April 8, 2014

Introducing the D16M, the Digital Bolex Native Black & White s16 Digital Cinema Camera

Digital Bolex MonochromeAmidst the absolute craziness of NAB yesterday, especially all of the major camera announcements, one announcement seemed to slip past the mass havoc created by Blackmagic and AJA. I'm talking of course about the fact that our friends over at Digital Bolex have just released a brand new black and white variation on their popular D16 digital cinema camera. Read on to see what the D16M is all about!

The idea for native black & white digital cinema cameras is not a new one by any stretch of the imagination, and companies such as Ikonoskop with their A-Cam DII Panchromatic, and RED with the EPIC Monochrome have crafted black & white cameras. The concept is a simple one; a native black & white sensor has no need for the complex debayering process that color sensors must undertake in order to output a properly colored image. Because of this, native black & white sensors are capable of higher sensitivity, slightly higher latitude, and a more nuanced tonal range, which can make for some stunning black & white photography.

With all of that in mind, Joe and Elle, alongside the engineers at Ienso, have thrown a brand new Kodak Monochrome sensor into the D16 and removed the OLPF in order to create the D16M, a native black & white version of the D16 with some unique advantages over its older brother.

Here are the new tech specs on the camera:

  • Kodak native monochrome sensor
  • Same resolution options as D16: Super 16mm (2K), 16mm (HD), and Super 8 (720p)
  • No OLPF filter to further maximize fine details
  • ISO 100, 200, 400, 800
  • 500GB Hard Drive

And here's the first footage released from the new camera:

Much like the original D16, the D16M is going to have a very specific niche within the filmmaking world. However, with black & white filmmaking enjoying a slight resurgence of sorts thanks to films like Nebraska and Frances Ha, cameras such as the EPIC-M and D16M certainly have place in the modern filmmaking landscape. For discerning cinematographers who cherish the nuanced tonality of native monochrome sensors, these cameras will be a definite hit.

What do you guys think of the Digital Bolex D16M? Let's hear your thoughts down in the comments!

Link: The D16M Native Monochrome -- Digital Bolex 

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Your Comment

68 Comments

What framerate does it go up to? this looks like a very high frame rate

April 8, 2014 at 3:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mark K

I think you're experiencing an optical illusion because the water droplet takes so long to form. I could be wrong but it looks like regular 24fps to me.

April 8, 2014 at 4:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

Heh my phone takes a while to load comments >.<

April 8, 2014 at 4:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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It might just be the water slowly overcoming cohesive forces or something like that...considering that the speed of the drops looks normal.

Ditto on the frame rate tho.

April 8, 2014 at 4:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I'm actually pretty excited about this, but I also feel like someone has to say it...ULTIMATE HIPSTER CAM! ;)

April 8, 2014 at 4:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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trackofalljades

Well, a lot of people already have. Not that they are wrong. Just sayin'.

April 8, 2014 at 4:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Anteeru

Love it so much! Seems this guys really know wat their doing, absolute retro!

April 8, 2014 at 4:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mohsen

Well now we know who wins the award for most boring test video

April 8, 2014 at 4:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tony

Really? I think it's one of the coolest "this is what our camera can do" videos, mainly because it's genuinely interesting on its own. Beautiful textures and shapes.

April 8, 2014 at 4:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom

Agreed

April 16, 2014 at 7:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Caine

Agreed Tom :-)

April 16, 2014 at 7:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Caine

I have the color D16. Yes, it looks a little goofy and the whole hipster thing is rather silly, but believe me this camera can make some beautiful images and the darn thing actually works.

As for the D16M, consider this. There are only three other mono sensor cameras out there.

The Ikonoskop, which is no longer in production. But good luck finding one. They also may only exists in single digit quantities. That camera went for about $10,000.

Next you have the Epic and Alexa mono incarnations. Either one costs a small fortune to buy or rent.

So, if you're on a budget and want to shoot on a native monochrome sensor this is the only game in town. At $4000 this is a steal.

April 8, 2014 at 4:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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D16

Does the B&W cam still bleed magenta?

April 8, 2014 at 4:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

They are aware of the magenta bias and are working on a firmware update. Ikonoskop went through the same process.

