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Digital Bolex D16 Review - Part 1


Andrew Reid
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The Digital Bolex has stumbled into the world. It is alive. Now it must find a place for itself. Most importantly of all - is this new replicant Bolex actually convincing?

Time to find out.

Read the full article here

 

Nice review Andrew, and you captured some of the best footage yet with the cam, well done! I've owned the camera for a few weeks now and think the review is on the money. I love the camera but wouldn't shoot a wedding with it.

 

One thing about exposure, I was wondering if you were familiar with the raw mode? the color display is not an accurate representation of what is clipping. Switching to raw/non debayered display is pretty critical for nailing exposure, but it's kind of hidden in the menu.

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We tried the non-debayered display, it didn't really help for focus on the built in screen although the other option (greyscale) did a bit.

 

I don't think the non-debayered display can be activated over HDMI.... Can it? I am not aware of that.

 

What they need is a sharper HDMI output and some better focus aids & exposure aids in my view. I am sure they will come in firmware updates. This is still early days and a first release product.

 

Such a fun camera. Remember - NO camera is perfect.

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We tried the non-debayered display, it didn't really help for focus on the built in screen. I don't think it can be used over HDMI. Can it? I didn't think it could.

 

Switching to greyscale helps a bit but really what they need is a sharper HDMI output!

 

The debayer  is helpful for exposure though not focus. Can't be used over hdmi as far as I know.

 

I find the 1:1 punch in combined with the small hd dp4 not too bad for focus, although I always struggle quite a bit as I'm usually shooting anamorphic, old lenses and low apertures.

 

Sharper hdmi is coming in the next firmware update! 

 

I've been experimenting with the d16 + iscorama and old c-mount and m42 glass and the results are very organic. The fujinon 0.85 is actually somewhat usable wide open with the Isco, incredible. The camera has definitely been a learning curve coming from gh2 though. 

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beautiful.  I think I fell in love with your model a couple of times throughout the 2.5mins.

 

rather than a test showing the camera image quality (we all know what great 1080p/2k and dr from cameras shooting more than 8bit h264 looks like), the piece actually highlights how use of lenses designed for the image plane they're being used on create their own amazing look.  those 16mm lenses do marvellous things to the image.  

 

No other camera / lens combination would have allowed this piece to look the way it does.  - the horrific black magic pocket may have been cleaner, but the shutter skew and stupid form factor would have hindered just about every creative decision you made that day.  I can't afford one of these at the moment but will be sure to keep an eye out for one when they come down a bit in price.

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beautiful.  I think I fell in love with your model a couple of times throughout the 2.5mins.

 

rather than a test showing the camera image quality (we all know what great 1080p/2k and dr from cameras shooting more than 8bit h264 looks like), the piece actually highlights how use of lenses designed for the image plane they're being used on create their own amazing look.  those 16mm lenses do marvellous things to the image.  

 

No other camera / lens combination would have allowed this piece to look the way it does.  - the horrific black magic pocket may have been cleaner, but the shutter skew and stupid form factor would have hindered just about every creative decision you made that day.  I can't afford one of these at the moment but will be sure to keep an eye out for one when they come down a bit in price.

 

She is an English gal as well. Lovely girl and very patient with all our camera nerdery.

I agree on the vintage lenses. When you match a lens to the sensor size it is meant for, good things happen. Part of the reason full frame looks so nice is because you see the edge of the lens - the slightly vignette, the slight curve in the bokeh, the extra flare, etc. Same with c-mount lenses, just on a smaller area.

 

We tried a Canon 50mm F1.2L FD - was not the same... sometimes only getting the 'best part' of the lens (the centre) results in a boring image.

 

I definitely would like to buy a Digital Bolex as well... an extra look in the bag. Really fun to use. I am sold on it, but the price is a bit high for a '2nd camera' I think.

