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RED EPIC DRAGON & SCARLET DRAGON Specs, Upgrade Pricing, Warranty Information, and Price Drops

As we await the first footage from the DRAGON sensor (we’ve already been given some still images, but nothing was shown at NAB 2013), upgrades are already happening. Some of the first cameras to be upgraded, EPIC-Ms, were given the royal treatment right on the NAB floor where RED set up a clean room to give attendees a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of what goes into camera upgrades. It was definitely one of the more spectacular displays of just how far the company has come since their first appearance at NAB 2006. We know RED is upgrading sensors for current EPIC and SCARLET owners, but what exactly will this cost, and might it actually be more cost-effective to sell your camera and buy DRAGON brand new? Click through for specs and a complete analysis on all prices.

Here’s a quick video showing the clean room at NAB (with a brief appearance from Vincent Laforet):

EPIC DRAGON Specs

Let’s get some of the full specs we know so far out of the way for EPIC DRAGON:


Sensor Resolution: 6144 x 3160

Signal to Noise Ratio: 80db

Dynamic Range: 16.5+ stops

Lens Coverage: 30.7mm (h) x 15.8mm (v) x 34.5 mm (d) (5K on DRAGON is about the same size as it is now, 6K is slightly larger at a 1.173x crop)

Formats:

  • 6K (2:1, 2.4:1, Anamorphic)
  • 5K (Full Frame, 2:1, 2.4:1 and Anamorphic 2:1)
  • 4.5K (2.4:1)
  • 4K (16:9, HD, 2:1 and Anamorphic 2:1)
  • 3K (16:9, 2:1 and Anamorphic 2:1)
  • 2K (16:9, 2:1 and Anamorphic 2:1)
  • 1080p RGB (16:9)
  • 720p RGB (16:9)

Frame Rates (same as EPIC except for 6K):

  • 1-100fps 6K
  • 1-120fps 5K, 4.5K
  • 1-150fps 4K
  • 1-200fps 3K
  • 1-300fps 2K

Monitor Output: HD-SDI/HDMI Frame Guides and Look Around

Monitor Output Formats: 2K RGB, 1080p RGB or 4:2:2, 720p RGB or 4:2:2

SCARLET DRAGON Specs

These may change slightly upon release:

  • 60fps 5K (including anamorphic 5K)
  • 75fps 4K
  • 100fps 3K
  • 150fps 2K

If you are a RED EPIC owner, here are your upgrade options:

  • Early EPIC adopters (those who ordered before RED ONEs before August 31, 2007): $8,500 DRAGON Upgrade
  • Current EPIC-M and EPIC-X Owners: $9,500 DRAGON Upgrade

If you are a SCARLET owner:

  • Upgrade to EPIC-X for $9,500
  • After Upgrading to EPIC-X, get an EPIC DRAGON for an additional $9,500
  • Upgrade to SCARLET DRAGON for $9,500 with lower specs

New EPIC-X and EPIC-M DRAGON Pricing

While the EPIC-M DRAGON is only available for pre-order, and the EPIC-X has not gone up yet in the store, we do know that the EPIC-M will cost $29,000 for the brain only, and the EPIC-X DRAGON will be $24,000. Interestingly enough, the EPIC-X DRAGON is actually less expensive than both the original RED ONE MX ($25,000), and the original EPIC MX ($28,000).

SCARLET to SCARLET DRAGON, EPIC-X, and EPIC DRAGON

For a total of $19,000, SCARLET owners can get in on full EPIC DRAGON. Here are the prices for a Brain only (obviously the camera needs some accessories to actually shoot — for the original SCARLET and BT SCARLET, I am subtracting the price of the Side SSD and Canon mount, which is $2,200, to make the comparison more exact). Also included are the SCARLET to SCARLET DRAGON prices and the SCARLET to EPIC only prices:

  • Original RED SCARLET Brain: $7,550 // SCARLET DRAGON or EPIC-X: $17,050 // EPIC DRAGON: $26,550
  • Price Increased RED SCARLET Brain: $9,700 // SCARLET DRAGON or EPIC-X: $19,200 // EPIC DRAGON: $28,700
  • Battle Tested (Refurbished) RED SCARLET: $4,900 // SCARLET DRAGON or EPIC-X: $14,400 // EPIC DRAGON: $23,900
  • Current RED SCARLET: $7,950 // SCARLET DRAGON or EPIC-X: $17,450 // EPIC DRAGON: $26,950

EPIC to DRAGON

Here are the EPIC-X and EPIC-M prices (the original EPIC-M was a package-only at $58,000, and early adopters get $1,000 off):

  • Original EPIC-X: $28,000 // EPIC-X DRAGON: $37,500
  • Price Increased EPIC-X: $34,500 // EPIC-X DRAGON: $44,000
  • Price Dropped EPIC-X: $19,000 // EPIC-X DRAGON: $28,500
  • Original EPIC-M: $39,500 // EPIC-X DRAGON: $49,000
  • Price Dropped EPIC-M: $24,000 // EPIC-X DRAGON: $33,500

Warranty and Canceling Information

So what about warranties? There are a few catches you should be aware of that might actually make it more cost-effective to just sell your camera and buy a new EPIC-X or EPIC-M DRAGON. From the way I understand it, warranties will carry over only for the parts that were purchased with the original warranty with your camera. The DRAGON sensor upgrade warranty is only 90 days, so if anything goes wrong with the sensor outside of those 90 days, you’re out of luck, and will have to pay whatever the cost will be to fix it.

This also applies to a SCARLET upgraded to SCARLET DRAGON. You will get 90 days for the DRAGON sensor and the rest of the parts still associated with the original warranty will carry over. None of these upgrades will be getting new RED Armor, which will be disappointing for those who were assuming a completely new camera (for the most part), would get some more warranty options.

So what happens if you decide to cancel your order if you don’t have money by the time your place in line comes up? Again, this is another case where you will be out of luck, because any brains that have been executed are only eligible for the upgrades once, and if an order is canceled, the brains will not be available for any future trade-in programs.

I think it’s also important to note that you keep your current camera if you upgrade to SCARLET DRAGON, but you are trading it in if you decide to go to EPIC-X and then EPIC DRAGON.

