Dragon and Alexa – Looking at resolution – Part 1: Preface

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Back in early February 2014, I took part in Geoff Boyles UWE/CML camera-test.

Video for rent here:
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/cameras

Geoffs extensive analysis here:
http://www.cinematography.net/UWE/index.html

Geoff put a lot of work into that material, and what little I will be doing here is complementary, not in concurrence with his work and findings.

In addition to what is published, we shot some resolution tests, which Geoff decided not to publish, as the framings were uneven, and I did a couple of tests on my own.
I will mainly be focusing on Dragon and Alexa, as those are the cameras that interest me the most to look at, and the material not published by Geoff.

The Dragon had “original OLPF”

A premise for the test, was to look at the cameras for UHD AND 1080 delivery.

The first thing I do here, thus, is looking at Dragon and Alexa resolution for 1080 and UHD delivery.

The RED mantra of resolution has been an easy take for all other parties arguing that: “Resolution is not all”, which is an undeniable argument!
But unless you think DR and color-fidelity are the only things that separates a Sony PD-150 and an Arri Alexa, resolution does come into play.

I watched Disneys “Frozen” in 2k in a small theater yesterday, and was really bugged by the resolution, seeing jaggies and ringing and general un-niceness all over the place. Probably  the movie did not engage me too much. And detailed digitally sourced images are much harsher than optically captured images can ever be. But conclusion remains:
For detailed imagery resolution matters. In the interview Geoff Boyle has published here, he argues for 16k capture for 4k delivery. Not sure I agree fully on that, but oversampling is usuallt a good thing.

The Dragon SHOULD outperform the Alexa on this parameter for UHD delivery. Anything else would’ve been a bomb.
I was still curious about the actual difference for UHD delivery, and also about the difference (if any) at 1080 delivery. Both cameras oversample to 1080.

I chose to focus on 1080/UHD as I (ironically) think UHD will gain traction faster than 4k delivery for theatres will. Just because of screen-numbers and commercial incentive to upgrade.

I had to adjust for FOV to the comparison. How that was done will be documented.

Finally:
RED has added the ADD option for developing Dragon images, giving significantly lower noise and thus practically higher resolution, especially at lower exposures.
I have opted NOT to use that development method here, for two reasons:

  1. It is not yet straightforward to develop moving-images this way
  2. At the given exposure, I couldn’t see any relevant difference in result

On to part 2: The base images

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