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Digital Bolex image quality - Exclusive look at sensor samples and footage

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darren aronofsky d16 digital bolex

The D16 Digital Bolex - pictured above in the hands of the biggest 16mm advocate of all, Darren Aronofsky

Roald Christesen recently got in touch, to share some footage shot with the CCD in the upcoming Digital Bolex. He's a developing new Cinema DNG transcoding software and has been testing the sensor as part of that process.

The image this camera produces is looking superb.

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Hey Andrew,

 

having shot my graduation film on S16 way back when, this may well be the camera I shoot my feature on. It seems to have been totally grounded up for a maker of films to use as opposed to anyone else, ie still photographer who may wish to shoot vieo etc, especially in the ergonomics. Whilsts others boast of this and that I have always felt that whoever took a practical and not technical lead through in their offering would win, this maybe that opportunity, alas still waiting to see if it fulfils a straightforward post workflow, which again is something all offerings should consider too.

 

:-)

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Nice to see something finally. Really looking forward to shooting 4:3 with this. Thanks for the article!

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Nice to see something finally. Really looking forward to shooting 4:3 with this. Thanks for the article!

 

Me too. I also have a 16mm anamorphic baby Iscorama which would go nicely on this. It is c-mount.

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Not sure about this one... Is there really a market for a DB otside of a few dozen (hundreds?) diehards driven by nostalgic motives? I do get the CCD sensor and the raw and a few other unique aspects of the camera. But... If you want a vintage cine lens look you can slap a Switar on a Nikon 1 camera for under $300 (for a Nikon, not the overpriced Macro Switar). Will DB really give an intended user (run 'n gun shooter?) that much more for 10(!) times the cost. As a side note I do like pistol grips and have one attached to my V1 ;)

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They already 'sold' a 100 without it even existing (on kickstarter).

 

Filming in raw isn't that nostalgic. How many options are there for $3K? It's either BMCC or this.

 

There is a market for small sensor camera's like the Ikonoscop, Si 2K, which are like three times as expensive.

Slumdog Millionaire was shot on the Si 2K. The sensor in the Digital Bolex is a bit bigger.

 

4:3 mode is very nice for 2x anamorphic shooters. There's nothing comparable on the market.

 

Anyway, I don't think they'll sell boatloads, but do they have to? It's a Kickstarter project after all.

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Not sure about this one... Is there really a market for a DB otside of a few dozen (hundreds?) diehards driven by nostalgic motives? I do get the CCD sensor and the raw and a few other unique aspects of the camera. But... If you want a vintage cine lens look you can slap a Switar on a Nikon 1 camera for under $300 (for a Nikon, not the overpriced Macro Switar). Will DB really give an intended user (run 'n gun shooter?) that much more for 10(!) times the cost. As a side note I do like pistol grips and have one attached to my V1 ;)

 

I'm in their market. I want something that shoots raw for under $5K. 16mm, means cheaper lenses, which is a big plus.

 

I'm not touching BMC, until they get their supply chain issues figure out, and i know that i can have one in my hands within a month of ordering it.

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Will it shoot 16:9 also? Some stories scream 4:3 ration but need the 16:9 on  most occasions

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A few points... One is that even besides the camera cost itself, I just don't think there are a lot of amateurs/hobbyists (i.e. those not making money from their cameras) that have the time and the means to work with raw. And pros that do make money, in most cases will have no issues with spending the $ on SI-2K, for example. 4:3 is nice and I wish camera makers would let us use a full sensor area for video (funny enough, Nikon V1 does shot video in 3:2, albeit from a sensor crop) but how much is it worth? And is this cam for anamorphic shooters only? Because I think most of those not using anamorphics would prefer 16:9. A second point and that quality (as subjective as it is) or shall we say "fashionable" C-mounts long ceased to be "cheap" (much better values can now be found in vintage Nikkors, for example). And if one does use cheap c-mount (as I do), why would you slap them on a 3k cam? A third point is that I’m not even sure they can manufacture these things in any kind of quantity. Case in point BMC. If they haven’t figured it out, is there any chance we can expect to see DB produced in volume and to an expected quality standard?

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A look at the spec list would clear all your doubts.

 

It does shoot 16:9 of course, 4:3 is an additional mode if you want to shoot anamorphic or plain 4:3.

It's not a C-Mount camera, it's a replaceable mount camera, you can choose between C, PL, Canon EF, Micro 4/3...

 

One of the coolest things with these guys is the transparency with which they're developing the camera, all the specs are clearly listed on their website, their updates are very thorough and honest, I don't really get all these suspicious and constant questioning. I'd be a bit pissed off if it was me developing this camera and had to deal with all this crap, I must say. :)

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I do not doubt the team’s technical expertise or camera’s design and functionality… but the history is littered with examples of beautiful designs that either never came to market at all or never made out of a starting gate because there was no place for them in the competitive marketplace. To be fair there are also a few examples where classic designs survived (if barely) a digital transition (Leica, Fuji X100)… Let’s hope DB makes it to the latter category… Though would not bet on it.

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I just don't think there are a lot of amateurs/hobbyists (i.e. those not making money from their cameras) that have the time and the means to work with raw.

 

The amateurs probably do have the time, they don't have deadlines. Look at photography, every serious amateur loves raw. Why not for video? I'm a hobbyist and I would love to work with raw.

