Superproducer Ted Hope on...

August 4, 2013

RED DRAGON Has Been Unleashed. Here is the First Footage from the 6K Camera

Red DragonThe new DRAGON sensor from RED -- with quoted specs like 6K resolution, clean 2000 ISO, and over 15 stops of dynamic range -- was originally set to be released all the way back in late 2012. There were some promises -- and then some delays. But the sensor is now finally done, and camera upgrades will begin in September. In the last few weeks DRAGON-upgraded cameras have found their way into the hands of professional DPs across the world, many working without any RED supervision. We got our first little tease of what DRAGON is capable of from one of these DPs, Mark Toia, and now he has unleashed the first footage ever from the sensor.

We will likely get something a bit more uncompressed at some point, but Mark was worried about his servers exploding, so at the moment we've got Vimeo to show off the footage all shot at 6K (though you should go download it right from the site for the best quality possible):

Here's some of what he said on REDUser, followed by some stills (there are many more over on the thread). He did a stress test with the camera in all sorts of real-world scenarios, and also reiterated that Jim and Jarred were not part of the test in any way -- it was all him:

The two main areas I wanted the camera to perform in are :

HIGH CONTRAST information, just how much is hiding on the shadows and highlight. And secondly, Just how far can I push it in the dark. What is the most usable ISO without the aid of any noise reducing plugins.

Data was also big question for me, I'm a laptop warrior, I travel the world with RED and MAC.. I don't need anything slowing me down. So the question was, Just how long are these cards going to last… So my idea of testing lower compression rates to save space, and then to push the limits of the ISO into 17:1+ compression to see if it fell apart. The simple answer is no… Dragon @17:1 looks like MX @8:1. So we are all saved, none of us have to run out to buy more cards.

Skin tests, filter tests, IR tests, were also done.

Here is his feedback (bold is mine):

The Red Dragon sensor has 3 F STOPS more than before. 1 in the hight lights which rolls over wonderfully !, 2 solid extra stops in the darks…. maybe 3 once the colour science has been perfected.

But there is still noise, but nothing like before. I ran some 250d 2k film rushes next some of my 4000asa stuff, And silly as it sounds, it looks like film grain, not noise. Don't ask me how, as I wouldn't have a clue. But it looks great !

Red Dragon now has the best highlight fall off I have ever seen from any digital camera. Beating film! Big call I know, but after shooting film and pushing it around in telecine chains for more than a decade, I can categorically say that this new sensor has a better range than film ever had.

Probably the most interesting stuff from a guy who has shot literally everything out there:

The Dragon is more stable than my current MX EPIC's.

The SONY F65 I rate as having the best sensor in the market for a production cine camera. Yes.. it's better than the EPIC- MX. (I'm not going to harp on about the size of it or the price comparisons).

Even Jim knows that Sony have done very well with the F65 sensor and that was obviously pissing him off, because his new Dragon sensor has just given the the F65 notice.

All the F65 SONY purists out there will dispute this. But I have Sony files here with me, and I'm looking at both side by side… and Dragons grain (noise) structure is cleaner and it has more range.

Dragon is now the King. (AND… I'm not going to harp on about the size of it or the price comparisons). or did I ..ha !

The single one sentence i can say that can sum up everything is this..

It's the first camera ever that I have used that captures exactly what I see with my own eye.

Never have I seen this before. !

Click for a larger version (there are many more stills taken from video over on the REDUser post):

Just as a refresher, here are some of the DRAGON specs listed by RED:

SENSOR: 19 MEGAPIXEL DRAGON™

PIXEL ARRAY: 6144 (h) x 3160 (v)

S/N RATIO: 80db

DYNAMIC RANGE: 16.5+ stops

MAX IMAGE AREA: 6144 (h) x 3160 (v)

LENS COVERAGE: 30.7mm (h) x 15.8mm (v) x 34.5 mm (d)

ACQUISITION FORMATS

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

REDCODE™

  • Compression choices of 18:1 to 3:1
  • 12 and 16-bit RAW : Compression choices of 18:1 to 3:1
  • 1-100 fps 6K
  • 1-120 fps 5K, 4.5K 

  • 1-150 fps 4K
  • 1-200 fps 3K
  • 
1-300 fps 2K

Getting three additional stops of dynamic range is simply huge. Though we'll have to wait a bit to get .R3D files to play around with from the new sensor (since a new version of REDCINE-X that works with DRAGON has not yet been publicly released), it's clear that RED has created something special. Where exactly the MX sensor ranked in terms of dynamic range was up for debate, but now with 3 extra stops, DRAGON has the highest dynamic range of any digital cinema camera out right now. Even if you were rating MX at 12 stops, 3 extra stops puts it at 15, which is pretty amazing when you then consider the 6K resolution, high-ISO, high frame rates, and the fact that dynamic range seems to stay consistent from 250 all the way to 2000 ISO.

