I saw the 4.5 hour Che at Cannes last night, projected digitally at 2K on an enormous, probably 60 foot screen.
The movie was shot under just about every lighting situation imaginable. It's a very good sample reel for what works about RED, and what does not work.
What works is that the images are sharp. What does not work is the dynamic range the camera can handle. Consistently there is little to no shadow detail. The shadows simply meld into one black mass.
The highlights clip looks like video, in many shots no better than consumer video. Day exteriors where the sky is outside the dynamic range are ugly. The sky blows out into white, with a sharp cliff from whatever the nearest brightness value to white was.
Clumpy shadows, clipped highlights.
Sad to say, this sensor is nowhere near the dynamic range of film. One could bury one's head inthe sand and say that's what the filmmaker wanted, but I doubt that a video look was the goal.
The only thing mysterious about the Mysterium is how it so faithfully delivers high resolution video. Either the sensor and electronics are incapable of handling shadows and highlights elegantly, or there's still wisdom in the mysterious words "you get what you pay for".
Don't take my word for it. See the movie and weep.
Expanding on this post after reading your replies:
I am a first time poster, but I would like to think I 'm not a poser. I have an Oscar for Visual effects. I've studied images a bit. Amongst other things, I fancy I know dynamic range and clipping when I see it. I think I know the difference between great image quality and sub-standard image quality.
I saw two HD movies, "Three Monkeys" and "24 City", at Cannes, in the same theater, the Lumiere. Both were digitally projected via the same digital projector used for Che. I don't care, by the way, whether a movie is shot on HD, film, Genesis, RED or the new Martian film capture medium.
I hate to be burned at the stake for heresy in the church of RED, but folks, Che did not stack up to the tone range of either Three Monkeys or 24 City, or motion picture film. I wish it was not the case, because I've followed RED's development and would like it to deliver on its promise.
I did see the Peter Jackson short at NAB, and its shadow detail in the airplane cockpit scenes was flat. The detail in the distant green tree lines was clumped up. Just my eyes and my opinion.
I would love to have a cheap 4K digital camera that generates an image approximating film. What I saw in Che, which you will see soon enough, particularly in the the second Che movie, was a serious disapointment.
Maybe the DP did not care of the sky blew out and clipped, or that many times when Che was in shadow, and his face was under a hat, you could not see his face in the shadows. The shadows were dead.
I don't disrespect the RED efforts. I don't think it's ready for prime time. Yet. The fact the director of Che chose RED doesn't mean its image quality is not to be criticized. Image quality may have not been his main concern in weighing his camera options.
Based on what I saw in Che, which spanned many real motion picture lighting situations, what has clearly not been solved are two big issues.
The highlights do not roll off cleanly into white. They clip as soon as the dynamic range of the scene is outside what the sensor can deal with. That's what I saw time and again in Che. You can see this with complete clarity in a night scene where there is an explosion. And you can see it in Che part 2, when the sky overexposes through tree branches. It looks very much like how video handles the limits of its highlight dynamic range.
The shadow tone dynamics have a similiar problem, but in reverse. The dynamic range of the shadows in a normal day scene was not even close to film, nor were the night scenes.
Maybe the Che DP wanted the highlghts to clip and the shadows to be flat. That's possible.
It's either a simple problem for RED to solve, to get the highlights to roll smoothly into white, or it's not. Either the sensor needs to be replaced or the software-electronics. I don't own a RED, but apparently many of you do. It's up to you to pressure RED to fix these problems instead of defending the current limitations. From the beginning of film, cinematographers and VFX artists pressured Kodak to fix their film grain and dynamic range and it worked. Kodak doesn't get its panties in bunch over the limits of their film stocks, they admit limitations and fix them as best they can.
I hear little objective expression of these current dynamic range limitations coming out of RED, which should make you as owners curious. I don't hear "we know the highlights clip and the shadows clump up and we're going to solve the problem". Where are the examples on the RED website of the good, the bad and the ugly? It would have zero impact on sales, so why not a list of "known image bugs".
You all know that soon enough, in one or two years, the current sensor will be dumped for one that has a greater dynamic range and hopefully rolls off into white as elegantly as motion picture film currently does. Why defend what will soon enough be obsolete?
Clearly, film or digital have to be worked within their limitations. The real world limitations imposed by the RED sensor in bright daylight and in shadows were, in Che, as described above. Show me a full length RED movie shot in conditions similar to Che that disproves this. I'd like to see it.
It's useful to get real and respectfully criticize Kodak or RED, and demand more. Being in love with Kodak or RED can make you feel good, but didn't some wised-up lover once admit "Love is Blind".