What Does This All Mean?

Why take so much time going over what current owners will pay depending on when they bought their camera? I think RED has always been very good about trying to give back to current users, but depending on when you purchased, you may be paying more than other users. This isn’t to say that those users are getting the short end of the stick, because ideally they’ve been making money off their gear in the meantime, but it’s clear that some people might actually be better off selling their camera (depending on the used market), and buying a brand new EPIC-X DRAGON outright. As of right now, the price for current EPIC-X and EPIC-M cameras is $17,000 and $22,500, respectively, down from $19K and $24K. So this means that RED has more or less set the price for the used market, especially when warranties don’t carry over.

The cheapest way to get into DRAGON if you don’t buy a brand new EPIC-X DRAGON is if you happened to get in on the Battle Tested SCARLET deal. When they said that was a deal of a lifetime, they really meant it, because it’s actually $100 cheaper than a new EPIC-X DRAGON at $24,000. In terms of warranties, if you are concerned about that, the only way to get a full warranty on DRAGON is by getting it new. With EPIC-M you’re getting 2 years (plus RED Armor which would add 2 years), and I assume that the warranty on the EPIC-X will be 1 year (plus RED Armor which would add an additional 2 years). They haven’t posted EPIC-X DRAGON yet in the RED store, but we’ll find out soon enough about the warranty on that.

What Should You Do if You’re an Owner?

Certainly if you’re a current owner the options aren’t all that simple. If you’re a SCARLET owner, you have a few options. For some people, it may actually make more sense to sell the SCARLET and buy right into full EPIC DRAGON. I imagine since they have not dropped the SCARLET price yet, prices should still be up there for used brains, and as far as the warranty goes, you’ll only get full RED Armor with a new camera.

Many have talked about SCARLET owners getting screwed, but getting into an EPIC-X from SCARLET is right around the same price as buying new, and much, much cheaper if you are a BT SCARLET owner. If anything, EPIC users are paying much more to get into DRAGON, but that comes with the territory, since early adopters have always paid a little bit more over the long run for any kind of camera system. If you decide to go right into SCARLET DRAGON, you’re getting a camera that’s about the same price as a current EPIC-X with no further upgrade options, and even though the max frame rates options are a little lower than EPIC, I think all of the other sensor advancements like better color, dynamic range, and ISO sensitivity more than make up for some added frame rate options (if you need more than 60fps, you’re paying for it no matter what camera system you’re getting).

It looks like RED will begin upgrades for SCARLET users in July, but as with anything, these dates could move, and it’s not clear when EPIC-X upgrades may start (probably sooner). Ted from RED mentioned they are looking at a 6 month timeframe for when they would like to complete upgrades, but certainly it may take a bit longer. It definitely sounds like they are trying to release a solid camera right off the bat, especially when you read quotes like this from Jim Jannard:

We won’t release Dragon until it is bulletproof and all features enabled. We have learned our lesson. But then again… everything changes. Count on it.

How Do These Upgrades Compare to Other Camera Systems?

Even though you’re paying the price of the camera for an upgrade as a SCARLET owner (and half or less than half as an EPIC owner), I actually still think it’s a good deal. I don’t envision other companies doing sensor upgrades like this. For example, what if you bought a Sony F3 or a Canon C300/C500? Your only option is to sell your camera if you want something newer with added capabilities. The Sony FS700, while not a full sensor upgrade, will probably only be able to do 4K RAW with Sony’s recording solution, which costs a little more than the price of the camera. We’ve talked about the Convergent Design Odyssey, and while that’s a lot cheaper option to get better recording on the FS700, it still doesn’t allow 4K RAW, and we don’t know what Sony may charge for a firmware upgrade (or when they plan on releasing one).

The Sony F65 and Arri Alexa have gotten minor firmware upgrades and some recording option upgrades, but I highly doubt either company will give a sensor upgrade option (though we obviously won’t know until the time comes). The Sony F5 and F55 have only just been released, and even though it’s possible that modules could add extended functionality, Sony hasn’t historically done sensor upgrades for their cameras (though they have hinted that they might help users with camera upgrades).

This will probably be the last upgrade RED does for all current owners, but it’s safe to say that no company will be releasing a 6K 100fps ISO 2000 camera for $24,000 or less in the next few years.

Bottom Line

Everything is costing a little bit more than originally announced, and even though the SCARLET DRAGON may just be a firmware restriction (we’ll never really know), RED has to differentiate the cameras in some way. If you can afford to stay with RED and upgrade, they have solved the fan issue problems (both with hardware and software solutions), and they have solved ND filter and global shutter issues with their new Motion Mount (from what I’ve seen it works well).

We should also consider that just because new upgrades exist, it doesn’t mean your current camera no longer works. Everyone wants the newest and greatest tech, but most of the current cameras could still be producing great looking images 50 years from now. It looks like RED will keep this deal going for quite some time, so there is no reason to rush into it, especially since they haven’t shown footage yet (we may see some in the next few weeks since EPIC-M owners who got in on DRAGON should be getting their cameras back relatively soon).

RED might have a lot more competition, but they are still giving users options. The deals may not be as sweet as they used to be, but 5K or 6K with tons of dynamic range is pretty serious, and all current users can get in on it if they choose. Complaining about prices with RED is kind of waste of time in my opinion, because it’s still a very high-end professional system, with tons of 3rd party support and solid post pipelines. We don’t know what the moving images look like yet, but on paper their system is still just as competitive as anything else out there, and infinitely expandable in terms of firmware upgrades.

For more on the upgrades, check out the links below.

Links:

COMMENT POLICY

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  • Just an insane sensor. I was hoping for more FPS at lower resolutions but I’m sure they will roll that out via firmware over time. The dynamic range and the new Anamorphic 6K mode are going to be crazy!

    • I see the prices are crazy, besides who on earth does watch 6k or 4k? Those resolutions need giant screens and a specific distance to be viewable……honestly 6k 4k 8k whateva are just for marketing its all about money.
      But just reading about the DR and the sensitivity its incredible :-)

      • It’s all about finishing in 4k for RED, but shooting at an even higher resolution makes for a better 4k finish.

      • Actually it’s not “just for marketing and all about money,” but… whateva.

