First RED EPIC Footage is... Unspectacular. Though It Might Not Be the Camera's Fault.
After writing the above headline, I realized it might seem as if I’m suggesting that the depicted model is less than comely. That’s not at all what I mean: what I’m saying is, the RED’s RAW workflow really needs a full color grade to shine, and the following video looks like… well, what you’d expect it to look like. It’s certainly not pushing the camera’s capabilities in any way. It’s also NSFW, unless your place of work is cool with you watching fullscreen HD videos of scantily clad ladies prancing about:
Though it’s only web video, a cursory evaluation reveals it’s noise free, the highlights are handled well, the blacks seem clean, the slow motion looks great… but, I’ll just come out and say it: the majority of RED footage I’ve seen since the RED ONE debuted a few years back has looked overly brownish to my eye. Presumably this is because colorists are focusing on maintaining natural skin tones, and the rest of the footage ends up in a similar color space. I haven’t shot on RED, so I don’t know for sure (due to the music and the come-hither looks, the above video does remind me of shooting models on a green screen, however). I have found movies shot with the newer color science to look better, and I’ve been keeping close tabs on EPIC. But with the RAW workflow, so much depends on post-processing that it’s impossible to look at something shot on RED and say, “I don’t like RED.” DSLRs thrill so many users because the footage looks pretty damn good out of the box (but doesn’t hold up as well to post-processing); a DSLR the EPIC is not.
The above video was actually not the first RED EPIC footage released. The following clip came out two weeks ago from the same crew, but was so anti-climactic that I refrained from posting it. Considering RED is being selective about who gets the first limited-run, hand-machined EPIC-Ms, I’m surprised they didn’t ensure that the first videos to hit the web were a bit more spectacular and newsworthy. Neither of these videos says much about what the EPIC is capable of:
A camera is far less important than the person operating it and the circumstances of the shoot. It’s hard to look at this skiing video and identify the camera as having the same sensor that shot Winter’s Bone and El Secreto de Sus Ojos — those were the first two RED-shot features that fooled me into thinking they were shot on film. So while the jury is most definitely still out — in fact, with these clips I would say we haven’t gotten past the jury selection process — one thing is certain: RED is not a toy. You don’t hit the power switch and get a pretty image, as you do with many DSLRs. Which makes me wonder if the 2/3″ chip, auto-focus SCARLET will offer some dumbed-down baked-in “looks” considering the market it’s going after — if you boot up the SCARLET and everything looks brown and gray, I have a feeling many users will be (rightly or wrongly) disappointed.