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Digital Bolex Not Stopping with the D16, May Release a Large Sensor 4K Camera in the Future

08.1.12 @ 1:58PM Tags : , ,

We just recently talked about some of the changes to the Digital Bolex camera, and it seems that it’s shaping up to be a worthy competitor to anything released in the $3,000 and under price range (namely, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera). RAW video is powerful (ask any RED owner), and it was only a matter of time before anyone and everyone would be able to record sensor data straight from the camera. In the video interviews below, Joe Rubinstein and Elle Schneider talk a bit about the current D16 project and what it’s like to shoot with the camera. Joe also mentions that this will not be their first camera, and there’s a good chance it may be a 4K model down the road.

Thanks to planet5D for posting these interviews from Kurt Lancaster (who is an Associate Professor at the School of Communication at Northern Arizona University and is the author of DSLR Cinema: Crafting the Film Look with Video):

It’s clear based on the changes the team has made that this camera has become a serious competitor. While it will be capable of HD-SDI in some way down the road, having an HDMI output with a full 1920 x 1080 will help alleviate some worries that a number of shooters had about the camera. The unlimited mount choice is a huge advantage in this budget range, and if you can get your hands on some Super 16mm or 16mm lenses (which should become more and more plentiful as people move up to larger formats), they will be a perfect match with this camera.

Many will compare the D16 to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, but as the D16 project changes, they move away from each other in philosophy and customization. One of the big advantages of the Digital Bolex is the ability to use the entire sensor (2336 x 1752) to record real 2X anamorphic, which no other camera under $10,000 is able to do. Blackmagic is looking for disgruntled Canon users who want a RAW camera, and Digital Bolex is looking at a vast range of users, but mainly those who are coming from a 16mm or Super 16mm background and want to recreate that look in a digital space with a RAW workflow.

It will be very interesting to see what new models both of these companies release down the road. It would make sense for Blackmagic to create their own way of mounting any lens imaginable if they do end up releasing a Super 35mm sensor camera. Since Digital Bolex is already doing that, it’s safe to say that a future camera (4K or not), will also feature interchangeable mounts. With all of the RAW cameras coming out over the next few years, people will have to make some serious decisions about storage and what footage they absolutely need to hold on to.

Link: Digital Bolex

[via planet5D)


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Description image 68 COMMENTS

  • Bring it on! This is starting to get fun. I wonder when the big companies are going to respond (if ever). Fairly soon we will have Raw in two $3,000 models and Canon only has Raw in their C500 ($30k??). It’s making them look lazy and/or greedy.

    • Joe Marine on 08.1.12 @ 2:25PM

      Don’t forget about the Apertus Axiom. Yes, it might just be a render at the moment, but there are a lot of talented people working behind the scenes to make it happen. While I don’t know if open source is the future, I’m very excited about anything that allows users to get what they need out of a camera.

  • I would like to see footage from the first camera before hearing about how great the second one will be.

  • Rev. Benjamin on 08.1.12 @ 2:20PM

    Very cool. You know, I find myself just plain wanting this camera to succeed, and for a 4k version to come out. An interesting observation I want to make about the digital Bolex team – I know their faces. From all the press and the website, there are faces I recognize associated to the company. This gives the company a more personal, real feel. Very indie or mom n pop – like we’re all in this together. I like that about them, and I think it will contribute to their success. I can’t even think of who the face would be for Blackmagic, let alone all the other faceless big box companies.

  • Could the aperture in the interviews BE any wider?
    Very interesting project. Cant ‘t wait to see more shot footage of the D16.

  • Shorty Robinson on 08.1.12 @ 2:53PM

    Wow. Seriously? Does anyone actually think they’ll even get past their FIRST?

    I’d say they’re lucky if they even manage to deliver on the ones they’ve already sold to their poor investors. I’m *completely* with MJM on this one.

    • I’m with you on this one. I can’t get pas t the “garage” feel of the company. And, before anyone says that Apple started in a garage: they’ll never be Apple. I wish them all the luck, but I have zero interest in their product. Vaporware.

  • marklondon on 08.1.12 @ 3:06PM

    Agreed. This is classic tech ‘upspeak’: “Don’t worry about issues with this product we have yet to release, the one we’re designing right now you may or may not ever see is going to be AWESOME”.