Color science on the new sensor is supposedly much improved, and they have spent quite a bit of time behind the scenes trying to make sure that this is right from the get-go. From the looks of things, they are off to a great start. It does remind me a bit of the Sony F65, which is the best resolving 4K camera at the moment (with DRAGON now equalling or surpassing it), and is capable of some unbelievable imagery. The fact that RED is putting all of this tech inside such a tiny body is still mind-blowing.

Something that many have misunderstood along the way: you will not be projecting 6K (though when the capabilities exist you certainly could). 6K will resolve a much higher quality 4K image since you're throwing more pixels at it (think still photographs which are very often 4K and above). This is the true power of 6K. It will also allow for reframing in post for various reasons, including image stabilization. Even a serious crop of the 6K frame will still give you plenty of room to work around, and probably still maintain 4K res.

As far as low-light performance, things are looking promising, and it seems like 4000 ISO is pretty clean, and 6400 is still usable. This is getting into DSLR territory, except you've got much, much more resolution and color depth to work with. I think this low-light performance and dynamic range are the most exciting things about this new sensor.

Current owners have a few upgrade options, but considering a new camera is going to start well under $30,000, it's pretty remarkable just how far we've come.

What do you think?

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Your Comment

243 Comments

Pixels!

August 4, 2013

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
writer, director, dp

I'm not sure what you call this but that is /not/ film grain: http://prntscr.com/1jayx6

However, that footage looks amazing. It's indescribably amazing. I can't wait for some more footage out of this monster.

August 4, 2013

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Tyler

What is Jpeg compression?

August 4, 2013

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Natt

Actually, to me it looks quite a bit like film grain with compression artifacts. I suspect that the "digital" quality to that is coming almost entirely from the compression, not the sensor.

August 4, 2013

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cows

Almost as good a 60D RAW.

August 4, 2013

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VinceGORTHO

haven't ever really worked with red, but wow the clarity of that first shot kind of blew me away.

August 4, 2013

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Erik

My initial reaction is fear.

August 4, 2013

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Shane Anderson

Holy. Shit.

August 4, 2013

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Worst. Camera. Ever.
Pixelvision=Better :)

But did anyone notice that the water and surf spray in the surfing shots glistened like glitter! Awesome.
The slow motion at 100FPS actually was the best slow motion I've ever seen. Mostly all of the slow motion for digital cameras (to me) has always had a video look to it. I have to say it, this camera beats film, finally.

I wonder if VFX heavy movies will film in 6k for a better key, or just stick to 4k?

August 4, 2013

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mr. show

I wonder if that's got to do with having watched many badly made slow motion shots.
I very often come across slow motion shots where the shutter was set at 360º and thus making it look videoish.
Hell, it even happened in full movies like "Captain America: The First Avenger" and "Public Enemy"!

August 4, 2013

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Only question is why after all talking about new color science highlights are steel pink?

August 4, 2013

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Every digital sensor has pink/magenta highlights. Some camera manufacturers fix this in camera and others leave it to users and colorists. There is an option in RED RAW panel called DRX.

August 4, 2013

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Joe

DRX should be enabled by default, for reals. Seen that shit too many times even in features for fuk sake. Unfortunately, if there's no dickery with strong NDs in these tests, the Dragon can hardly match highlight protection of HDRx option. Well, at least it's native, so no more shutter ghosting and all that.

August 4, 2013

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Natt

It's not on by default because it distorts the rest of the colors (since it's shifting things around to smooth clip all the color channels at the same place). There are other ways to fix it without DRX that high-end colorists would use to avoid the distortion.

August 4, 2013

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Gabe

DRX fixes pink highlights? Wow! Didn't know that. Thank you!

August 4, 2013

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marketing

August 4, 2013

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DIO

Agree.

August 4, 2013

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Shane Anderson

For You

August 4, 2013

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Natt

wow

August 4, 2013

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hansd

holy Shit Shit!!
17:1 100fps 6k ahahahhh 4000iso WOWOWO High dynamic range :))) new color science :)))
RED Dragon is the King sensor :)
Congratulation RED TEAM and MArk for video and still.

