August 28, 2013

New Digital Cinema Camera to Be Unveiled Exclusively on No Film School

Mystery Digital Cinema CameraWhile cameras are just tools to facilitate a vision, very often we forget that usability can be just as important as image quality. Well-designed cameras let you forget about the tool and focus on making beautiful imagery. Unfortunately, that seems to have been lost in the current age of digital cinema, and we have plenty of designs that leave a lot to be desired, often requiring all sorts of gadgets to make them useful. Tomorrow we're going to unveil a brand new digital cinema camera that was designed with all of this in mind, marrying form and function to get out of your way and let you make images. You can check out the first sneak peek below.

Here is just a teaser to get you started:

Mystery Digital Cinema Camera

Image quality is great for a vast majority of cinema cameras, but plenty of them are just simply not very usable right out of the box. One of the major trends right now is to make cameras smaller and lighter and copy a shape that was never designed for video (I'm speaking about DSLRs, of course). What happened to the last 30 or 40 years of camera design? Is it gone forever? We have made our cameras miniscule, but more often than not we are building them right back up and adding all sorts of counterweights and shoulder supports.

There is a reason this camera is currently the most popular in high-end cinema:

It's not just because of the image quality. That's part of the discussion, but it is also thoughtfully designed. It is well-balanced and simple to operate. A camera that is functional without needing a ton of accessories is going to give you the least amount of headaches on set. For some reason only cameras above a certain price threshold even consider these things. What was wrong with this kind of design?:

It's easily mountable, well-balanced, and you can throw it on your shoulder without even thinking about it. That's not to say either of these designs are perfect or that they are right for every job (like 3D), but how did we start getting cameras that look like this?:

This new cinema camera being unveiled tomorrow combines thoughtful design and a functional form factor with solid image quality. It may not be flashy, but it does the job, and gets out of your way to let you fulfill your vision.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the unveiling and an exclusive No Film School interview with the creators.

In the meantime, if you could improve any camera on the market right now, which one would it be, and how would you do it? It can be literally anything you would do to any camera -- but it should focus on usability. Which cameras do you love for their functionality and which do you loathe?

Your Comment

100 Comments

I think I would improve the ergonomics of the RED. While the modular build is great and its size is definitely a good thing, the inability to just throw the thing on your shoulder is frustrating. In fact that's my problem with almost all of the cinema cameras on the market.

August 28, 2013 at 1:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Coty

There's a thing called shoulder mount. Red is modular by design, you can't expect the "old time studio" usability from it, unlike Alexa.

August 28, 2013 at 2:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Natt

Ya, I gotta say though I prefer the modular flexibility. There are some pretty darn affordable options for shoulder mounting a RED.

August 28, 2013 at 2:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ian

ohhh Arri rosettes....

August 28, 2013 at 1:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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YES !!

August 28, 2013 at 1:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Digital Bolex?

August 28, 2013 at 1:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Diaz Hernawan

I can't wait! I was just thinking about this yesterday. Why aren't there more cameras like the Alexa where it's a simple design and can be used right out of the box...(some attachments* I understand) but all in all a camera!

August 28, 2013 at 1:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ty Stone

I was looking at the Sony NEX-EA50. The form factor is interesting (viewfinder, lots of buttons, shoulder-mounted, shoots out of the box, no accesories required, nice features such as 60p, the E-Mount can mount all kinds of lenses), however the codec and sensor is so wrong. So would like a similar camera with a good sensor and 422 Prores recording

August 28, 2013 at 1:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I still can't believe they sacrificed a built in ND filter on that model in favour of being able to take stills during video recording. Such a misguided move.

August 28, 2013 at 1:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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AdRath

Digital bolex's 35mm equivalent camera? Why is "First RAW images from the Digital Bolex D16" under related posts...

August 28, 2013 at 1:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Criles

Ah... but is it affordable? All the comfort & ease of use in the world is useless if you can't afford the camera in the first place. Blackmagic has shown the world that great images do not require a huge camera investment. Let's hope this mystery camera follows suit. Regardless, I'm looking forward to the unveiling tomorrow.

