Thread: Dragon X owner: switch to Gemini or buy a B cam like a Sony A7 SIII?

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  1. #1 Dragon X owner: switch to Gemini or buy a B cam like a Sony A7 SIII? 
    I'm looking for a good cam for low light, and now i have to choose between a Gemini (giving back to RED my Dragon X for USD 5000), or buy a Sony A7 S III...i know very well the difference from a compressed 4:2:2 and a nice RAW from Gemini...but what do you think?
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  2. #2  
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    Gonna get a lot of subjective answers from people who don't own all of the cameras in question (me included, as I'm a Dragon and Sony mirrorless owner [but not an A7S3]).

    Personally, while Gemini might be a nice bump in cleanliness/low-light, I'd opt for the S3, if only because a.) it's cheaper, b.) even better at low-light than the gemini and c.) you stand to gain more by having two cameras (either as additional revenue/rental/kit fee, or from having a secondary b-cam at the ready making your coverage easier).

    Other advantages are that you can easily gimbal the A7S3 (and leave it balanced all day if necessary), it has decent auto-focus (that you will use, especially on a gimbal), and it's 422 10bit is no slouch (even after being spoiled by compressed raw). In fact, you may end up using it more because of how much easier it is to take around/use/hold. A RED (any one) and a Sony mirrorless are two different beasts that compliment each other quite well and matching can be done easily enough in the grade (you may be surprised just how much recoverable DR the Sony has, too.)

    Just my two cents; take with a grain of salt.
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  3. #3  
    Thanks Mike, agree with you..maybe i will buy the Sony A7S3, even if i have the A73 but 4k at 4:2:2 could be a good reason, especially for those low light capabilities! The problem is on the lens, i have the Angenieux EZ-1 with is S35..so i have to use the Sony under APS-C mode to match this beautiful zoom!
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  4. #4  
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    I own Gemini and Komodo, and use to shoot on FS7/FS5/A7rii/A7sii a lot. I will try to offer some advice from my perspective while also posing a few questions that you should think about that might make the answers to your equation more clear.

    1) Why do you really need 2 cameras? Do you shoot interviews often where you need a second angle? Do you do a lot of production work that would benefit from multiple angles simultaneously? Do you travel where having a backup camera might save you in a bad situation? Do you have a second shooter who can consistently work with you using (Cam-B)? OR are you a single operator who will attempt to manage both cameras simultaneously on a job? If you do not have a dedicated team and intend to work solo, I would think having a primary (A-cam) that checks all your boxes is more sensible, at least from my perspective as it is difficult to attempt to manage 2 cameras (Cam A+B) on a job as a single op, even if the second camera is a DSLR. You still will have to dedicate time on the job for (Cam-B) so just be aware of how that might affect your workflow and if it is truly realistic and necessary for the type of jobs you are doing and assess the (time/cost/benefit) ratio.

    2) If you go the second camera route, do you think you can easily match that footage with Dragon-X? In my experience, matching SONY footage to RED is not exactly easy. You absolutely will need to shoot a color chart on every job and then develop a transform LUT on your own time that gets the image as close as possible but depending on the temperature of lighting in your scene and a few other variables there will still be "tweaking" before you get a 90-95% match. Do you have familiarity with such processes already and are you willing to entertain matching the footage in post on every job and going through the extra hassle of shooting color charts any time you would utilize both cameras?

    3) Do you publish in 4k, 2k, or 1080 for final deliverable to clients? If you currently like to provide a 4k final deliverable then you can shoot in 5-6k on Dragon and still have tons of flexibility with a 4k final image. Keep in mind that a7siii tops out at 4k so there will be no flexibility with cropping, less flexibility with post-stabilization etc. and you may end up wanting to deliver in 2k if you do a shoot with both cameras. Just something to consider for sure how the acquisition format will affect your deliverable format and aspect ratios. Another consideration is flexibility in grading. Dragon-X (16-bit) is going to take a "heavy grade" much better than the 10-bit image of an A7Siii so again matching these cameras and keeping "your look" consistent throughout a combined project is definitely harder than you might make it out to be. Sony cameras are very sharp and will look much more digital and you will definitely be able to tell the differences between what was shot on a DSLR and what was shot on Dragon so to keep your look consistent you may have to consider softening up the Sony image with diffusion filters if you really want everything to be as congruent as possible, depending on what type of lenses you use. If you shoot on vintage glass or non-clinical DSLR glass on the Sony this will be less of an issue but if you use Sony G-Master or Sony Zeiss glass be prepared for it too like quite edgier and more digital (less filmic) than anything you will shoot on Dragon.

