October 2, 2013

First Footage from the Digital Bolex D16 After Final Sensor Calibration

The Digital Bolex has been making steady progress over the last few months, and we've seen a number of posts and test footage from pre-production versions of the camera. You may have heard of sensor calibration being talked about with the Blackmagic Production 4K camera, and that's because it's one of the most important parts of the camera development process. Even cameras that are shooting RAW -- like the Digital Bolex D16 -- must be calibrated so that they are getting the most out of the sensor and capturing information in the best possible way to get consistent and quality results in post. That process has now been completed, and the DB team is showing off some brand new footage.

Here's what they said about the footage:

This test was shot with the 50mm Zeiss CP2 set at f4 and f2.8, two Kinos, an LED ring light, and an ARRI 1200w HMI. The camera was set at 100 ISO. We used our SmallHD monitor patched through to a 20″ computer monitor facing the subjects so people in front of the camera could see what they looked like while we were filming them.

The calibration on the camera is now spot on! The DNG files are exactly where we expected them to be exposure wise. And the colors were beautiful with no correction at all! All in all the test was a success.

The footage above is basically ungraded, which means that when you shoot footage with the D16, that's the way it's going to open up in post. You'll still have all of the information there since this is RAW footage, but this is the way they have calibrated the sensor to look. I think what this test also does is put to rest any worries about sharpness with the footage, because they were using the excellent CP2s from Zeiss, which should resolve all of the resolution the sensor is producing.

Some have noted over on the forum and on Vimeo that there is a slight Magenta cast, but apparently this is due to the Kinos used in the test, and not an issue with the footage.

If you missed it, Kurt Lancaster also shot a documentary piece with the D16 to see if the camera could be used easily in that kind of situation (this, along with everything else shown up until the Portraits video above, was with the unfinished calibration of the sensors):

My intention: Can the D16 be used as a run and gun documentary camera in the field?

As you look at the image, remember that this is shot around noon--the worst shooting conditions possible--and no ND filters, but despite a few clipped values in the highlights I'm still seeing details and skin tones that would have fallen apart on an 8-bit compressed camera (DSLRs, prosumer video cameras). Also take note of the whip pan at end of video, how it has no rolling shutter issues.

My test shows that this camera can be used for documentary work.

With older lenses and a more film-like grade, it's remarkable how similar the footage can look to older 16mm or Super 16mm footage. If you need it to look sharp and clean, the footage at the top of the page shows it's very possible, but if you are tired of the digital "look" that many cameras can give, some older lenses and a bit of grading can give you something that feels far more organic.

If you're wondering when you can get your hands on one, Joe and Elle have mentioned that they are very close to announcing ship dates as well as new pre-order options (since the camera is basically done now). So stay tuned for that.

Check out some frame grabs and read more about both videos at the links below.

Links:

Your Comment

62 Comments

The footage looks great.

October 2, 2013 at 5:03PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ian B

This camera's got soul!

October 2, 2013 at 5:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Diego Av

That's the big thing. When the BMD Pocket Camera was announced I thought (along with a lot of other people) that it would be the death of the Digital Bolex, but now that I've seen final footage from both cameras, the pocket camera isn't even on my radar anymore. I love how the Bolex has that really amazing '80s '90s film style look when graded that what. I think this camera will provide a lot of flexibility when it comes to creating a specific look for each project.

Add the fact that the Bolex comes with mounts for all different lenses as well as really well priced kit lenses and a global CCD sensor and it just blows the competition away. Who really needs 4K right now anyway?

October 2, 2013 at 7:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Julian

Where have you seen any RAW footage from the Pocket Camera? Isn't that the final image?

October 4, 2013 at 12:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Kholi

I agree it definitely has that nineties look of film. But I'm not so sure about eighties. The studio footage was almost too perfect for my taste, and it makes it seem more digital than anything else. The skin tones are amazing, something that the BMPCC has yet to deliver (I feel like when graded some examples of the BMPCC look more red than they should be). But don't disregard the BMPCC just yet. They haven't released RAW yet, only prores. So there is no "final footage" to compare to yet. I agree that this camera is for a specific look, like red has a specific look. But I think that from the test footage of the BMPCC footage I've seen from different cinematographers (Phillip Bloom, John Brawley, etc.), the look is something that is completely up to the user. From this camera not so much. Its great at what it does, but what it does is not for me.