August 4, 2013

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luigi valtulini

art direction..location...lighting package...then pick the the right camera film or digital ...For me I like the work of
chris Nolan, Tarantino, Spielberg, Aronofsky, Wes Anderson...(so I alway try to shoot with an arri st or panavision)

when there is no budget I like the Arri Alexa...(which is HD)

for me

August 4, 2013

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DIO

red dragon best of the best... Will upgrade my red epic-m asap...

August 4, 2013

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Sergey

It really is the best I've ever seen. It makes me wonder what video from the NHK 8K camera looks like.

Individual frames from Red Dragon video used for stills photography will look better than almost every stills camera in the world.

August 4, 2013

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Gene

Mmmm, I really doubt that.

August 7, 2013

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dixter

Hands down the most spectacular camera test I've ever seen! 6K - 15 stops - amazing low light and most importantly a color science that knocks the Alexa out of the ball park. The red team must be grinning from ear to ear. Well done!

August 4, 2013

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Paul

it looks really soft

August 4, 2013

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pablopablo

Well, duh, Vimeo is 1080p

August 4, 2013

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Natt

Indeed tt looks really soft in several places (low light cityscape etc.), and there is reason for that.

It is called Optical Low Pass Filter, the actual filtering glass/membrane hardware front of the sensor.

Basically this is Red Epic / Scarlet OLPF once again. Red has always compensated their sensor shortcomings by filtering it down a lot. Something that for example Sony F65 does not need to do as much.

This results a softer image than you would normally get with same amount of Bayer data.

Things get really funny, when you lower the capture resolution and Red cameras do not have horsepower to supersample the material like for example Sony F5 / F55 do with 1080P / 2K material.

They crop sensor, resulting extremaly low res images, considering that these are supposed to be 4K / 5K cameras. I still remember how angry Red boys got when it was clear that hacked GH3 actually has easily as sharp 1080P image as Scarlet / Epic in 2K / 1080P mode.

And of course, unless I am mistaken (which is possible) Red Dragon still crops the sensor, which is bit... pathetic. Especially when you consider all the attitude from Red how they rule digital image world.

August 4, 2013

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Juhan-i

That would make sense if these images were shot in cropped mode. And it's true, I think dslr's and especially cameras like the F55/5 or C300 are more sharp in 1080p mode than any Red camera in 1080p. However, most people don't crop their Red sensor that much. I never will again (learned my lesson once). So in the end, the Red still delivers a sharper image because you're shooting at 3-6K instead of cropping it down to 1080p. The only bummer is that it just goes to show how overhyped the cameras are. Jannard is misleading people a little when he says there's 4 times the resolution in an Epic MX, because the 1080p image from that sensor isn't as sharp as a 1080p from most other sensors. I would say an Epic MX has twice the resolution of other 1080p cameras.

August 4, 2013

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Kenneth

Why there is so much noise in all those higher ISO shots ?

And it is noise from the camera, not from the compression. Both wavelets and basic mpeg4 work by removing the high frequency material (=noise) first. It's the first thing compression algorithm does.

When young man with greyish shirt is the facing directly the camera, ISO is 6400 and compression is only 8:1, why there is so much noise ?

And when it comes to overall image quality, how is this material exceptional ? It is great for sure, but something exceptional ? No.

August 4, 2013

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Juhan-i

Somehow I respect the amount of energy you put into hating on RED everytime there's a RED post.

August 4, 2013

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hansd

To be honest, it is a bit of envy thing.

You see, I have never been that masculine guy, more like a feeble nerd. And I have been looking all these great photos of Jim Jannard online and he looks so... , well manly in them. Like he was ready fight for his country and his family.

And I thought that how could I be manly and just like him ?

So, I noticed that Jim has, or well, his powerful company has these "Shootwear" clothes for sale. And then it hit me !

If just wear one of his cool t-shirts, that could do the trick ! I could finally get laid ! Of course I am a bit older guy so my "intimate performance" is probably going to be bit flaky, but as they say, better late than never !

Althought, one thing I have to admit is that as devoted atheist I found the whole mormon thing bit...different.

But as they say; "Amor vincit omnia ! ", so you never know what could happen, when few right ladies come up.

August 4, 2013

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Juhan-i

I find this hilarious. The images are kinda bad. Highlights still suck. Compared to an Alexa, heck even an F65, the out of focus highlights are garbage (the surfer girl shot). RED (and it's fans) seems to have no idea what a roll off is. Smooth roll off, celluloid like. Most of the stuff looks like HDRx, which is not what I call roll off. Its like 6 stops over exposure is ok and then, boom...nuclear explosion, no middle ground.