      • Are you ffff serious? Never heard of oversampling? Sony F65′s 4K is internally resampled from ~6K sensor, but that’s a big camera. With Red you can do that in post and actually do reframing a bit. Larger negative, homie. 4K from 6K source looks clean and crisp and if you (also) finishing in 2K/1080p it looks just perfect.

        It’s plain and simple – a camera, it requires an intelligent human being to operate it.

        • Let’s not forget that the F65 is also 16 bit color, which makes a difference in the grade as well as delivering an overall better image. While the specs of the Dragon are impressive, I sold my Epic because I always felt the most important spec of a camera, how well it renders flesh tones, was lacking. I (and most episodic TV and features) prefer the 2k image of Alexa because of it deeper richer and easier to grade colors amongst other things (usability). Overall, I feel the F65 has the richest image, but they shot themselves in the foot be designing such a pig when so many productions do handheld these days.

  • This was an excellent read, Joe. Thanks for laying out all of the information that seems to be spread over dozens of REDuser pages currently ;)

    I had originally purchased the BT SCARLET, and opted to go directly with the SCARLET DRAGON. As you mention above – the color science, greater DR, and ISO sensitivity more than meet my needs. If a job calls for the EPIC DRAGON, I’ll rent it.

    I only have two concerns. The first is that there will still be minor bugs with the new technology once upgrades are put in. Additionally, I’m a bit worried/fully expecting SCARLET DRAGON is the absolute end of the line for that segment in 2-3 years. That being said, I imagine RED will offer some sort of trade-in program similar to the original RED ONEs and the current SCARLETs for whatever will be bigger and better by then.

    • Yeah SCARLET DRAGON will probably be the end of the line for that particular system, but I can’t see anything else coming along in the next 3-5 years that absolutely blows it away. Just like how the original RED ONE MX from 2009 is still a viable camera system in 2013, I see it being an excellent option for many years to come (even with new options from other camera makers).

      • Joe, I think a leap of logic has been made by many people on Reduser. RED stated there is no planned upgrade path from Scarlet Dragon to Epic Dragon. People are assuming this means no more sensor upgrades for Scarlet and EOL.

        All it could mean is you’re locked into future Scarlet upgrades with limitations on functionality.

        Maybe I’m wrong but it’s my understanding that Scarlet Dragon is getting updated hardware beyond just the sensor to accommodate its new capabilities. If that’s the case, that new hardware may support improvements in the sensor down the road.

        For instance, if RED develops an X version of Dragon (DX) like they did with the Mysterium sensor, there’s been no official word from RED to indicate there wouldn’t also be a variant for Scarlet with lesser specs.

        The window for moving into Epic from Scarlet is now but it may be premature to assume EOL for the Scarlet altogether.

        • It’s true that this is a conclusion made by users and not RED, but I would be very surprised if there were any more upgrades offered after SCARLET DRAGON. Of course we’ll just have to wait and see.

      • I totally agree. We still shoot on a R1MX, and plan to do so for some time. Great camera. Only complaint I really have is how heavy it is. The dragon sensor will be used for a long, long time.

    • Yes Joe, thanks for this, great summary!!

      I have a Scarlet but considering the über-specs of Dragon + that my work nor the work of the ones I rent it out to would really benefit from them + the fact how increasingly fast high end digital imaging is getting affordable and accessable to the broad masses makes me shy away from investing another 10K in a camera at this point in time.

  • I would prefer personally to have bigger sensors with less FPS.
    Wasn’t it the original plan ? Having FF35 sensor, medium-format sensor, even bigger ?
    If I need really big framerates, I will ask for a Phantom.
    And now that the Blackmagics are out, for 4K with normal framerates with normal sensor, I have this option too.

    So for me the Scarlet is less and less differentiating from other cheaper cameras/options.

    • It may well have four stops better DR. Has decent high FPS. Shoots 5k to resolve a true 4k image with an ISO 2000 rated sensor. I think those are some pretty serious differentials.

  • Excellent job Joe.
    Since I’m planning on upgrading my gear to a RED Camera this year.

    Do you think RED will drop The prices of the current RED epic or RED scarlet this year? Just like they did with the Red One?

    • No way. They cut the price of the Epic in half a few months ago and just dropped it another few thousand at NAB.

      • Yeah that’s probably it for EPIC-X price drops, it’s certainly possible RED may do something with SCARLET pricing, but I don’t see it happening until after DRAGON upgrades are mostly complete.

    • I highly recommend you sign up (if you haven’t already) for REDUser.net and check out legitimate people selling parts in the For Sale forum. Between the BT Scarlet and purchasing things through that forum, I saved myself roughly $10k.

      • *As opposed to purchasing all gear like 5″ Touch LCD, 128gb REDmags, reader, and batteries all new through the RED store.

  • As an Epic-X owner this is a no-brainer (read: very little hesitation) upgrade. Yes, the price increase from 6K to 9.5K is tough. But my camera has already paid for itself, and I think it makes gorgeous images, but seeing even better resolution and DR are fantastic.

    It’ll be interesting to see when our numbers will ACTUALLY be punched, and sent in for upgrades. But as pointed out, this is a sea change to invest in a camera system rather than have to sell a camera just to fund another one. While I love the images of the Alexa, there’s just no way anyone beyond rental houses can afford to stay absolutely current given the price tag of even a basic Alexa. I hope this leads to a great trend towards modularity in components. And while I think what RED is doing is tinged with growing pains (Dragon pricing as mentioned), it’s still impressive. Hopefully Dragon’s footage’s juice is worth the squeeze.

  • Ashley Hakker on 04.15.13 @ 2:37AM

    I wonder if a eager go getting film student like myself might be able to pick up one of those liquidated Scarlet’s should someone what to sell one. :)

    • I will sell mine this summer, but around my area ;)
      Just remember that you’ll have to pay a transfer fee, meaning the owner rights of the specific camera need to be transfered to you, which RED is charging some hundreed bucks for.

      • claude riban on 04.15.13 @ 2:48PM

        I’ve never heard of this transfer fee. What does that get the new owner if the brain warranty has expired? Is it so you can upgrade?

        • I think you’re right, the transfer allows you to upgrade the Scarlet if it hasn’t already been executed.