At the moment it's easy to address in the DI, as none of the color channels are clipped.

April 8, 2014 at 4:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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D16

Has BM fixed their green bleed or black hole sun, yet?

April 8, 2014 at 5:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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what?

I've got a hipster convert thing going on because of them. It's a fantastic project but a cruel world, especially with the NAB 4K announcements giving the appearance of bye-bye 2K. However, I think their camera is very relevant and they are vindicated because it is exactly what they said it would be, a digital equivalent of 16mm film.

Also bear in mind the organic and filmic characteristics of the Kodak CCD sensor - they chose that road not because it was easy but because it was hard, and delivered with improvements too. For those who feel the Bolex doesn't cut it for not being native 4K should maybe look twice at colour rendition (or this case B/W) and uncompressed raw; I suspect blown up footage to 4K will contrast well with actual 4K.

April 8, 2014 at 4:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Saied

But the dbolex will likely cost $1000 more than an a7s capable of 2K 60p. Apples to bricks perhaps but after using a dbolex twice, their "raw" is somewhat useless because of the cameras poor dynamic range, noisy shadows, and tendency to shift magenta in the highlights that clip early.

Don't get me wrong I like the ccd look and lack of rolling shutter - but the biggest downfall of the niece really is it's poor picture quality.

So ignoring 4K I still see little future for dbolex.

April 8, 2014 at 5:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Greg P.

The camera gets 12 stops and I've had no problems grading the footage, but then again, that is what I do for a living. In terms of noise it's no worse than any of the other low end cameras like the BM. Personally I think the CCD noise looks more like grain.

For the Sony you also need to factor in the cost of an external recorder from Atomos and that adds $2000 without a drive.

April 8, 2014 at 5:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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D16

If you want 4K. Still early to tell but SLOG 2 even at 50Mbps & 8bit looks mighty good.

April 8, 2014 at 9:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joel Richards

So, from your experience, would you say that the camera does not deliver the promised 12 stops of dynamic range? I found it noteworthy that so far, there appear to be no DR tests on the Internet. The shadow noise and magenta tint will probably be correctable, but not the DR.

April 11, 2014 at 8:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Thyl Engelhardt

I wonder what would happen if Blackmagic did this. Backlash everywhere.

April 8, 2014 at 4:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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RetroHipster

I think people also forget that this camera only costs as much as a 5D mk 3. And yet it records RAW and offers many features of a higher end digital cinema camera. So, it often gets compared to cameras that cost thousands more, which tends to take things out of the proper perspective.

April 8, 2014 at 4:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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D16

I will seriously consider renting this camera.

April 8, 2014 at 5:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Bertzie

Love it! Can't pinpoint it exactly, but really dig the images from the D16/D16m and also how their company interacts with customers and potential customers. Good vibes all the way around. One of these will be my next cam, hands down.

April 8, 2014 at 5:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jeff

It's interesting. I am glad they finally brought a camera to market (well, sort of - there are still only around 100, several of which have had to be returned, and have been at it since December), and think the lenses that are in "nearly almost possibly final prototype" are smart a smart concept. This camera, too - I like the idea of it quite a bit. I appreciate the engineering challenges and the realities of developing products on a schedule when you're in uncharted territory as well. But telling people that the camera was ready to go into production 2 years ago when the kickstarter happened, then constantly saying things were "just about to ship" for a couple of years; Saying that firmware updates are just about ready but not meeting those deadlines; saying different mounts are just about almost ready for months on end... This is not good communication, and I do not find it groovy and full of good vibes.

I understand how it happens, but at a certain point I would expect them to get out in front of it. And it's not just them, obviously (I say this as the proud owner of a BMPC). It's a reality that's becoming more and more common. Smaller companies are pushing shorter development windows and announcing what they'll deliver before they're within range. Then either completely blowing that deadline or releasing something that shouldn't have cleared beta - or, most of the time, both.

The upside is that we get a lot of really great tools as filmmakers. The downside is that what's promised is often far away from what's delivered.

