I had the pleasure of getting to see an Epic-M up close this weekend. I live in Maine, where that's not a common opportunity, but fellow Reduser Nathan Garofalos was here visiting. He had his Epic with him and asked f I'd like to check it out. It was not an opportunity I could pass up.
I own a pristine set of Cooke Speed Panchros - the old Series II, III lenses, not the new ones. One of the things I've wanted to know was if they would covet 5K on the Epic, so I brought them along, and I can tell you they do cover 5K. From the 18 to the 75. And they are tiny. The 25 isin this picture, and it has a Tiffen filter holder attached, so it looks twice as big as it really is. There is definitely some vignetting in the corners of the 18 (much like a Zeiss Standard) but it is not an unpleasant look at all. these are Arri standard mount, with a Les Bosher PL adapter, and the size of the Epic makes them better to operate than any camera I've ever used them on. (This one is an iPhone pic.)
A lot has been written about the Epic in a lot of situations, and we met for lunch at a local pizza place, where there weren't world-changing images to be made, so I'll just mention a couple of things that particularly struck me. First, noise. I've modified the Cooke 25 for extreme close focus for tabletop work. and these french fries were a handy subject. But there was no light. I cranked the Epic up to iso 4000 and made this shot:
Now this is just the available light, so not a great image, and at iso 4000 there is definitely noise - I'd say about as much as R1-MX at 2000. But what struck me was how pleasant the noise is. It seems similar to the noise I see from the Nikon D3s at high iso - very random and grain-like. Very nice.
We went outside into the midday sun for what was supposed to be a HDRx test, but for some reason (probably operator error, it was a quick test) the camera didn't record the x stream. But the dynamic range was still excellent. The prettiest thing in the parking lot was this Harley, parked half in sun, half in shade. And from the tires to the chrome, the Epic DR held detail.
The other discovery I made was what beautiful B&W the Epic can produce. In this second shot, the sky holds as well. But i just love the B&W the camera made in harsh midday sun. I don't think I've seen B&W this nice from any digital camera before. It reminds me of Plus-X film. I suspect the additional bit depth gives the blacks more to work with and that is making the difference. These are all with the 50-year-old Cooke 25.