Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

My example comes from the Autumn leaf above, it looks bland in black and white yet add colour and looks a million dollars…my point being it was taken in colour and reprocessed into B/W to prove a point.

RED “Engineered exclusively for B&W cinema and photographers, the EPIC-M MONOCHROME is rated natively at ASA 2000 and uses its unique sensor pattern to achieve optimum resolution and extended dynamic range. A dedicated B&W camera takes advantage of greater light sensitivity and tonal transfer in gradients, far exceeding the monochromatic quality of a desaturated color image. All EPIC accessories and modules are compatible with EPIC-M MONOCHROME. Made in the USA.”

Steven Sebring ” Mirrors ” for WOLF magazine from WOLF Magazine on Vimeo.

The example above was shot on the Epic M camera but if I am being honest my Canon C300 could have done as good a job taking the colour out in post.

The RED EPIC M seems to be a fancy DSLR taking advantage of the hi resolution stills that can be taken from the video footage but do you really need to go this far to get fancy monochrome stills/video.

So much can be done in post these days that I think this camera is a step to far, the emperors new clothes come to mind, I would not spend any amount of money on a monochrome only video camera especially one costing $25,000, that kind of money buys you a Sony 4K PMW-F55.

It’s “trending” once again, RED are trying their best to hit on old ideas by bringing them back to life, I am a big fan of monochrome and spent countless hours in my wee darkroom producing 10″x8″ glossy Ilford prints, so I talk from fond experience.

My Mamiya C330 camera took 2 1/4″x2 1/4″ square negatives but you either used B/W or colour film, you didn’t buy a monochrome only camera !

I think we are trying to please all disciplines today with the photography/video all in one box it’s leading to a quick fix…”heres a video and some stills”.

I am not a fan of “one box does all” I certainly question the need for a monochrome only camera when we have such good plugins today and its the old story once you commit to B/W you can’t go back and colour your footage.

Don’t get me wrong monochrome used in the right context can look very dynamic but when colour is 95% of your workflow to spend $25,000 on a camera body that only produces black and white is like 3D cinematography…a passing phase.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

13 thoughts on “A Monochrome only Epic camera for $25,000

  1. I have a feeling that it’s the inevitable feedback after the success of The Artist. After all, the 2000 ISO rating is a bit of a step up from the native 800.

    Now, if the Epic Mono did infra-red too…

  2. There is some possible theoretical resolution advantage for a pure black and white stills camera (no need for demosaicing the bayer pattern) but I can’t see the benefit for much lower resolution movie making.

  3. I’m sorry but I don’t see the point in making a camera like this one. Especially at this price. There’s so much you can do in post production now, I’m sure the same results can be achieved with any equivalent camera.

  4. “I’m sure the same results can be achieved with any equivalent camera” …Prove it!…Post some test…without proof you can’t say one way or another weather this camera is justified….This camera is going to be mostly a rental item anyway.

  5. Hi Carl, there was nothing outstanding in this footage that made me go wow I must have that EPIC M camera, I was expecting the dynamic range to be a lot better but that’s the internet sadly…it spoils most good footage, though I did take the time to download it.

  6. I’m inclined to side with Phil here. If I recall correctly, the French film “La Haine” (aka “Hate”)was shock on colour filmstock. To my eyes it’s one of the best looking black and white films out there. That film was made more than 15 years ago. I’m sure with today’s tools, colour footage can make for better B&W.

    I would love to be proved wrong,though, and see if The Epic-M becomes the choice camera for fashion, perfume ads etc.

  7. Well said Philip.
    At $25,000 I’d grab a couple of them just in case I wanted to do monochrome in 3D. If I never end up using them because someone shows me the saturation slider then they can happily sit on the shelf next to my unused Leica M9 monochrome until someone rents them.

  8. RED built the EPIC Monochrome because enough people asked for such a camera, and obviously these professionals know about the advantages of this concept for some assignments (not necessarily video only, because the EPIC is often used for photo shootings also). BTW, there is a Leica M Monochrome and an Ikonoskop Monochrome cinema camera, too, so the idea isn’t so unique at all. Different tools for different jobs, and if someone doesn’t need or want it, well, he is not forced to buy one. Other people are happily making money with these cameras.

  9. This is very nice! When you are in movie industry it is very important that you have to invest on cameras. Howqever, there are also some units that you can just rent most specially if you don’t use it often.

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