look forward to work tomorrow. :-)

    • Stop feeling bitter and be awesome instead

      • marklondon on 01.1.13 @ 9:01PM

        I am very awesome :-)
        Not a RED owner, so no bitterness either. I’m a RED user since 2008 though, so I just know that it will take a while for them to sort things out re this. And that, you know, Jim can occasionally get ahead of himself.

  • kylebrodeur on 01.1.13 @ 1:05PM

    So an Epic-X brain is $19,000. I expect the new price with dragon to be $30,000 – $35,000. So Scarlet owners will get around an $8k discount if they upgrade. It’s like buying a new Epic-X Package.

  • Great news seems to be coming with Dragon sensor, great debates going on here and great topics, just waiting on final prices, Red has me interested again.

    Not to go completely off topic but WMD AND Joe or anyone for that matter, can anyone clarify if the c100 is capable of having the same image as c300 with external recorder. I hate gimmicks, just trying to get as much info as possible before investing in several camera systems.

  • I dont get how scarlet owners can feel cheated. As a scarlet owner I prefer this a million times over getting a crippled scarlet dragon and have the wanting an epic syndrome. I’d rather save up the extra money and get the real thing. If you own a scarlet and cant save up the money to trade in over the next year I doubt a dragon will do much for you anyways.

    • That’s your opinion. Personally I don’t care about 6k, or even 5k. For my taste, the best looking red movies were shot at 4k or even less, like in a 3500pixels reframed window for The girl with the dragon tattoo. 5k is making everything so clear, skin pores, etc, that it kills a part of the dream. I can’t imagine 6k. And concerning frame rates, people have killed slow-motion. Most of epic cameras owners just shoot anything in slowmo without any meaning, put music on it and some opening credits longer than the video itself. It’s just cheesy. But a 24p or 48fps 4k scarlet with dragon DR and iso would be the perfect camera for many shooters. Again, not everybody necessarily share your opinion.

      • I’m not sure if you’ve ever shot with a RED, but ever have I come across someone who owns or shoots on scarlet and doesnt wish it had the epic features. Not once. So sure give them the 48 FPS 4K 16 stops of DR Scarlet and the next day they’ll be asking for 96 FPS 4.5K with 18 stops of DR. Its human nature. You may not always need 5K or 6K or 300 FPS but having options is huge, for a variety of reasons. And you are right, I’m simply stating my opinion.

        • I own one.

          • Then if youre a scarlet owner you might not admit it but I bet many a times on a shoot you wish your scarlet had at least some of the epic features, I dont see how not. Im just speaking honestly, not trying to be disrespectful or anything like that. It just seems to me a better investment to save up the extra cash and get the top of the line camera instead of once again wishing you had the extra features, but again thats my opinion and I respect yours and understand why a cheaper dragon scarlet makes sense for a lot of people. But since its not happening one has to embrace the trade in program or not.

          • Sorry Carlos, but never :) Many times I wish my scarlet can give me something as organic as the alexa. But i hate slowmo as much as i hate hdr photos or instagram pictures. 6:1 redcode is plenty enough. And 5k is too sharp for me. DR and color rendition are much much more important to my eyes. I would have prefered to add 10000$ just for that instead of probably 20000$+ for specs that i will not use.

          • haha fair enough. Well im of the opinion that the Scarlet can produce at 4k 24 fps just as organic an image as the alexa in the right hands, with the right glass, DP, set design, etc.

          • JDHlink, completely agree with you. I do like the APS-H sized sensor of the Epic, though, and with more DR I’m looking forward to shooting Dragon. As much as it seems otherwise, I am a RED fan and have always stood by shooting with the cameras even back when the company was in infancy and cameras would shut down during shoots, etc.

            I hope they’re going to make an equally great stride in terms of color to go along with it.

            And, of course, Arri’s likely right around the corner as well–they just tend to do things more quietly. =P

  • Just remember.. the only thing we ever said about Scarlet Dragon is that it would be more expensive of an upgrade than the Epic upgrade as more parts needed to be changed. I was very clear, specially over the last couple months, that Scarlet was going to have issues getting a Dragon stuffed into it.

    Dragon was also supposed to only be 16 stops.. things got a whole lot better… and to go with that better, we need to add more power ( $$ )

    This is where other companies would just say screw it and release a new camera and stick it to the customers that just bought their last model. We do our best to make sure there is an upgrade path for our existing customers. I know it feels to some like we are screwing you.. but trust me, it would be alot easier for us to not offer the option.

    There will always be people that we piss off.. I never really understood the complaints we received when we offered a full value trade in for the R1 to an Epic, but i think some of that just boils down to human nature.