What new color science? It looks just like the MX, maybe a bit cleaner, that's all. Skin tones?? Bah...

Stop swaying to the words of Jannard and RED fanboys like marionettes. Look at the video subjectively, without listening to all the hoopla RED marketing. The Alexa produces a far better image professionally and for you weekend warriors, just stick to a DSLR or a C300. Spend the money you save on lenses.

This is supposed to look like 65mm film?? Don't make me laugh...

August 4, 2013

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coolstorybro

Cool story, bro. Read the FStop metering and then kick yourself in the nuts.

August 4, 2013

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Natt

Ermm, I did. If you knew anything about F stop metering, you'd know that it only shows the dynamic range of a camera. I specifically complained about the highlights itself. So, if the camera was exposed @ f8, anything above f64, or 6 stops, looks bad, whereas in an Alexa it looks "pleasant". But I think you're not going to agree and post something like "go kick yourself in the nuts", again. That's cool. I'd rather do that then beat off to pics of JJ.

August 4, 2013

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coolstorybro

do not worry, judging a test and always easy, there will be 'an early test Alexa vs. Dragon then judge. I certainly hope you're right, otherwise you do? Steps to Red Dragon?

August 4, 2013

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Alexis

While good for being digital this is not even close to 65mm film.

August 4, 2013

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Grangrade

"Dragon should never be compared to 35mm film. It should only be spoken in reference to 65mm film from here on out."

-- Jim Jannard, 4th of December, 2012

August 5, 2013

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Daniel

Good grief. It's because of comments like that, that I would never buy a Red. Sent my money to Sony instead.

Whatever, Jimmy.

August 5, 2013

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Bill

KNEEL before Zod.

August 5, 2013

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Daniel

Ah, he's just aggressive. He's extremely successful. He wouldn't be if he wasn't aggressive. Buy his camera. Red Dragon is obviously the best. (or isn't it?) There's probably people at the top of Sony that are aggressive too. Wouldn't there be?

August 6, 2013

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Gene

Gene, I'm still unsure of your stance... do you like Dragon? Or not?

August 7, 2013

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dixter

I have to agree with coolstorybro, the highlight rolloff doesn't look great here, if it even exists. Considering there are a lot of 'highlight porn" shots here that are meant to show how good they look, it's kind of doing the opposite. In no way does it compare to film, or the Alexa, or probably the BMC camera. The only thing I can think is that there is some kind of raw log version of this footage that retains more information and somehow it got graded away. But I kind of doubt that Red would let the footage be released if they thought something in the ingest chain broke the dynamic range of their raw plates.

August 4, 2013

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koolaid

If nothing else, you may want to reconsider your use of subjective vs objective.

August 4, 2013

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David

Highlight roll off is controlled in post, this test is demonstrating the pure amount of dynamic range. This is for people who have been shooting on MX and know how it limits them.

August 4, 2013

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Gabe

The images are great. I feel those who believe in RED will laud it as the greatest since sliced bread, and those who don't believe in RED will say it wasn't sooooo impressive.

I think the images look great. But I'd be lying if I told you I think they are so much better than the EPIC MX. I don't think the avg user of the RED cam will achieve this, even using the DRAGON. Toia clearly knows his shit, it shows. Also those belittling the camera high ISO performance mustn't forget that this is not supposed to be competitor to HDSLR in those aspects, they want latitude above all with this camera, and in those aspects it shows.

DRAGON exists, and it looks good. That's awesome, I know someone in my country who has the only RED cam in the whole country who has already ordered the DRAGON update, he will be happy. I can't afford it, and hopefully one day I will be able to rent it.

For the rest of the internets, I'm sure it will be just "on to the next one" camera for them to complain about. Etiher way, RED will make gazillions with this camera. Alexa won't be affected, I don't think this video does anything to win the ALEXA lovers over to the RED camp.

August 4, 2013

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If it's not a hacked 5D this forum will bitch about anything above their price bracket.

August 4, 2013

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Thom

Yeah, you could say 'their price bracket'. But since Canon is over-priced you could say, 'their over-priced bracket'.

August 4, 2013

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Gene

Mark Toia gets great footage from all the Red cameras, even the original.

August 5, 2013

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Daniel

His stuff looks great!

August 6, 2013

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Gene

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