October 6, 2013 at 4:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Imakuberick

I can't believe this thing is actually about to happen!!!
I'm really impressed with the way this camera handles highlight roll-off as opposed to what I've seen from the BMCC and BMPC. To me, that's always the dead giveaway on digital vs film.
If they can bring this thing to market soon (like, before Japan gets in the dirt-cheap digital cinema game), they may have a hit on their hands.

October 2, 2013 at 5:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Slight magenta cast? SLIGHT?!?! Dude was blowing pink smoke rings.

Footage looks nice and sharp, though. If this really is the ungraded raw output this would be extremely easy to work with - even if that cast weren't just from the lighting.

I also appreciate the jab at Black Magic of having a couple of (non-globby) light sources on camera.

October 2, 2013 at 5:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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colin

You mean the obviously gelled top-light...?

October 3, 2013 at 12:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pat

Yeah I agree, this doesn't look like something a sensor produces as artefact (like fringing or something). It's defenitely the color of the top light that's magenta on purpose. If that's the "magenta cast" people are talking about then they should probably practice a little more studio lighting before making wild claims without knowing what they're talking about. The colors look awesome.

October 3, 2013 at 3:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Heiko

Still waiting for good skin tones from D16 and Dragon videos...

October 2, 2013 at 5:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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F

From the dragon sensor you'll probably see those on a feature or something big... Skin tones on proper EPIC footage seem really good.

October 2, 2013 at 5:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Alex Mand

I didn't like the portrait footage that much but that stuff shot at midday in Cali is great! love the look of old 16mm film! I would still love to get my hands to test one and dig it out! I'd love to meet that girl that works for Bolex that looks like Karin Dreijer Andersson too! Lol that Magenta is coming from the top/hair light no?

October 2, 2013 at 6:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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It don't mean this in a bad way but it looks like the old DVX100 footage. A little bit smeary that helps takes the edge of the digital look.

October 2, 2013 at 6:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ed

They should have set up (the alleged) KinoFlo magenta on one side and (Den Lennie's Vimeo) Rotolight green on the other and let those two fight it out out among themselves.
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And, btw, KinoFlo's supposed to be the cat's meow among the non-tungsten lighting kits. I don't think they'd look kindly upon being accused of a low CRI rendering. Which means there's more calibrating left to do.

October 2, 2013 at 7:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

People, you really need to read the ENTIRE post before you complain about the magenta highlights. It is caused by directly dimming the HMIs instead on diffusing them. Download the footage and play with it, it's a dream!

I'm just tired of everyone complaining about nothing. Lets see you make you're own camera!

End rant

-Cheers!

October 2, 2013 at 7:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Daniel

As someone who used Bolex 16mm cameras in the 1970's/80's ...and who now detests the soft, grainy "film look" of 16mm film...I'm impressed! For a long time the Digital Bolex project seemed like a fantasy from La La Land, but it's starting to look good.

October 2, 2013 at 7:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Skeptikal

Maybe a survey should be taken asking people at theaters if they thought the movie they just saw would have been better if it looked like it was shot in the 70's.

October 2, 2013 at 8:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gene

still looks like video to me. The motion and everything else just don't sit right. It could work for documentary work but using this on a narrative piece would drive me nuts.

October 2, 2013 at 7:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jerome

Having directed RED doc shoots at redcode 6 or 8 I can say that even that put us on the verge of a data bottleneck, and without an AC we would have been screwed, and back in post we ended up with a rather mighty and expensive stack of pegasus raids, and that was only for a few weeks shooting. That was borderline impractical enough, so can't see how any indie would really consider a dng workflow for doc.... I admire the digital bolex team in a lot of ways, but as someone who does doc and reality, it just ait ever going to be practical for me.

October 2, 2013 at 8:18PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jeremy Nelson

DNG isn't the only workflow for this camera

October 2, 2013 at 9:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Stew

What else can you do?!

October 3, 2013 at 9:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Kenneth

Maybe you're not accustomed to seeing a global shutter? Nowadays we see so much footage shot with rolling shutters that suddenly global looks odd, because it's so perfect that it can appear to strobe etc

Did Bolex mention the shutter angle for this test?