  • Is RED going to release a RED Dragon Scarlet? Or are they only offering sensor upgrades?

    • Probably by the fall of 2013, new cameras will ship directly with the new sensor much like th R1 MX… Price? No idea… But since I’ve got a BT1 MX I’m hoping to buy a new RED already with the dragon. I’m not in a hurry. I’m doing a lot of internet ads, some promos, not major stuff, so basically R1 is more than enough right now. But in 2014 time to move to dragon. 16 stops, 2000 asa… hard to miss…

  • james peters on 04.15.13 @ 3:33AM

    my complaint as a scarlet owner is that the only logical solution to keep an upgradeable brain and join the Dragon family, is to buy a new camera.

    when I bought the Scarlet, RED was dangling the Dragon sensor in front of me as a reason to buy into the camera body. “the only camera maker on the market that will let you upgrade the sensor and the new sensor will be a game changer”. I bought it.

    Reviewing the Scarlet options now I see: 1) Scarlet to Epic is nice, but isn’t the sensor upgrade I was looking for 2) Scarlet to Scarlet Dragon is a firmware limited Dragon, and than the camera isn’t upgradeable at all thereafter. 3) The big jump from Scarlet to Epic Dragon makes no economical sense- it’s basically RED buying back your Scarlet for what i estimate to be 4k. It’s 24k-19K = 5K minus whatever value you put on a longer warranty that you can secure buying the Epic new. With an amex card, you can double the warranty to 2 yrs with a new dragon epic. If you put a 2k value on a 2 yr warranty as opposed to a 90 day warranty- the actual RED buy back price for your Scarlet is a sad $3,000, especially for those who just paid 9k just a yr ago.

    This maybe the first time in camera history, that a buyback / upgrade program has set the secondary market for all their cameras, that there still currently selling. RED is saying that a used Scarlet is worth around 4k or less, the Epic around 12k (about a 40% discount to buying new). That’s surprising low considering the resale values of the competition: A year old sony, canon, or alexa sell for about 20% below new prices.

    A fair solution to Scarlet owners would’ve been what was originally promised– that RED would let Scarlet owners turn in their Scarlets for the price they paid towards a new Epic. Since that is not going to happen, I have another solution for RED to consider.

    Considering that the upgrade to Dragon Epic for us makes no economical sense, and for that fact that RED did promise us an upgradeable body for years to come, I propose the following to RED. Let Scarlet owners upgrade now to Scarlet Dragon for the same price of $9,500– but give us the firmware upgrade in the Fall of 2014 that will give our Scarlets full use of the power of the Dragon sensor in our camera. That would do three things:

    1) help mitigate the secondary market prices for Scarlets that are going to be crushed this summer, via the buyback program, which is not terribly fair.

    2) follow through on your promise that our Scarlet would be an upgradeable brain for years to come (this would give us two upgrades, which to me is RED honoring their commitment- and fair at the end of the day)

    3) protect new Epic Dragon owners (and Scarlet owners who upgraded to Dragon Epic) for a full year. By Fall 2014 Epic Dragon will have a whole new upgrade in place for them and they’ll long since not care if Scarlet owners get full use of the Dragon.

    • I don’t think I quite understand your position.

      If you were to trade in your original / hiked / BT / current SCARLET ($7,550 / $9,700 / $4,900 / $7,950 respectively) for what you paid and put that value towards an Epic, you’d be losing quite a lot more money than what RED is currently offering with the $9,500 (with the exception of having purchased the hiked price…)

      • james peters on 04.15.13 @ 5:48AM

        on new years eve, RED CEO posted this: “We are however going to be offering a trade-in program much like we did with the RED 1 for Scarlet customers to get into an Epic Dragon.”

        Fast forward 4 mnths, for us Scarlet owners to get to full 6k Dragon, and keep our bodies upgradeable (which is what we were told we could do), RED is currently offering us around a $4,000 trade in for your Scarlet. What most of us were hoping for is that RED would let us trade in the Scarlet at paid value, and get $9,750 off of the $24,000 epic dragon which would be $14,000. This is what they did for the RED 1 customers. Even 7k would be nice.

        For the better part of 4 months, people were speculating that it would cost RED Epic owners around $8,500 to upgrade to Dragon and 13k for Scarlet owners. Now it’s $19,000 and you only get a 90 day warranty. Meaning it’s a better deal, as Joe hinted in the article, to just buy new. He’s a 100% right. Better to keep your Scarlet, and buy a new RED Epic Dragon. Which means it’s a better deal for people that never owned a RED to get into Epic Dragon, than it is for their ardent Scarlet owners. Clear logic.

        It’s just a sad day if you’re a Scarlet owner and was dreaming about owning a Dragon that could shoot 6K. Regarding the trade in program they announced on NYE, the president said “Scarlet users should be doing backflips. It has been one of the biggest requests from Scarlet owners to be able to trade up to an Epic.. and that was before we knew just how significant Dragon has become.”

        A 4k trade in program for my Scarlet to get to Epic Dragon, for a camera selling for 8K on their website, isn’t making me want to do backflips.

        and some people are saying that RED never promised Scarlet owners they could upgrade to Dragon.. not true. Last Aug 10th, the CEO posted the following: “Dragon is fire-breathing for a reason. It does everything.. The incredible thing is that the Dragon sensor is an upgrade. You don’t have to buy a new camera to get the advantages of the Dragon sensor. You just need to own an EPIC or Scarlet.”

        The reality is that my two Dragon options is to either pay $9,500 to get a limited action dragon sensor in a non-upgradeable camera (20% more than the original camera costs new), or sell my Scarlet back to the company for 4k towards a new epic dragon. If sony started an upgrade program where a new sensor costs 20% more than the entire camera sold 3 months ago, RED users would be mocking Sony. Is what it is– if RED wants to make this their policy, fine- but call it like it is- a price prohibitive trade in program.

        • You seem to to basing a lot of your frustration on Reduser speculations. That’s a BAD idea. RED has been VERY clear that full trade-ins were a one-time deal for RED ONE owners. If you notice, the quote states “much like we did for the R1…”. People saw “much like” and assumed identical – an unfortunate leap of logic.

