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  1. #1 Never Buying or Shooting RED Again 
    Senior Member Aris_Gavriilidis's Avatar
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    This was not easy to write,

    Ever since I discovered the following issue on my camera a few days ago, I've been debating as to whether or not I should post here since my thoughts on the problem I'm about to describe will rub several people here the wrong way, alas, I have to get this out there and move on, given it infuriated me beyond measure.

    My EPIC DRAGON, with a paltry 540 hours on it, never rented out, mistreated, or used near lasers, has several clusters of dead pixels on its sensor and upon discovering this I instantly wished I had gotten an ARRI Mini instead when I blew my life's savings on this camera 5 years ago, even though I could only have afforded that one without the ARRIRAW and the rest of the extra licenses. Be that as it may, the ARRI would most certainly not have displayed the inexcusable quality control issues my $26,200 (at the time of purchase) DRAGON turned out to suffer from.

    Before people start asking if I had blackshaded the camera, which on this forum appears to be the recommended solution even if a camera was literally on fire, here is the full procedure I followed, to no avail:

    -Several blackshade calibrations, even at different temperatures (my preferred one is 65C but I went lower as well)
    -Updating firmware (I had been running 6.3.102 since 2017 so I upgraded to the latest, 6.3.106)
    -Changing OLPFs and Lenses
    -Cleaning both OLPFs
    -Cleaning the sensor glass behind the OLPF
    -Factory Reset (twice)
    -More blackshading

    The dead pixels persisted. The giveaway should have been the fact that these pixels (clusters rather) don't "light up" when I use the "Focus" and "Edge Focus" modes in the camera, whereas the occasional "lit" pixels I've had that blackshading gets rid off, become thick white dots during focus peaking. I'm guessing the fact that these ones don't, means the processing of the camera isn't even registering them as even being there at all - because they're dead pixels. What's more is that depending on what's happening in the frame, these spots change/flash different colors, particularly if they pass between distinctly-colored objects (a big difference in area contrast), otherwise they appear as semi-transparent spots. One would have to look at the footage in motion as opposed to a screengrab like the one I've attached to get the full picture, it's tough to articulate. There's two big square-ish clusters of about 20 pixels each that are very visible at all times near the center of the frame and several tiny spots spread across the rest of the sensor that are virtually invisible when looking at the image at 100%, but the two main clusters are visible, very much so in fact.

    This is probably the point at which dead-pixel-removal tools during post are suggested. Resolve's dead pixel fixer is utterly useless, then in After Effects the CC wire-removal is also unable to handle the two main clusters as they're far bigger than one single pixel, thus the "masking" makes things worse. What occasionally works is the Content-Aware-Fill tool, though it's hit or miss and largely depends on the specific shot and what's happening in it, so I've had very mixed results.

    Now, as for my thoughts on this shocking discovery,

    The fact remains that a camera at this level and price range should not have dead pixel clusters on its sensor, at least not after ~500 hours, nor should I have to do any more post work to get a useable image out of the camera than I already have to do when dealing with the color (different matter altogether, won't go into that here). The warranty on the camera expired 3 years ago and I'm well aware that DSMC-1 bodies are no longer serviced but even if they were, I wouldn't pay $12,000 to replace the sensor on a camera that is clearly and unequivocally manufactured to a far, far inferior standard than the competition. There just doesn't seem to be any consistency in QC and if not my own personal experience, then the countless threads on a myriad of issues across this forum serve as proof.

    All image-quality arguments aside, having discovered it the painful way, I now finally understand why ARRI and SONY charge 2-3x more for their products. "You get what you pay for". This is the end of my journey with RED, I'm stepping off this train. I tried to like the camera, I wanted, truly wanted, my anger notwithstanding, to be part of this community, but I simply have no faith left in such flawed cameras. I put up with the nonsense blackshade mechanic, the awkward ergonomics, the overstated DR, the OLPF fiasco, the loud fans, the subpar color science - necessary sacrifices for a great image that as it turns out, I can no longer get. This isn't me getting a "dud" camera out of bad luck - this is me falling for the over-marketed and under-manufactured gimmick that is the RED product lineup when I impulsively bought into this system at 19 years of age all this time ago... My EPIC is old and current models' specs may be different, but I have no reason to believe that QC has gotten any better. No doubt someone will say I'm being way too OCD about this, posting a 400% magnification framegrab, but the spots do show even at 100% and also, I have every right to be "OCD" after investing so heavily on what was touted as the king of all cameras at that time. I have every right to be angry about this and I hope no aspiring DP in their early 20s out there makes the same mistake as I did back then, so I'm putting this out there, even though it'll surely be viewed as defamation and probably get deleted.

