There’s lots to celebrate about the various sensor options offer from RED, but low light performance has never been a touted feature. Well, with the help of a well-known space pioneer, RED has a new box to tick with its recently announces GEMINI 5K S35 sensor for the RED EPIC-W camera.
Following a trend from camera makers like Panasonic and Kinefinity, the new sensor features a dual base ISO sensitivity (800 & 3200). When in low light mode, RED promises images at 3200 that are as clean as its 800 ISO base. You can also expect to see about 2 more stops of detail in the shadows at the price of highlights clipping about 2 stops early. This really isn’t an issue, considering that maintaining super bright highlight detail is not typically the challenge of low light photography. In standard mode, the retention of highlight detail is better than some of RED earlier sensors. In low light mode, you do lose a bit of dynamic range, but according to RED, Its only about 1/2 a stop.
All in all, I happy to see RED tackle the low light issue. The Gemini 5K S35 version of the EPIC-W promises to a popular tool among commercial and indpendent filmmakers.
INTRODUCING THE NEW GEMINI 5K S35 SENSOR (Press Release)
Today, RED introduced the new GEMINI™ 5K S35 sensor for the RED EPIC-W camera. GEMINI 5K S35 leverages dual sensitivity modes to provide creators with greater flexibility for a variety of shooting environments. Whether capturing with GEMINI’s Standard Mode for well-lit conditions or its Low Light Mode for darker environments, RED EPIC-W 5K S35 delivers incredible dynamic range and produces cinema-quality images.
The GEMINI 5K S35 sensor provides exceptional low-light performance, allowing for cleaner imagery with less noise and better shadow detail. Operators can easily switch between modes through the camera’s on-screen menu with no down time and experience an increased field of view at 2K and 4K resolutions compared to the higher resolution HELIUM sensor. In addition, the sensor’s 30.72 mm x 18 mm dimensions allow for greater anamorphic lens coverage than with the HELIUM or RED DRAGON sensor.
Built on the compact DSMC2 form factor, the RED EPIC-W 5K camera and sensor combination captures 5K full format motion at up to 96 fps, boasts incredibly fast data speeds of up to 275 MB/s, and provides in-camera support of RED’s enhanced image processing pipeline, IPP2. Like all cameras in the DSMC2 line up, EPIC-W 5K is able to shoot simultaneous REDCODE RAW and Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD/HR recording and adheres to RED’s dedication to OBSOLESCENCE OBSOLETE—a core operating principle that allows current RED owners to upgrade their technology as innovations are unveiled without having to purchase all new gear.
“While the GEMINI sensor was developed for low-light conditions in outer space, we quickly saw there was so much more to this sensor,” says Jarred Land, President of RED Digital Cinema. “In fact, we loved the potential of this sensor so much, we wanted to evolve it to make it have a broader appeal. As a result, the EPIC-W GEMINI now sports dual-sensitivity modes. It still has the low-light performance mode, but also has a default, standard mode that allows you to shoot in brighter conditions.”
Beginning at $24,500, the new RED EPIC-W with GEMINI 5K S35 sensor is available for purchase online and through select worldwide RED Authorized Dealers. Alternatively, WEAPON Carbon Fiber and RED EPIC-W 8K customers will have the option to upgrade to the GEMINI sensor at a later date.
- Low Light Optimized 15.4 Megapixel 5K S35 sensor
- Dual sensitivity sensor
- Seamless switching between Standard and Low Light modes
- Same RED Cinematic image
- 16.5 stops Dynamic Range
- 5K up to 96 fps Full Format
- 4K up to 120 fps and 2K up to 240 fps Full Format (no crop)
- Simultaneously record REDCODE plus ProRes or Avid
- Up to 275 MB/s write speeds
- Interchangeable lens mount
- Full modularity and a small, lightweight design
Episode One of the Cinema Camera Mega Test gave us the opportunity to see how the #RedCine Epic, #SonyF5, #SonyFs7, #SonyFs5, #URSAMINI4.6K, and Canon #C300MK1 performed in our over and under exposure stress test. If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch the results in 4K here.
In this episode, colorist Eric McClain, of Digital Pix Post, details the color grading process that was used for this test and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each camera.
RED EPIC DRAGON
Of all the cameras tested, the RED Epic proved to be the easiest to work with. The image right out of the camera rendered a well-balanced image. Hardly any work needed to be done to produce a neutral image from which to start the grade. The Epic performed very well in our overexposure test. For the most part, recovering the image to neutral from an over exposed capture was simply a matter of readjusting the exposure compensation in RED RAW tools. There were no adjustments required to the color or gamma settings.
