The Digital Bolex D16 has been one of the most anticipated products in recent memory for the indie film community. Since it was first announced via Kickstarter over a year ago, and since it blew past its funding goal, Joe, Elle, and the team at Ienso Electronics have been incredibly busy taking customer feedback and zeroing-in on additional features for the camera. While it has taken quite a bit longer than those involved with the product design had anticipated, the finalized version of the D16 appears to be right around the corner. Joe and Elle were at South by Southwest last week showing the final design of the camera and fielding questions. Below is a quick video of Mike from the Digital Bolex team with the final version of the D16.
And here is James M. from the Digital Bolex forum with his first impressions after some hands-on time with the camera:
The side panels, handle and main body all felt very rugged. Action on the crank is smooth with a decent amount of tension and some built in "stops" that give a light click as you rotate it. Good stuff. Though to be fair some of the more strong arm shooters might feel it has too much "give". As a follow focus it felt different but still quite workable. For menu navigation it just felt right. Better than buttons or touchscreens.
The onscreen interface when the camera is running is very smart and intuitive. ISO, audio meters, frame number AND frames per second setting, record setting, battery life and card status are all simply represented and easy to read. And I'm sure I'm forgetting something else. You know exactly whats going on with the camera on a single screen. It didn't feel like I would have to learn another language to shoot with the D16 or spend most of my setup time in menus.
In addition to these first reports from SXSW, Kurt Lancaster, author of the popular DSLR Cinema book, recently travelled to Toronto to meet with both Joe and the fine folks at Ienso, the electronics company that is handling the electronic design and production of the D16. He shot a few interviews and pieced together a short documentary that sheds some more light on the process behind taking the Digital Bolex from an idea to a tangible product.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm really starting to get excited about this camera. Seeing the immense amount of work that the Digital Bolex and Ienso teams have put into getting the camera ready makes me think that it will be an excellent product that fills its niche in the market perfectly, and it will do so at a price that will be hard to beat. Add to that the fact that 16mm C-mount glass is ubiquitous and abundant, and I think that it's entirely possible that we'll see a resurgence of the 16mm aesthetic, only this time in a digital flavor.
What do you guys think? Are you as excited about this camera as I am? Do you see the D16 becoming a truly viable option for independent shooters and students? Let us know in the comments.