January 1, 2014

First 4K RAW Image Posted from the Open Source Apertus Axiom Camera

The Apertus Axiom project, which is trying to build the first open source 4K RAW Super 35mm camera, has been making steady progress over the last year or so, with a significant amount happening in the last few months. The team has been working hard with the CMOSIS 4K sensor that will eventually be in a completed camera, and they've now delivered the first 4K DNG for all of you to mess around with.

Here's Apertus on the development:

As we've previously stated, please keep in mind that our sensor calibration and tuning- alongside our image conversion logic development- have just begun and this image represents a camera in a very early developmental state. For example, the image has had no fixed pattern noise corrections or hot pixel compensation applied amongst other things that we just have not had the time to implement yet.

And the first 4K RAW image (obviously this is a JPEG, but you can download the RAW file here):

The fixed pattern noise has not been removed yet in the image above, but it's easily removed since it doesn't change from one frame to the next. Here is an example showing how fixed pattern noise will be removed in the camera:

There is a good chance the global shutter Super 35mm 4K sensor in the Axiom is the same one being used in the new Blackmagic Production Camera 4K, so if you're wondering what kind of performance this camera will have, the BMPC can give you a ballpark estimate. The plan for the Axiom, however, is to take advantage of the high frame rate capabilities of the CMOSIS sensor, so this will be a different animal altogether than Blackmagic's, as it will likely be able to reach over 100fps.

These developments are really exciting for the open source community, and you can read more about the camera over on their website.

Link: First 4K RAW Image -- Apertus

Your Comment

32 Comments

What exactly is the advantage of an open source camera? Sorry for the newb question!

January 1, 2014 at 11:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Bryant Marcontel

Best way to look at it is to look at what Magic Lantern did for DSLR's. Now imagine what they could have done if the software and hardware were "open" and they didn't have to reverse engineer everything. It's the community and the ability to modify the camera legitimately that will make this truly great. Very excited to see what these guys make of this product!

January 2, 2014 at 12:47AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kraig

Just think of the possibilities of a powerful, open, stable camera platform. It's similar to how the developer community has burgeoned the millions of apps that have made Android and iOS so successful. One company, no matter how big, has enough man-power and enginuity to create the ecosystem that's possible when the global community is involved. It's kind of the wild-west with a truly open platform (which is why Android and iOS have closed off the internals and exposed a protected API to the user), but experiments like this in the past have shown great potential.

January 2, 2014 at 1:10AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Ian

another great benefit is the long"er"-term viability of the hardware itself. To steal RED's claim of obsolete obsolescence; this camera, as seen with Magic Lantern, has a greater chance of reinventing itself without requiring the user to invest heavily on new hardware.

January 2, 2014 at 12:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Sid

I'm a little lost on this whole Apertus thing... hasn't the 2.5k version been in development for a couple of years now and is still not available? I was excited for it way back then, thinking that it would come together pretty quickly. Alas... or am I misunderstanding how this open source thing works?

January 2, 2014 at 12:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Brian

A lot of open source stuff requires developing a lot of infrastructure, and that takes forever with zero apparent progress. One all that is in place, development rapidly accelerates. Look how long it took linux to go from being someone no one heard about, to being the OS that powers nearly every computer you own - your microwave, dishwasher, laundry machine, programmable thermostat, your modem and router, your eye-fi wifi SD cards, your smartphone, mars rovers, etc.

January 2, 2014 at 2:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Brian, "2.5K camera" was not developed or built by Apertus - it is Elphel model nc353l camera, that was built in thousands of units and brought you high-resolution Google Street View (among other applications).

January 2, 2014 at 5:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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The big advantage here might be the software part. Much like with the ML, you still have to buy 5D's somewhere. On the other hand, the number of smart phone apps is great because a smart phone is a very universal gadget. A pro level tier camera only exists to take great looking video footage and the various post apps already exist in terms of the editing and grading programs. Now, if someone would open-source that ...
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PS. I've long expressed a belief that screenwriting software, for one, should be open source because it's a fairly simply program to write. Video editing/grading suits are far more complicated but there are a few of those around also. BMD basically gives away DaVinci Resolve with their cameras as an MO. Me thinks it'd be more helpful to the independent and low/no budget filmmakers to have more open source apps in the NLE market rather than the hardware itself.

January 2, 2014 at 3:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

Depending on the OS you have, there are options of Open Source NLE. Check out Lightworks for instance (which is multiplatform).

January 2, 2014 at 4:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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maghoxfr

there are a few open source free screenwriting software apps
http://nofilmschool.com/2012/08/five-screenwriting-software-under-50/

January 2, 2014 at 2:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Dan

Ya, I have been using a free version of Celtx for several years. I had Cinergy before that but they went belly-up. IMO, being free makes it far easier for the multiple partner collaboration and even archiving. I had the Final Draft years ago and it was basically a waste of money. It has more features but formatting introduces own problems.
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And, as has been pointed out above, there are a few Open Source editing suits available but none is really bandied about here with the same frequency as FCP, Adobe, Resolve, etc., and that, to me, is the easiest and the most important market niche to crack.

