RED announces Monochrome Epic

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Popular digital cinema camera would only record in Black and White

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Well, they say that shooting black and white is dead.  But how can it be, Jim Jannard says it ain’t so!  And we all know that whatever RED says on the RED USer forums, is nothing but “epic.”  Right?

I am pleased to announce the Epic-M Monochrome.  Newly Developed Mysterium-X Monochrome Sensor.  Native ASA 2000. Increased net resolution (Removal of the debayer process, so every single individual pixel is used for luminance / image data).  New Low Pass Filter with to accommodate the reduced pixel pitch (1×1 vs 2×2 Bayer). $42,000 (brain only) includes upgrade to Dragon Monochrome Sensor spring 2013.  David Fincher is shooting his current project solely on Epic-M Monochrome cameras as we speak. Pre-orders open on RED.COM Monday.. Ships October 1st. – Jared Land, RED User Forums

OK, I can see the advantage of removing the debaying process.  It literally puts everything up on the screen.  And when you’re shooting noir style, or wanting to make the artistic choice of native black and white filming, I reckon it makes sense.  “Having a dedicated BW camera if you are shooting BW is leaps and bounds better than shooting in color then transferring to BW later,” says Land. “It is why they continue to make B/W film. There is no color filters on each of the pixels so you get increased light to each pixel, and there is no debayer process, so you get a much “sharper” image… a better tonal transfer in gradients as there is no interpolation.”

It just seems odd to dedicate an entire camera to it. Then again, RED has the advantage of being modular, so instead of buying a dedicated camera, you can just invest in the monochrome centric “brain” and swap it out as needed.  But, sadly, NO!  According to Land, “They are not user swappable.. and the firmware code is completely different.”  FOR $42,000?!  Yikes.  But then again, that’s pretty standard pricing for how RED rolls, and they are promising that anyone who pre-orders next month will receive a 6K Dragon upgrade for free next Spring.  But even with that, I can’t see but maybe advertising agencies and rental houses buying this.

What was the reaction on the boards?  Some usual praise from REDheads, but also some collective scratching of heads.  “mmm… trying to grasp the significance of this. Does this somehow mean that all color will be added in post? Even as I say that it sounds weird but otherwise… what? Just B&W images?”  “This will be an extremely niche product.” “I thought this was a September fools joke or something. Pretty interesting … I guess!”

“I imagine this would be more of a specialized rental item for many, but I bet the final results in B&W are spectacular!” – RED User, RED User Forums

Then again, many think that a monochrome Epic fills an important gap.  And it’s obviously in response to Leica putting out a monochrome digital camera, which may mean that with RED’s ability to double as a still camera, that RED is setting it’s sights on increasing it’s presence in the Ad world (note the use of the term ASA, instead of ISO).   And by removing the debayering process, RED effective gets a 15-20 percent increase in resolution since it gives a 1 to 1 ratio on pixels as a result.

And while there isn’t any footage to see just yet to find out if it’s worth it, Land did confirm that director David Fincher is filming his next film with the Epic-M,  and there’s a promise of still shots posted soon.   One thing that everyone seems to agree on though … they want the camera to be named ANSEL, after iconic black and white photographer Ansel Adams.  But then again, he said that the best camera is the one you have with you …

… whether it costs $42,000 or not.

Look for pre-orders to begin today at RED.com. Ships next month.

About doddle 16507 Articles
Doddlenews is the news division of the Digital Production Buzz, a leading online resource for filmmakers, covering news, reviews and tutorials for the video and film industry, along with movie and TV news, and podcasting.

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