October 2, 2013 at 8:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Walter

No, it just looks weird. Very video-camera-y. CMOS, and similar technology, render motion more like film... besides the rolling shutter. Film technically has a rolling shutter also, just really really fast, as the shutter gate rolls over the frame.

October 3, 2013 at 6:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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bwhitz

There is a really big difference between the rolling shutter effect on a CMOS sensor and the rolling shutter of a film gate though.

The amount of rolling shutter in a film camera depends on the size of the rotary disk in relation to the format size of the film. For this reason 16mm film often has less rolling shutter, even in film cameras.

For a standard 180 degree film shutter on a 35mm motion picture camera the gate spends less than 20% of it's exposure time rolling on, and less than 20% of it's exposure time rolling off. Which means it spends 60% of it's time fully open, not rolling. And because the 60% open shutter is between the roll on and roll off it further dissipates the effect of the rolling shutter.

No digital camera to date can completely replicate the motion of a film camera exactly, even if it incorporates a mechanical shutter, but we feel a global shutter is much closer than a constantly rolling one. You are free to have a different opinion though :)

October 3, 2013 at 4:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ya but, Joe, doesn't everything point toward a very high frame rate - both for motion and the exposure - on the new cameras? So, if the electronic shutter, aided and abetted by the powerful processors, can do the trick, it won't leave much of a need for the CCD's. And then you're a dependent on a customer's whim.

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

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DLD

Not sure what you are talking about DLD, right now we are talking about 24 fps with a 180 degree shutter.

October 4, 2013 at 2:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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CMOS higher readout rates will cancel out the CCD benefits of the global shutter once the frame rate gets to the expected 120 fps. FS 700 is already there with an $8K cam. Plus, high FPS gives you slow-mo and an opportunity to stagger your ISO for the HDR.

October 4, 2013 at 10:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Sorry, but in a temporal sense this does not look at all like video. If anything it looks an awful lot like footage out of the Sony F35, which has a reputation for looking quite filmic. Also look at how gracefully the lightbulb burns out. It's not as smooth as an Alexa, which gets two stops more range, but it is leagues better than a video camera.

October 4, 2013 at 10:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Morton

This camera looks gorgeous, that mini Doc gave off a nostalgic film vibe to me, although the framing was a little off for my taste but this camera is shaping quite fantastically.

October 2, 2013 at 8:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Xiong

Impressive ! But I'd never buy it.

October 2, 2013 at 8:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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FabDex

So, we have a group of people working on calibrating a sensor, and they don't know how to light a scene? And they put that out there for the public and potential buyers to watch, and we're supposed to applaud at their achievement? Why don't they ask a real cinematographer to test their camera? And the piece made by Lancaster is the perfect demonstration of the people who can't teach, and the people who can do.

October 2, 2013 at 9:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe

They're not a multinational company with one motive (profit). They're having fun (while no doubt putting in way more than 40-hour weeks) and doing it creatively and with passion. Their product is unique and innovative. They are also rather brave--to do what they're doing knowing there are people who will heckle them from the back (and front and side) row. All of this is refreshing and inspiring.

October 2, 2013 at 9:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Tom

"TEST footage" they say. Not "final product-we're all you need" footage.

October 3, 2013 at 2:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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pask

oh boy what an ego of those who claim so much for a "professional" guy.

October 4, 2013 at 6:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jimenez

good camera, but BMCC 4K is better

October 2, 2013 at 9:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Nelson

That was a convincing argument.

October 2, 2013 at 10:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Stew

@Nelson How could the BMCC 4K be better when it's missed yet another ship date and we have yet to see ANY footage from it? It's more of an idea at this point than an actual camera.

October 2, 2013 at 10:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dose

How can you say that? No one has seen any footage out of the BMCP4k. Besides it will be compressed, which automatically will put it at a disadvantage in terms of tonality and exposure range. The D16 is uncompressed raw.

October 4, 2013 at 10:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Morton

That venice beach footage is either out of focus incredibly stupidly soft

October 2, 2013 at 9:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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john jeffries

Definitely out of focus...I saw another video from that guy, and his interview was out of focus, as well as strange 60 hz light banding across the subject's face. Nice!

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

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Mike C

Some shots are out of focus, but also if you were streaming the video it's in 720p. You have to download the original video to watch it in 1080p.

