Digital Bolex D16 Review Part 1: First Impressions (And How You Can Order One Right Now)
We heard last week that the Digital Bolex D16 was finally going to start shipping after a lengthy development period that saw the camera transform into a much more fully-featured tool (many of these transformations coming from future owner requests). The cameras are definitely shipping now, as we've got our own test camera that we'll be reviewing very soon. But that's not all, if you've been looking at grabbing one for yourself, pre-orders for new cameras are currently live over on the Digital Bolex site (along with a number of other goodies in the DB store). Click through for more on first impressions of the camera.
The team says they will ship the next 500 cameras in 8-12 weeks, and there is a good chance that pre-order slots will be running out as you read this. Joe and Elle from Digital Bolex were able to work out an exclusive discount with No Film School, so if you'd like to save $100 on your order, check out this post. Here's what you'll need to know to get one (from their newest post):
For those of you interested in purchasing a camera, we recommend contacting your financial institution and letting them know that you plan to make a large purchase; we have run into a number of individuals whose banks have declined the transactions due to size. PayPal is accepted by our online store.
You will need to have an account with digitalbolex.com to check out of our store. To register, go to digitalbolex.com and select “Log In” from the top menu. This link is located to the far right, next to our logo. When you are brought to the “Log In” page, you will notice a link beneath the username/password fields to register an account. Click that link, and follow the instructions.
Once you create an account, you will need to click “Log In” again and fill in your new username and password in order to gain access to the store. Then you can navigate to http://shop.digitalbolex.com, or select it from the menu at the top of our site.
With that out of the way, here are some thoughts on the camera.
Yes, that is a Master Prime on the camera, because, why not? We are partnered up with Rule Boston Camera for this shoot (more than just the test you see here), which is why this setup is looking so sweet -- but the Master Prime was an in-house thing only. Here are some photos from our first testing of the camera (with Dylan, Adam, and my stupid face, in that order):
The first thing you'll notice when picking up the D16 is that while there is a bit of heft to it, it's balanced extremely well. This is important not only for putting the camera on your shoulder in some sort of rig, but if you want to use it with the handle. It would be nearly impossible to use the camera with the handle if it wasn't balanced nicely.
The menu system is extremely simple, and is intuitive enough without needing the manual. The camera has an internal battery that can last quite a while, but with a 1-minute or 5-minute power save mode activated you should be able to run the camera for nearly half a day depending on how much you shoot.
We're still messing with the offloading process right now, but transferring with the CF cards has been painless. The camera has an internal SSD of 256GB or 512GB, and you can then transfer that information directly to dual CF card slots. The D16 is smart enough to span the cards if you run out of space, and you can use as many as you need to in order to get all of the information off of it. The D16 also has the ability to transfer using USB 3.0, so you can use that if you'd like to get it all at once and you've got a computer handy.
CCDs tend to develop images a bit differently than CMOS sensors, at least from my experience using both of them. I've always been a big fan of the images coming out of CCD cameras a bit more than CMOS cameras (though that could all be in my head). There seems to be something a bit more physical about the images -- though the camera brand and the way the sensor has been calibrated play into that. No rolling shutter is a plus no matter which way you look at it.
The camera does a very good job combining color temperatures in the same frame. This doesn't always look right with certain camera systems, but it was a particular strength of film -- and it certainly looks like a strength of the D16. My computer is disagreeing with me at the moment, but I will add to this post later with a few JPEG samples.
In the meantime, check out the Digital Bolex site for more on how you can order and the other gear they've got on the website.