Underexposure was a bit more of a challenge. As with most cameras, there was a fair about of noise in the underexposed images. At -2 to -3 stops, it could be argued that the noise was acceptable, maybe even pleasing. Starting at about 4 stops, we found the noise to be far less acceptable. It suffered from harsh coarseness and poor color response.
The F5 was captured in S-GAMUT/SLOG-3. In Divinci Resolve, a REC 709 Input transfer was applied to render a neutral starting image. Much like Epic, The F5 produced a very well balanced image right out of the camera. In our over exposure test, the F5 seem to thrive from being over exposed and pulled back down. It easily retained highlight detail, even at +4 stops. When the overexposed image was pulled back into proper exposure, much the shadow noise was eliminated. This produced a cleaner image than the properly exposed shots. It was necessary to make a few color adjustments to bring each over exposed shot back to neutral, but it was very light work.
Underexposure also proved to be an area where the F5 performed at the top of the group. At as much as -4 stops, the F5 continued to render a fairly usable image. With a little noise reduction, -4 stop pulled up to proper exposure could be quite acceptable. That said, the underexposed F5 had much more difficulty reproducing the color and gamma of the properly exposed image.
If you’re looking for a good companion or alternative to the F5, the Fs7 proves to be an excellent choice. In our stress test, it performed almost identical to the F5. The differences presented themselves at the extremes. At +3 and +4 stops, the Fs7 isn’t able to retain the highlight detail and roll-off was well as the F5. In our under exposure test, the Fs7 at -4 stops produced far more noise and unacceptable color artifacts.
URSA Mini 4.6k
We chose to shoot RAW with the URSA Mini. Using the RAW tools to transform the image to REC 709, produced an image with a strong blue bias in the shadows and mid-tones. (It should be noted that this test was conducted before the Black Shading firmware update. Maybe that would have help to produce a more neutral image) With some light color and Gamma adjustments, the URSA Mini produced very pleasing images. Of all the cameras tested, the URSA Mini rendered the sharpest image, without any sense of harshness. Much like the Sony F5 and Fs7, it seemed to thrive when overexposed, with any visible noise being eliminated when pulled back down to proper exposure. Both the F5 and the URSA Mini were strong performers at -4 stops.
Canon C300 MK1
The Canon aesthetic has long been a favorite. This stress test proved that Canons also produce a very a robust signal. Our test footage was captured at 1920x1080p 23.98 (all other cameras were 4K) with REC709 baked in. The put the C300 MK1 at would should have been a significant disadvantage. In reality, the upscaled C300 footage looked just as good as the native 4k from the Sony cameras. In general, the C300 had a slight green bias, but not nearly as pronounced as the blue bias of the URSA Mini or even the slight yellow bias of the Epic. At -4 stops the upscaled C300 performed about as well as the F5, in terms of noise and color artifacts. While this test is not the most comprehensive look at the image scaling capabilities of the C300, It does show that the canon workhorse can hold it’s own in a 4k workflow.
The big disappointment of this test was the overall performance of the Fs5 internal 4K. In HD, this camera shows great results. In 4k, It would seem that the combination of the 4:2:0 color sampling, 8-bit data, and log-GOP compression put it at too much of a disadvantage. The Fs5 required the most manipulation is Resolve to render a neutral and balanced image. Like all the cameras in this test, the Fs5 benefitted from over exposure in terms of noise reduction when pulled back down to proper exposure. Of all the cameras, it required the most re-balancing of color and gamma to return to a neutral image. At -2 stops it was possible to recover a fairly clean image, but the challenge was returning to neutral color balance. More the 3 stops of underexposure proved not to be recoverable.
In the end, the choice is up to you and the needs of your production. This test shows that not only are all of these cameras capable performers at overexposure and a fair amount of underexposure but with just a little effort in Resolve, you could easily mix most of these rigs in a multi-camera production.
BTS By Bart Johnson Productions
In advance of our upcoming Cinema Camera Mega Test, our good friend Bart Johnson has posted a behind the scenes look at our test setup and he talked cinematographers, Tim Wilson and Derek Allen about the motivations for doing the test, the methodology, and our ultimate goals.
The Final results for the test are scheduled to be posted Feb 1, 2017 #film1feb1.
Subscribe to GearJones.com and we’ll send you a reminder when the results are ready.
In 2016, The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be opening on the National Mall, in Washington, DC, right next to the Washington Monument. I was honored to be hired by Black Robin Media as a DP and chief editor for a series of videos that will be part of several featured exhibits in the museum. This project has been a giant #post production adventure, covering music, movies, TV, sports and many other aspects of Black life over the centuries. Our post production team consists of three editors working on three separate Mac based edit systems. Because of a combination of ever-shifting delivery schedules and client approvals, we wanted to design a strategy that would allow each editor the ability to access any project at any time and pick up right where the last editor left off. We also wanted to be able to seamlessly work on all the projects from any of the three edit systems.