    They need to drop all their other avenues (their own lenses? Really??) and concentrate on delivering true S16 anamorphic. That’s something that only the Alexa has directly addressed, with a model that’s yet to come out.

    (although oddly, my D800 shoots 5×4 video).

    Anamorphic gets people excited. The right people. 4K at some date in the future? Less so.

    • How do you setup your D800 for shooting 5:4 video?

      Mine automatically picks 16:9, even if I choose 5:4 format in menu. 5:4 only affects stills.

      • Joe Marine on 08.1.12 @ 6:30PM

        The D800 will only record video in 16:9, even though it does allow you to crop into the image more for DX lenses.

        • Joe, Check my reply one post below :)

          • Joe Marine on 08.1.12 @ 6:51PM

            Hmm, that’s interesting, the external recorder would only be able record in its native frame sizes, but you might be able to use some sort of capture software connected to a computer to get the 5:4 video in its native format. You could always record in the wrong aspect ratio and unsqueeze later, but you’d be losing a little resolution that way. I’d want to try that out for myself to see how that really works though.

          • I’d make a guess that it outputs 1350×1080 and just adds black bars to the 1080p signal, but it sure would be interesting to find out more about it. I guess the quality and usefulness of the 5:4 output will depend a lot on how the line skipping and conversion to HDMI is done.

            Joe – please write about it on nofilmschool if you find out something useful about this mode :)

    • I tried hooking up a monitor to the D800, and if you switch the camera into stills mode it shows 5×4 video on the display as well as on the HDMI output. Would be interesting to investigate the quality of the 5×4 output if I had access to some recorder like the Atomos Ninja!

  • This guy is starting to claim a little to hard. Most likely feeling the pressure from Black Magic. I guarantee Black Magic is already working on some sort of S35 sensored camera and that’s the biggest reason I won’t purchase any new cameras for more than 2 years. Owning a 5d mk2/3 paired with renting cinema cameras when required in my opinion is still your best option if you’re an indie film maker. A huge majority of the people wanting that RAW codec aren’t even getting the most out of the cameras they currently have anyhow (or understand how color correcting works). In my opinion sensor size is king and all these cameras fall short of that so far.

    • Joe Marine on 08.1.12 @ 3:21PM

      Sensor size doesn’t improve your image, dynamic range and color fidelity do. Of course you can get a decent image from DSLRs, but for the most part they are 8-bit 4:2:0 color space. That doesn’t lend itself very well to serious color correction and grading.

      • Ok that’s fair, let me please change my argument to “None of these cameras are ready for the market until I can get the full use out of my 2,000+ glass I invested in”

      • Daniel Mimura on 08.14.12 @ 2:36PM

        Sensor size does improve your image…drastically. A crappy lens will look much sharper on a larger sensor…

        This is from Ken Rockwell’s site… Scroll down to “Use the right tools”…he talks specifically about lens sharpness vs image plane size a little bit…how a crappy lens on a medium format camera will look great compared to a super sharp and super pricey SLR lens…

        I think idea of trying to get old 16mm lenses to shoot digitally is sort of…I dunno…misguided is strong a word, b/c there is an aesthetic you can get…but you can do that other ways. Older SLR lenses can hold up better than old 16mm lenses b/c the image size keeps it’s flaws a little better hidden. So to take older 16mm lenses, (not as sharp just being older optics)…and combine them with a sensor that’s the size to make those flaws apparent is one reason why sensor size does matter, drastically (unless you’re going for that look)…I suspect most users or potential buyers for this are *not* going for that look, in which case they should stick to larger sensors.

        (All this is also excluding how a small depth of field gives you an apparent sharpness but that’s another topic entirely, but one that does improve your image.)

    • It is a pretty bold claim to know what black magic is working on. Read the quotes in the link I post below which are directly from the CEO and you will see that a super35mm camera from black magic is nothing more than “water cooler” talk at this point

      I’m not saying it won’t happen. I’m just saying I wouldn’t hold your breath so you don’t share the same fate as the scarletuser crowd

  • Honestly I won’t support these guys just b\c of the way they dress. Its way too “New age”. I’d much rather prefer to support companies who dress with respect.