    • Jeff Akwante on 01.1.13 @ 3:45PM

      I really wish you guys entered the $4,000 dollar price range for a fully operational camera, the BMC level, but better.

      • BMC has Super16+ sensor, produces very sleek pictures. MX and Dragon sensors are Super35+, go ask Blackmagic how much it would cost to make 35mm sized one. BMC is a great deal.

    • Briam Merlen on 01.2.13 @ 12:59AM

      I think part of the fear is if there are time tables for phases, the Scarlet owners might have trouble being liquid in time, being that many of them (myself included) are not as well off as the Epic/Alexa/etc guys. If you guys could keep the upgrade program going the way you did with the M to MX program that would probably help the situation by at least giving time to the people who can’t get there money together in time for the initial burst of upgrades. Like for instance I bought in pre price drop, got laid off and am just hoping I can freelance enough between now and then to get my money together in time. So if you guys could leave the upgrade path open for broke guys I am sure people will be less upset that a two tiered system has become one tiered. I personally am very happy to have the FPS coming to me, and cannot await to upgrade, again my only concern being getting my timing right! Thanks so much, happy holidays and I hope you guys think about what I said, and can leave the path open for those less fortunate owners, surely that will help calm down the people worried about getting their finances in order…

    • I wrote recently of the Scarlet-Dragon upgrade, “I wonder if this might be the upgrade path for SCARLET — you get pre-Dragon EPIC boards. Otherwise I don’t see how any SCARLET upgrade could make sense except an upgrade path to EPIC.”

      I think we’re all curious how RED’s lower-end offerings are going to look going forward, but anyone who bought a SCARLET a year ago and has been putting it to good use (i.e. making stuff and making money) is probably going to want an EPIC anyway… the SCARLET is definitely a gateway drug. Considering we (Scarlet owners) probably won’t be getting a Dragon sensor for, say, another year (given we’re not first in line), what is two years of owning a RED worth? Enough to upgrade to EPIC with a trade-in program? For a lot of folks the answer will be yes.

    • .So, basically it was 6K$ Epic upgrade that has suddenly turn to “somewhat more”…

      And all this because there is so much DR, that you “have to beef up the system”.

      And you want people believe that you did not know this for, say six months ago ?


      You either have the worst project resource management ever, or you just like to mislead the potential and existing customers. Or in plain speak, LIE to the customers

  • Cory Ewing on 01.1.13 @ 4:26PM

    Personally, I have been saving up for a RED Scarlet with the Dragon sensor. I would have loved a 4K Scarlet with more DR and better low light capabilities. I am glad I waited and can now watch what RED releases. I can always wait and see where the market goes and save up for a Epic if it comes down to it. No money spent no pain! Waiting might be the better option anyways with RED initial costs being usually higher anyways.

  • Looks promising. I wonder what a new epic will cost with a dragon in it and when that will be…

  • Briam Merlen on 01.2.13 @ 12:46AM

    Will pay w/e for Dragon, thanks red!

  • 15, 18, 21 stops, whatever, hardly a first. There were camera technology doing over 15 stops LAST CENTURY, the same technology doing 27 stops while keeping color balance (an issue with hdr systems) mid last DECADE. They could listen to people who know. Instead they do a multiple exposure fill in reluctantly, acting like it is a revolution. I even have a few sub $100 cameras that will do 16 stops.

    There are big things coming in the sensor market, Dragon is just the first for the resolution.

  • I ever liked the look of RED footage. Even though the specs are impressive I have no problem waiting to see what ARRI and Sony cook up next.

  • John Carlson on 01.3.13 @ 4:14AM

    Apparently Mark you don’t open your eyes at theaters. The ONLY thing ever shot on ARRI that was decent looking was Skyfall and that was who shot it not on what, and Sony…seriously? Keep sudo filming via the web junk you read some more there buddy.

  • nigel Thompson on 01.4.13 @ 1:12PM

    Actually i was hoping to get an upgrade from a scarlet to and epic X

    was not thinking about the Dragon sensor just yet. Im hoping they allow that to happen since there will be MANY epic ASIC boards laying around. I truly hope they are open to this

  • Susmit Mondal on 01.13.13 @ 1:07PM

    We want to buy Red Epic Dragon.What is your procedure?Can you send me the details??

  • Steven Robert Gill on 01.18.13 @ 8:40AM

    I still think IMAX resolution should be the goal here, but digital is progressing at a much faster rate than film did, and it’s getting awfully close now.

  • I just said lately that at some point in the future I am sure digital will have better DR than film, and I was thinking a few years maybe. And now it’s like 2 months later and they claim the new Dragon sensor has 18 stops already!
    Pretty fascinating, I wonder what Arri will come up with next… :)