It's been a long and tough road for the team over at Digital Bolex, and while they would be the first to tell you that they would have loved for the product to be out and about already, nothing with camera design is easy or simple, and each project faces its own challenges and difficulties. Even RED, with their many millions of dollars spent on development of the DRAGON sensor, has only delivered a small number of finished cameras, most of which are not in the hands of regular users, but instead are being used on huge productions like Transformers and David Fincher's new film Gone Girl. Either way, the D16 project is very, very close to completion, with locked calibration and firmware coming in the next few weeks.
In a blog post over on the Digital Bolex site, Joe and Elle mentioned when we can expect the first cameras to be released, and also posted some photos of the completed paint job and metal work on the camera:
While there were vast improvements with this new generation of parts, there were a few problems here and there. Luckily the problems are with smaller parts, and don’t affect the functionality, but we want to get everything right on a cosmetic level for our first 100 cameras. There will be a slight delay to produce a new batch, but the good news is, it is a short delay and we are confident we can deliver cameras in the coming weeks, to stay on target of the six weeks ballpark we announced the last week of September.
They have also been hard at work trying to get the camera much closer to a proper color calibration in post. Even though the camera is RAW, some settings still need to be applied to the image in order to see it and begin working with it. They're going to have Tungsten, Daylight, and Fluorescent settings in camera, and those will be much closer to white balanced now when you bring them in post. Here is the before and after of Tungsten calibration:
They've also been tweaking with the HDMI output, making sure that the exposure seen on the display more closely matches what you might see when you begin processing it. Finally, audio has now been implemented, and eventually it will be able to go up to 24-bit and 96K, which means with its solid pre-amps, you'll be able to get fantastic audio recording directly in-camera. You can listen to a sample over on their post.
The biggest thing that is exciting about the camera is that it's not another piece of plastic junk that's going to be obsolete in a year or two when a better model comes. Even though the D16 has a small sensor that won't quite compete in extreme l0w-light with cameras that are slightly more expensive and have larger sensors, it's going to be something that will stick around and take a beating on a real set. The metal housing is built to last, and RAW recording means you'll always be able to go back and remaster however you'd like. It might have taken them a while to get to this point, but they are making the best possible camera they can make, rather than a half-baked product that will be replaced in 6 months.
It looks like we'll be getting to see the real thing sometime before the end of the year, but in the meantime you can check out more of the process over on the Digital Bolex site.