    Below are two images, the first marking SOME of the dead pixels - frankly there's too many for me to count and don't show up at the same time, again, depending on what's in the frame - including one of the two main clusters. The second image is a 100% crop of a 2K frame of a Panavision chart (same lens) showing the second cluster near the center, as well as two additional spots that happen to show in this particular frame.



    Looking on the bright side, I've got the fanciest paperweight in existence.

    Aris
    EPIC - X DRAGON #8215 "Allie"
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Tim Morten's Avatar
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    Before reaching any conclusions, have you communicated with Red?
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  3. #3  
    So when did the dead pixels appear... You have 540 hours on the camera, so I take it the dead pixel problem is recent. You should communicate with RED and it seems that you have not, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Dead pixels like this can and do occur on other cameras. And if these all appeared at the same time, it could be due to sensor damage. Been shooting around lasers? It could be a faulty component elsewhere in the system and can be repaired. If it is not due to physical damage, this is something that would have been fixed under warranty. Now that the camera is 5 years old, warranty is no longer in the picture.

    What you are experiencing with these dead pixels is not normal. This is not something that black shading will address, this is not something that anyone would recommend using post clean-up or anything like this. You really should have the camera inspected by RED and determine what the actual problem is.

    I understand your frustration, but if you think other cameras from other companies don't suffer from such problems, then I will just assure that they do. It unfortunately happens from time to time.
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Karim D. Ghantous's Avatar
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    I think you do have the right to be OCD about your equipment. A critical customer is a good customer!

    But I don't think that using all your savings to buy a camera is wise, either. Just IMHO.
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  5. #5  
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    I think obviously the first thing I would do is send it to red and check if it’s repairable. Before that, being a 5 years old camera it is prone to have possible issues and that is something that is true for all manufacturers. Ask them and send them the camera first, then make your conclusions.

    Someone posted a red dragon for 5000 usd for sale. Your repair shouldn’t be more expensive than that, for sure.

    One thing one can’t argue is that the dragon sensor produces a beautiful image. Love it.
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  6. #6  
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    As others have said, contact support and see what can be done. Hot Pixels and other pixel related issues are something that plagues all of the digital cinema cameras and usually this is where buying from a reputable brand pays off. The one rub here is you have an older body now, but that would be true for any manufacturer as well. Support is your first stop to finding out what can be done and if there is something that has led to this.

    I'll poison the pot with one curious question, which is a line of questioning I'd go with if you posted this image from any camera out there. What batteries are you using to power the camera? Any notable power related issues in the days leading up to these artifacts showing up?
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member William Long's Avatar
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    Really bad luck Aris, I can understand your frustration. I hope something works out for you.
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Aris_Gavriilidis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Kilgroe View Post
    So when did the dead pixels appear... You have 540 hours on the camera, so I take it the dead pixel problem is recent. You should communicate with RED and it seems that you have not, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Dead pixels like this can and do occur on other cameras. And if these all appeared at the same time, it could be due to sensor damage. Been shooting around lasers?
    Hi Jeff, yes that was a correct assumption, I have not communicated with RED Support, as I figured no warranty plus an end-of-life DSMC-1 body would get me absolutely nowhere. The problem is indeed recent, last project I shot with this camera was in July of 2019 and these spots aren't present in that footage. Like I mentioned in the beginning of my post, I haven't been anywhere close to any kind of laser with the camera.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sergio Perez View Post
    I think obviously the first thing I would do is send it to red and check if it’s repairable. Before that, being a 5 years old camera it is prone to have possible issues and that is something that is true for all manufacturers. Ask them and send them the camera first, then make your conclusions.

    Someone posted a red dragon for 5000 usd for sale. Your repair shouldn’t be more expensive than that, for sure.

    One thing one can’t argue is that the dragon sensor produces a beautiful image. Love it.
    A 5 year old camera with pretty low hours though!