April 8, 2014 at 6:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Colin

Colin, smaller companies ? Could not the same accusations be made at Blackmagic; some people are irked by the new cameras because they are still waiting for firmware for previous ones. And Red too ? The clean room at the previous NAB, and "Year of the Dragon" supposed to be 2013.
I believe the Bolex team believed their own delivery promises but made over 150 improvements in design along the way. I appreciate perspective changes with competitor technology advancing too, but It is remarkable that they came through in the end.
In view of what you have said, I think this is where Canon shines, even though they are frequently blasted on NFS. Paying extra for incremental but reliable releases which quietly ship on time and have a supported life cycle. Choices, choices.

April 8, 2014 at 6:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Saied

I put Black Magic and Red in the same category (why I noted that I have a BMPC). The scale is of course massively different (Digital Bolex is a very small company, all but hand manufacturing their cameras at this point), but it is true of all of the smaller companies to some degree. Canon and Panasonic do deserve credit for the fact that when you buy one of their cameras, it is delivered on time and does what it's supposed to. Some marketing hype is probably necessary for companies like DB to exist in the sense that they got a lot of money up front, which they wouldn't have had if they had done the development first and then put a camera out on the market. Black Magic wouldn't sell as many cameras as they do if they weren't seen as "disruptive" either. Perhaps it just has to be chalked up to the times we live in.

April 8, 2014 at 6:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Colin

... and the auto keyword linking in the comments is really weird. I didn't add a link to headphones, just used the name of the manufacturer. Let's see if it does it again: Panasonic.

April 8, 2014 at 6:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Colin

I agree with Jeff - I always buy electronics based in "good vibes"

Haha!

April 9, 2014 at 12:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Heather

I like the image the camera produces and I like the way the way the company conducts business, those vibes, Heather, try and follow along...

April 9, 2014 at 11:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jeff

Hey digital bolex, get a bigger sensor pair that with pro res compression and destroy your competition. You're welcome!

April 8, 2014 at 5:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gordon Casey

I don't think they have a destroy the competition kind of mind---whatsoever.

April 8, 2014 at 10:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

You do realize Digital Bolex is a very niche company right? They're not "competing" with anyone. They're making a specific kind of camera for a specific market.

April 9, 2014 at 5:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Bertzie

True. For example, they view 4K as anathema.

April 9, 2014 at 9:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

You're getting ridiculous here.

April 14, 2014 at 5:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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pask

Canon has no announcements ?

April 8, 2014 at 5:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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VinceGortho

Canon issued a press release stating that they will stop making cameras and focus on making antiquated Canons and Canon balls only. The reason given was the continued re-branding of their existing technology and less competition in that market space.

April 8, 2014 at 5:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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David F

Well, they did announce a $32,000 servo lens, some pro ENG camcorders and a future Raw recording out of C500, that is still priced at a $20,000 mark. I take it that the cameras are simply not ready at the moment and, if so, the announcements may come at Photokina in September.
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When you think about Canon, they have to redo their entire product map because their proven bread winners in the Cinema EOS line have lost a vast percentage of their worth as new units. In other words, those C 100/300 out there are still working but the competition is beating their brains in on the low-medium budget 4K acquisition. Canon is unlikely to do any studio type cameras like URSA, so they have to see how they could compete against AJA Cion, GH4, A7s and whatever else will be released in the $2,000-$20,000 range. But they don't want to cannibalize either their camcorder nor their 6D, 7D, 5D and 1D photo lines either. On the other hand, without the advanced video features, there's really no reason for almost anyone to upgrade, as the stills market is at the end of its technological cycle.
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PS. Given what has been released at the NAB, the bulls-eye for an independent video shooter is something like a Full Frame high ISO sensor (a la A7s), with focus peaking / auto focus a la GH4, internal 10-bit 4K compressed to about 200 Mbps a la Z100, via an off-the-shelf U3 card, 6G-SDI out to an external recorder, XLR's, camcorder body with a flip-out screen and all this for about $5K.

April 8, 2014 at 10:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Well, to me it looks quite beautiful.

April 8, 2014 at 6:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Lovely version of Debussy's Clair de Lune ("Moonlight"). Too bad they didn't credit it. I guess music isn't like video or "film" - it's just "there," requires no skill, and is free for all to use as they like.

April 8, 2014 at 6:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ronn

Oh, Ronn. Everyone knows Clair de Lune and it's obviously public domain at this point. Debussy also died 100 years ago.