August 28, 2013 at 1:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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BozFX

oh man ..that's really worth waiting ..I hope it will give us what we want with a reasnble price ..and a great images ..who needs 4K

August 28, 2013 at 1:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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VisualMED

Who needs 4k? You're right, especially with 6K on the way.

August 29, 2013 at 9:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

I guess the bmcc battery non-interchangeable situation is an obvious change I would want. But I always wondered why somebody didn't just come out with some kind of "digital magazine" to throw on the back of something like the arriflex 16sr2, although as I'm typing I realise the complex issues and non-universality that might plague such a product.
I would prefer it if more cameras had better evfs, removeable lens mounts or perhaps mechanical shutters but of course that would just add severely to the cost of the camera.

August 28, 2013 at 1:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Curtis

P+S Technik in Germany makes a digital 'magazine' for the Arri SR series.

August 28, 2013 at 2:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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walter

Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention. I've always wondered about something like this and now it actually exists ha

August 28, 2013 at 6:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Curtis

Would I love global shutter on a Go Pro size camera as well as DSLR?!

August 28, 2013 at 1:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ken Robinson

One sure fire way to make more money is accessorize, accessorize, accessorize... Why sell the whole package when you can sell the camera, then the dang'ole to help you hold it, the widget to help you see it, and the trinket to help you look like a "bad-A?" All you have to do is market it that it's better for you in the end. As a poor sob (just like the rest of you) who has to hold one of these things all day for work, I sure hope we see a move in ALL camera design back towards the shoulder. However, there are many situations where a shoulder mount may not be ideal (shooting on a crab boat, for example) and the little Z5/Z7 design is actually quite perfect. I like the long and skinny design, cause at least you can dig it into your shoulder a little. I just wish with camera's like the FSxxx the viewfinder/LCD was in a better location, like, say, where it is on all OTHER Sony camcorders. I shot for 14 days sailing across the Atlantic on a small offshore racing sailboat with a C100 and while the compactness is nice sometimes, I missed being able to dig the thing into my shoulder. It's fine handheld with the EVF up to your face, but that's really the most stable way to use it. Don't have as much experience with the C300 but basically, same deal.

I say this coming from working in adventure reality TV, where we largely still shoot on (gasp!) HDV (remember that?) EX's, and XDCAM's. However, people are wanting to jump on the 'cinematic' bandwagon, and more and more C300's are starting to show up.

Now, I'm hoping my couple-hundred-dollars-worth of handgrip extenders and EVF mounts on my personal bare bones FS700 will be enough to let 'er rest on my shoulder like a good little kitty. But wait, how am I supposed to adjust gain on the fly, audio levels, etc.. etc...

August 28, 2013 at 1:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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The most appealing new design I saw in the last 5 years was the Sony EA-50. I almost bought it for its ergonomics since I'm tired to deal with all kinds of rigs to get my camera to look and feel like a broadcast one. I'll make sure to check what's it all about tomorrow !

August 28, 2013 at 1:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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JP Belanger

We have a RED scarlet. And I love the image. But Iv'e built it to look and feel like an Aaton camera.
It works. Only the fan is still problem. And power consumption is an issue. Cable routing is also not great. An I record on an external prores recorder, witch works great. Rolling shutter is still a problem for me. Redmags are to expensive. BLABLA. But great image!!
Red scarlet has a great chip. It looks and feels perfect.
But it is not the fastest camera, in terms of setting it up and rolling on set. My 5D MKII is so much faster on set.
Run and gun works best with a DSLR.

But the RED just has that image... It just looks great.
If only Aaton would have build something in a reasonable price range...

August 28, 2013 at 1:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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August 28, 2013 at 2:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Natt

Do you have experience with the new fans? How much of an improvement do they make?

August 28, 2013 at 2:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ian

Most importantly, the latest firmware let's you use adaptive fan mode. Its quieter and fantasticly simple to use....

