View Full Version : Dragon X or Gemini for Next Project?

Derek Doublin
05-02-2021, 09:57 PM
Hi there. I used to be an original Epic Dragon owner when it first came out. While the camera was horrible in lowlight and had some bugs, there was a a wonderful quality to the Dragon sensor that I still think about to this day. I look back at all the stuff I shot with the Epic Dragon back then and it all looks so unique and dare I say it... cinematic.

I am going to be shooting some dark, moody stuff for a short film next week, and I want to revisit the Dragon. I want the gritty, filmic character of the Dragon sensor. That all being said, with how bad the Epic Dragon sensor was in lowlight, I'm wondering if I'm making a poor decision choosing it for this particular project. We will be shooting dark scenes. Is the new Dragon X 6K better in lowlight than the Epic Dragon was? And should I really be considering a Gemini instead?

I'm going to be shooting in controlled lighting scenarios, on standing sets. So I won't be at the mercy of uncontrolled, ambient lighting. So I'm not sure I need the lowlight prowess of the Gemini here. And it's the texture of the Dragon sensor that really makes it unique.

I'll be shooting stuff like what you see below. Is the Dragon X a poor choice for these types of scenes?



Any feedback would be great. Thanks.

Derek Doublin
05-04-2021, 03:26 PM

Les Hillis
05-04-2021, 04:03 PM
The sensor in the original Dragons and the ones in the Dragon-X are the same as far as I know, with the Dragon-X cameras being made available so people could keep using that sensor with the benefits of the updated DSMC2 system.

With IPP2, the colour workflow has changed since the original Dragons though, which could arguably result in your Dragon footage looking better than it ever has.

If you like the way the Dragon sensor looks in general, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't use it, especially considering what you've said about being able to shoot in controlled lighting.

There's nothing wrong with the way the Gemini looks either, but aside from preferring its particular look instead, I can't think of any advantages it might have over the Dragon-X if you can light for it.

Let us know how it works out, I'm always interested in seeing dark moody stuff shot on RED.

Michael Lindsay
05-04-2021, 04:14 PM
Dragon in DSMC2 bodies was maybe 1/4-1/3 stop cleaner... not more in my opinion.

I am half convinced the Dragon DSMC2 was Red's best camera combo but the lure of LF and a bit more speed has me with Monstro or Gemini most of the time now...

I can't see why not to shoot Dragon... and think it is maybe a better option for Dark and moody! However if you go Gemini shoot in normal mode and you get a better textured image from my experience!

Derek Doublin
05-04-2021, 06:15 PM
However if you go Gemini shoot in normal mode and you get a better textured image from my experience!

Thanks for the replies. I really appreciate it. You both mentioned having a preference for the Gemini over the Dragon, which is interesting. I wish I had more experience with that camera. In a lot of ways, the Gemini sounds like the camera everyone wanted the original Dragon to be. I've shot on Monstro for a solid week before, and call me crazy, but I actually prefer the look of the original Epic Dragon. I think as cameras get better, cleaner and more precise, they also lose a bit of the character and imperfections that made them unique. It's the same for optics.

I think I'm just gonna go for the Dragon and see what happens. I remembered there being some unpleasant, red noise on my original Epic Dragon when I pushed it into the higher ISOs (which were not very high at all in today's standards). So I was a little concerned with that. In the lower ISOs I absolutely loved the Dragon. In the higher ISOs I despised it. Looked like video noise, not filmic grain like the Alexa exhibits. For this shot, I want just enough noice to give it some texture, but not enough that I enter that ugly video noise of the Epic.

Les Hillis
05-06-2021, 01:34 AM
You got me reminiscing about the Dragon sensor, so I went back and had a look at some frames I shot with the Scarlet Dragon, mainly to look for noise and dark shots.

Here's an example of Dragon noise texture. I like how it looks in a B&W still, but I think it'd be unusable in colour and in motion -

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/540/n5nLTX.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/f0n5nLTXj)

Here's an example of crushing down to a dark look from a normal exposure -

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/537/c0f1Oc.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/exc0f1Ocj)

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/661/QVkvoR.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/idQVkvoRj)

Here are some other examples of crushing down to a clean but dark look -

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/923/1hrvqT.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/pn1hrvqTj)

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/924/w9lIXD.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/pow9lIXDj)

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/903/rz82Wl.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/p3rz82Wlj)

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/633/l6o2tf.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/hll6o2tfj)

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/911/qc1t0X.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/pbqc1t0Xj)

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/907/AF6uhh.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/p7AF6uhhj)

For me, there's always been enough of a random organic feel to the RED sensors without deliberately underexposing for an effect, so I haven't done much of it. I figure there's always going to be 'noise' and movement there to some extent anyway, and it's a fine line between having that and getting the digital/video type of noise I don't like. There are also colour accuracy issues when it goes too far.

I like the way you can degrade the image in a similar way by cropping into it in post to reveal 'texture' as well, but it's not practical to do most of the time.

I think lens choice can play a big part in an 'organic' look too.


Nick Morrison
05-06-2021, 06:28 AM
The Gemini is way better. Dragon was fine. Gemini is leaps ahead. Especially with the dual ISO.

Les Hillis
05-06-2021, 03:57 PM
Had a further look.

Going by the specs and comparing R3D's people have shared, I couldn't really agree there's that much of a difference, especially with the Dragon sensor in a DSMC2 body.

I'd say the Dragon-X 6K wins with its extra resolution and the Gemini 5K wins with its dual sensitivity.

I think the OP would get a very similar result using either, being in a controlled lighting situation and pushing the sensor noise a little.

While I'm here, I found some early release Dragon samples I hadn't seen for a while -

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/922/rUH5yc.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/pmrUH5ycj)

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/924/8CeexR.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/po8CeexRj)

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/924/0YQp1P.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/po0YQp1Pj)

https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/xq90/924/wDwGj3.jpg (https://imageshack.com/i/powDwGj3j)

Amazing how good that sensor still looks.

Nick Morrison
05-06-2021, 04:27 PM
Dragon is still great. But we've been able to do amazing things with Gemini.

Take these Xmas spots:

Shot on Gemini at 3200 at T22. Whistle clean. That would have broken DMSC1 dragon.

Granted DSMC2 Dragon is better, but still Gemini has left our jaws dropping several times now.