April 8, 2014 at 8:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Christian Anderson

I'm pretty sure the guitarist is still alive :)

I'd always thought of Clair de Lune as a piano piece and was taken aback hearing it played on a guitar..in a good way! I'd also love to know who played this - amazing guitar work!

April 8, 2014 at 8:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Being public domain means you don't have to pay royalties to the publisher of the work for performing a version of it. You do, however, have to get permission to use the work from the entity that holds the copyright in the sound recording, unless it's royalty free.

April 9, 2014 at 10:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Brian

What they said. :)

April 9, 2014 at 2:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ronn

One person commenting on vimeo (see the link) did not know. That's why I ID'd it. Sorry you already knew. And as others have mentioned, just because the piece is public domain, that does not mean you can use the recording without permission/credit/payment etc. Not to be snarky but I get tired of people using music as if it's free, when they'd be up in arms if their video was used without permission/credit or payment.

April 9, 2014 at 2:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ronn

oh hello RIAA, the door to hell is right there -->

April 9, 2014 at 3:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Natt

Hello Ronn,

I am good friends with the online producer for Time and Mainstream records that owns this recording and have permission to use it. He also does not require me to credit anything, though I did add the credit to this.

April 9, 2014 at 11:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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"The concept is a simple one; a native black & white sensor has no need for the complex debayering process that color sensors must undertake in order to output a properly colored image."

NOPE

There is no need for the CFA (Color Filter Array) in front of the CCD which is why the OLPF can be removed.

Since the RAW data stream has no RGB information, there is obviously no need for the complex debayering process."

April 8, 2014 at 6:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Steve Mullen

April 9, 2014 at 3:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Aaron

:-)

April 9, 2014 at 5:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Awful look, really.

April 9, 2014 at 5:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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vetec

This hipster retro is catching on, look what Red Rock Micro done to the BMPCC:
http://store.redrockmicro.com/retroflex

April 9, 2014 at 9:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tulio

That is so fucking smart I want to punch a bearded dude in skinny jeans.

April 9, 2014 at 9:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nathan

I made a rig just like that (composed of a viewfactor cage, ebay pistol grip, and kinotehnik VF) for what is probably half the cost of what red rock will charge

April 9, 2014 at 8:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john jeffries

Is it just me, or did the highlights in the water drop exhibit some crazy staircasing? Is this Vimeo compression, the sensor being "too" sharp? Ooooor what? Either way I felt like it was cutting my eyeballs. Am I overreacting or are other people seeing this?

Also, really? That's the best you lot could come up with to showcase your new monochrome sensor? What about some natural textures, leaves, trees, fabric, skin tones? The tap in the bathroom is all you could manage?

April 9, 2014 at 9:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nathan

I received the camera about 6 hours before NAB opened and had to come up with something I could shoot with one LED light panel in my hotel room :)

Time is always the killer for these things.

April 9, 2014 at 11:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Congratulations Joe, to you and the team for another great achievement. The camera will fulfill its duty for years to come. The image looks superb at this resolution. Do you know how will the image look if it is scaled to a different distribution format, as is the case with some S16 Film footage?

April 10, 2014 at 12:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Agni Ortiz

Use your imagination, Nathan, you seem to have plenty of it. How is your own 4K camera development coming along? Will the first shots be just like watching Lawrence of Arabia, but sharper?

April 10, 2014 at 12:10AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Agni Ortiz

I think that faucet needs a new washer. Great tonality in the image. Loved it. I'm wondering too, cameras just keep getting better and better but at least in cinemas projection tech needs to improve. I loved Nebraska but thought that the image lost a lot when displayed on the big screen. I'd rather watch this stuff on a 1080p flat panel or even a retina iPad. You can appreciate it so much more when you can see what the filmmaker intended.

April 9, 2014 at 11:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Now we're talking

April 9, 2014 at 3:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Natt

This guy some time ago told me that 4k was not close to full reach. With the nab show i guess i proved him wrong he can take his hipster crap camera and try to compete with the 4k cameras. BMC,Sony,Red,Arri,Aja al the way. 4k revolution

April 9, 2014 at 4:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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mike

Revolution? Revolutionary will be having life like tonal range ...in holograms whatever we go, even at home. For now, whatever brings your story to life is all what matters and this camera seems that can do that just fine.