August 28, 2013 at 3:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Timur Civan

I've yet to use it, but Canon's C100 definitely seems like the most user friendly camera straight out of the box for under $10,000. From what I've seen of it, you can literally start shooting the day it arrives without having to buy a barrel of accessories. If the compression were stronger (maybe like the C300's) and it offered 60 fps, it would be hard to argue there's a better camera at that price point. (Perhaps there's better image quality in the Black Magic, but there's no real shooting right out of the box with that thing.)

August 28, 2013 at 1:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Shawn

Okay, this may get potentially interesting... I am all for form and function, and from the teaser pic I am guessing you're probably utilizing an off-the shelf sensor in a modified SRII body or clone of some sorts, nothing wrong with that, I am actually applauding your decision to make something more ergonomic. I hope the camera has global shutter, and at least 10-bit 422 on board.

August 28, 2013 at 1:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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it will be a nice camera but it will be over $20k for sure :)

August 28, 2013 at 1:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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jesuan

And btw .. will it be a kickstarter thing?? I mean...if it shows exclusively on NFS....I mean....you know :)

August 28, 2013 at 1:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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jesuan

Ooooh! Is it going to be that white + yellow egg-looking camera you posted about last year?!

August 28, 2013 at 1:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ooh I remember... I liked it!!!

August 28, 2013 at 2:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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jesuan

The YOLK Y2 is definitely a beautiful piece of engineering. Maybe sometime down the line a camera manufacturer will be inspired by it, but for now we just have the pretty pictures.

http://nofilmschool.com/2012/07/why-cant-we-have-beautiful-digital-cinem...

August 28, 2013 at 2:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Seems clear that cameras have gotten small because most users don't want a giant-ass camera. The older cameras you cite were designed that way mainly because of the guts inside, like huge film mags. The arri camera you cite was built for production environments where size is not an issue. But, again, for MOST people wanting to shoot video in a variety of situations, small size is important.

But I agree, the FS100/700 design is god awful.

August 28, 2013 at 2:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Michael

speaking of awful designs - the BMCC comes to mind... there's a reason why ARRI and Aaton's designs have been around for 40+ years. Some kids will never grasp that.

August 28, 2013 at 2:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I think they grasp it. But they can't afford a ARRI or Aton. But they can afford a BM. Economics.

August 29, 2013 at 10:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

DIGITAL BOLEX?

August 28, 2013 at 2:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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baremis

Not related to DB in any way.

August 28, 2013 at 2:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

And I thought Red was cryptic and full of pew-pew hype.

August 28, 2013 at 2:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Natt

The designers are low-key and modest. I'm the hypester. :)

August 28, 2013 at 2:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Aaton Penelope Delta camera?

August 28, 2013 at 2:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Nothing to do with Aaton, though I love everything that company was doing with their camera. Not sure if the Delta will ever see the light of day after Transvideo came in to save the company from bankruptcy.

August 28, 2013 at 2:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Ikonoskop got form right but well you know the story.

August 28, 2013 at 2:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dan

chinese camera ?

August 28, 2013 at 2:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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baremis

Most disapointing thing is all these cameras is lack of weather sealing,
I use my cameras out in the elements all over the world, in rain, snow, salt, sand, wind,
Photographers have access to weather sealing in a 3k body why do i buy a fs700 sony for 8k and its plastic and no weather sealing, feels like it will disintegrate first ocean gig i shoot on it
Canons C series seem tougher but no high speed options, need to make a c300s with high speed framerates

The fs700 handgrip just needs shutter speed and aperature dials and it would be sweet, with a evf and grip extender this camera can sit on your shoulder well

August 28, 2013 at 2:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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pat

The Bolex D16 is weathersealed. Not dip in the pool submersible, but more like a DSLR

August 28, 2013 at 3:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Bob

I love the silhouette, but WHY MUST I WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW TO SEE THE REST ???

August 28, 2013 at 2:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pat

in india its already tommorow - i mean its already the time ! ;-)

August 28, 2013 at 3:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Arif Lalani

August 28, 2013 at 3:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Premini

I don't expect the Axiom until 2015 (at the earliest).

