RED's Dragon Sensor: 65mm Film's Newest Rival

RED's Dragon Sensor: 65mm Film's Newest Rival

Film has always had an unmistakable feel to it that is difficult if not impossible to reproduce digitally, but the days of that being true may be numbered. RED, a company known for the EPIC line of digital cinema cameras has recently released the above test image from their newest sensor, Dragon and I'm stunned. With over 18 stops of dynamic range, Jim Jannard of RED has said that the new sensor shouldn't even be compared to 35mm film.

And the crazy thing is, this is still a preproduction model. It's not even finished yet!

All of these amazing upgrades are not without their drawbacks. The upgrade price will had been quoted as being $6000 will be raised even higher and the Scarlet will not be able to be upgraded to the new sensor.

This aside though, could we finally see digital cinema cameras pushing past even the largest film stocks? Could the RED Dragon be the future of cinema as we know it?

Via FilmMakerMagazine

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 Professional focus pullers are amazing. I love watching films that have epic focus pulls in them.

Vadim Bobkovsky's picture

 What is electronic Cinetape?

I guess digital destroyed depth of field?

lol @ Alan, my first thought too! :D

no idea how this sensor has anything to do with 65mm.  Its a super35mm sensor.  Wide dynamic range? YES, 65mm, nothing at all similar.  65mm is not a dynamic range calculator its a sensor physical size which requires different lenses and gives a different look.  Comparing the sensor with a RAW DSLR sensor dynamic range etc maybe, but it has nothing to do with 65mm at all.

Brooks Clayton's picture

The 65mm comparison comes from the fact that the new sensor has more resolution than a 4k scan of 65mm frame. The physical size is obviously smaller but the red guys are pushing for the 65mm comparison because of how good the dragon resolves.

Brooks Clayton's picture

The 65mm comparison comes from the fact that the new sensor has more resolution than a 4k scan of 65mm film scan. The physical size is obviously smaller but the red guys are pushing for the 65mm comparison because of how good the dragon resolves.

The people that compare a 6k sensor resolution to a 4k scan of a 65mm negative are (not Brooks Clayton) idiots. Of course the resolution is better on a 6k sensor, because you're only scanning the 65mm to 4k! I would argue that 4k doesn't get all the detail out of a 65mm negative. 4k is 8.3 megapixels, which doesn't even match up to a still 35mm negative (aka vista vision). Trust me, 65mm is well beyond 8.3 megapixels. There's also no mention of where middle grey falls or the color. I just think it's misleading for red to say that 6k is a higher resolution than 65mm even though the 65mm is scanned at a lower resolution. 65mm is more like 50 megapixels.

Vadim Bobkovsky's picture

It said *scanned at 4K* can you even read?

Yes, I can read. Thank you for the personal attack... My point was that they are comparing a 6k sensor to a negative scanned at a lower resolution. In a nutshell, their comparison is irrelevant because it's not dealing with the full potential of 65mm film. Would the new Dragon sensor be higher resolution than a 6k scan of 65mm? That would be a better comparison. Also, since nothing is ever really projected at more than 4k, then the final display of the images from this new sensor would fall short of the resolution of itself. I would just appreciate arguments that make sense. You obviously didn't read the entirety of my comment because you would know that I clearly know we're talking about a scan, and not the actual resolution of the original negative. 

It's a shame they can't do the opposite and scan a 6k digital image onto 65mm and then make a comparison between film and digital. Or can they? Either way it would send them running with their tails between their legs and I would have the time of my life laughing my ass off.

The comparison is that the new sensor has resolution so "out of the league" of 35mm film, that its resolution needs to be compared to that of 65/70mm film. Which is obviously a distinction that will be "lost in reposting" (similar to "lost in translation"). However, if it's 6144 horizontal, it will by definition always have a higher resolution than a 4k scan of any film size. (Though I guess you could argue that the bayer filter makes this a 3k sensor.)

As for DR, 18 stops is well above what any film I've ever heard of can do. But I have little to no experience with film.In other news: holy file sizes batman.

Vadim Bobkovsky's picture

Debayering takes 20% of the res, not 50% or more like many prefer to think. 5K source should leave you with full 4K after debayering.

Vadim Bobkovsky's picture

Not in terms of effective frame dimensions of the negative, they probably talking sharpness. Red was always crazy sharp, but until now short in latitude, compared to film.

typical pr nonsense gear freaks fall to...

as if DR or any technology makes a good movie.

<a href="" rel="nofollow">See this video (click)</a>
<a href="" rel="nofollow">Also this video</a>
<a href="" rel="nofollow">Stu gives a good explanation for why more DR is a nice thing to have.</a>

Isn't this like comparing a high mpx crop sensored camera to a medium format? Even if the specs/performance are great the medium format will have still have a diffrent "feel" due to the physical size of the sensor/film? 

Why are people on here talking like they know better than the guys who developed the technology?

You can't trust the guys that developed the tech. They'll always spin it to the company's advantage. I'm not saying that the 20 stops is a lie, but we don't know if it reaches into the shadows more or the highlights. I think digital looks flat a lot of the time because it reaches into the shadows so much. You don't get the nice blacks. The problem is that digital sensors are not exactly photon-hungry. They don't handle more than about 5 stops of overexposure, which transfers into clipped whites. By the time you crush the pasty grey shadows to look more natural, you're down to many less stops of dynamic range than you started with. Film tends to handle brights very well, while you may lose the shadows. I personally prefer to lose my shadows; it leaves less of a video look. Then there's the whole linear vs. non-linear sensitivity to light in digital and film, respectively. However, I won't get into that.