Thread: RED Weapon - Dynamic Range and Latitude Examined

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  1. #1 RED Weapon - Dynamic Range and Latitude Examined 
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Hello all. I've been going through a few hundred test images the last few days and feel this post might be a useful one to share.

    Upon taking delivery of Weapon I got straight into shooting. However, I was beginning to feel something was a bit different. Then after further digging and getting intimidate with the camera I discovered there indeed was a difference in the Total Captured Dynamic Range between RED Epic Dragon and Weapon. It seems that RED has found a way to get a bit more out of the sensor, the most obvious changes are a slightly lower noise floor and a bit more highlight detail retention. Which essentially equates to more Dynamic Range.

    That got me curious enough to test this. First and foremost I'd like to thank Stacey Spears and SpectraCAL for the use of their DSC Labs Xyla-21 Chart. This allowed me to compare my normal "patch reading" method of measuring Dynamic Range and the Xyla-21 Chart's individual steps for additional confidence in the results. I did a great deal of work here. Reading individual patches, masking off sides of the chart to eliminate glare, composting results, OLPF noise comparisons, gamma experiments, etc.... But there's certain information that I feel is very important towards the practical and technical ways of shooting that I want to share. And I think this not only effects Weapon, but likely other upcoming DSMC2 style RED cameras. The results found here are accurate within a tenth of a stop btw.

    Let's dig in.


    What Can Weapon See?

    Well that was my first question and I wanted to see exactly what I could dig out of a Weapon image and the Xyla-21. Which led to a rather ludicrous ISO 102400 pushed test using Frame Averaging.



    Remember this is a stress test, but yes, Weapon can indeed "see" all 21 stops amazingly. Are those "Usable Stops"? No, not exactly, but it does tell a bit of the story.

    Something to remember through all of this, when you see these Xyla-21 frame grabs and graphics all of the images are exposed to not clip in Red, Green, or Blue Channels. Meaning that first cube isn't thrown away and is a "counted stop".


    Recommended ISO Range

    To date RED has recommended an ISO Range of 250-2000 on the Dragon sensor. Though the cameras do indeed go up to ISO 12800. While I personally wouldn't push it that far, after shooting this test footage (specifically the ISO Tests on the Color Chart at the end of the video), you can indeed go beyond the recommended ISO Range and get very usable results.

    With Raven on the horizon I feel there's going to be a new audience who don't have a full grasp of how ISO and FLUT work on RED cameras. I don't want to re-tread too much here, but take a look at this graphic if this is new to you:
    http://artbyphil.com/phfx/red/dragon...tBreakdown.jpg

    Long and the short of it, RED cameras capture all the potential Dynamic Range possible for a given scene and exposure. RED doesn't apply any in camera noise reduction as they want to maintain the most possible Dynamic Range, Detail, and Color Information without losing it to aggressive lossy image processing techniques.


    Total Captured Dynamic Range

    RED has famously received a bit of criticism about the 16+ stops of Dynamic Range of the Dragon sensor, but it's something that I've been able to measure in the past:
    http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthr...=1#post1322384
    Stacey and Gavin also did the Xyla-21 test on Epic Dragon way back when:
    http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthr...-21-stop-chart

    Weapon is stated to have 16.5+ stops of Dynamic Range.

    Let's take a look at ISO 250, 800, 2000, and 6400 REDlogFilm Examples:













    Remember that's REDlogFilm with No Curve applied. On the ISO 250 image on a calibrated display I can see separation down to 17th Captured Stop. ISO 800 down to the 18th, ISO 2000 down to the 20th, and ISO 6400 down to the 21st.

    So how much Dynamic Range does Weapon have? For me if we are talking within the Recommended ISO Range of ISO 250-2000 up to 17-20 Captured Stops. Those stops nearing the noise floor aren't going to be the cleanest, but they are a part of the Shadow Roll-Off and reflect what's captured in camera. The safest "real answer" is indeed 16.5+ Stops of Total Captured Dynamic Range.

    To show the effect of what happens once we toss a Gamma Curve on there I've also created samples for REDgamma4:
    ISO 250
    ISO 800
    ISO 2000
    ISO 6400


    And to show the Dynamic Range properties more clearly, here's an image of the Xyla-21 with each ISO Rating shown in REDlogFilm:




    And if you'd like to see it, a link to the REDgamma4 result:
    http://www.artbyphil.com/phfx/cinema...atches_RG4.jpg


    Differences Between the OLPFs

    We currently have 3 Optical Low Pass Filter options for standard shooting. Skin Tone - Highlight, Standard, and Low Light Optimized. These 3 OLPFs are tuned in camera to accurately produce a consistent middle gray and fairly close color response.

    There are slight differences between the OLPFs however.

    All 3 OLPFs "see" about the same into the dark. However, the Low Light Optimized OLPF for instance is cleaner in the shadows when compared to say the Skin Tone - Highlight OPLF or Standard OLPF. The other big difference is how each OLPF's properties effect the Highlight Roll-Off. Also, possible Optical Artifacts are reduced the most with the Skin Tone - Highlight OLPF at the cost of a slightly noisier image.

    Here's a few images that show those differences a bit more clearly:




    Looking at the brushed steel you can see each of the OLPFs are clipping. Within the circled area you can see the different properties of the Highlight Roll-Off for each OLPF.




