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Andrew Reid

See the Digital Bolex at Hot Rod Cameras in LA - Wednesday 15th January

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Digital Bolex

If you are in LA I highly recommend going along to Hot Rod Cameras on Wednesday.

Joe of Digital Bolex will be there to answer any questions and host a try out session for the camera along with Hot Rod Camera's Illya Friedman!

I would be there myself if I lived in LA. Have fun people!

****

Read the full article here

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

Got there around 3pm yesterday and hung out for about an hour. These are just my personal impressions from a very limited interaction with the camera and brief conversations with Joe and some of the other attendees. Please keep in mind that these are personal opinions and they might not be entirely accurate or reflect the final camera's functionality.

 

Ok, here goes:

 

First let me say that Joe seems like a very passionate and super nice guy, there is a lot to be said about someone who pursued an idea a saw it through realization, kudos to him and his team!

 

I also want to say that the image quality that I saw on the computer (the camera records CDNG files with Aiff audio) was very pleasant and detailed with low noise and good shadows and highlights.

 

Having said that, unfortunately this camera appears to have a classic case of a solution-looking-for-a-problem, starting from the form factor which doesn't lend itself either to traditional mounting solutions nor to newer DSLR rigs. Sure you can mount it on a tripod, but trying to attach it to a rail system with a follow focus gear is going to be...challenging. I was also surprised at the lack of some screw holes in the body which would come in really handy to attach an external monitor or other gadgets. It does have a hot-shoe flash mount, but I personally avoid those with larger and heavier attachments.

 

The pistol grip is a cool idea, but the camera is fairly heavy (heavier than a 5D with a hefty lens) One's arm would likely become sore after about 20 minutes of holding it. The decision was made  to be true to the original and make the record trigger on the handle not latch when pressed to record. While this is the way the original Bolex operated, it would have been nice if a latch option would have been provided. The camera does have a record button on the top which works as expected, but makes one wonder if the pistol grip button will largely be ignored by most operators.

 

The camera features two CF card slots, however all the video is recorded to a non-removable internal SSD 500Gb drive. Why not write directly to easily removable CF cards instead? Methinks if the Blackmagic Pocket Camera can do it, why not the Digital Bolex?

 

The internal drive can hold about an hour-ish and then some worth of video, and the data can then be transferred to the CF cards, or to a computer through a USB 3 slot. Transfer time through USB 3 for about 500Gb worth of data....about an hour. 

 

Lens mount is a C-type. This was another bit of odd choice to me, while once again this mount is true to the original Bolex, why require the end user to buy into yet another type of adapter, particularly one which is not used by anyone else?

 

No removable battery...grrrrr.

 

2K -- The sensor is a super-16mm sized one, shooting at 2K uses the entire sensor, while shooting in 1080p mode crops the sensor down to what Joe described as regular 16mm size. In my opinion, 2K offers neither high enough resolution for re-cropping and enlargement in post, nor is particularly useful as a delivery format for web, festivals, and DVD/Blu Ray where this camera's output is likely going to end up. So why not either stick to 1080 and use the full sensor, or go all the way up to 4K?

 

Last but not least, the price. At over $3k (actually $3600 after the drive upgrade to 500Gb) I am not quite sure how this camera will fare against the Blackmagic Cinema Camera which features a larger sensor, EF or m4/3 mount, higher resolution, swappable media, and already a thriving accessories ecosystem. Will no-rolling shutter and a cool vintage vibe be enough?

 

In closing, I did like the image that I saw quite a bit, and I feel that some of my concerns could be fixed with a firmware update (most notably the gun trigger function and maybe the ability for the camera to write directly to fast CF cards). I'm not quite sure how this camera will do against Blackmagic and whatever else is announced in April, but I wish Joe and his team the best of luck and a great deal of success nonetheless.

 

I applaud Joe for pursuing a dream, and I think this world needs more, and not less guys like him. Despite the potential shortcomings of this camera, I am happy that it exists, and I am happy that people like Joe are able to realize their visions.

 

 

Once again, these are just my opinions based on a very brief encounter with the Digital Bolex, please take everything I just typed with a huge grain of salt and try to test drive this camera for yourself before you come to a decision on whether you want to buy one or not.