 

I think my computer could handle it, the storage is just a bit too much for me right now. Cheap options for compressed raw would be welcome...

 

Five years ago you could have said the same about dslr video. How many amateurs want to put up with a camera which has an unideal form factor, spend lots of money on accessories to built a proper rig and shoot films? Turns out many do.

 

It's a bit early now. But processing power and storage gets cheaper on a steady rate. Quicker than the development of camera's I think. Imagine a $2000 hdslr that shoots 1080p compressed raw with, the whole hdslr crowd would be all over it.

 

Redcode Raw has compression of from 8:1 to 12:1. If something like that would be possible in a dslr at 1080p, it'd mean something like 0,5MB per frame.

 

The Bolex probably serves a niche right now. But I'm sure the raw crowd will grow.

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The more I hear about this the more I want one, that global shutter is very attractive to me, I also like the 'ideology' of what this camera is saying, its very niche for sure, but I believe there is a market for it. Heck for $3K... why not pick one up?

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I'm in their market. I want something that shoots raw for under $5K. 16mm, means cheaper lenses, which is a big plus.

 

I'm not touching BMC, until they get their supply chain issues figure out, and i know that i can have one in my hands within a month of ordering it.

 

How do you know the Digital Bolex won't run into supply issues? Nobody's gotten one yet.

 

I have a couple issues with the camera. First, there's no removable SSD storage solution. Second, I'm not crazy about uncompressed raw, but I doubt the Digital Bolex has the power to do Cineform RAW in-camera.

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So convert the DNG to CineForm on your $600 PC. Hardly a big ask??!

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If it becomes available soon and is what they claim it is, I'd consider it for the global shutter alone. My GH2 is incredible for most all other stuff, but shots inside a moving vehicle are jello city.

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So convert the DNG to CineForm on your $600 PC. Hardly a big ask??!

 

Yes, but pointless. Transcoding doesn't reduce data storage requirements, it adds to them (unless you delete the original), plus it adds steps to the workflow. Cineform RAW as the originating format has multiple benefits, not the least of which is that in reducing the recording data rate, it would potentially increase a camera's maximum frame rates (if the camera can process CR RAW). RedCode ompressed raw allows the Red Epic to achieve its high frame rates.

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Cineform could be added as a firmware upgrade, but in order to support Cineform they'd have to pay for a licence, since it's not an open format, and that's probably not something they will do yet, not before they sell enough cameras to justify it. Anyway, it comes with enough connectivity options that you can record to any media or codec you fancy the most.

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I was gonna say, the problems is licencing. Cineform is owned by Go Pro now too, who knows if they see these guys as friend or foe.

 

My favorite thing about Red footage is the compressed RAW. It's brilliant. Is there an open source compressed RAW antone knows of?

 

Until then, transcoding cinema DNG to Cineform seems like a smart bet.

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The footage looks good for what it is, but what it is, is not at all representative for the qualities of a camera, it's too stylized for that - just a couple of Macro shots. That just increases my distrust and it should worry the manufacturers that a lot of what they show and tell us seems misleading to us (or just me?). I wouldn't dare judging on basis of this footage, and I'd dare say no big company would put a video like that into circulation to show qualities of a camera: No BlackMagic, no Canon would do that, not to mention the big ones from Arri, Red, Sony or Panavision. Sorry, to me this video is nothing. And that's more a criticism on their marketing than on the article itself, of which nothing representative I've seen so far. Might be a good camera, but I just don't know, yet.

 

Greets,

Matt

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Well, SMPTE might ratify the VC-5 mezzanine wavelet compression standard, which is based on Cineform. Until then, would you be willing to pay for a Cineform RAW recording option on the Digital Bolex? This assumes the camera could handle the processing, which it might not be able to.

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Until then, would you be willing to pay for a Cineform RAW recording option on the Digital Bolex?

 

That was not the point. Digital Bolex would pay for it themselves in order to make their product more competitive, just not at a time when they're only selling 100 cameras. If this camera succeeds and production ramps up, then they could easily justify such an expense, but I understand them not doing that just yet.

 

They have included HDMI though, which also requires developers to pay an annual fee.

 

BMD didn't include an HDMI port, maybe because of this, but they did license Prores, it's a matter of strategy I guess.

 

IMO I'd rather have the hardware in place and then focus on firmware updates, even if they're paid, than having crippled hardware to begin with.

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That was not the point. Digital Bolex would pay for it themselves in order to make their product more competitive, just not at a time when they're only selling 100 cameras.


Yes, but Digital Bolex would undoubtedly pass on their licensing costs, so the question remains, would you be willing to pay more for a Cineform RAW option (and if so, how much)? 
 

BMD didn't include an HDMI port, maybe because of this, but they did license Prores, it's a matter of strategy I guess.


They already pay the annual licensing fee for the HDMI ports on their Hyperdeck Shuttle, switchers, and capture cards (the per-unit fee is 4-5 cents). I assume they didn't include HDMI for the same reason they didn't include XLRs -- not enough space.

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Yes, but Digital Bolex would undoubtedly pass on their licensing costs

 

Not necessarily, the more they sell the less it costs to make them, and the more profit they will be making, so they could absorb the licensing costs, if that's what they decide. Or come up with a paid upgrade. I'm sure most people who use the cameras for serious shooting wouldn't mind paying for an upgrade that adds cineform compressed raw and prores, for instance.

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