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RED Epic Dragon 6K Camera Drone Review

Blog, Drone Hire

 

RED Epic Dragon Matrice 600 Drone

Any drone operator or videographer worth their salt will have heard of the RED Epic Dragon. Capable of shooting in stunning 6K resolution, it’s a camera that has long been on our wish-list here at Aerial Republic.

Interested in learning more about the RED Epic Dragon and what makes it so special? Be sure to read our in-depth RED Epic Dragon 6K camera review below.

Here you’ll also find a quick summary of our setup – detailing everything you need to know if you’re looking to mount your Red Epic Dragon to a drone.

How heavy is the RED Epic Dragon?
Weighing in at 5lbs, the RED Epic Dragon isn’t the lightest camera on the market by a long stretch. That said it is light enough to be mounted onto a gimbal or stabilisation rig. Great news for drone operators!

To see how the RED Epic Dragon compares to other cameras, take a look at the table below.

Camera Weight (lbs)
Arri Alexa (with PL mount) 13.9
Amira (with PL mount) 9.2
RED Epics Dragon 5
Sony A7Sii 1.2

While it’s tempting for most drone operators to invest in lightweight cameras, such as a Sony Alpha or GH4/5, here at Aerial Republic we believe that it’s the best cameras – regardless of weight – that should take priority. That’s why we’ve taken the plunge and invested in a RED Epic Dragon ourselves!

RED Epic Dragon customisation

What’s great about all RED cameras is the level of customisation that each body allows. For drone operators especially, this is a really important feature.

For documentarians or run-and-gun shooters, handles, external monitors and extra batteries are readily available. There’s also a number of rails designed to work with the RED Epic Dragon too, making it easier than ever to mount it onto dollys and various other rigs.

In terms of lenses, an interchangeable mount system means the RED works with a range of glass – including Nikon, Canon and even Leica lenses.

RED Epic Dragon 6K Camera Review 

Interchangeable mounting system aside, so far there’s little to suggest the RED Epic Dragon is actually all that special, right? Enter the camera’s 6K capabilities and amazing frame rates – blowing all doubts out of the water for good!

What’s so special about 6k?

Being able to shoot in 6K (that’s a resolution of 6144 x 3240 – the photographic equivalent to 19 megapixels) has a range of benefits, especially for professional film crews and production outfits.

The first and perhaps most important benefit is the flexibility shooting in 6K provides in post. With footage shot on the RED Epic Dragon, editors can push and pull the footage, punch-in and even stabilise wobbly shots with unbeatable precision.

The impressive dynamic range of the RED Epic Dragon also makes it easier than ever to save underexposed/overexposed footage in post too, allowing filmmakers to hit ‘record’ as soon as the action goes down without having to spend precious seconds ensuring the exposure is 100% right.

RED Epic Dragon FPS

When shooting in 6K, the RED Epic Dragon is capable of recording footage at 83fps – enabling video producers to create seamless slow motion footage with ease.

For those willing to shoot in 2K, the camera can record at a mind-boggling 300fps – that’s the same speed shown in clip below!

Setting up the RED Epic Dragon on a Matrice 600 drone

Before we go into the specifics of our rig, it’s worth noting that placing a camera body that’s worth multiple thousands of pounds on a drone takes a great deal of courage and know-how – and that if you’re not 100% sure what you’re doing, you should consider hiring someone else to manage the project for you.

If this sounds like something you’d be interesting in hearing more about, be sure to contact one of our CAA trained drone pilots today!

Our rig

RED Epic Dragon and Ronix MX

When mounting our RED Epic Dragon to a drone, keeping the weight down and distributing it evenly is one of our main priorities – meaning we never use the standard batteries that come with the camera. Instead, we use a customised Ronin MX with in-built GPS to power the camera, connecting the two via cable.

It’s also worth noting that we rarely build our drones or mountings as standard, straight out of the box. In fact, with the RED Epic Dragon, over 18 months of development went into building a custom mounting and counter balance system that has since allowed us the flexibility to work with even more lens mount/camera set-ups than would otherwise be possible.

This unique system also means that we can remove the camera and gimbal from the drones in a matter of seconds. What’s more, thanks to custom-built additional handles and mounts for alternative stabilised shots, our setup allows us to capture even more without the need for additional crew members or cameras.

With larger format cameras, this is something that’s never been done before – enabling us to keep the cost of our shoots down while simultaneously providing our clients with more ways to shoot than would otherwise be possible.

Lastly, when it comes to glass, we primarily use Canon or other cine-lenses when mounting our RED Epic Dragon to a drone. Not only does this help us keep all our productions consistent, it also helps to keep the weight of the rig down. Canon glass is notoriously great value too – helping us to keep the pounds down in more way than one.

RED Dragon for live broadcast

Drone hire for BBC Crimewatch

One other thing that sets our rig apart is the fact that we use a HD downlink, enabling us to run live broadcasts straight from the drone. Already this has been put to good use by the team here at Aerial Republic, having been commissioned the BBC to provide a live feed to capture aerial establishing shots of the outdoor set of Crimewatch. This was shot live and broadcast to over 2 million people. Following this, we were later commissioned for three shows in the last series.

Remote start/stop

Lastly, while most drone operators may choose to work without it, we always use a remote start/stop function when working with our RED Epic Dragon mounted to a drone. By doing this, we’re able to start recording at the touch of a button, allowing us to capture only the moments that matter – rather than recording the entirety of each flight.

Not only does this help to reserve precious battery life, it also helps us reduce the time spent editing footage – thus keeping the cost down for our clients.

Explore our portfolio

Interested in seeing our RED Epic Dragon in action? Keep your eyes fixed on our blog! Over the next few weeks we’ll be producing an exclusive behind the scenes look of our newest camera before putting it to the test on a number of shoots!


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