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its way too expensive for what it is, it needs to come down to pocket camera price.

that being said, it does look pretty much the same as all the bolex footage i used to shoot back in the day, cross processing and reversal film prints.

but, i have also seen this look come straight from an iphone and camera apps!

pocket camera price…and i buy it.

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its way too expensive for what it is, it needs to come down to pocket camera price.

The Kodak truesense ccd sensor is much more expensive and more complicated to design a camera around than the cmos sensor in the blackmagic.  The d16 also comes with a 512gb enterprise class ssd.

 

the BM is a bargain for what it can do, but it also brings moire, rolling shutter and a more digital feel. There is no reason the bolex should be priced the same since they contain totally different tech.

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The Kodak truesense ccd sensor is much more expensive and more complicated to design a camera around than the cmos sensor in the blackmagic.  The d16 also comes with a 512gb enterprise class ssd.

 

the BM is a bargain for what it can do, but it also brings moire, rolling shutter and a more digital feel. There is no reason the bolex should be priced the same since they contain totally different tech.

more digital feel? i think the BMPC is the most cinematic camera in the dslr pipeline for sure, ive mixed it with an alexa on 9 commercial shoots already and the grade only has to be slightly changed in saturation to match.

not to mention the Pro Res option which is what 8 out the 9 clients preferred to deal with in post.

as andrew said, its not ready for a professional production, so a toy for 3k? id rather have a tool for 1k.

not that if i didnt have money to blow i wouldnt own one.

though it makes me think maybe i should buy another real bolex!

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more digital feel?

 

i think the BMPC is the most cinematic camera in the dslr pipeline for sure, ive mixed it with an alexa on 9 commercial shoots already and the grade only has to be slightly changed in saturation to match.

not to mention the Pro Res option which is what 8 out the 9 clients preferred to deal with in post.

as andrew said, its not ready for a professional production, so a toy for 3k? id rather have a tool for 1k.

not that if i didnt have money to blow i wouldnt own one.

though it makes me think maybe i should buy another real bolex!

 

Bmppc has a sharp digital look and the d16 looks quite analogue. LOL you even said yourself "it does look pretty much the same as all the bolex footage i used to shoot back in the day" ..... One look isn't better than the other, whatever you need.

 

the bmpcc it's an awesome camera but there is no valid reason for the d16 to be priced the same as the bmpcc just cause you want it to be.  Also neither of these cameras are "in the dslr pipeline".

 

I wouldn't say the d16 is a toy either, it's been used on features, commercials and tv shows already and the first 100 cameras havn't even shipped. PLENTY of time for firmware updates.

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Although my taste isn't to go for the jittery-ish, bright highlights look of that video - I do love the organic, beautiful look of these Digital Bolex cameras. 

 

Every camera has issues, but you cannot ignore what has been achieved by Joe and Elle. To me, this is a camera with a very specific use for indie filmmaking.

 

The most exciting thing you cannot ignore is the fact the camera will make you try harder and not be lazy (none of this shoot in rubbish natural light at f1.2 nonsense) - everything from the choice of glass (vintage!), to the handheld compositions, raw images, need for good light - the Bolex puts a unique filmic power in your hands and makes you think about the actual FILMMAKING very seriously - and thats really cool!

 

Not for the majority of shooters - but absolutely incredible for fans of the Super 16mm image in the digital age. I want to buy one, but can't just yet....

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I don't see any reason for all the love people show for this camera.

The vintage look of Andrew's shooting is 99% from lenses and grading, not from the sensor.

Put an old russian M42 on 5D and you have the same look (or even more vintage, and at cheap prices).

As for handling, I hardly cannot belive that somebody claims superior handling than BMPCC!

You want a grip? you can put whatever grip you want with the BMPCC and make it similar in size and weight to the D16.

This camera is very limited in its possibilities, and the things it does can be obtained with other more versatile tools.

So, as Andrew said, a bit expensive as a 2nd camera (I would say 3rd camera).

If you want it for fun it's ok, but if you have to work with it definitely it's not an option for me.

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