    • Thats a novel way to choose a camera. If we are using this method to identify companies why not go all the way

      Digital Bolex: “new age” dressing hipsters

      Black Magic: post production techies with an apple computer design style

      Sony and Canon: corporate sharks trying to make a buck and crippling lower and models to preserve their upper end models and price structure

      Nikon: the pro photographer that is only adding video because he has too

      JVC: the kid that gets picked last for dodgeball

      RED: the loud obnoxious guys at the party the flexes its muscles (resolution) to get the girls (fanboys)

      Panasonic: can’t think of a clever way to say I’m not impressed with anything but the gh2

    • What does “dress with respect” mean?

    • konstantinos on 08.1.12 @ 6:41PM

      Respect to whom?

      And how does one dress respectfully?

      And why would it matter anyway?

      Why would you prefer someone who has studied marketing and has calculated exactly how he should dress in order to be “respectful” over some guy next door that wears what he actually wants to?

    • john jeffreys on 08.1.12 @ 6:44PM

      Are you retarded?

    • I wouldn’t support me based on the way I dress either TBH.

    • Like how Steve Jobs dressed in jeans and black turtle neck 24/7? Yeah, you wouldnt trust him.

  • Shallow depth of field interview!!!!. Ha! Hopefully they deliver the cameras soon and hopefully they are great.
    The more inexpensive raw cameras the better.

    The bigger camera makers (canon, Nikon, etc) don’t really cater to the market that follows blogs like nofilmschool.
    They continue to make money off cameras we see as underwhelming (canon mirrorless for example is supposedly the most pre ordered camera on Amazon even though we know that camera sensors limits and shortcomings) so I hope the small guys like digital bolex and blackmagic will make great products.

    • Joe Marine on 08.1.12 @ 4:39PM

      Our audience is pretty varied actually – we have plenty of people who are just starting out and are perfect for a lot of the lower-end products that Nikon and Canon make. Though many of the people who comment regularly are looking for something a little more, that is true.

  • Hoyl f*ck, talking about new goals when they have yet to deliver on this one? I think I’ll just request a refund on the $2,500 I put down for the D16…

    People think you can’t be refunded after backing a project, but I suggest you file with the State Attorney General, who tends to disagree when the “prize” is a discounted product (basically, you’re paying for a product in advance as a pre-order, not backing the project for its various developmental aspects based upon wording on the Kickstarter page).

    • Joe Marine on 08.1.12 @ 8:03PM

      Maybe 8 seconds of the 10 minutes of interview footage involved talking about new goals and new cameras, so I guess you can blame that on me. By the way there isn’t a company in existence, big or small, that doesn’t have long-term goals. Talking about future products does not mean they are less focused on getting the current one out the door.

      • You posted an article a few days ago reiterating what the DB team had to say about where they’ve been and what they’re planning. The fact of the matter is that while it’s nice to see they’re able to get posters out the door for small backers, those of us who have contributed with the hopes of getting one of the initial DB products before retail have been kept in the dark regarding a specific delivery date (I’m sure the BMC pre-order people are in the same frustrating boat) as well as the latest development updates. Joe Rubenstein’s previous post before the long-winded explanation said that they would have updates on the camera development soon, and then this one still tells us that they’re changing things out yet again due to more demand. I’m not going to be surprised if the release date gets pushed back a month or two because the camera is still in the works.

        Interviews, spinning 3D graphics, and demo shells of the product are nice, but solid updates are even better.

        Long-term goals are nice, but what purpose is there in hyping people? Remember Canon’s 4k concept camera and their final display this year at NAB? It again was great marketing hype and then a poor final showing.

  • I wish these guys the best of luck, but trusting any amount of money to this project seems like a pretty big risk. I can’t say that the footage they’ve provided has impressed, and they still haven’t posted anything new in months. My gut tells me this is still vaporware in its purest form, but I guess we’ll just have to see. I mean even the ultra secretive Black Magic has released something… and even the sample footage they’ve released through John Brawley is pretty amazing.

    I hope my jaw drops when they finally release the D16, and they prove to be a worthy competitor in the RAW market. As of right now though, even the GH2 and other DSLRs produce a much richer filmic and cinematic aesthetic. Normally that doesn’t matter too much, but in this case they seem pretty adamant about pandering to filmmakers who want to make films.

    I think they want to make a camera that can produce footage that’s as close to 16mm film as possible. It’s an admirable goal… but it doesn’t look like they have a grip on that yet. It takes companies years to perfect this sort of technology and get it right. Let’s hope they can do it though!