April 10, 2014 at 12:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Agni Ortiz

Think so?

April 11, 2014 at 12:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Thyl Engelhardt

Mike,
I never said companies won't make 4K (most really UHD) cameras. If I did that would be extremely foolish since 4K cameras have been out since at least 2006.
What I probably said was there is no market / distribution network for 4K content so if you are an independent filmmaker you don't NEED to shoot in 4K (really UHD mostly) for another 5 if not 10 years.
And yes UHD displays are still at 1% market share and most of the sales are for signage and store displays if you count only purchases for home use I think UHD is somewhere around 0.1% of the total market.
You need to get to 75% market adoption or a lot of people / companies to consider it accepted by your market.
So yes there is still a loooooooong way to go before the "4K (really UHD) Revolution" is anywhere near to happening.

April 14, 2014 at 2:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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So, whenever Vimeo upgrades to 4K, the 4K distribution will go from 1% to 100%? What happens if a 4K Blu-Ray comes out a year from now and everyone will want to have 4K footage available? What happens when Amazon, Netflix, Sony, Nuvola begin not only film in 4K but to stream in 4K as well?
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In any case, 1080 vs 4K a false premise anyway because, unlike a shift from B&W to color TV's, the move toward 4K is not discrete. One can still enjoy 4K footage played back at 2.5K on an HD screen. It still looks a lot sharper than 1080 (which isn't always a real 1080, as the image has to be debayered first at a cost of about 20% of the resolution .. then add OLPF's and alike and you're watching it at 720p)
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And the second false premise is that, if you want to only work with 1080p, you need to pay $3,000 for it. For much less, you can get GH4, record and keep 4K 4:2:0 8bit as reference, then downconvert it down to 4:4:4 1080p in post for superb IQ and still have some money left over.

April 14, 2014 at 2:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

I'm not going to get into this discussion with you yet again.

But no if Vimeo upgrades to 4K, there will still be 0.1% of the market that has a display to view it on.
Just cause a service offers UHD doesn't mean anyone views it that way.

And no you can't see the difference between high quality 1080p and UHD on a 1080p display, that's just silly.

No one said you have to spend $3,000 for a 1080p camera.
But if you are looking for a global shutter, Cinema standard lenses, organic looking image, and film camera like ergonomics the D16 is a very good deal.

I get it, you like the GH4 better than the D16. That's fine. Some people will. That isn't my preference, but I can understand if it is yours, but you pushing 4K on this thread is just as out of place as someone coming on this thread to push 3D in my opinion.

April 14, 2014 at 8:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Hey Joe,
I wouldn't worry about the comments from folks on this site. They know just enough about how to repeat specs that they don't fully understand to impress people who don't shoot professionally. Just enough rope to hang themselves. Two and a half years ago, these same people just railed on the C300. They thought it was just ridiculous that Canon came out with a 1080 camera in the age of 4k (late 2011). Still, to this day, the C300 is the most rented camera and anyone who invested in one has shot countless hours of beautiful footage, advanced their career and skills greatly in the meantime and paid back the cost of the camera. Joe's right, even if Vimeo goes 4k, it won't be 4k unless you have the monitor. I think a lot of readers are just confused because they hit the 4k button on YouTube and the image sharpened up. It truly does get sharper, but I don't think people realize it's because YouTube compression and that the "4k" they are seeing is actually still 1080p. If it's not on a 4k screen, it's not 4k folks. The reason the 4k looks so great on Youtube is that YouTube's 1080 is actually a super crappily compressed 1080 that you are probably watching on a $100 uncalibrated, off-brand monitor anyways.

April 21, 2014 at 5:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Derek

As a great lover of B&W film media, this released footage left me 'cold', I'm having difficulty finding the correct words to describe the footage shown here.... it's too clinical...too digital...too sharp...I realise they may have a lot more software development to go, but it's way off the mark in my mind. It may be that they've just chosen the wrong subject/lighting to film, or maybe I'm wrong in assuming that these cameras are being developed to reproduce the beauty of B&W film; but in fact they are being developed to just capture exceptionally detailed HD video compared to filtered colour cameras.

April 15, 2014 at 4:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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