    To show off the image texture noise it's easiest to go to an extreme ISO like 6400 and look at these Middle Gray through shadow tones for each OLPF. Theses are 100% crops of 6K material. The square next to 3 is Middle Gray. You can see that the STH is noisiest, the LLO is cleanest, and the STD is in the middle between them - though closer to the LLO in my opinion in many ways.
    Last edited by Phil Holland; 01-14-2016 at 01:50 PM.
    Phil Holland - Cinematographer - Los Angeles
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  2. #2  
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Brief Film Stock Chat

    Film is relevant to my life, career, and to the industry. I've already done a few interesting tests regarding ISO and Film Grain here:
    http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthr...sus-Film-Grain

    However, what I can safely say is Epic Dragon and Weapon are cleaner at each equivalent ISO/ASA.

    The conversation of Dynamic Range is also a bit different now. If we are talking about Kodak Vision3 we are looking at a total of 13 stops of potential Dynamic Range. Vision3 500T 15 stops max.

    In terms of technical merit, we have surpassed motion picture film on Resolution, Color Accuracy, and Dynamic Range at this point. However, there's still a lot of intangible and tangible aesthetics to film and the chemical process that will continue to be attractive to some filmmakers. For me personally, especially since we have access to the improved Data Transfer Rates of Weapon (lower REDCODE RAW Compression Ratios), I think I've moved on for good at this point. The future of our industry likely falls in the 4K and 8K delivery realm and with things like HDR display technology on the rise, this color and Dynamic Range performance will become even more important for some.


    Dynamic Range and Workable Latitude

    So with all of this information there's something else I tested during this last week under a few conditions, and I know somebody (Martin!) will ask where the middle point between clipping and crushing is on Weapon. The answer to that question is "it depends". Truly what we need to to know is what the Workable Latitude is. For those of us that still use light meters this is really important.

    So here's a breakdown of Workable Latitude from Middle Gray to Highlight Clip:




    In terms of a practical example, if you are shooting, exposed properly for a scene at ISO 800 and find you have something that's 9 Stops above Middle Gray, there's a good chance one or all of your channels is clipping.

    As for where your Shadow Latitude falls, that's going to depend on where you really want it to fall and how you want your footage to look.

    My general advice is to work within the Recommend ISO Range of ISO 250-2000 with Weapon. Scaling from 6K, 5.5K, 5K, 4.5K to 4K or 2K makes a difference as well, so be aware of that if you are feeling like you're on the edge of what you're comfortable with. I've been working a lot at the Base ISO of Weapon so far at ISO 800, but I'm sure during the course of my Weapon shooting I'll be all over the place.


    Hopefully that is/was useful. It was fairly revealing to me and made me understand some of the "more" we are getting with Weapon.
    Last edited by Phil Holland; 11-02-2015 at 03:10 PM.
    Phil Holland - Cinematographer - Los Angeles
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    2X RED Weapon 8K VV Monstro Bodies and a lot of things to use with them.

    Data Sheets and Notes:
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    Red Dragon
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  3. #3  
    Thanks for doing this!
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Mark Toia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Holland View Post


    .
    This graph says it all for me Phil.
    Great tests mate. :)
    Well done.
    Mark Toia
    Director / DP / Founder of Zoom Film & Television


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  5. #5  
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. I had a lot of "ah hah" and "oh wow" moments during this test. It was time consuming to do everything, some tests replicated up to 5 times just to make sure. Fascinating stuff really.
    Phil Holland - Cinematographer - Los Angeles
    ________________________________
    phfx.com IMDB
    PHFX | tools

    2X RED Weapon 8K VV Monstro Bodies and a lot of things to use with them.

    Data Sheets and Notes:
    Red Weapon/DSMC2
    Red Dragon
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  6. #6  
    Thanks Phil!! Fantastic work as always!
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member AndreasOberg's Avatar
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    Very interesting Phil. Thanks for looking into this!
    I just did my first test comparing the colors between the MX sensor with the Dragon (yes a bit late to the party). Quite a challenge to make sure all variables were as close as possible I must say and this test look a lot harder.
    /Andreas
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  8. #8  
    And the RedUser award for most useful post goes (again) to... Phil Holland!
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  9. #9  
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndreasOberg View Post
    Very interesting Phil. Thanks for looking into this!
    I just did my first test comparing the colors between the MX sensor with the Dragon (yes a bit late to the party). Quite a challenge to make sure all variables were as close as possible I must say and this test look a lot harder.
    /Andreas
    I won't say which test it was, but I did sprain my ankle in the dark doing one of these :)
    Phil Holland - Cinematographer - Los Angeles
    ________________________________
    phfx.com IMDB
    PHFX | tools

    2X RED Weapon 8K VV Monstro Bodies and a lot of things to use with them.

    Data Sheets and Notes:
    Red Weapon/DSMC2
    Red Dragon
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  10. #10  
    Senior Member PatrickFaith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Toia View Post
    This graph says it all for me Phil.
    Great tests mate. :)
    Well done.
    ... http://www.artbyphil.com/phfx/cinema...atches_RLF.jpg

    That is a beautiful thing, just amazing. Also shows an incredible amount of work, much thanks Phil!
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