          By my calculations, RED is giving a $5K trade-in value. Are you remembering to subtract the price of the side SSD and lens mount? Jim meant the backflips were for RED offering an upgrade path to Epic-X from Scarlet-X. It’s right there in the quote. That path costs you $9500 more. Which means your total out-of-pocket costs to own an Epic-X is $14,200 if you paid $9700 for the brain alone. It’s even less if you bought a BT Scarlet or before 12/31/2011. The added benefit is, from there, you can upgrade to a full-blown Epic Dragon.

          The people who paid $9700 for the brain alone are getting the smallest break on price but it’s still a few hundred less than buying a new Epic Dragon. However, you don’t get the full warranty, as others have pointed out.

          As far as the “limited action” Scarlet Dragon you refer to, stop comparing it to a full-blown Epic Dragon and compare it to every other camera on the market, including Alexa and F65. Provided the images live up to or surpass expectations, Scarlet Dragon will have at least 1 more stop of DR (15) than any other currently available camera, an ideal ISO of 2000, much lower noise and 60fps at 5K, more fps than some can muster at HD resolutions. You’d be getting one of the most sophisticated and capable cameras out there and you’re complaining about limitations. Hell, Scarlet-X is already more camera than most people can fully exploit artistically.

          • I agree with this post.

          • I can identify with some of the frustration of being promised a somewhat future-proof & upgradeable camera. That by all accounts has now been reduced to what looks to be a single-upgrade camera with firmware throttled limitations, on a sensor that costs more than the camera itself brand new w/SSD & side handle, but does not include any new casing parts or any change in appearance. I find this slightly disappointing since its a plain looking gray block and the Epic is a super-slick looking beast of a brain. This is sort of frustrating.
            We already know that they need to separate the Epic from the Scarlet, and we get that… but were not talking about some cheap-ass camera. My Scarlet rig from RED was around $23K by the time I had all the accessories to actually shoot they way I need to. This is by no accounts just some “cheap” camera for those who can’t afford an Epic, as many Epic owners would have you believe. It’s obviously the less expensive little brother, but like many, I could afford an Epic but chose the Scarlet because it made more sense at the time, especially with the promised future upgrades. For the upgrade price tag I think we should at least have a few more frame-rate options opened up, if it is a stable possibility, even if they aren’t matching the Epic in full. Or a cheaper upgrade solution for the sensor as it stands now.
            At the end of the day Cameras are merely tools we use and it’s up to the DP, Operator, Director, to capture the images in the best way as the story is shot… It’s hard to complain about such a wonderfully awesome piece of technology. I love the Scarlet and Epic alike and am very thankful that Jim Jannard has, at least for me, done with cameras what Steve Jobs did for computers and phones.
            I think that most of this comes from the frustration of what was promised… and to speak directly to Brian’s comment. How is it naive or bad judgement to take statements directly from the CEO of RED on REDUSER (the leading source of RED news and discussion) at face value? We all love the camera, but you sound more like a fanboy than someone who can relate to a perfectly reasonable complaint.

          • Justin, what statements from RED are you taking at face value that you feel I’m being critical of? I pointed out how people saw what they wanted to see in the quotes James used in his comments. That’s not fanboyism. Jarred stated they were offering a trade-in “much like” the R1 deal. That language, to me, sounds like it would be something similar, not identical. Are you arguing otherwise? I’d love to hear your rationale. Like I said, RED was very clear on that deal being one time only for R1 owners. THAT”S what I take at face value. The only reason I can think of that others don’t is because it’s not what they want to hear.

            I did have one thing off a little bit, though. Jarred said many Scarlet-X owners were asking for an upgrade path to Epic-X but I failed to mention that RED was offering it through the Dragon upgrade only, at that time. This was before the Scarlet Dragon announcement. The way the deal stands now, it actually is from Scarlet-X to Epic-X, without Dragon having to be in the equation. Jim has said from the beginning, ” Everything changes” and yet, people act like he doesn’t really mean it.

            Tell me, why would James think the Dragon sensor in Scarlet would shoot the highest resolution (6K) at speed when the Scarlet-X didn’t shoot the highest res (5K) at speed on the MX sensor? RED never stated ANY specs for Dragon as it related to Scarlet before NAB. NONE. How does a person getting their hopes up based on Reduser speculation translate into me being a fanboy? I was the one who said that practice is a BAD idea. I’m sorry but that’s James’ fault.

            I was one of the people being somewhat critical of RED charging close to or as much as the original purchase price for a Dragon upgrade. However, that was before the trade-in announcement and the recently announced prices. Scarlet Dragon only seems limited in relation to Epic Dragon. If $5K (not $4K) for a trade-in and $9500 more to get what could arguably be the best camera on the market except for Epic Dragon sounds like a raw deal to you, then consider getting out of the RED ecosystem and invest in a camera company that you feel offers a better deal. For me, it means my total out-of-pocket cost (for the brain) for top of the food chain performance would be $12K versus the $15K or $16K it might cost new (if they offer it). Maybe I have been brainwashed but I just don’t think that sounds like a bad deal.

            Unless people routinely NEED crazy high frame rates, if they can’t get it done with a Scarlet Dragon they probably need to hang it up and get out of the game.

  • i’m intrigued as to why there’s no footage out there if they’re already making upgrades. surely they would have handed the camera to someone as an opportunity to shoot something?

    • They haven’t shipped the early cameras back to users yet according to what they said in the forum. That should be happening this week, and it would be crazy for those users not to be given working firmware, which is why I think we’ll see footage sooner rather than later.

      • Yeah be really great to see some footage and for comparisons sake, some side by sides with the “old” epic

        • The problem doesn’t seem to be the firmware but the color science. They probably may be able to shoot with some kind of preview but not to develop it properly until the new color science arrives.

          Those early adopters may well be informed of it and are willing to upgrade at this point anyway.

          The other possibility is that they have signed a NDA to hold the footage back until the color science is ripe enough.

          Anyway, I don’t expect new footage for a month or so.

    • Be prepared to be amazed and disappointed at early footage from the Dragon sensor, depending on who is doing the shooting.

      As I write this, it occurs to me that maybe the earliest, pre-selected Epics that were upgraded at NAB may have something to do with who RED feels can best show off the sensor.

