RED Announces B&W EPIC-M Monochrome
RED, never one to back away from a risky but potentially fruitful market, just announced the EPIC-M Monochrome. The entire camera is optimized for B&W recording with custom firmware and a specialized sensor that allows the debayer to be removed, preserving net resolution and sharpness. RED’s Jarred Land has revealed that David Fincher is already using it for his current project.
It’s an exciting move for the niche community interested in a custom solution for high end B&W filmmaking, with an option which may finally rival film in dynamic range. B&W is an artistic choice which has grown increasingly popular in the last few years, with easy conversion techniques making their way into popular and specialized color grading applications. But nothing can match the image optimized for B&W directly in-camera.
Modern classics, like Wings of Desire and American History X, reintroduced audiences to the magic of the medium, while still failing to bring B&W into the mainstream. I can still recall the sense of wonder when watching Jim Jarmusch’s 1995 film Dead Man, which took advantage of then-modern B&W film technologies to produce an image of unsurpassed beauty, with a strikingly rich range of tones from black-and-white. Until that moment, I’d always thought of black-and-white as anachronistic, belonging to another era, and not a living media, which could be utilized today.
Monochrome images have a distancing and abstracting effect upon the mimetic nature of photography, removing it by degrees from the descriptive qualities of color which we see around us. As anyone who has shot with black-and-white film, the experience of shooting in black-and-white requires a totally different way of seeing, one that takes into account totally different factors – contrast, light and shadow interplay – to achieve emotional poignancy.
RED joins Leica, which earlier this year announced the M-Monochrom, in offering a high-end custom solution geared towards black-and-white enthusiasts. Hopefully, this latest option will fan the growing flame of black-and-white fervor and bring this vibrant medium into greater relevancy in the modern day filmmaker’s toolkit.