August 28, 2013 at 3:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tzedekh

Lets hope it is a 2K+(resolution) OR a 10K-(money)

August 28, 2013 at 3:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Luiz

If the RedShark article claiming that 20 new 4K cameras will be announced between now and NAB 2014 is correct, any new camera with less than 4K -- unless it's very cheap (say, sub-$1,500) and doesn't need much kitting out -- will be swimming upstream. It appears cameras aren't the real sticking point with 4K adoption, but rather 4K data management. Uncompressed 4K is virtually unmanageable. Something like CineForm RAW could mitigate some of the burden.

August 28, 2013 at 4:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tzedekh

I'm in the no-budget area so RED and Arri are out of my league but..

I was making films and paying attention when the DVX100 still ruled the world and people starting putting 35mm adapters in front of Canon HV20s...

Then the 5D MII changed the indie world and the rules...people were so taken with the images and shallow DOF that they worked around all the limitations of shooting video on a still camera.

I agree that it is ridiculous to see some of these rigs that get built up just to get back to the level of functionality and ergonomics that a traditional camcorder gave us.

But, DPs and audiences love that full frame look. A few "camcorder" things have tried to combine the onboard sound and better design with removeable lenses and larger sensors but it is still early...

August 28, 2013 at 3:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Brian

There is also a reason why cameras get smaller and lighter, and it's a pretty darn good reason.

Just as there's nothing wrong with the old designs, there's nothing wrong about making the whole footprint smaller, lighter, faster and more flexible, opening up whole new possibilities.

I think it's really unnecessary to paint that picture of good old and not so good new.

August 28, 2013 at 3:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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hansd

I agree -- the new multiaxis handheld stabilizers don't work with big, heavy cameras.

August 28, 2013 at 3:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tzedekh

Agree, besides, it's always easier to add than to remove. You can rig it up and get an approximate same level of functionality.

August 28, 2013 at 7:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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maghoxfr

There is of course no right or wrong with regard to good design/functionality, but one of the main reasons that cameras (and many other things) have become smaller, slimmer and lighter is simply because they can be made that way. That doesn't make them better or worse by default. It's just as ok to hold a camera which reminds you it's there in a physical, solid sense as it can be disconcerting to have a comparatively feather-light item which has loads of technical 'features' but has to be weighted down to make it stable. It's partly about perception. I like cameras and rigs to look robust and kinda chunky. I expect them to weigh more than a burger and a milkshake.

August 30, 2013 at 4:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mark Harris

August 28, 2013 at 3:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ronn

Right click on mystery image > Inspect Element > Oh, there's the name of the camera.

August 28, 2013 at 3:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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matthewx

Haha, it's not the Mystery Digital Cinema Camera

August 28, 2013 at 4:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

is it black betty !!!

August 29, 2013 at 9:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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raju

It's a great news! I can't wait to know what camera it is.
I don't mind of the specs, is the sensor is good enough compared to the opponents (the C100 is a great camera instead the weak codec) so I will buy it!

4k 2k 1080p it doesn't matter to me. To be realistic, a good full hd recorded with a strong codec (who said 422 proress?) is still enough for a lor of production (web production, broadcast, even long features) and I think this would be the standard for some years.

Maybe 2k... but this is speculation...

thanks again nofilmschool.

P.S.
I hope this camera wont be the chinese kinosomething... it didn't looks very ergonomic

August 28, 2013 at 3:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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andrea

I'm pretty sure they won't be unveiling a camera (the Kineraw) that's already been on sale for months.

August 28, 2013 at 8:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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FabDex

I would improve the cost for higher frame rates. Black Magic has 24p covered but, like others i'm addicted to slow motion. Slow motion just incentives you just to go out and just shoot for fun.

