Just a few short months ago, RED simplified its product line and introduced a price cut to make it easier for filmmakers to navigate its offerings. RED would now offer three sensors built around the same DSMC2 body: the 8K Monstro (Full Frame), the 8K Helium (Super35mm) and the 5K Gemini (Super35mm, and dual ISO). 

While there was a price cut involved in this reognization, it still left RED users without an "entry level" RED option that offered the full power of the DSMC2 body, which RED is addressing today with the new  DSMC2® DRAGON-X™ 5K S35. Let's look at this new camera - as well as some other less-pricey "entry level" options.


Why not just buy an older Dragon? That's definitely an option, but RED is massively upgrading its imaging pipeline with the introduction of IPP2. It gives you a simpler interface, with new controls, and overall a cleaner image with better low light sensitivity out of the same sensor.

The DSMC2 Dragon-X keeps the original dragon sensor but updates it with an IPP2-compatible processing system for allowing IPP2 in camera. You get the same 16.5 stops of dynamic range you got from the Dragon (but with the ability to do a whole host of more things with it) and you can still write simultaneously to ProRes and DNx.


Why is this particularly exciting for filmmakers?  While we tend to love the latest and greatest features (dual ISO with the Gemini, full frame with the Monstro), in reality, a lot of the time it's overkill for the project at hand. Yes, a big sensor is great, but there just aren't as many options for covering the Monstro as their are for Super35mm. 

Yes, dual ISO is great, but if you aren't doing a lot of low light work, Gemini might not be necessary. By saving money with an affordable camera body, you open up other areas in the budget where you can spend more.  If getting a less expensive body lets you get the lenses you want, it's worth the trade-off for many filmmakers. 

Let us not forget that RED cameras have been giving us amazing images for a decade now.  If you loved the look of The Social Network, that was shot with the original RED ONE M-X.  This is a full sensor generation beyond that.

One arena where we think this will be particularly attractive is in schools and educational environments.  As a school, you want to offer the latest features to students so that they're well prepared for professional work, and so having access to the latest body and IPP2 pipeline is vital. But schools often have limited equipment budgets, and the ability to get even a single RED in the equipment room for class purposes is sometimes tricky, so this should offer an attractive combination there as well.  


RED has also announced a new top handled and breakout battery plate that includes V-mount and P-Tap that will be coming soon. For more information, check out the RED site.

Available as a kit for $19500 including the following:

  • Canon lens mount
  • RED DSMC2 Touch LCD 4.7” Monitor
  • RED DSMC2 Outrigger Handle
  • RED V-Lock I/O Expander
  • Two IDX DUO-C98 batteries with VL-2X charger
  • G-Technology ev Series RED MINI-MAG Reader
  • Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Art Lens
  • Nanuk heavy-duty camera case

Note: and - if like it is for the majority of us independent filmmakers - $20K isn't a reasonable "entry level" investment, here are some alternative options for you to consider.