Thread: Red Dragon ISO Texture Versus Film Grain

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  1. #1 Red Dragon ISO Texture Versus Film Grain 
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Jim isn't around much these days, but he has in the past said some interesting things about Dragon.

    A couple of good reads in regards to Dragon:
    RED Dragon vs 65mm Film
    RED Dragon vs. 65mm Film cont'd


    I've shot and scanned a good chunk of film in my life and I know a couple others here who have too. There's a lot of talk going on lately, but I do want to bring up some relevance to motion pictures, film, and cinema production.

    Let's talk film.

    S35 4-Perf resolves about 4K of resolution. We have scanned it at 2K, 4K, 6K, and 8K up until now. 4K and 6K being the most popular.
    Film on a good day (depending on ASA and how well it's shot) is grabbing you 13 stops of Dynamic Range. On it's absolute best day you can squeeze 15 stops out of it.
    Film does roll-off into highlight and overexposure and it of course has character than many love to this day.


    Let's talk Dragon.

    Things we know.
    Resolution. Dragon out resolves S35 film at 5K inside of the S35 3-Perf format. Dragon is actually out resolving 65mm 5-perf at 4K too. There's a ton of resolution/format relevance to film with Dragon. Easily one of the best things I noticed once the sensor size was announced really.
    Color. Dragon's color right now is really, really good. There's a technical and subjective answer here, so I'll leave it at that.
    Dynamic Range. I've measured as deep at 19 visible stop variations though 17 is a better number that we can actually experience and use in real life conditions.
    Image Character. Red has clearly done a lot to remove that digital fingerprint with Dragon. Highlights roll-off naturally. The images have texture. A pleasing texture.


    That brings me to this post. Lots and lots of talk about noise, texture, grain lately. I want to show a bit of reality. Dragon is a digital cinema camera first after all.


    Where does texture come into play with Dragon at each ISO? How does it compare to modern motion picture film stock?

    Keeping in mind Red recommends a "cinema ready" ISO range of ISO 250-2000. Let's take a look.


    Red Dragon ISO Texture Versus Film Grain

    You can click each image and it will open into a new tab or window.


































    I have a good memory.

    Red's initial promise was to bring to market a viable "digital film alternative".

    Perhaps now with Dragon we are looking at a potential realistic digital medium that surpasses film.
    Last edited by Phil Holland; 06-12-2014 at 12:33 AM.
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Peter Majtan's Avatar
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    Well done Phil!

    Would be nice to show peeps the grain on 500 ASA stock compared to 500 ISO on Dragon (or even MX!) - just saying...

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  3. #3  
    Senior Member Christoffer Glans's Avatar
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    Grain like this is very hard to judge because it's not moving. There's a difference between how digital noise is moving and how film grain is moving. The alexa is free of fixed pattern noise and it's "noise" is the closest to film I've seen. I haven't seen Dragon noise moving yet so I cannot tell if it's "good noise" or "bad noise". How it is on a blow up still image is very hard to judge compared to 35mm.
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Patrick Grossien's Avatar
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    Great stuff! Thank you, Phil!

    I do understand it correctly, that the 4K and 2K downscales of 6K are from the 6K 250ASA scan, right?
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  5. #5  
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Majtan View Post
    Well done Phil!

    Would be nice to show peeps the grain on 500 ASA stock compared to 500 ISO on Dragon (or even MX!) - just saying...
    Cheers Peter. I'll see what I can do. I no longer have an Mysterium-X on hand, but who knows. Maybe I can find one and a short end and a camera and a lab and a scanner :)


    Quote Originally Posted by Christoffer Glans View Post
    Grain like this is very hard to judge because it's not moving. There's a difference between how digital noise is moving and how film grain is moving. The alexa is free of fixed pattern noise and it's "noise" is the closest to film I've seen. I haven't seen Dragon noise moving yet so I cannot tell if it's "good noise" or "bad noise". How it is on a blow up still image is very hard to judge compared to 35mm.
    Agreed. This is mostly to show the granular quality and visibility of the grain. In motion I find it pleasing. However, there will be other who don't want any texture at all.

    Interestingly enough the newer digital delivery codecs play nicer with grain. I'll show that maybe in a week or so.
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  6. #6  
    Moderator David Battistella's Avatar
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    Thanks Phil,

    I think its the color noise that starts to show up below middle grey in the bottom stops at around ISO 800 that people are talking about mostly. Like there is an area between zero black and the first and second stop above that has color noise.

    The best part of this is to know about it so we can adjust accordingly. But this might all change in a week.

    Battistella
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member Eric Z's Avatar
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    Thanks, Phil.

    BTW - I hate chroma noise .
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  8. #8  
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    This is great to see, and important as well, Dragon vs Film comparison.
    Thanks Phil!
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  9. #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by Christoffer Glans View Post
    Grain like this is very hard to judge because it's not moving. There's a difference between how digital noise is moving and how film grain is moving. The alexa is free of fixed pattern noise and it's "noise" is the closest to film I've seen. I haven't seen Dragon noise moving yet so I cannot tell if it's "good noise" or "bad noise". How it is on a blow up still image is very hard to judge compared to 35mm.
    Most of the dragon noise moves and yes it looks far better than MX ans alexa noise especially if we talk alexa compressed / proress.


    But there is a big / huge difference with film and digital. The sensor stands still and got all it's pixels in the same spot for every frame. Film on the other hand has silver particles that is randomly placed over the image plane. This gives film an upper hand when looking at a clip. So film resolution mesured on a single frame can look far less than what you see on a digital image but when you look at the clip in playback things will change as the silver layout is changing from frame to frame where as the Cmos sensor does not have such feature.
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  10. #10  
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    Great post Phil. Thank you very much.
    Maik Mueller || http://www.maikmueller.art
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