On REDUSER Jim Jannard dropped a brief albeit important piece of news: "EPIC-X production has officially begun. The lines are rolling." The EPIC nomenclature can get a confusing, so here's a brief summary as far as I can remember: the EPIC-X, as far as most of us are concerned, is what we originally knew as the EPIC -- and, going forward, it will be the EPIC for all intents and purposes. The EPIC-M is a hand-machined version sold in order to get the cameras out in the wild (and in use on films) more quickly, before mass production of the EPIC-X could begin (or, as Philip Bloom found out recently, before 100% stable firmware was available). In terms of functionality, the M and X are identical, but the X is about $12k cheaper.
The EPIC-M comes with a number of accessories and lists for $43,000, whereas the EPIC-X retails for $28k (until 2012, when it goes up to $35k). The M includes the Titanium PL mount and Side SSD Module, which the EPIC-X brain-only price does not, so the price premium for an EPIC-M is effectively $11,500. However, if you'd like to get an EPIC-X right now, just because RED has begun production does not mean you can order one. There's no EPIC-X page at the store right now, and RED will be shipping it in stages -- previous RED customers get first dibs, followed by the general public. Here's the official word:
EPIC-X will ship in the following order… Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 3.5, Stage 4. We will not begin to ship the next stage until the orders from the previous stage have been completed. If you don’t want to wait, buy an EPIC-M.
Of those stages, only Stage 4 is open to anyone who doesn't already own a RED ONE. No word on when Stage 4 will take place.
Also on REDUSER, there was news on the much-anticipated EPIC-S that I missed in June -- it's easy to miss a post on RED's forums. The EPIC-S was originally known as the SCARLET S35 before being bumped up both in price and in specs. Here's the gist of it: Jim Jannard, in speculating about the EPIC-S, said it will "probably be $12-13k" and will likely go all the way up to 5K resolution at 60FPS, using REDCODE 6:1 (which is a slightly higher data rate than the original RED ONE, which was the equivalent of 7.5:1 compression). As reported previously, the EPIC-S (formerly known as the Scarlet S35) will now include HDRx, and the pricepoint puts it in the neighborhood of the Sony F3. Yes, the EPIC-S is a "brain only" price, but at the same time to get a RAW-like workflow with the F3 you've got to spend an extra $3.5k on the firmware upgrade and buy a good external recorder.
Take RED's shipping dates with a grain of salt at this point, but for the EPIC-S Jannard predicts "Fall," which ends in December. I find it hard to believe that the EPIC-S will ship in 2011 given the higher-end, "must ship first" EPIC-X isn't quite shipping, but if and when the -S finally ships the it's looking like a hell of a deal. One of the main selling points for the -X, actually, is that it will be eligibile for the RED Dragon sensor upgrade whereas the EPIC-S will not. (And no, no one knows what the RED Dragon sensor is, but think of it as the Mysterium-X chip for the RED ONE). Okay, got all that? This sure would be easier if RED would put together an organized website instead of relying on forum posts... They are not mutually exclusive, after all.
[photochop by Jason Diamond]