Audio sampling and photon capture are not directly commensurable. The best that audio has managed to do is approximately 21 bits (according to Dan Lavry) while advertising 24. But they are using an electron stream, rather than converting photoelectrons. And there is no parity in signal levels between these two phenomena.
Ah, well I didn't know that, the extent of my knowledge on this subject is that a voltage generated from either a photosite or microphone membrane gets digitized and that's it lol.
If your point is that A-D converters can convert 21 bits very well, that is true. But in photographic applications, there are not that many electrons to go around. And there is read error, and shot noise in addition. Erik or Emil would know better, but it otherwise seems Red is claiming a sensor that uses or exceeds single electron ADUs!
There are problems audio faces too, the limit of dynamic range capture in audio, even assuming perfect equipment performance, is limited by the room noise of even an extremely quiet studio.
But gain does not multiply out the amount of information. And it introduces noise. And you can't do HDR with gain, only pseudo-HDR.
The pseudo-step wedge is suggestive, but not genuinely informative. I'd like to see a frame from the Dragon that has that much DR. I'd really like a detailed technical explanation. Perhaps there is some innovation going on here, but it needs an explanation.
Honestly I'm not sure how it works myself exactly
, just trying to figure it out from deduction, since this is a technology previously limited to labs. If anything, here it is from the horse's mouth: http://www.arri.com/camera/digital_cameras/technology/arri_imaging_technology/alexas_sensor.html
Edit: It looks like I forgot the specifics, it says the exact opposite, the highlights are derived from the lower gain signal, and the shadows from the high gain. Sorry bout that, I'll change my previous post.
But as I've said before, it's only pseudo-HDR if the different gain levels are derived from one converter, not two converters calibrated to different gain levels. The Native ISO of cinema cameras is around 800-1250 but they still manage to get such extreme amounts of DR, this means that DR is not tied in any way to a camera's gain.
As for HDRx, the Red team says that the Dragon makes HDRx obsolete, and it likely won't be supported by Dragon. There are some members who still want the feature in because it makes still extraction easier, though.