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10 ways to look at the Digital Bolex 16mm raw digital cinema camera

Andrew Reid

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Now I love this kind of enterprising spirit. A passion for filmmaking, a passion for technology and a “let’s build a rocket” mentality. The Digital Bolex project which seeks to build a digital cinema camera for indie filmmakers has now succeeded in passing their $100,000 target in just 24hrs – helped by taking pre-orders for the camera at $2500 each. In fact it is set to break $200,000 in just 48hrs. A runaway success…

Will the customers get what they paid for? There are many ways to look at the Digital Bolex. Here are my 10 perspectives…

[url="http://www.eoshd.com/content/7460/10-ways-to-look-at-the-digital-bolex-16mm-raw-digital-cinema-camera/"]Read full article[/url]

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Incredibly exciting project!

I hope they can pull it off, but like Andrew and Stu at ProLost I see a lot of obstacles ahead, especially for workflow. I mean, their own website suggests you will need 5TB of storage for a 12minute short. How to process it? What NLE to cut with? The specs say USB 3, which to me reads as "not on Mac". Linux, perhaps?

My nostalgia for Bolex and 16mm almost had me on board, but the workflow issues and a cooling period prevailed. I will be following closely, however! I figure I can afford the extra $800 and waiting time to be sure this amazing idea will work for what I need.
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You definitely got balls telling it like it is about Kickstarter. I told a fellow film student it's a matter of time before scammers become hip to that fiasco, and got an ear full.

From what you say, it really doesn't sound like it's worth it unless you have money to burn. It also doesn't sound like it has has a sustainable financial future either...of course this is Kickstarter we are talking about.
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"1. It doesn’t exist"
It does exist vimeo.com/38252059 :P
Not only does it exist but it's also being used to film a short and it's also being edited.
In other words, it's a working camera working today :D

Though I think that they should have mentioned how it works out in post production.
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Thanks for remaining skeptical contrary to most other online blogs. Unless you've really got a lot of money to spare, I think it's crazy to throw 2500$ at something you have very limited knowledge about. I'd definitely rather put my money in stocks and then put off my purchase till august.
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[quote author=tungah link=topic=399.msg2517#msg2517 date=1331694384]
I stopped reading at "16mm".
With the options on the market today, why even bother?

Hi, Tungah,

16mm (or S16 I think in this case) is a perfectly viable option in today's market. (Oscar best picture winner and cinematography nominee Hurt Locker was S16). Notice the specs: uncompressed 2K raw at 4:4:4, option to use 16mm glass, etc.

This would basically be what the Scarlet was supposed to be. And under $3500? Yes please!

Now we just have to wait and see. But I am rooting for them! I started with 16mm Bolexes back in the day, and if processing wasn't so expensive I'd still be shooting one occasionally.
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About the workflow issue, I have a freeish DI system on my website ([url=http://www.DANCAD3D.com]www.DANCAD3D.com[/url]) and free de-Bayer software developed just for cameras like this, and have been talking with Acam dII (tm), KineRAW (tm) and OptimaCine (tm) for more than 4 years on their camera development.

My de-Bayer software supports both plain RAW sensor data and DNG files in CinemaDNG form with meta-data for SMPTE time code and other special features.

I have test demo reels  made with the KineRAW-S8p (tm) prototype Super8 Digital Cinema Camera (planed MSRP $1500 - $2000 with HDMI 1280x720 color LUT corrected viewfinder with 200% zoom etc.)

[url=http://vimeo.com/33997025]KineRAW-S8p (tm) lens test reel #A2 w/o links[/url]
[url=http://vimeo.com/35148088]KineRAW-S8p (tm) 2.5K lens test reel B1[/url]

You can see de-Bayer results on the Acam dII (tm) web site,

40200001.BMP is on page,


at link,


I have support for DNG from Kinor-2K the Russian RAW camera, and also SI-2K (tm) which has a converter to make DNG from their native RAW format (without using Cineform (tm)).

If digital Bolex would like me to add camera specific features to my free de-Bayer program they can contact me by email, but if their DNG are CinemaDNG standard, they should load as is now.