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Hi Kays. Nice post thanks for sharing. If I manufactured the camera I would find your review pleasing. There are answers to your questions I'm sure most wouldn't find to be a deal breaker. Especially if looking for a camera with RAW capabilities, you have a bunch of c mount glass and can grade the heck out of it. You liked the image so thats certainly a plus, the other short comings may not be as problematic for some. The non removable battery jssue, that's too bad, I actually like a smaller form factor. Even in this day and age there is no perfect camera, and I agree my hats off to Joe and Elle for pulling it off, inspiring to say the least. Thanks

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unfortunately this camera appears to have a classic case of a solution-looking-for-a-problem, starting from the form factor which doesn't lend itself either to traditional mounting solutions nor to newer DSLR rigs. Sure you can mount it on a tripod, but trying to attach it to a rail system with a follow focus gear is going to be...challenging.

 

The internal drive can hold about an hour-ish and then some worth of video, and the data can then be transferred to the CF cards, or to a computer through a USB 3 slot. Transfer time through USB 3 for about 500Gb worth of data....about an hour. 

 

Lens mount is a C-type. This was another bit of odd choice to me, while once again this mount is true to the original Bolex, why require the end user to buy into yet another type of adapter, particularly one which is not used by anyone else?

 

2K -- The sensor is a super-16mm sized one, shooting at 2K uses the entire sensor, while shooting in 1080p mode crops the sensor down to what Joe described as regular 16mm size. In my opinion, 2K offers neither high enough resolution for re-cropping and enlargement in post, nor is particularly useful as a delivery format for web, festivals, and DVD/Blu Ray where this camera's output is likely going to end up. So why not either stick to 1080 and use the full sensor, or go all the way up to 4K?

 

 

The camera has it's compromises, but I wanted to mention some corrections.

 

The 500gb drive holds almost 2hours of 1080 RAW footage, not 1 hr.  Personally I wouldn't bother with cf cards except redundancy. Firmware update will enable automatic dumping to the cf cards when not recording. If you must though.

 

The camera does 1080p(16mm mode), 2k(s16) and a firmware update is planned for using the entire sensor to do 4:3 (for anamorphic and other use.  I think many people plan to use 16mm and s16 glass with their respective sensor crops so it makes sense.

 

The camera ships with c-mount, but there M43, PL, EF coming. Better than adapting if you can.

 

Internal battery is does 4 hours shooting which is not too bad compared to the pocket . External switchronix does 12hrs.

 

There is no problem mounting it to a normal rail system and FF.29254d1362610177-meet-digital-bolex-16-d

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Interesting post Kays.

I think this camera actually sounds really nice. While there certainly seem to be some shortcomings, it sounds far better thought out than the Blackmagic CC/PCC in a number of ways. The ability to see how much storage space and battery power is remaining, and the choice to use an internal four hour battery (rather than necessitating the use of a lot of small swappable batteries) make it seem far more usable, especially for shooting without a rig.

The Pocket is very cool tech but in a number of ways it's a bit of a muddle design wise - what's the point of a pocket camera that's not really usable without a rig? Yes, it's cool that it can be rigged up in any way you choose, or go stealth with it, but I would prefer a consistent design vision and a commitment to a workable form factor.

 

I would say though, these cameras sound like they could compliment each other really nicely. Why just use one body or film stock all the time? Different shooting situations call for different tools, and after the passive M43 mount for DB is released, these two cameras could make a great raw shooting kit for use with a single set of lenses.

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I don't see a whole lot of shortcomings with this camera to be honest. I'm stil not convinced it will have enough low light performance, but I think pricing is pretty ok all things considering.

 

On the other hand, I don't see any reason to say that it is much better than the BMPC. Of course it is, it should be at a much higher price. 

 

As Kays and Chrad says, they probably would complement each other.

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Non removable media?

This is obviously for aesthetic reasons but what happens when your SSD dies on a shoot. Can you easily swap a new one in?
I've had drives of all types fail so creating a camera with drive that is not easily removable seems ludicrous to me.

Please, function over aesthetics!

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Global shutter - yes please -

 

Japanese companies please take note and hurry up with Global shutter on your DSLR's and mirrorless cameras

as I like to pan L-R without buildings leaning over everytime to do this!!

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It has two CF card slots. I don't believe you can record direct to them on the launch firmware but the SSD is enterprise class, rated to run 5 years continuously.

Enterprise class or not, drives fail. You cannot record to the SD cards directly so if your SSD drive fails during a shoot you are screwed. Royaly!

 

I just don't understand what is so hard about having a slot loading SSD port. A Blackmagic hyperdeck shuttle only costs $400, contains an SSD slot, transport control buttons, Blackmagic make money on it, the distributor makes money on it, the retailer makes money on it so how expensive do you think just the slot mechanism costs? Less than $50. Would it be so hard to include one on this camera? No. They have made this decision PURELY for aesthetic reasons. Plain Stupid.

