The Digital Bolex D16 camera is on the last legs of its journey towards completion. The project was Kickstarted in March 2012, and was envisioned as a camera for filmmakers that would produce high-quality RAW "digital negatives" from a Super 16mm-sized sensor without any excuses or compromises on image quality. While there have been a number of setbacks and issues since then (you can read about those here), the first cameras will be shipping soon. We saw the final design for the D16 in February, but now we're actually getting our first images from the nearly-completed camera, and for those who've got one coming -- they look pretty fantastic.

Here's what Joe from Digital Bolex said about the shots in a recent post:

The images aren’t perfect of course. The temperature is a little yellow, there is a dead pixel, and some other small issues, but I love the texture of the images, and the natural organic look. I am so happy with what these images look like for the stage we are at.
There is still a lot of tweaking we have to do to get these images to where they need to be, but we have come so far in just the last couple of weeks I believe we will get there very soon!
Below are the raw files so you can transcode them yourself. I transcoded these using RPP as the new debayer algorithm in our software isn’t ready yet. I turned off all the sharpen settings, used film curve, and auto color.

These were shot with a 15mm Elitar Soligor, 26mm Kern-Paillard Pizar AR, and Canon 50mm 0.95, in that order (click for larger):




The camera is clearly capable of some gorgeous skin tones and sharp detail -- though a lot can change in processing as we know from all of the other RAW-shooting cameras. The Kodak CCD sensor being used is similar to the one in the Ikonoskop, and we've already seen some of the incredible and organic-feeling images that camera can produce. Even though the D16 shoots RAW, there is still a lot that needs to be done to tweak the image in the camera, as the sensor can be infinitely adjusted and the images have to pass through an Analog to Digital converter to become something you can actually record and work with.

On a slightly different note, a lot of negativity has been sent the way of the Digital Bolex team, much of it not even about the camera itself. I personally love the design of the camera (the handle is easily removable), and I've made it clear that I want to see more thought when it comes to designing cameras. There is no reason why camera design and camera function have to be mutually exclusive, just as they aren't with houses, cars, computers -- basically anything you use on a daily basis. A beautiful tool might function as well as an ugly tool, but if a company cares about the work being done with the tool, every facet of the design is important. So if you've got something unproductive to say that has nothing to do with the images the camera is creating, just move along.

Either way, the images are looking great. It's not quite a video yet, but as Joe said, they will be uploading full sequences soon, likely before the first cameras actually ship. They have made available the Cinema DNG files so that you can play around with them yourself, so head on over to the Digital Bolex website and download them.

For those who ordered one, the wait is almost over: the first 100 cameras should be shipping in August. For anyone who doesn't have one on order but wants to jump on the list, they will be having their next presale for new cameras in August.

Link: It’s Alive! First CinemaDNG Frames from the Digital Bolex -- Digital Bolex Website

[via Digital Bolex Twitter]