I have EDR (Extended Dynamic Range) processing that can make up for some of the limited dynamic range of the Kodak sensor, you can look that up in the spec sheet on the Kodak site. The sensor in the KineRAW-S8p (tm) I think is rated about a stop more dynamic range, but shows a bit more noise maybe overall without de-noise processing. I have temporal noise reduction in my de-Bayer program that should work with any camera, even HDSLR camera frames.

Iridas Speed Grade (tm) and Adobe (tm) products support CinemaDNG now and offer real time de-Bayer solutions. DNG can also be converted to Cineform (tm), Prores (tm), and H.264.  The Cineform (tm) and Prores (tm) offer bit depth greater than the 8 bit data standard for HDSLR.  As anyone knows you cannot do a heavy grade on full size 8bit HDSLR output without introducing histogram gaps, shooting 12bit True RAW is a good way to avoid histogram gaps in the graded footage. Quality can be maintained maybe if you use an uncompressed workflow that does not degrade the images in other ways as well.  I have a cost fee free uncompressed DI solution in beta-test now, and there are hundreds of other ways to post CinemaDNG frames depending on how much you want to degrade them by introducing compression, if you just compress for off-line editing, you can go back to the pristine True RAW DNG frames to do your conform, so you get the best of both worlds a quick and easy off line edit, and maximum quality for a uncompressed conform in the DI stage to filmout or DCP.

Both KineRAW.com (tm) and OptimaCine.com (tm) have developed 2.5K cameras that shoot full bandwidth, and have done so on a budget, so its probably not imposable for the digital Bolex team to do the same after the others have done so. OptimaCine.com (tm) was going to sell his camera as two circuit boards for about $500, but tells me he is working on a stand alone design now, so who knows what will come on the market before too long, but Adobe (tm)'s CinemaDNG movement is moving forward... uncompressed Digital NeGatives, like movie film was.
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I didn't stop reading at 16mm but my interest was halved. If this was announced pre-5DMKII or GH2 then I would have been very interested. I've spent 30 years shooting 16mm and 2/3 inch chip video and thank goodness things are changing! For me the super 35 sensor size is the best compromise for video today.
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Small garage teams are engineering camera gear for low price? "Hell yeah, way to go!" etc.. i realy like this concept!
It is time to develop a real "indie anamorphic lens" for $1000-1200 too! The CineMoprh filter is great, but..
The raised money is incredible btw.
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sorry guys but there is no dbolex prototype ...

their promo video was shoot on prosilica gx2300 machine vision camera...



download their BTS and look for a camera...

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seems to be right. if it was a b-cam, why they show it all the time?

Or probably they are planning to rebrand Prosilica, modify it a little to make their own cam.
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I think so, and maybe more.
Maybe they are planning to use the same Kodak sensor, and elements from the internal design from the Prosilica. If its true, they dont have to make a camera from scratch, and that summer release date might be right.
Its not a bad thing, fine tune and re-design an already existing cam for different needs, but it would be much better and straight to admit and come out with it if thats the scenario.
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Hi Guys,

This is Joe Rubinstein one of the partners in the Digital Bolex Project.

You are right we did an initial sensor test to make sure that the Kodak chip was the right choice. For this sensor test we modified a GX to have our sensor and processing unit. We loved the images from the sensor so much that we decided to make a short film using it while waiting for the next prototype to come. The current Prototype looks like this...

And the philosophy behind this project is to use as much off the shelf componants as possible to ensure reliability and make the camera affordable. We aren't trying to re-invent the wheel here. 2K tech is not new or really that cutting edge. The thing that is new is we are willing to give people what they want. A simple camera at a very reasonable price. DCP worthy footage in anyone's hand for around the same price as a DSLR.

Many of you have been very supportive and we greatly appreciate it.

Thanks,  Joe
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A long time ago I owned one original Bolex with spring mechanism, parallax viewer and lens revolver (as shown in the image of the prototype). I have a few suggestions for the final design. Don't let it be too oblong like the Ikono-sth. The grip is nice, but a more compact body would be better. Look at the Canon C300 or the Sony NEX 101 for examples. Or why not the old Bolex?
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I too would like to see an SSD in there. The SSD interface is SATA 3 and thus mass produced, very cheaply. Integrating it in place of the old CF interface should be pretty doable. SSD storage is super fast and sub $1 per GB.
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