  • For some weird reason, I can smell it as “vaporware” on this D16. I was so interested on it the first time I saw the news back then, not anymore now. I really pray that BMCC is true and not just another Scarlet hype!

  • Joe, why are you such a admin abuser? Seriously. I’m sure you’re going to delete this too, but at least you will see it.

    • Joe has a pretty light touch with comment moderation, actually… if we’re moderating something you can bet it has A) nothing to do with the present conversation or B) is a personal attack on someone. If you’re “adding to the conversation” per our comment policy there is no way we touch your comment…

      • Ok, fair enough, MAYBE.

        But listen to this…

        Are you retarded? – John Jeffreys.

        is that inline with the policy? Joe was deleting my comment about the Colorado shooting, they were super clean, I was discussing conceal carry in the USA, and how I thought it could have been in good use there, but Joe thought it to be the cool thing to delete it, no reason once so ever, besides, he didn’t want to cause an argument, aka debate.

        There is nothing wrong with talking to people about conceal carry laws. Joe has frankly been a admin troll. I know you will\are defending him because you kind of have too, you’re closer to him then me, and many others on this blog, if not all. But I’m telling you the truth.

        • john jeffreys on 08.2.12 @ 2:54AM


          • Chad Hustlington on 08.2.12 @ 6:04AM

            John is above and beyond your feeble human laws. All hail john jeffreys, master of the universe.

            Also, someone should pester Aaton to make a digital version of the XTR alongside the Penelope Delta. That would be badass.

      • And another thing, its like everyone could rip on my comment about dressing respectful, and I can’t even stick up for what I said without Joe deleting it.

        • What does any of this have to do with Digital Bolex?

          • ……. I was talking about how he is an admin abuser in general, I brought up the “this should never happend” post, or w\e it was called about the shooting in colorado, as an example.

            Either way this isn’t going to go anywhere so w\e.

        • Joe Marine on 08.2.12 @ 1:29AM

          Right, well your comment had nothing do to with anything – and you responded with a completely disrespectful comment, in my opinion, to the people building this camera. Talking about the camera is one thing, but disrespecting the people who are making it for no reason whatsoever is certainly grounds for deletion. Elle responded with far more class than was required, and yet you chose to take the low road.

          As for the other comments directed against you, we try to let the comments section police itself for the most part (hence what Ryan said about having a light touch with comment moderation). There’s a reason people got on you about your comment – because it doesn’t belong here.

          As for that comment about the shooting – it started an argument that I thought was completely inappropriate for the situation, so while the original comment was valid (and not removed because of my stance on anything), the way you phrased it caused a number of pretty ugly comments in response, and I didn’t really have a choice – and that’s ultimately the reason I closed the entire thread. You also proceeded to attack a number of people in a way that was completely destructive. Those who think someone is an “admin troll,” as you put it, are usually the ones without anything constructive to say – or at least they don’t know how to frame a comment in a way that doesn’t attack someone or cause an argument that will in no way end up as a constructive debate.

          You’re free to say whatever you’d like in the comments section – but we’re also free to delete it if we feel like you’re being destructive or attacking people without adding to the conversation. If you think that’s unfair, the internet is a pretty big place, and there’s nothing stopping you from saying whatever you feel like somewhere else.

          • Longest post you’ve posted on a reply? I’m honored.

            See that’s the thing, you never let people debate, it’s like you think something bad was going to happen. And I do like how you used “I thought it was completely inappropriate”, you’re subjective opinion is ridiculously bias. If I had to guess the king of person you are (from what you’ve done, deleting my post, responses etc… I’d say you’re for “gun control” for Gay marriage, and maybe even for Obama (lol)?

          • Joe – don’t feed the bears. :)

  • The fact that many people handed over their hard earned cash to these two people astonishes me.

  • Roy does make a very interesting point regarding the clothing, which I hope this will open up a lively and constructive debate.

    Appearance does mean quite a bit, both on set and for investment pitching. All of this, of course, depends upon the client, but generally speaking:

    -corporate shoots I’ve been on have requested business-casual clothing. Everyone else in the room for an insurance agency seminary, for example, comes to work in a suit and tie (ladies in their equivalent).

