Red Digital Cinema is joining the dual-sensitivity sensor party, adding a normal sensitivity mode to a Super 35 sensor originally designed for low-light shooting in the darkness of space.
“While the Gemini sensor was developed for low-light conditions in outer space, we quickly saw there was so much more to this sensor,” said Red Digital Cinema President Jarred Land in a prepared statement. “In fact, we loved the potential of this sensor so much, we wanted to evolve it to make it have a broader appeal. As a result, the Epic-W Gemini now sports dual-sensitivity modes. It still has the low-light performance mode, but also has a default, standard mode that allows you to shoot in brighter conditions.”
The new Gemini 5K S35 sensor for the Red Epic-W camera system allows users to switch between standard and low-light modes in a few seconds via an option on the camera’s on-screen menu. At 5120 x 3000, the Gemini doesn’t match the smaller Helium sensor’s higher resolution, but it has a wider field of view at 2K and 4K and (measuring 30.72mm x 18.00mm) it has greater anamorphic lens coverage than Helium or Red Dragon sensors, the company said.
Red didn’t specify dual ISO ratings for the Gemini, but did note that it’s the company’s highest-sensitivity sensor released to date. Switching into low-light mode shifts the camera’s dynamic range by about two stops, the company said in a Red Tech video announcing the sensor, meaning that images exposed at 800 ISO and 3200 ISO should have the same noise characteristics in standard and low-light modes, respectively.
Red also stressed that switching modes is not simply altering metadata — it’s changing the light-capture characteristics of the sensor, meaning special care must be taken with highlights in low-light mode, since they will also tend to clip two stops sooner. Watch the video below for a crash course.
Sample .R3D files shot with the Epic-W 5K S35 are available (for testing purposes only) from red.com.
The current trend toward dual-sensitivity sensors, allowing users to shoot under typical lighting conditions as well as in low-light environments without dramatically ramping up the noise characteristics of the image, was spurred by Panasonic’s VariCam 35, which featured “dual native ISO ratings” of 800 and 5000. Earlier this year, Sony said its new Venice cinema camera would support “dual base ISO” modes rated at 500 and 2500.
A Red Epic-W loaded with the Gemini 5K S35 sensor can shoot at 5K at up to 96fps, with write speeds of up to 275 MB/sec, Red said, and supports the company’s updated IPP2 in-camera image processing pipeline. Redcode Raw can be recorded simultaneously with Apple ProRes and Avid DNx edit-ready codecs. Red is rating the latitude of the Epic-W Gemini 5K at 16.5+ stops.
The Red Epic-W with Gemini 5K S35 sensor is now shipping, Land said in a post at reduser.net. It runs $24,500, a substantial discount compared to the $29,500 fetched by the same camera with the Helium 8K S35 sensor.
Red Weapon Carbon Fiber and Red Epic-W 8K owners will be offered the Gemini as an optional $4,950 upgrade later this spring.