  • Raphael Madeira on 04.15.13 @ 9:52AM

    Unless i missed something i think there is still one important question for us to ask.
    Imagine I have a Scarlet, if i upgrade it to a Dragon Scarlet, can i later on upgrade it yet again to a Dragon Epic?
    I think it’s a fair question seeing people might not want to pay for more than one upgrade for now and get the second upgrade later but prefer to actually get the Dragon sensor first and turn it into an Epic later.

    • Yep. You missed it. According to RED, there will not be an upgrade available to Epic Dragon from Scarlet Dragon. That doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be further updates to Scarlet Dragon down the road, although some have their doubts this will happen.

      • Raphael Wood on 04.15.13 @ 11:48AM

        That’s a pity for Scarlet users then but RED is still giving us some seriously nice choices.
        Thanks for the info mate.

  • This is all very exciting, and while I’m tempted to succum to the future proof-anxiety of needing 5k/16.5 stops of DR right now, I think it may be as much as 2 years before I’ll actually require Dragon for my Scarlet. Hell, it could be even more than 2-3 years (not unlikely at all) before I even finish a project @ 4k.

    I’ll definitely end up with a Scarlet Dragon, but I’ll wait for the upgrade cost to come down and my needs for the extra performance to go up. 13 stops of DR is fantastic btw.

    My only concern is RED puts some sort of time-restriction on how long they will offer an upgrade to Scarlet owners. That would piss me off.

    • My guess is the Scarlet-X to Scarlet Dragon upgrade will last longer than the Scarlet-X to Epic-X to Epic Dragon upgrade. The R1 to R1MX upgrade lasted for years, I do believe. You might still be able to have it done. Brent at RED says they’re going to start figuring all that stuff out this week so we should know relatively soon.

  • I wonder how many stops 16 really is? Since Scarlet is around 11-12 stops max, and not what they originally advertised. If it is a true 16 stops… that will be friggin incredible. Can’t wait to see some real footage from this thing. It’s annoying that the BMCC is the only high DR option out there right now unless you want to lose a fortune.

    • Everything I’ve read (not from RED) puts the MX sensor in Epic/Scarlet at between 12-13 stops of DR. I think RED’s claim of 13.5 stops included everything coming off the sensor. That measurement included a certain amount of noise. How much noise you find acceptable determines how much of that 13.5 stops you actually deem usable. So, 3 stops over MX (which, I’m assuming is RED being more conservative than in times past) should yield at least 15 stops of DR for Dragon.

  • Eric Emerick on 04.15.13 @ 10:40AM

    What are you doing with your Scarlet, Joe? I have a BT Scarlet and am doing the Epic upgrade. It leaves me the Dragon option as well down the road, let others suffer the travails of a new chip and color science.

    • james peters on 04.15.13 @ 11:34AM

      actually you may be better off doing nothing right now… paying 10k to go from 4K to 5K is quite expensive, and may not be necessary. you’re also right about wrinkles in the new sensor, as a reason to wait. RED did one thing really well here, convincing a customer base that already has 4k and 5k, that they need to spend $10,000 to get better 4k and 5k.

      says who? Clients aren’t asking for it, none of us are shooting a JR Tolkien trilogy here, and major films are being done on cameras with half the resolution. If RED has proved one thing, it’s that waiting is financially in your favor. Once they start giving ultimatums / deadlines- than we can compare what else is out there, how much they’re asking, to what we’re willing to do.

      I have trouble imagining that the engineers at RED are so advanced, that they’ve come up with what none of the korean, japanese, and german engineers with multi billion dollar camera companies behind them have been able to do it. I think the real reason is that the industry hasn’t been asking for it. The industry certainly hasn’t moved from ARRI Alexa, to RED over what RED has claimed as having twice the resolution. Next year, as clients start demanding it, camera companies will start producing better sensors that produce 6k images with high dynamic range.

      Til then, til you’re forced to make an upgrade decision from RED- til you see what else is out there– enjoy shooting on your 4k or 5k RED camera. Unless you have clients you know will help recoup the costs of a new sensor– save your $10,000. it’s an awful lot of money these days.

      JP

      • 16 stops of dynamic range (one more than Alexa). 2000 ASA sensor. New color science.

        • Specs sound awesome but very little projects will actually benefit from them. If you’re not shooting feature cinema the next 2 years I can hardly see any reasons to invest 10K. If you want to rent it out, that’s another thing.

        • And nothing more than a few still frames kicking around to show for it. Why are they upgrading peoples cameras but not showing any type of footage. Not even working prototype footage. My guess is that it still needs some cooking time to get it right and they are just trying to keep the hype alive while people mull other options outside of RED.

        • ^ Exactly. Didn’t you see the extra stop missing from Life of Pi, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty, Drive, Anonymous, and Hugo?

          • Here we go. He used the Alexa as a reference benchmark, like everyone else does. 14 stops is in large part what made the Alexa stand out. Nobody gave a crap about the D-21 with its 11 stops of DR. Arri went back to the drawing board and delivered. To say something has more DR than Alexa is not putting it down. It’s comparing something to a known and well-regarded entity. It’s saying it should be at least as good as Alexa in that respect and the Alexa was great. Oh yeah, for a fraction of the price.

        • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that the specs for the Dragon sensor should, in theory, help reduce costs for projects – you certainly won’t need quite as much light to achieve something if you’re working with a a much more light-sensitive sensor/camera.

      • ” I think the real reason is that the industry hasn’t been asking for it. ”

        Couldn’t agree more. Alexa and Epic closed the gap to film, from now on everything is sugar on top and yet to see if really needed for typical productions. To tell stories with the most beautiful images, everything is already there today.

        • I’ve always felt like the MX sensor in Epic/Scarlet was right on the cusp or just shy of where it needed to be to not break the image slightly in most bright shooting situations. I’m talking about on major productions. That’s why I believe many people feel Alexa edged out Epic in highlight rolloff refinement. What I’ve noticed is DPs seemed to have figured out they needed to take a little bit more care with the scene’s dynamic range in order to make the MX shine. Some people still push it a bit too far in my opinion but that may just be artistic differences.

      • This. The Dragon specs have not been independently verfiied so take it with a grain of salt.