    -weddings have required me to be in at least dress pants and a button-down. Over the past few years, I’ve seen quite a few photographers and videographers show up in khakis, a plaid shirt, and dress sneakers. This would probably be fine if you were extremely close with the couple to-be-wed, or if it was a very informal/casual wedding. However, more often than not, contracted shooters have shown up looking like this to pretty formal weddings.

    -Set work gets, tricky, but I think this still depends on the client (or director, if it’s a narrative). Crews I’ve worked with have been fine showing up in relatively casual clothing. It does say something to the client/director, however, if you show up in ripped clothes and generally look like a mess.

    Finally, this brings us to investment-pitching. If you’re going to present an idea in-person to someone or a handful of people that can make or break your idea’s reality, I’d imagine you generally can’t Mark Zuckerberg it and show up in a hoodie to pitch to Peter Thiel.

    However, the innovation of Kickstarter allows people like Elle and Joe to dress how they normally would and pitch to the world. If they lose a few potential backers like Roy because of appearance, so be it. Kickstarter’s beauty is that you’re not biting your nails if someone potentially huge doesn’t support you – there will be hundreds of others that will still take interest in your idea and support it.

  • The anamorphic function is the shit, and super 16mm lenses are way better then common canon glass.
    I think Digital bolex has the upperhand, but they don’t have the media hype.

    C-mount is adaptable to anything and EF mount is basicly crap.
    For this crop factor of what these 2 cameras have, the D16 is the winner, Mount wise.

  • Lotta hate on the DB guys for talking about the future. How many people actually watched the video? Talk of planned releases was minimal; talk of the S16 camera very much in the forefront. I’m not an investor so my stake’s lower, but I thought the interviews showed two people committed to making a great camera. Plus, wouldn’t you like to wait a bit longer and get a better machine than get a piece o’crap on time?

    And chill, Roy – your opinion matters here, but only when it bears on film or filmmaking. This is NoFilmSchool, not No- or ProGunSchool.

  • Dean Butler on 08.2.12 @ 10:16PM

    The vid’s an edit. Shame to see this thread getting so personal. If these guys pull this off it’s gonna be nothing short of awesome. Proof will be in the pudding so let’s wait and see. All the best to them.

  • will the 4k be uncompressed or compressed? Thanks

  • great camera and great effort getting it done. Thing is, 90% of people that purchase it will never use the camera for what is was designed, namely cinema.

    The rest who use it for TV and Youtube will lose the effect as they compress everything. Big RAW files will cost near as much as film LOL

    Still very lovely camera indeed

  • Sathya Vijayendran on 08.5.12 @ 10:21AM

    As a shooter and editor running a business, I think the best option is the one where you’re not wasting time converting footage for editing. The BM camera offers Avid and ProRes, and that outweighs sensor specs and monitor sizes to me. I have the AF100, and the worst part is the AVCHD codec and converting everything. Since BM makes software, I’m more interested in their “closed ecosystem”.

  • Hi Everyone,


    We will be including Cinema DNG editing and transcoding software with the D16. This means you can edit your footage, or at least make a list of your selects before you transcode so you don’t end up transcoding everything. It will be a much different experience from AVCHD.


    If and when we release a 4K camera it will likely be very similar to the D16, but higher res, so yes uncompressed.

    And as far as 90% of people, we hope that in the near future many many more people will be able to make a living making movies. If we use the music industry as a model we can get to a place where people aren’t getting rich making movies, but are getting to do what they love. We will be working hard, not just to produce cameras, but help influence a market place that helps make this possible.

    Thanks everyone for your support, Joe

  • Daniel Mimura on 08.14.12 @ 2:23PM

    A major argument about what he talks about with the “look” of the films and shows he’s comparing his camera to is the fact that all three he mentions are SHOT ON FILM.

    He mentions the Hurt Locker, The Walking Dead, and Moonrise Kingdom…

    Sure, the small film plane/image sensor may have *something* to do with the look…but I think it’s of less of an impact than he’s alluding to in his interview.

  • Horrible looking interviews! This guy’s a teacher? Why the half inch of focus?

  • Jarrett Towe on 02.27.13 @ 12:20AM

    Or you could forget the wait and build it now albeit in a less pretty but more functional package. Just sayin…

    Help make it happen for Frankencam DIY RAW Video Camera Prototype on @indiegogo

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