August 28, 2013 at 4:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I would add a sensor with 14 stops of dynamic range to the canon c300 and replace the codecs with 12 bit pro res 422 and 444 that go up to 2k resolution. That camera has great ergonomics but the 8 bit codec really leaves a lot to be desired. The F55 is an unusual case as it seemed to check off all the boxes of what people wanted but the images were not very filmic and didn't do much for me. So often, specs are one thing but it comes down to the sensor and how it captures. If the black magic camera had better ergonomics, xlr inputs and swappable batteries that camera would be a no brainer to buy.

August 28, 2013 at 4:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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That is some muddled thinking you've got there. Basically if a C300 had the specs of an Alexa it would be cool with you? Ok. Canon would be fine with that too - they just don't think people will pay $50k for it, and the C500 bears that out.
Re the F55, have you shot with it? It can crank out some very nice pics. Give it 6 months and you'll see a lot of gorgeous stuff shot with it.

August 28, 2013 at 9:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

Im guessing this is the one those guys built a while back based around a Mac mini? Black Betty or whatever? Only problem if so, is the cost compared to BMCC and the fact it's based on a Mac mini with all the heat and durability issues

August 28, 2013 at 4:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Marshall

would be the digital version of aaton D-Minima? they announced the development of this camera as part of its restructuring. would be something very interesting!

http://retrothing.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/aminimacamera.jpg

August 28, 2013 at 4:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Luiz Guilherme Leste

August 28, 2013 at 4:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Marshall

So it's essentially a "rig" for the P+S Technik SI-2K ???

August 28, 2013 at 4:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pat

Yup. Factoring in all the costs, and the fact it's based on a Mac mini, and the fact they won't be able to mass produce, seems doa.

That said, I love the form factor. If somehow they've done their own Os instead of a Mac mini, who knows, maybe there's a future.

August 28, 2013 at 4:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Marshall

Yeah, I think you're right. It's the same as the second picture of the Black Betty except croppsed and darkened.

August 28, 2013 at 4:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alex

It looks like a Black Betty, and if it is, it was announced a while ago. Specs of that camera are ho-hum, and it's needlessly big and heavy.

August 28, 2013 at 6:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tzedekh

I think it's exactly this camera.....maybe they updated something to make it new.....

August 28, 2013 at 6:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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jesuan

I think you got it, went to google it, looks like it.... interesting idea... I can see a lot of comments coming, and many of them are not gonna be nice.... But I think its pretty cool,
I have been Daydreaming this whole month about doing that to a BMCC....

August 28, 2013 at 7:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I know which one it is...

August 28, 2013 at 6:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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August 28, 2013 at 7:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Using the same sensor as GoPro?

August 28, 2013 at 10:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

Speaking of Franken-cameras, I'm looking for a cage for my iPhone 4S that will be able to hold an external battery in convenient place. Any ideas?

August 28, 2013 at 7:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Earnest reply

Comments back open, just forgot what I had to say.

August 28, 2013 at 7:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Anthony Marino

this article sounds like d16 bolex marketing.

August 28, 2013 at 7:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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mauerfuchs

Jeez, can't pull the wool over the eyes of this crowd.

August 28, 2013 at 7:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Anthony Marino

August 28, 2013 at 8:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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fernando

It´s cool how new options are emerging for independent digital filmmaking, but I can´t wait to hear more news of the Scarlet Dragon. I think that camera will be the one who sets the example for everything equal or down that price range.

August 28, 2013 at 8:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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fernando

Well if is that (seems likely!) then it'll need to cost very little to be of much interest.
I love that it took 2 years to build, and looks like something you could Radiant Images to knock up in a day!

August 28, 2013 at 8:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

I'm also going to need some convincing re 'well-balanced' putting the battery on the side.
Just a note, we didn't do that with our Arri SR2s.

August 28, 2013 at 9:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

You guyyyyyyys, this was supposed to be exclusive.

August 28, 2013 at 10:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pat

probably a bait and switch. Will be funny if this page has been around for a while and all the competitor sites are reporting this like news and there is a real NFS announcement of another camera or at least different specs tomorrow. I'm calling it.

August 29, 2013 at 12:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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2/3 inch sensor, and the footage is unimpressive...

August 29, 2013 at 12:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Criles

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