It seems like it’s been years that RED has been hinting at their newest generation sensor – code named Dragon (they’ve never been a company to pick subtle names). And it actually has been years that the Dragon hype has been leaking out of RED.

But this time the hype speed is increasing, and it seems like a release is imminent. So camera nuts (us) rejoice! The year of the Dragon is upon us.

RED EPIC Dragon Sensors Body
Nice stencling

When can I get it?

We expect our Epic-M and Epic-X cameras to be Dragon sensor upgraded in September of 2013, and available for rental immediately. Also, we will have the new Red Rocket-X Cards to go along with them. And I know you’re going to ask about price, and we have no price increase planned at this time for Epic rentals with Dragon.

That’s right. Same low price we have on Epic’s today will be the price you pay for a Dragon sensor Epic tomorrow.

So what is Dragon about anyway?

Current generation of RED Epic and Scarlet cameras are using the Mysterium-X, aka the MX, a great sensor that was revolutionary when it came out as an upgrade to the original Red ONE. It had great low-noise characteristics, a native ISO of 800 (crazy at the time), and loads of dynamic range. It really depends who you ask, but a common figure bandied about the reduser forums was that it had a whopping 16 stops of dynamic range. Actual, usable, low-noise stops may have been one or two ticks below that, but it was still a remarkable sensor.

The new Dragon is aiming to not just one-up the MX, it’s set to leapfrog and take us at least two generations of sensor design into the future. Much improved low-light and noise performance, new larger pixel array, 6K capability, and amazing dynamic range are the main benefits.

This all means that making rich, highly detailed, images will be even easier than before.

See below for some impressive stats.

The Nitty Gritty

• 19 Megapixels

• 6144 x 3160 pixel array

• Up to 6K RAW recording*

• Up to 100FPS in 6k, up to 300FPS in 3k

• Up to 19 stops dynamic range (whoa) more with HDRx• ISO 2000 for unreal low-light capability*

*Most current lenses will cover up to 6K on this camera. Some of the wider focal lengths may vignette at 6K. Full tests on our in-house glass will be forthcoming.

*The 2000 ISO figure  needs some explanation. Red has stated that unlike previous sensors, dialing down your ISO settings on dragon does not decrease your effective DR on the camera. Previously if you were shooting in bright sunlight on an MX chip camera and turned your ISO down to 120 or something, you were limiting your highlight dynamic range because changing the ISO values was just shifting the 18% grey point on the camera. Supposedly with Dragon, changing your ISO value on the camera no longer does this. So if you dial down to 120 ISO you’ll still have the full 19 stops of dynamic range to play with. I don’t know what witchcraft they are using to get these results, but if it’s true (and we’ll know in a few months when they finally come out) this is a huge deal.