    • Honestly not sure yet. I do really want to see some footage before putting down more money.

  • I just shot some tests this weekend…35mm film, Alexa and epic…the Alexa at 2k was much better than the red at 4k….so is this 6k just marketing???

    • Robert Duncan on 04.15.13 @ 12:37PM

      We need to see some footage, but things seem to be really bright on the other side… that’s a high amount of money to invest. I ‘ll til next year to send my camera… 2000 asa is the top of cream for me. Let’ see what happens on the next months…

    • If 2k was much better than 4K for you, then seriously man check your backfocus. Or you’re plain trolling.

  • Is there still no footage available from this sensor, besides that fake lizard? Seems bizarre to be dropping $10k for something you haven’t seen yet.

    • RED One early adopters did this…

    • james peters on 04.15.13 @ 6:07PM

      what’s more bizarre is all the rules around upgrading a sensor we haven’t even been shown footage from. for example, RED’s new policy- if you commit to spending 19K to upgrade your Scarlet now, and you run into money trouble come June (or you finally see the dragon footage and it you think your money is better spent elsewhere), and ask to be taken off the upgrade list temporarily, the company will flag your camera’s serial number and never allow you to upgrade it ever again.

      That’s just so bizarre to me. Looks like desperation, trying to herd all their customers to the banks as fast as they can before sony, alexa, and BMCC release their new cameras. If RED has 2.5 times the resolution of their nearest competition, the Alexa– why do we have to upgrade at all?

      • You can call it whatever you’d like, but nobody has to upgrade tomorrow, or even probably for months to come. If they said you have to order in the next few weeks, I might call that desperation, but RED has been very lenient on these upgrade times and it’s likely you’ll have through the end of this year to elect upgrade your camera based on how long it may take to complete upgrades.

        As I said above, the current cameras still deliver fantastic images, so there is no need to upgrade if you don’t feel what they are offering will improve your work.

        They are giving users options in my mind, that’s all.

        • james peters on 04.15.13 @ 11:31PM

          agree… or if you think you can make money on the rental, than the upgrade pays for itself… it’s weird in NYC- renting on a RED, clients don’t even ask if it’s Scarlet or Epic. i think there’s going to be a cooling off period for 4K, as more and more critics lambast 4k TV as a huge waste of money. mostly as CNET argues here–

          http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33199_7-57566079-221/why-ultra-hd-4k-tvs-are-still-stupid/

          that the human eye can’t tell the difference unless you’re a few feet away from a giant screen. maybe the high end cinematographers will make good use of shooting 6k for the big screen.. but for commercial shoots, documentaries, and TV- you may be better off waiting a year or so. I wouldn’t say that if the upgrade price was $5,000 or $6,000. But $10,000 is a ton of money.

          and desperate may have been too strong of a term– but certainly they’re jumping the gun, selling a sensor, they haven’t been able to get to work yet. If Sony started pre-selling 4k TVs at NAB, but couldn’t show you an image on the screen– pretty sure you would’ve seen a bunch of articles questioning the logic.

          • You’re forgetting about a major aspect of the RED camera philosophy: the STILLS part of the DSMC system.

            Being able to pull decent sized, print quality stills from a motion stream is awesome. Just recently, I needed a head shot of myself for a company I’m doing design work for. I didn’t have one and I can’t afford to have someone else take them so I set up my lights, a black backdrop, Scarlet and a 19″ TV from the kitchen connected via HDMI and got to work. I shot at 4K, 24fps with 1/48 shutter speed because there was little to no movement. I could’ve done it at 5K, 12 fps but I wanted to see what I could accomplish at 4K.

            The beauty of it was I could just let the camera roll while I made adjustments that I could see in the monitor. I remotely started and stopped recording with the REDmote and it was much easier than trying to shoot stills. I ended up being able to crop to a 5×7″ portrait at 300dpi from a 4K frame, which was plenty enough for what I was doing. 6K would yield even better results.

            I know cost may be a factor but if you photograph babies, toddlers or animals for a living (or in addition to your video work), being able to roll at 6K for 15 or 20 minutes at a time would mean you’d virtually never miss that priceless expression or pose. You could concentrate solely on coaxing those moments out instead of trying to do that and anticipate them in order to maybe capture them. How much less exhausting would that be? Rolling at 6K changes the game when you need stills of unpredictable subjects.

            Those people who don’t see the value in 6K will probably never get any value out of it. Those people who know a) you don’t HAVE to shoot at 6k all of the time, b) you can use it for countless shooting and VFX situations, c) that a little imagination goes a long way, will probably solve more problems, get more creative results and stay ahead of the curve simply because they were willing to see the benefits and not be hampered by the perceived negatives of others.
            But, hey, you can do what you want.

  • I have a Red Scarlet but I’ll only make any decision in 1 year from now, I think is madness people are upgrading cameras before seeing whats the sensor is all about.

    6k is totally overkill for years to come plus the storage to shoot with this would be insane. I’d be interested in seeing the DR and noise level, but would that be worth 9.5 k today? Maybe yes, but I just DON’T NEED IT as well as most of these nerds, they just dont know it yet.

    • Considering that film making has historically always been a “nerd” artform, you may be in the wrong place.

      • well let me correct, spec nerds

        • Based on what Jim Jannard posted at one point, with the new sensor, even at 6K, since the image is cleaner, the REDCODE settings are more efficient, and may not necessarily take up much more space. But like you guys have said, definitely need to wait and see the results…like RED always says, things are subject to change.

  • Red does keep things exciting…maybe 6k will come out on top

  • 6 K for the scarlet. but just a sensor upgrade, we need more

    • It’s not “just a sensor upgrade.” Being able to now shoot 5K at 60fps (rather than 12fps like it currently is) is a big deal. Likewise for 4K – from 30fps tp 75fps.

  • How much to upgrade Scarlet to Mysterium Monstro ? I want that sensor really badly. I won’t shoot with it: the workflow would just be insane, and the resulting quality overkill. But, hey: no one will measure up to me on the Reduser forum. That’s what counts.

  • Red should work on eliminating rolling shutter issues before coming out with 6k sensor upgrades.

    • already did. with their new mount.

      • Yeah, the new $4500 mount.