Our main challenge was to keep all three systems in sync and up-to-date at all times. An ideal solution would be to employ a #shared storage system likeEditShare or Avid Unity ISIS. Even though we’re working in Adobe Creative Cloud, specifically #Premiere Pro CC, ISIS could have proved a powerful solution. #Avid and #Adobe have collaborated to make it possible for Premiere Pro to take full advantage of the ISIS Shared Storage. Sadly that solution was financially and technologically out of reach. A simpler and more affordable option would have been to employ a single network attached storage device like a Drobo, Synology orQ-Nap, as a central repository of media assets and project files, that all three edit systems could source from. Unfortunately, the network connection in our offices is not reliable enough to sustain the data throughput necessary for smooth and efficient #editing. Alternatively, we could have executed nightly back ups to a central NAS. That way, if one of us needed to pick up on a fellow editors project, we could just pull from the previous night’s backup. While that is a workable solution, we feared the slow ramp-ups with all the file transfers and re-linking, not to mention the potential of getting out of sync with which version is the most recent – the one on the edit system or the one in the NAS.
The Solution – BitTorrent
Our team is a lean, effective and creative operation, as such, we were searching for the most efficient and cost-effective system that would allow any editor to work on any project, from any machine in the office at any time. (I know, that’s a lot of anys.) Each edit system consisted of some variety of iMac or MacPro, with a 12TB Promise Technologies Pegasus #RAID 5 attached, running the latest versions of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of applications. After exhaustive research, we decided on a product call, Sync by BitTorrent.
What is Sync?
Sync is a simple, fast and secure way to share and sync files, leveraging the #power of BitTorrent.
According to Wikipedia:
BitTorrent is a communications protocolfor the practice of peer-to-peer file sharingthat is used to distribute large amounts ofdata over the Internet. BitTorrent is one of the most common protocols for transferring large files, and peer-to-peer networks.
Yep, that’s right, this is the technology that powers all those pirate movie sharing services, but Sync has nothing to with that behavior. What BitTorrent technology offers us with Sync is, it allows for virtually real-time syncing of all the data related to every project. It’s sorta like an automated, shared cloud storage – without the need to actually store anything in the cloud. So, as new data is created on one of our edit systems, that data is synced over the Internet to a mirrored project folder on the RAIDs attached to our other two edit systems.
One of the advantages of BitTorrent technology is it’s blazing fast. Sync advertises its file transfers as 16 times faster than most cloud services. Along with that speed is that fact that the data transfer does not need to be contiguous. So if a large file transfer is interrupted by a power outage, network failure, or simply one of the other systems be rebooted, the transfer does not need to start again from the beginning. The data transfer picks up where it left off, the next time the network connection is reestablished. The really nice thing about all this is, none of this activity seems to have any negative impact on core system performance.
The advantages go far beyond being able to pick up and work on any project from anywhere. We’re also all able to easily access and use assets from any project, at any time. Since each edit system is working off its own directly connected RAID, There are no issues created due to network lag or congestion. And most important is the redundancy. Since the data syncing is happening virtually in real-time, each time a project is saved, a new file is created or a new piece of media is added – a copy (or backup) is synced to each of the other two system’s RAIDs. There’s no worry of lost project data at any point in the process.
How Does It Work?
Sync’s user interface is very clean and intuitive. Once installed it’s as simple as identifying a folder to sync (share) and sharing the folder with teammates. There is a key associated with each folder you choose to share. You have the option of sharing that key link via email, copy and paste the key or via a QR code, which can be scanned with a mobile device. (Did I mention that Sync also works on mobile?)
Before sharing you also have the option to set permissions to a read/write for read-only mode. This is very handy for working with partners who may need to track the progress of the project but are not active contributors. Once the key link is received at the other end. The user simply clicks on the link to activate syncing. If Sync is not already installed, the user is prompted to download and install the app. Once installed, it’s just matter of pointing to where you want to store the synced/shared data and Sync starts the initial data transfer. It’s that simple.
Although we didn’t do it for this project, now that we have the system in place, it makes it much easier for us to work with collaborators at remote locations. We can easily share our projects with colorist, designers, composers, sound designers and of course, other editors. They can have access to all the same assets that we have in the office and we all can collaborate effortlessly.
Did I forget to mention that everything described is in the free version of Sync?
The free version offers:
- No file size limits
- Unlimited number of folders
- Sync across all mobile platforms
For $39.95, the Pro version offers:
- All Free features +
- Automatically add folders across all your devices
- Save space with Selective Sync
- Dynamically control access permissions
The needs of our project only scratched the surface of all that Sync offers. For more information about Sync visit https://www.getsync.com/