Information about what's happening with the new DRAGON sensor from RED has been scarce over the last few months, even as the company made a big splash at NAB 2013, upgrading camera sensors right on the show floor. We've heard a lot of impressive stats about the sensor, like a native 2000 ISO, 16 stops of dynamic range, and 6K resolution, but many will remain skeptical until we start seeing actual moving images from the camera (even as the still images have looked impressive). From a recent posting on REDUser, it looks like those will be coming sooner rather than later.
Here is an excerpt of what Jarred Land posted to REDUser (emphasis is mine):
Dragon ( the sensor ) was actually done before NAB... when you all saw cameras being put together. Sorting out the existing camera infrastructure so the sensor and the ASIC could be an upgrade has been the consuming part.
But we are there. Final parts are now being sent off to manufacturing and customer upgrades will begin the first week of September.
It's a good time to share with you a few things we have learned along the way.
The increased latitude of the Dragon isn't just in the bottom. The increase is also at the top.
So you get the same 16+ stops of latitude at 200 asa as you do at 2000 with the Dragon. No latitude penalty when you lower ASA. Which means when you are shooting outside, less ND filters. Less IR issues, better images.
Because the Dragon also has lower bottom end noise than the MX, You can still push the camera to where you want it.. and you will still get cleaner images than you did on Epic MX at any comparable ASA.
The Dragon also wants to be warmer than not ( go figure ) . Good thing, as the Epic itself doesn't have a problem generating heat. A match made in heaven.
The Dragon Firmware will automatically bring the sensor temp up... which can mean a lower fan speed (depending on your circumstances).
Dragon Firmware is actually ahead of the Epic MX firmware.. rock solid. Since we have had so much time with the Dragon... it is probably the most tested build we have ever had.
Graeme has also had the time to really dig deep into the color science. He will say he is never done.. but there are alot of color improvements he has made that are worth the upgrade all by themselves.
6K is incredible. I know the rest of the world has just (finally) landed at 4K... but 6k motion and the stills pulled from Dragon are remarkable. O the stills. And talk about oversampling for 4k motion delivery. It's hard to go back.
Rocket-X is going to be your Dragon's new best friend. Seriously. It should be shipping at the time the upgrades begin.
Expect to see images start trickling out over the next few weeks.
[Update]: Jarred answered what they are planning to do about the sensor liking to be warmer:
Don't worry we covered that. The Dragon sensor board actually has a small heater on it.. This not only helps in cold situations, but gets the sensor up to temperature from rest quicker, and is much better at keeping that temperature stable in different environments.
Jarred also mentioned that SCARLET upgrades would begin in late September. As we know, firmware is never really complete, it's always being added to and adjusted (which goes for any company), but there is some hope that it is going to be absolutely rock solid from the get-go -- something that hasn't always been true of their firmware. Color science can also be tweaked in an infinite number of ways, and I imagine we will see color profiles right out of the gate that are much better than what we saw with EPIC.
If everything the RED team is saying about latitude is true, this is really a next-gen sensor. Many cameras do not keep the same latitude as you shift ISO, but if DRAGON does as they say it will, it's going to mean a lot more flexibility. Being able to shoot at 200 in the daytime is convenient, and then being able to shift to 2000 indoors without any penalty sounds pretty incredible on paper. IR pollution has been one of the issues many are hoping to see lessened in the new sensor, and things are hopefully going in that direction.
Everyone has been eager to see some moving images out of the beast, so it will be interesting to see what they've got up their sleeves to show off the sensor, and if it will be more than some test shots of static objects (if they've waited this long, they might as well pull out all the stops). There is likely a lot of work that needs to be done to prepare their facilities and their people for the upgrades, so the September timeframe is probably more realistic than some other dates they've given in the past (July was a date previously given). They've got a lot of camera upgrades to get through, so if you happen to be on the list, it's going to be a long process. Just like with EPIC upgrades before, it is likely that new cameras will be available in stock well before all of the upgrades are complete -- so if you're of the impatient type or you want to buy one now, you'll probably be able to do that fairly soon.
We'll just have to wait and see what kind of images RED trickles out over the coming weeks.
Link: Dragon... -- REDUser