RED Epic Dragon Bests Nikon D800E on DxOMark

RED Epic Dragon Bests Nikon D800E on DxOMark

This just in: the DxOMark scores have been published, the new 6K RED Epic Dragon camera beats out the old king-of-the-hill, the Nikon D800E. The first video sample for the Dragon surfaced in August, 2013 and we've been excited to see how it would perform ever since. The RED press release surprised many with the camera being advertised for both video and stills. At around 19MP this camera system might just give high-end Nikon and Canon DSLRs a run for their money.


In terms of color depth and dynamic range the RED Epic Dragon beats out all the competition by a pretty decent margin, at 0.9 bits better color depth and 0.5 EV better dynamic range than the D800E. The only area the RED Dragon gets outclassed is in terms of low-light capability, where it is bested by the superior high-ISO performance of the D800(E). All this performance is thanks to the new sensor that RED developed for the Dragon as reported here.

In 2012, Peter Hurley teamed up with Fstoppers to compare the images from his Hasselblad H3D to the RED Epic (the full post can be found here). He found that even then the gap between stills performance and images grabbed from the RED was shrinking. With the RED's dynamic range and color depth now besting the old champion, the D800E it wouldn't surprise me if we start seeing more stills photographers shooting small bursts of video to pull images from, the technology is clearly there.

Will increasing video performance influence the way you shoot stills?

[Via The Phoblographer]

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"Will increasing video performance influence the way you shoot stills?"

Not at those prices! If you have to spend a small mortgage on a camera for a few points difference in DR and image quality on stills, your either too rich or crazy. If your creating a film or TV show and want to do stills also, then save the 3 three grand extra from buying a dedicated body. When the quality of the Red Dragon becomes affordable to use, then you'll have a change in the industry that is significant.

The RED camers aren't marketed for the average man, or the average feller who got a DSLR from his wife last weekend and decided to call himself a photographer. There is a market that RED and Hassleblad aim for specifically and it's not the everyday internet photog or instagram user.

So anyone who has no use for a Hassleblad or a RED should not consider themselves a photographer? They are just some guy whose wife gave them a DSLR for Christmas?

That is really patronizing.

I would say the RED isn't even marketed to most pro photographers working today. Most photographers don't need its capabilities for the images they create. For most pro photographers, trying to find one frame out of a group or hundreds would stall their workflow (essentially, you are talking about a super high speed "spray and pray"). Most photographers don't need the file size even a D800 produces. As business owners, it is not cost effective to have a piece of equipment around that does not work for your needs.

In fact, I would say the RED is for a very limited market. For those people that can use it, it will be a god send. Everyone else will never shoot with it because it is not cost effective and/or will produce too much info (large files and hundreds of frames) to wade through.

What you took from my my post was not my point at all. I'm not into the elitist attitude when it comes to gear. I was talking about the market and who what equipment is aimed toward. Which is what your post continued to speak about. My apologies if I hurt your feelings.

LOL, a run for it's money. I believe the D800 is about One tenth the cost of a Red Epic and the Red Epic slightly edges out the D800.

Brendan James's picture

But does the D800 take 24-100 photos per second?

Did Capa need 24-100 photos per second?

Irrelevant. Robert Capa wasn't interested in sport photography.

Very relevant.. no one was talking about sports photography.

I'm not sure who was arguing FPS either. 24-100 FPS still doesn't negate the fact that the D800 is actualy 1/10th the price and is narrowly falling behind a $30k camera.

Brendan James's picture

I'm referring to the fact that the Epic can essentially shoot video where each frame would be higher quality than a D800 still.

Elliot McGucken's picture

A limiting factor of trying to extract stills from video is that optimum stills and video require different exposures, thusly requiring two cameras for the proper acquisition of stills and video.

Also, what kind of strobes are you going to use with the RED DRAGON? Are they as tried and true as strobes you can easily obtain for a Nikon D800E?

You write, "At around 19MP this camera system might just give high-end Nikon and Canon DSLRs a run for their money," basically saying "At half the pixel count and over ten times the cost, this camera system might just give high-end Nikon and Canon DSLRs a run for their money."

Yes, and the Great Pumpkin might just show up in your pumpkin patch next year, and give you a free RED! Then you might be right!

Furthermore, what if you need a backup camera? Two RED systems will put you out 100K+, and imagine carrying all that bulk around without a mighty crew!

And suppose you have a shoot that lasts a few hours. Which will be easier to hold, navigate, and position? The RED or a Nikon D800E?

Also, how much storage space will the RED DRAGON need for a few-hour shoot?

Elliot McGucken's picture

For the past several years, we have been inviting RED fanboyz to a stills & video shoot-out--a RED EPIC DRAGON against our 45surfer rig at pro surfing events.

So far, there have been no RED operator takers nor attempts to match word and deed and live up to the marketing hype, but just more marketing hype, which is beginning to wear thin, escpecially with all the rising 4K/5K options. Model shoot, surfers shoot, any shoot--we'd like to challenge any RED operator to see who can obtain the best stills & video shot at the same time. And now, with the soon-to-be-released Sony 4K Camcorder, followed by a deluge of other 4K goodness, acquiring 36mp stills alongside 4K video, with two dedicated cameras, will rock.

Long story short, he art and physics of stills & video acquisition demand the following:

Stills and Video Require Different Approaches, Shutter Speeds, Etc.

A salient fact that one must honor while capturing simultaneous stills and video is that the two mediums generally require different shutter speeds for optimum quality. This is especially important when motion is present—either at the camera’s end, such as with a handheld rig, or when the subject is moving. When I was shooting Kelly Slater’s journey to victory at the Hurley Pro, exposure times for the Nikon D4 stills were generally between 1/2000s to 1/5000s, thereby freezing his action in mid-air, while the exposure for the video was around 1/60s to 1/120s—well over a magnitude of order difference!

A touch of motion blur in video frames is more pleasing to the eye, while sharpness is generally sought in photographic stills. For this reason, the Red cameras are limited, even with their 4K and 5K image sizes. If you optimizes the shutter speed for sharpness with speeds of 1/2000s or just 1/1000s, the video will appear “stuttery,” like those old black and white WWII film clips. Should you optimize the shutter speed for video at around 1/60s to 1/120s, motion blur will creep into the stills, showing up in handheld shots or when the subject is moving. When photographer Kevin Arnold used a $65,000 Red EPIC rig (now around $40,000) to shoot skiers at Whistler Mountain, he concluded, “The EPIC’s sensor, while amazing for video, just isn’t on par with top-end DSLRs and certainly not even close to medium format digital cameras when it comes to still images. The bigger challenge—especially when shooting fast moving lifestyle or sports action—is achieving fast shutter speeds. The great majority of the frames we shot were soft due to either camera movement or subject motion blur. This is the single biggest issue with pulling stills from video.”

So it is that two dedicated cameras--one for stills and one for video--will beat any single camera trying to do both.

Wow! Someone is bitter. But thanks for the laugh!

ok I'm sold! I'll take 2 of those Red Dragon thingies.

RED Epic Dragon Bests Nikon D800E on DxOMark

Ferrari Testarossa bests Kia Sports in 0-60 mp/h
Ferrari gives Kia really a run for its money.

lol, you got to be kidding.....

Tyler Brown's picture

The footage is amazing! I own a D800E but wouldn't mind adding this camera to my bag, just need and extra 30K

Christopher Hoffmann's picture

Wait, are there people that actually care what DXO Mark says????