    4) What is wrong with your Dragon-X now? Are you getting noisy images consistently or just think Gemini would be better for the type of work you do? Do you black-shade on every job or often? Are you shooting predominantly night scenes for your line of work? Dragon is an awesome sensor and is every bit as pretty or even more filmic than Gemini. Gemini in my opinion is more clinically clean and yes it is better in low-light but Dragon is no slouch when lit properly. What makes you think you need a Gemini over Dragon-X? Are you getting too much noise out of a properly lit image or do you really lack the proper lighting you need to get the type of images out of Dragon that are as clean as you like? Do you do tons of run-and-gun where you can't properly light your scenes? My question is, why is Gemini better than Dragon-X for the type of work that you do? Gemini is definitely the best low-light camera RED makes (Monstro is up there too) but keep in mind it must be in low-light mode to see such benefits and in low-light mode total dynamic range in the highlights is reduced by a few stops in order to better see into the shadows. Komodo from my experience is no slouch either and very good in low-light even though it is not Dual-ISO. Grain from Komodo's global shutter is finer and more reminiscent of film grain so it looks great even at higher ISO's. Regardless of the camera, I find myself wanting to light scenes properly even if I am using my Gemini and I find the low-light mode only more useful for run-and-gun scenarios and documentary or event filming where I can't properly light my scenes due to various constraints. My point is, if you think you are going to buy a Gemini and magically not have to light any of your scenes properly you are wrong. Gemini definitely has more flexibility in low-light situations due to gaining about 2-3 stops once in Dual-ISO mode but it is still definitely not an A7sii in terms of internal noise reduction, extreme high ISO performance, and extremely dark scenarios. To get the best image out of any RED camera you still will want to expose properly (use the histogram / false color / stop lights) to get the most light fed into the sensor as possible and you will get the best image from that, not just the fact that you switched on Dual-ISO.

    To truly answer your questions properly you need to take a deeper look at the above questions and "why Gemini is better for you than Dragon-X" and "will you really have the extra time to use a second camera" and "will that second camera actually cause more work for you in the long run"?
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  5. #5  
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    Personally I went Gemini over Dragon-X, because I knew I liked a cleaner image and I wanted to have more flexibility when I was in a run-and-gun scenario and I couldn't properly light my scenes since I own a small production and single-op an awful lot. I prefer a clean sensor and I like to have the option to add film grain in post to my images (dirty them up) rather than having grain all the time from any slightly underexposed image from say a sensor like Dragon. There have been many times, particularly on travel jobs and real estate jobs where Dual-ISO has saved me since I couldn't bring the lighting that I really needed. Dragon would have been much darker/noisier and just simply not as clean, which would have looked less professional to my clients on those particular jobs. To some people that is not a big deal as many people like grain in their images but there are times on commercial projects where I want as clean an image as possible and to not have to rely on noise reduction in post and Gemini definitely is a cut above Dragon in that regard. However in total, the times using Gemini I probably only choose to use Low-Light Mode maybe 15% of the time since I have owned the camera, because I realize the image I get is best if I provide the sensor with adequate light (no matter what camera). I don't find Gemini allows me to pull beautiful images out of crappy sets with terrible lighting as it just doesn't work that way. Both Gemini or Dragon will look equally bad in a poor lighting scenario and Gemini will get noisy when underexposed just like any other camera as Dual-ISO is no magic see in the dark potion.

    Is Gemini better than Dragon, in my opinion YES, but I don't know if I would spend's $5000 right now to go between the two especially not with Komodo on the scene and DSCM3 about (1-1.5) years out. $5000 is only $1000 shy from owning a standard production "Black" Komodo which would be the best (B-Cam) your Dragon could ever ask for and a better investment than upgrading to Gemini in my opinion. In regards to the a7siii that image is definitely not going to match your Dragon, so I hate to say it but from my perspective you are just going to be creating more work for yourself with very little gain in terms of image quality and performance from the A7siii that would even be close to on-par with your Dragon. I would probably even recommend a BMP6k as your second camera before I would recommend the A7siii as I think the BMP6K image is more filmic and much closer to what you would get from a RED and will match much easier with higher IQ and grade-ablility right out of the gate, plus that platform has Dual-ISO as well.

    I would say these are my suggestions in order of what would benefit you most (in my opinion).

    1) If you don't have a second shooter who can work with you consistently and you don't have an immediate need to have 2 cameras running at the same time for your current jobs I would not purchase a second camera as it will just take more time from your workflow on set and in post-production to get them to match and at the end of the day you will still be left wanting more out of the second camera's performance and image quality (unless you get Komodo or a second RED).

