Red Epic pictures and hands-on

If you love movies and the art of cinematography, then you'll almost certainly have heard of, and be excited by, the Red Epic. Following on from the Red One, the Epic is a digital cinema camera that can shoot video that is arguably higher quality than 35mm film. The Epic's signature feature is its Mysterium sensor, which can record 14-megapixel images at a rate of 120 per second.

Stills photographers might not fancy wielding one of these at a wedding, or for holiday photos, but Red calls the Epic a Digital Stills and Motion Camera (DSMC), meaning the company wants it to be viewed as a stills camera as well as a motion picture system. Realistically though, this is most likely to excite videographers who have a passion for cinema, but small budgets (in Hollywood terms).

In the configuration we saw it, you'd have to spend about £30,000 to get one of these. For that money you'd get the body, an 85mm lens and the Redmote. And, honestly, with that setup you could start making video that could be shown in a cinema one day. The only problem would be talent, but then that's never held Michael Bay back.

Red is also crucial in 3D filming. And while you can debate the future of 3D films, as long as there's demand, you'll see Red at the forefront of the march. For a start, digital cinema cameras are much easier to synchronise than 35mm film cameras, and when it comes to 3D, the cameras really do need to be in-sync with each other.

Add to that the weight of the Red Epic. While not light, two of them weigh less than a 35mm film camera does currently. That means you can bang a pair on a Steadicam, or even hand-hold them, without crippling your operator. Certainly a huge selling point.

In the model we saw was a 5k sensor. Red is releasing new models soon that can record an image up to 28k in size. Although it's doubtful these will be used for making movies any time soon. But for special uses, there's some exciting potential here too.

Red also has something called HDRx, which allows the camera to capture two parallel video streams which can be combined in post-production. This is the video equivalent of HDR imaging, allowing you to shoot two separate exposures that give detail in both dark and light areas. The idea is that you get video that resembles what we see through our eyes.

With the Red there are a mountain of extra pieces of kit for you to buy. Everything from shoulder-mount gear to lenses - including a mount for Canon SLR lenses - to matte boxes and every type of accessory that movie makers attach to "rails".

Call us geeks if you like, but seeing the King of digtial video got our heart rate up slightly, and we think the ever reducing cost of high-end equipment is something to be very excited about. While we didn't get to watch any of our footage back, we were impressed by how easy it was to just pick this beast up and use it. 35mm film cameras have never been that accessible to normal people, and even if you did get your hands one one, it certainly wouldn't be a point-and-shoot affair. 

Excited enough to buy one? Tell us in the comments...



>