 

Im being harsh but in this day and age, after all this time in camera development and evolution, stupid mistakes like this are still being made. Do DigBolex have the end user in mind when designing these cameras. Great picture quality, DR and global shutter are great but there is more to a camera than just the image it produces. People have to use these things day in day out.  

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I really don't see this as a run and gun/newscrew/wedding shooter. I dont think any big budget or even smaller use these or dslrs/bmcc eyc either. This is for personal use, smaller indie films etc, where price is king. Maybe raw out over hdmi though??

Enterprise class or not, drives fail. You cannot record to the SD cards directly so if your SSD drive fails during a shoot you are screwed. Royaly!

 

I just don't understand what is so hard about having a slot loading SSD port. A Blackmagic hyperdeck shuttle only costs $400, contains an SSD slot, transport control buttons, Blackmagic make money on it, the distributor makes money on it, the retailer makes money on it so how expensive do you think just the slot mechanism costs? Less than $50. Would it be so hard to include one on this camera? No. They have made this decision PURELY for aesthetic reasons. Plain Stupid.

 

Im being harsh but in this day and age, after all this time in camera development and evolution, stupid mistakes like this are still being made. Do DigBolex have the end user in mind when designing these cameras. Great picture quality, DR and global shutter are great but there is more to a camera than just the image it produces. People have to use these things day in day out.  

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I really don't see this as a run and gun/newscrew/wedding shooter. I dont think any big budget or even smaller use these or dslrs/bmcc eyc either. This is for personal use, smaller indie films etc, where price is king. Maybe raw out over hdmi though??

 

You can't transfer raw via HDMI. And if price is king, they've already lost against Blackmagic. I agree with you that this is a boutique (as opposed to a workhorse) camera. It occupies a similar niche as a Leica M9 in digital photography.

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These are just my personal impressions from a very limited interaction with the camera and brief conversations with Joe and some of the other attendees. Please keep in mind that these are personal opinions and they might not be entirely accurate or reflect the final camera's functionality.

 

Oh don't worry, we get it. The vast majority of the readers here do get it, and the small minority who don't never will, so it's fine. Carry on.  ;)

 

 

The camera features two CF card slots, however all the video is recorded to a non-removable internal SSD 500Gb drive. Why not write directly to easily removable CF cards instead? Methinks if the Blackmagic Pocket Camera can do it, why not the Digital Bolex?

 

The D16 style doesn't actually sound too bad. I wouldn't really mind a slightly bigger BMPCC, if it had a removable SDD inside it, a bit like in the BMCC. Both systems have their perks.

 

 

 

Last but not least, the price. At over $3k (actually $3600 after the drive upgrade to 500Gb) I am not quite sure how this camera will fare against the Blackmagic Cinema Camera which features a larger sensor, EF or m4/3 mount, higher resolution, swappable media, and already a thriving accessories ecosystem. Will no-rolling shutter and a cool vintage vibe be enough?

 

The BMPCC, for example, is only about a year old now, and during the past year a number of dedicated rigs and other accessories have emerged, and the Speed Booster for BMPCC just got released. Let's give the Digital Bolex at least a year, and we'll see. Chances are there will be a similar ecosystem around it. Including a Speed Booster for Digital Bolex, a Z-Finder for DB, and so on.

 

I think it does have a chance of becoming another success in the same kind of niche the BM cameras already are. The D16 has a user selectable mount (eventually), a sweet CCD sensor, albeit smaller than the one in BMCC, but still, they both have their own kind of quirks that will attract a slightly different kind of potential buyers. Although got to admit that $3,5k in the US, let alone elsewhere is a lot for mere mortals and aspiring/beginning filmmakers. But we'll see.

 

 

 

I applaud Joe for pursuing a dream, and I think this world needs more, and not less guys like him. Despite the potential shortcomings of this camera, I am happy that it exists, and I am happy that people like Joe are able to realize their visions.

 

Indeed. That's the point, isn't it, not the notion of whether it's better or worse than the BMCC. Like the Blackmagic cameras, this is another welcome development. Let's hope there will be another version of it later, a one that it'll have all the 1.0 features ironed out, and perhaps even with a nicer price tag.

 

 

 

 

Once again, these are just my opinions based on a very brief encounter with the Digital Bolex, please take everything I just typed with a huge grain of salt and try to test drive this camera for yourself before you come to a decision on whether you want to buy one or not.

 

Wasn't there a disclaimer in the beginning already? Pretty convincing amount of legalese . Let's hope it's enough.  :P

Thanks for the hands-on feedback.

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