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RED reveals a smaller 8K sensor for its Weapon camera

And promptly gives one to Michael Bay.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
July 11, 2016
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Jarred Land (Facebook)

RED has revealed a new sensor called the "Helium" for its ultra-high megapixel 8K Weapon cinema camera. The chip will be 29.9mm wide (slightly bigger than Super-35), considerably smaller than the company's 40mm VistaVision sized 8K Dragon sensor. It still has the same 8,192 x 4,320 pixel count, however, giving it a pixel pitch of a miniscule 3.65 microns. RED President Jarred Land says the sensor is "way ahead of schedule," and will be available to buyers of its $60,000 Weapon camera "in the coming months."

Reduser moderator Phil Holland tells Engadget that the 8K Weapon will be available with both the VistaVision-sized Dragon sensor, first announced last year, and the smaller Helium chip. While the larger Dragon chip fills a certain niche in high-end cinematography, the new sensor may be more popular, since it works with most motion picture camera lenses. There's no word yet from RED on light sensitivity, noise or other characteristics of Helium -- while smaller pixels normally make cameras noisier and less light-sensitive, Holland says "you might be surprised."

Land added that the new sensor would "take pressure off our Dragon sensor lines, and allow those to completely focus on Raven and Scarlet-W sensors." He revealed that a new camera, called the Epic-W, would also use the Helium chip. So far, very few of of the Dragon 8K sensors have shipped, though Red recently announced that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 would be shot with an 8K Weapon.

By way of introducing the sensor, RED handed a Helium-equipped, custom-built Weapon 8K camera (dubbed "Bayhem") to director Michael Bay, who plans on using it on Transformers: The Last Knight. Just to make sure we'd know it's his, the camera is packing a "Devastator Green" Transformers body.

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