      • Their Red Motion LCD device is indeed intriguing, although it should be an integral part of the original camera build. Besides the 1 stop loss, I hope it does not introduce additional unwanted artifacts. The rolling shutter is completely unacceptable in a professional cinema camera, and Red cameras are some of the worse offenders in this area (in my experience). I believe Red should have been taking greater steps to eliminate it in these past seven years.

    • Lots of people asked for electronic NDs with the ability of dialing exact setting and for a global shutter. Red finally answered, but of course you’ll see tons of beggers bitch and moan about high price tag or whatever the hell.

  • i totally understand where ur comign from @Joe and the article was a good read. i just think there should be one point stressed above all else. as long as you have had the camera you have been able to SHOOT with it. you were able to make the money for the upgrade and you were able to pay the camera off. at which point instead of having to buy a totally new system 24,000 you simply get a new camera for 9500. so then wheres the problem. the epic didnt come out last week its been around if you bought into red you bought in for th eimages the upgrade path whatever it was goign to be is just gravy. anything they give s better then ANY other company. the scarlet was going to get an upgrade path that was going to be expensive so im stoked to have an upgrade path to scarlet dragon. when you buy a camera you have to realize there is goign to be dead money in that camera the second you add it to your cart. you bought your camera and used it for a good amount of time (hopefully) and they are taking it back and giving you a new one for 9500. if you go any further you arent realizing what they are trying to

    • Cheers to this. I don’t own any Red cameras, but am constantly blown away by the fact that they decided to create upgrade paths. That may be the most innovative thing about their system. It flies in the face of everything we’ve know about camera ownership. Cheers to them and to those who recognize how unique that is.

  • People are putting too much emphasis on the 6K, its the new color science, increased DR and sensitivity that will make dragon a force to be reckoned with.

  • all this bitching and moaning is why companies DONT do this. you realize comments and crying further prove the point that you give them an inch they take a mile. especially if you dont even have the camera making this upgrade path completely a non issue for u.

  • I think this is great and desperately needed by RED Scarlet and EPIC customers. Its actually kind of a triumph – a company reverse engineering its own products.
    I know people have made great things with RED, but then you see a show like ‘Defiance’ (shot on EPIC) and you go, man, that would have looked so much more ‘even’ shot on something else. The look was so odd I was forced to look up what it was shot on.
    Hopefully with the new sensor REDs will be a little more forgiving. That will keep it in the game.

    • I watched Defiance and, from the promos, thought it was going to look “off”, image wise. However, I found only 2 or 3 scenes felt that way in the actual show (not counting CG). At least two of them were almost certainly shot green screen and the last one that jumped out at me was shot outdoors where they seemed to push the exposure on the skin a bit much for my taste. Other than that, I thought it looked pretty good and I watched it having already read your comment. Some of the interior scenes looked particularly good with nice color palettes.

      What I’ve found with RED shot shows is many of them get better looking over the course of the season. I assume it’s because they start to get a better feel for the camera’s strengths and weaknesses and adjust accordingly, like you would with any piece of gear. What I like to do is save the first episode and compare it to the middle and last episodes of the season to see how far they’ve come. I feel it helps me get a better feel for my own camera.

    • Having some extended latitude always help the look. That’s why people love film and alexa so much.

    • they shot the last episode of House M.D. on canon 5D Mark II. it’s not the camera, it’s the person behind the camera… if you can’t shoot a solid film on a Scarlet w/ 4K- then you should be spending more time perfecting your shooting skills, less time worrying about camera specs. If you have clients that will triple their camera budget for shooting in 6K, definitely worth the investment. But in real world applications- no one can tell the difference between 4K and 6K- even if they had a 4K TV- still can’t tell the difference.

      Save you’re money, wait a year… if you want to blow some money get the new movi gyro stabilizer, or some new lenses..

  • I agree with Carlos, I don’t care too much about the 6k… the increased DR and sensitivity have me eagerly awaiting footage and later. tests

  • 10K is a lot of money. However, the way people in reduser are behaving, they seem to be under peer pressure to upgrade. Make use your current camera and extract the maximum mileage. Spending 10K just because of some released specs is crazy to say the least. Some people may like to differ though.

    Just write down in a sheet of paper the positives and negatives. Will the upgrade ensure that you make more money? Will it ensure that you get more business? Will the new footage be appreciated by clients? A lot of clients can’t understand the difference between 720p and 1080. I wonder how they will know the difference between 4k, 5K and 6K.

    • 95% won’t. Its the 5% who do you want as clients.
      Plus, if you’re a RED owner, what real choice do you have? Given that you have to actively campaign now for work against other cameras? That situation was only going to get worse come August (and don’t forget that global shutter mount is another $5k) and whenever Arri announce their 4k, which is overdue.

      • “and whenever Arri announce their 4k, which is overdue”

        I know, right? I was really surprised they didn’t have something big to launch at NAB (besides that Ikegama ENG thing).

  • im thinking about buying this camera…but then I’m thinking used alexa…

  • Endgadget has a full video of both the workflow for this process as well as the engraving process. Pretty awesome. http://www.engadget.com/2013/04/09/red-dragon-upgrade-at-nab/

  • They keep lowering the DR rating. First they say 21 stops, then 18 stops, and now 16.5. I doubt it’s actually going to have that much.

    • Nobody from Red claimed it was 21 stops, don’t spread BS. It was 18 stops in early tests on 20-stop chart in which one stop was full clipping and one in the darks were buried in grain, 16 stops on the final specs looks like conservative number to me. After independent testers get their hands on Dragon well see how it compares to latitude of F65, Alexa and Kodak Vision3 film. Maybe it’s solid 16.5 stops with sweetest highlight roll-off since the dawn of man and tasty filmic midtones. Would’ve been more than enough for me.

  • Latest news from inside the RED camp… apparently it’s been a disastrous 2 months for their technical team. what they thought would take a couple weeks is now months. from what i’m told, they just can’t get the Dragon sensor to perform at the levels they were expecting. Expect the first images from RED Dragon by the end of summer. Nothing new from RED– they’ve been sticking their foots in their months for years. Embarrassing thinking back to NAB in April, them doing the sensor upgrades at the show as if they were ready.

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