    2) If you need a second camera (from assessment of the above statement) I still would not buy a Sony A7siii. I would recommend Komodo or second RED first, then BMPP6K, then the Panasonic S1H with recording monitor.

    3) If you do not need a second camera (from assessment of the above statement) I still would not upgrade to Gemini unless you are truly a run-and-gun, event, or documentary shooter who single-ops a lot and will not have time to light scenes. Then yes Gemini is a clear winner here OR maybe RED isn't even the right camera for this type of work at all if you primarily do long events....

    4) Rather than upgrading you Dragon, I would instead invest in long-term production equipment (i.e. lighting or Lenses) to give you the ability to better light and expose your scenes as well as improve the aesthetic imprinted on your images from lenses. This will greatly improve the image quality of your Dragon, while not pushing you into another camera body that will be once again obsolete in a year. DSMC3 is not as far away as you think so you could wait or pick up a Komodo down the road and invest in lighting or lensing now as those items will follow you and aide you the rest of your career. Take a look at the Aputure 300dii or Nanlite Forza series lights and or some vintage lensing such as Leica R's, Zeiss Contax, or Canon-FD's as those type of purchases and investments have greatly improved my ability to provide my clients with extraordinary high-dollar images on a budget and will follow me through my career with the many camera bodies I will own in the future. Follow the pathway of the light.... as lighting and lenses is what makes pretty images, cameras just record them. Just my two cents...
    Last edited by Andrew Reese; 09-28-2020 at 12:37 PM.
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  6. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roberto Leone View Post
    Thanks Mike, agree with you..maybe i will buy the Sony A7S3, even if i have the A73 but 4k at 4:2:2 could be a good reason, especially for those low light capabilities! The problem is on the lens, i have the Angenieux EZ-1 with is S35..so i have to use the Sony under APS-C mode to match this beautiful zoom!
    Doesn't the EZ1 series have a doubler/FF adapter? With the money you saved going with the A7sIII, you could probably get one of those. Sure, you'd lose a stop or two with the adapter, but you could just shoot the A7sIII at ISO3200 to compensate. (: Conversely, I think APS-C modes have even less rolling shutter, though I'm not sure if it plays against low-light performance... OH, and is the crop mode actually 4k? I thought the sensor was 12mp/4kx3k max, which means the cropped mode, might be less than 4k.

    I'm sure you could sell the A73 for nice chunk of change still. And yeah, I seem to recall 422 over 420 actually being more beneficial to the codec than 8bit vs 10bit.
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  7. #7  
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    It vastly depends on your use cases. Ask yourself those questions:


    - What do you shoot mostly - crew jobs or one-man band? Do you work with AC all of the time?
    - Where and how do you need low light. Like say - it is for narrative shot outside in a badly lit environment, where you are only going to light an actor, or for concerts/slo-mo/non-lit sets?
    - Do you need to provide a director/focus puller/client - a reliable video feed?
    - Are you working alone or with a crew most of the times?
    - Which lenses do you use? PL-mount cinema grade, or lighter photographic ones?

    I'd say, If I was going to tell - Dragon X is a good camera already, and you won't benefit much of a transition to Gemini, except for cleaner shadows and overall a tad better pixels. If it was for a narrative, I'd def. would upgrade for Gemini. If it was for event, reportage or anything else - where you don't have to provide a client with a reliable feed, or work with a crew - I'd buy a second camera. Second camera is value, it just depends on what kind of sets you're going to use it. A7S is clearly not a crew camera.
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  8. #8  
    Thanks a lot guys, my main use is for cinema rental (drone and Ronin2+blackarm). But for my personal works (documentary) i need a good camera for the night..i have a couple of zooms with E mount and i have also the CP2 and Angenieux EZ1 lense with PL mount. i just need to know if the Gemini works good over 3200 ISO, or the limit is 3200?? Because the Sony A7SIII is a monster for high iso
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  9. #9  
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    I prefer to not use Gemini over 3200. I also do not like too much noise/grain in my images and thats just me. You can use 6400 on Gemini if you don't mind doing a little NR in post but If you are looking for +3200-6400 and above Gemini is still not that camera in my opinion and the a7siii will fair much better and provide you with the added benefit of a B-Cam, location scouting cam, etc.
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  10. #10  
    This is a good help, thanks!!! As i can read on the specs of the Sony camera, i can't use the APS-C lenses under 4k mode! Bad!!! Because i can't use my S35 Angenieux EZ-1!
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