RED's Dragon sensor - 20 stop dynamic range

Started Jan 9, 2013 | Discussions thread
shaunly Contributing Member • Posts: 542
Re: RED's Dragon sensor - 20 stop dynamic range

Matty W wrote:

curlyone wrote:

Now thats what i call, getting straight to the point, no BS, no beating a round the bush, you only get what you pay for, I'M still waiting for a camera that can take a high quality pic no matter what the circumstances are but nobody can give me one

Not all circumstances are worthy of a high quality picture... Even with all the dynamic range in the world, your prints will be limited to about five stops of contrast at best. Subject matter that isn't too high contrast and is dynamically lit and shaped produces a better print... Compare a landscape shot at a nice hour or a portrait shot with nice light with a tonemapped HDR photo of the same. The HDR looks terrible because even if you have it all in the "negative" you don't have it all in the print. Something will get sacrificed: tonality, contrast, or shade-based depth cues. You can't have it all.

Even pretending to have it all is its own art, and arguable one of the finer ones. Generally in extreme circumstances in which additional dynamic range can be captured and printed effectively it's done with extreme painstaking planning in both post and when taking the shot. Zone system for landscapes, "painterly" work like Crewdson's (which is a bit overrated, imo!) for more modern, "cinematic" photograph, etc. This involves a lot of reliance on the light and then using HDR techniques (dodging in burning on the print or digitally) to complement the light, not make up for its deficiencies.

The current generation of Red is not so great, either. Bad memory colors (plastic skin tones and issues rendering foliage) and some issues with the compression codec blurring high frequency detail. The low light performance is also dramatically inferior to what Canon gives you. If the current generation sensor were so great it would be used for more still photography, but still sensors are just as good when given the right subject matter, and the fast AF and flash sync are worth more than a little more latitude in poorly exposed shots. This next generation will surely be better... but likely not materially so for low light. This may just be personal bias, but I find photos from my Mark III to be vastly prettier to stills from Red footage.

The Red, properly graded, can produce breathtaking video, however. I am very fond of the photography, for instance, in Prometheus, and the film is a technical marvel.

I think you're getting mixed up with sensor DR and printed DR.

Here is an example of a HDR scene (not mine)


This was shot with a GND filter. Notice the gradient shadow on the upper left and right side of image? This was cause by the filter. Obviously there's no "V" shape GND filter and this camera's sensor DR was not high enough to effectively capture the details and colors of both shade thus GND filter was the only solution.

Now if we had a sensor with 18+ stop of DR, you can eliminate the use of these filter or flash fill most of the time if not completely. Who knows, but I can honestly say that 14 stops on my D800 is VERY useful and the more you have the better it'll hold details and colors.

If this image was printed, the details and colors would look just like this, probably around 5-6 stop but the original scene was most likely much much higher.

I think all your criticism towards poorly done high DR image are just that... they are all poorly done. While the ones that are done right looks completely natural and you wouldn't even guess that the shadows or highlights has been brought back.

In the case of DR, the more really is the better. Just my two cent.

Happy shooting!


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MOD Mako2011
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