Red, the maverick manufacturer of digital cinema cameras, announced a black-and-white addition to its line-up on the eve of IBC, the Epic-M Monochrome.
As strange as the decision may appear, it has some sound technical foundations and there may well be a solid niche market in fashion and commercial shoots.
“Having a dedicated B&W camera if you are shooting B&W is leaps and bounds better than shooting in colour then transferring to B&W later. It is why they continue to make B&W film,” explained Red president Jarred Land, on his company’s user forum.
Digital cameras ‘capture’ colour information by using a Bayer filter that inevitably reduces the information passed to the sensor. “[With the new camera,] there is no colour filter 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,” Land continued.
Land said that the camera’s CMOS sensor is from the same Mysterium-X family as Red’s colour products, but has undergone some ‘tweaks’.
Red is not alone in addressing digital black-and-white. Leica has introduced the M-Monochrome range finder for still photography. Sweden’s Ikonoskop has the A-Cam dll Panchromatic Carl T. Dreyer Edition offering black-and-white motion for those seeking a digital resolution equivalent to Super 16mm.