    Much like all the other freelancers in this field, I'm also in a precarious financial situation at the moment due to all of my planned shoots for this year getting cancelled because of the worldwide lock-down, so digging into my savings for an inspection and a prospective repair is really not the smartest move in the current state of affairs. This one's entirely on me of course. But honestly, even if this wasn't the case, I still wouldn't feel like investing any more money into a system that already was such a massive, albeit impulsive investment that resulted in such shock and aggravation. I've learned my lesson.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Holland View Post
    I'll poison the pot with one curious question, which is a line of questioning I'd go with if you posted this image from any camera out there. What batteries are you using to power the camera? Any notable power related issues in the days leading up to these artifacts showing up?
    Good question Phil but I don't think power delivery is the problem here. For the last 2 years I've been using 95Wh (so that I can fly with them) "Juicebox" V-Mount batteries and never had a single issue with them, I've shot in Florence in 40C weather, I've filmed an Air Show under the scorching sun here in Greece, I've filmed at the beach for hours under the sun in equally hot conditions and cheap as they might be, these little batteries never stopped working on let me down once. For the record, the only battery that's ever caused a power issue on my camera was a Paglink about 3 years ago, where I was shooting 6K 100FPS and the camera shut off on me mid-take.
    EPIC - X DRAGON #8215 "Allie"
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  9. #9  
    Moderator Phil Holland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aris_Gavriilidis View Post
    Good question Phil but I don't think power delivery is the problem here. For the last 2 years I've been using 95Wh (so that I can fly with them) "Juicebox" V-Mount batteries and never had a single issue with them, I've shot in Florence in 40C weather, I've filmed an Air Show under the scorching sun here in Greece, I've filmed at the beach for hours under the sun in equally hot conditions and cheap as they might be, these little batteries never stopped working on let me down once. For the record, the only battery that's ever caused a power issue on my camera was a Paglink about 3 years ago, where I was shooting 6K 100FPS and the camera shut off on me mid-take.
    It's unclear what the actual problem is to me personally, it really needs a full diagnosis from a certified RED tech or RED themselves.

    That said, my short list for leading culprits for bad things happening to cameras in general are:
    - Issues with Power
    - Moisture
    - Sand
    - Dirt, Grime, Dust, etc (different issue than sand really, especially if moisture comes into play as well)
    - Absolutely extreme weather conditions
    - Over abuse, i.e. throwing the camera in the truck. Literally.
    - Bugs, Insects, Spiders getting in places they shouldn't be
    - Random Component Failure, often due to mechanical movement, but also electronic things burning out
    - Stray Electricity

    But yeah. Overall, you know who to call to figure out what is actually going on. Eventually sensors do degrade, but you're well before that should happen. I have my personal hunches mainly influenced by seeing all sorts of cameras go down for reasons, but in short call support.
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    2X RED Monstro 8K VV Bodies and a lot of things to use with them.

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  10. #10  
    Arri cameras break just as much, but the rental companies that owns most of them usually keeps their mouth shut about it. So I'm not too sure an Alexa would have been a better option in that regard and yes the service fee would likely be higher as well.

    But yes, understand the frustration especially in times like this. Like others here I sugest you contact red and see what they can do. Try to document the problem as much as you can, short r3d on a link with log file etc. Maybe they know whats the cause right away and possibly you can have a firm number to get it fixed. Its not for certain that you have to send it in to get such estimate.

    And yes, possibly its not fixable / old model etc which would be sad, but even as a camera with a few dead pixels it still hold some value, if nothing else as a spare part body for someone that has other issues with their dragon.


    And frankly, Epic Dragon is a pretty stellar camera still. Right now I sit and do the VFX work for a newly produced TV series, all shot in 5k on epic dragons and Cooke pancros by Morten Tedin and we do all the work in ACES 4k/UHD. 5 episodes 40 minutes each. Simply put, alot of it looks smashing. The chroma keys works like a charm, and I can assure you that if it was a 5 year old Alexa, shit would not even be close in that regard.

    So the camera you got still has a lot to give and to me still holds value. Even more so if you can get it fixed if things are slow now, as I guess they are, well then is good time to at least see if its possible to get fixed and what that would cost.
    Björn Benckert
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