RED EPIC and SCARLET Cameras Now Have an Actual Still Photo Mode

Last year I wrote an exclusive article talking about RED's plans to attack the photography camera market by adding a still photo mode to the RED SCARLET and EPIC cameras. That day has come with their latest firmware update release. Some of you still photographers may be saying, "So what?" Well, 16.5 stops of dynamic range at nearly 20 megapixels is what. Do I have your attention now?

According to RED's website:​

STILLS CAMERA? MOTION CAMERA? BOTH.

6K resolution translates to over 19 MP, packing the same detail you expect from your DSLR into a cinema camera. When you can capture up to 100 frames per second at full resolution, you get 100 chances per second to capture the perfect picture. Every still is raw and Adobe Photoshop compatible, which means your workflow doesn’t need to change — even if technology does. The RED DRAGON sensor blurs the line between motion and still cameras, giving you the best of both worlds.

Up until the latest v6.0.23 firmware release, the "S" and "M" (no pun intended) switches on the front of our RED EPIC and SCARLET DRAGON side handles were essentially non-functional. "M" stands for the normal video or "motion" mode, and "S" stands for "stills" mode. In the new S mode, when you press the camera's record button it will capture a single frame rather than start capturing video. There will also be optional multi-shot functions in stills mode as you can see in the video above.

This is a huge deal because that means my EPIC DRAGON will capture 19-megapixel stills in raw with more dynamic range than even my beloved Phase One digital medium format. Although, there are a few downsides to shooting stills with a RED. First, they are pretty tough to handhold, I would highly suggest a tripod or proper shoulder mount or steadicam. Also, they do not offer flash triggers, so you can only use constant or available light for your subjects, just as you would have to do for a video shoot.

Although, despite these limitations, some pros are shooting actual magazine covers with REDs. I posted in my previous article that Annie Leibovitz, for example, shot a Vanity Fair Magazine cover with a RED:

​I may own REDs, but that doesn't mean I will be replacing my still cameras with them just yet (primarily because I am pretty heavy-handed with my use of strobes in my still campaigns), but it's pretty exciting to know that my EPIC and SCARLET offer that much more versatility while on a commercial video set.

Here's a complete list of what the newest firmware updates accomplishes with the update (according to RED):

  • Stills and Motion Mode support
  • Swipe Up menus
  • Tethered Stills and Recording Support (DRAGON only)
  • Clip viewer and thumbnail support (DRAGON only)
  • 3D LUT support (DRAGON+REDCAST only)
  • Auto IP Support
  • User 3×3 Gain controls
  • Stills Multi-shot Recording Mode
  • Motion + Stills Recording Mode
  • Relative exposure in ramp mode
  • Pre-Record Ramp support
  • Remote Control Panel support
  • Independent Still/Video/Playback parameters
  • REDCAST module Genlock phase delay support
  • REDCAST module 24fps Playback support
  • REDCAST module video reset button
  • RED Touch 7in LCD default to 60Hz
  • 60fps Project frame rate support
  • Fix unepxected behavior when changing date
  • Fix Edge Timecode start time entry
  • Fix Side UI color shift with brightness change
  • Fix keyboard display when selecting Custom Text in Overlay dialog
  • Fix text for Side SSD Record button on RED Touch 5" LCD
  • Fix histogram option in Modes for Monochrome camera
  • Fix increment/decrement ND key actions for Motion Mount
  • Fix duplicate shutter speed after editing list
  • Fix intermittent camera freeze coming out of playback
  • Fix intermittent invalid camera info in the discovery list
  • Fix incorrect color space indicator in playback
  • Fix incorrect frame rate in Ramp Target selector
  • Fix Motion Mount shutter mode to disable AE
  • Fix Fujinon lens control
  • Fix invalid list values when list box closed using the Menu button
  • Fix update of UI after switching to DHCP
  • Fix UI when entering IP address
  • Fix playback error in Multi-Shot with HDRx
  • Fix camera freeze in playback when accessing menu items
  • Fix white image in AF with sharpening
  • Fix 7" LCD upgrade connected to +1 module
  • Changed Exposure Priority and Mode positions in AE dialog
  • Changed key action text from “AE: Recalc” to “AE: Start”
  • AF Improvements for DRAGON
  • Updated camera help
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6 Comments

Edward Porter's picture

In my personal experience working with the Red Epic Dragon, I wasn't impressed at all with the stills ripped from a properly exposed 3:1 ISO 200 6K clip. The post headroom was laughable compared to most raw stills. With standard lightroom tweaks, noise and color shift immediately showed. Hopefully this update will change some things.

Douglas Sonders's picture

ill try doing some tests on my epic dragon after the firmware update is done

Dr. Dominik Muench's picture

I love the new firmware. you might have to look at your post workflow then and the way you handle the footage (at 3:1 and ISO200 you should have a ton of DR and color latitude) for example which color profile you use. I absolutely love shooting stills with my Dragon and haven't touched my DSLR in months for any natural light work. but it is definitely a different approach to shooting and postproduction thats for sure.
these are all shots taken with the Dragon and pulled from the 6K footage:

Lee Morris's picture

I'm excited to see a comparison

Joy Wat's picture

I've been a fan of Red cameras since they released the first model. This was a great new feature last year, and now I'm very excited to try the Red Scarlet W! Looking forward to getting camera rental in London http://www.aimimage.com/camera-rental-central-london/ so I can fiddle around with it

Chris Bunney's picture

We just shot on the RED Epic Weapon and had issues with "spanned clips". We ended up stitching longer shots together in post production. Not fun. Do you know if they have fixed this?
Thanks!
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