October 3, 2013 at 12:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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That has to be the most hipster video I ever seen in my life... Love the way the Bolex is progressing. It's just getting better and better as each update comes out. Nice work DB team.

October 3, 2013 at 12:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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george

I thought we were past Hipster-gate, but just to complete the celebration for you.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04Loo99IUUA

October 3, 2013 at 12:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Saied

Second example is more convincing than the portraits. The sunlight shots look somewhat close to clean 16mm (vision3 is probably a stop or half more sensitive in highlights out of the box tho). And global shutter (i mean CCD sensor) gives just a different feel. Nostalgic as hell.

Would look even cooler with film lut and added grain. S16 filmmaking, baby.

October 3, 2013 at 12:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Natt

What is this thing gonna cost when it goes for sale? I love the sharpness, and as I am constantly shooting handheld I think the CCD sensor is definitely for me.

October 3, 2013 at 1:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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$3300.

October 3, 2013 at 2:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Coty

FWIW, prices on the older models are dropping ahead of the PhotoPlus Expo, that is taking place in three weeks in NYC. There are a bunch of rumors on the new Sony, Nikon, Panasonic, Canon announcements - a few full framers and even some medium format units expected.

October 3, 2013 at 3:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Love to see a reasonably prices medium format DSLR with video capability.

October 3, 2013 at 4:38AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Aim89

Right now, the cheapest - Pentax 645 - runs about $7K and it's 55mm diagonally rather than 67mm but it is closer to the 65mm film format. Whatever comes out will probably rely on something that has been around a while - old lenses and maybe digital backs - that will be updated with the modern electronics, software, etc.

October 3, 2013 at 10:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

When we can buy?

October 3, 2013 at 4:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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luca

Camera looks good...lighting in this video is God awful though. Looks like some Amateur set up a photo booth and put a really nice video camera in it. For the love of all that is good in this world Joe, get a new lighting guy, lol.

October 4, 2013 at 8:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sorry the lighting is not to your tastes

October 5, 2013 at 2:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Footage looks spectacular!

On a side note, I'm really disappointed by the fact that those break-dancers have never busted out like that anytime I've been there and stopped to watch. Maybe it's because I didn't have a D16. Well soon enough, I hope.

October 4, 2013 at 5:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Nick

What lenses were used in the venice footage?

October 5, 2013 at 12:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Stew

All vintage primes:
50mm Switar
25mm Fujinon
10mm Switar

October 5, 2013 at 2:57AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Thanks for the response. I currently shoot on a gh2 using vintage russian primes (helios, tair, mir etc) with an iscorama anamorphic adapter all pushed through film convert and other post tricks to achieve a similar look.

Loving the camera footage and the spirit behind it, might be my next upgrade. Dying to hear a release date!

October 5, 2013 at 3:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Stew

Hey Joe, camera footage looks great. Congrats on seeing through your dream. Can you tell us a little about workflow options? Thanks in advance.

October 5, 2013 at 6:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Man. I would never build a camera. Lol. I mean I'm all for constructive feedback, but some of these responses are like watching a blind kid get gang initiated with chains. You have to have some serious tolerance. Too much vitriol, discouragement, and negativity. Hats off to Joe, Elle, and the team for taking a concept from scratch themselves...( not down the pipeline at Canon with the secured backing to design it.) - Starting a campaign, and following through.. They delivered the camera they said they would, and worked their asses off to do it. I respect that a hell of a lot more than i care to immediately blast off it's shortcomings. If this camera was an 8k raw S35 with 29 stops of DR & a global shutter with 240fps for a hundred dollars, someone would find something negative to say.

This cam looks a hell of a lot more organic than anything I've seen come out of a C300, or a Sony F55. Marketed as Cinema cameras for outrageous prices, yet look as sterile as a cotton ball. Chart cams.. Designed to win shootouts and arouse low light boners.

October 5, 2013 at 8:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Germy1979

What about: but with S35 sensor size, I couldn't use of those wonderful, cheap S16 lenses out there?

October 5, 2013 at 1:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Thyl Engelhardt

an "all" is missing. WTH?

October 5, 2013 at 1:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Thyl Engelhardt

If these are all portraits of the people who've been working on this camera, no wonder it took so long ;)

October 7, 2013 at 4:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Ross

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May 29, 2014 at 6:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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