January 2, 2014 at 7:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

Go Axiom.

January 2, 2014 at 5:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Also it's worth pointing out that despite the Open Source ethos of this project, if they actually deliver (which I'm sure they will) 100fps+ and shooting 4K raw, it will be unmatched at that price point. I just hope they implement a great post workflow to go with it. I love my BMCC for both the image and price of the body but what you gain in a cheap camera you lose massively in terms of time spent in post. Love or hate RED the workflow for raw is still unmatched in terms of speed (especially when working in Premiere) and if Axiom and the community can come up with a way to match the RED workflow they are going to kill it! Baby steps though eh ;)

January 2, 2014 at 6:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kraig

Well since Axiom seems to be using DNG, that's a big plus for them ..... The new Premiere can edit DNG right out of the gate, no transcoding needed. And I think there are a few other software packages for transcoding in development. So I think the DNG RAW workflow is well on its way. Avid and FCP will joint the bandwagon soon enough, when they do it's all over

January 2, 2014 at 6:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Nigel

Have you tried LightPost?
You can download a trial version here: http://www.digitalbolex.com/software/LightPost.dmg

January 2, 2014 at 7:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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so LightPost is the same thing as Cliphouse ?

January 2, 2014 at 8:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Yes pretty much the same thing :)

January 2, 2014 at 2:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Thanks for that Joe! This looks cool :) Shame I don't have a Mac though (ps. saw a typo on the product page: "This software will only work in Mas OS X 10.7 and above").

Yeah - I can play back DNG sequences inside of Premiere but sadly I find playback to be real crappy unless I render previews on everything. Also you aren't able to affect the raw data within Premiere, it's all debayered in a way that Premiere decides. This is of course a massive step which I am grateful for with the last update and it IS saving me time but there is still a long way to go for DNG in terms of a real efficient workflow. What I mean about RED's workflow is that RED raw you can just right click a file and pop open RED Cine X there and then in the time line, none-destructively make changes to the clips and then still continue playing back in real-time. It saves hours in post. Ideally it would be amazing if Adobe eventually manage to get DNG playing back better and you can use Adobe Camera Raw to adjust images in real time but judging by current performance we could be a long way off (really hope I'm wrong there though).

January 2, 2014 at 12:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kraig

January 2, 2014 at 2:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Open source is the future. I hope a lot of talented programmers etc jump on the boat with Axiom, this could be another game changer. The 2010s sure have been exciting in terms of camera development!

January 2, 2014 at 11:51AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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"The 2010s sure have been exciting in terms of camera development *up to now*!" Sorry, I got over enthusiastic with that Submit Comment button...

January 2, 2014 at 11:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I wish I could easily replace the 20mbps buffer on my 4 year old t2i to get it to do full HD raw. With a camera like axiom, that would be possible, which is very exciting. I look forward to seeing more from axiom in the near future!

January 2, 2014 at 3:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Dan

If this sensor box product were to be priced less than or equal to $6k, including the SDK, it would be attractive to me...assuming the image has a minimum of 12 stops DR, 100fps and an acceptable noise floor. id value the high framerate less than basic imaging qualitiies and ease of use.

January 2, 2014 at 4:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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darrggoonn

Looks like a glimpse into the future, 4k, 2k, 1080p all with HFR, Raw or compressed, 13-14 stops of DR, lowlight capable, great form factor, all for about 10 grand. I'm in!

January 2, 2014 at 6:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Anthony Marino

I always find interesting all these comments about open source development... And I am very familiar with concept , for several reasons...

So, let's say group of 10 guys spend two years developing a camera system. Who pays the bills ?

Person studies computer science for, well say seven years at the high university level and is then expected to write sofisticated software for strangers for free. Why ?

If you are for example talented DP, do you work for free ?

January 2, 2014 at 7:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Juhan-i

They still charge for the camera, the only difference is that the software is open source so conceivably a prod company could buy their cameras and then write any kind of software they need for it after they've purchased the camera. Of course, it's not the best way to make money and it's inefficient, but a lot of open source guys move on to bigger companies based on their previous work. It's like a demo reel.

January 2, 2014 at 9:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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IAN

Yes, they will charge for the hardware in the beginning. They're not sure long-term how much of the hardware will be able to be open sourced, I think it depends on a bunch of factors.

To add to your point, all of these guys work other jobs, and they do this for fun, same with Magic Lantern. If it makes enough money to pay for itself, I'm sure they would all be happy.

January 2, 2014 at 10:27PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

@Juhan-i - It's not that simple. To a large extent, Axiom is akin to jury-rigging a mechanical device like an automobile by adding turbochargers or stripping the non-essential components to save weight. A legitimately open source camera with a choice of apps will basically allow an end user to tailor the camera precisely to his needs instead of kvetching about the lack of one feature or the other. At this time, given the lack of modularity, the feature set is, by and large, determined by a manufacturer's marketing department, whose research tells them to sell an X-set of features for a $-price. Then a customer will have a limited choice whether to purchase X or step up to a Y model that is offered at a different price point. The modular system, on the other hand, gives the consumer far greater choices because now he can select only the features he desires. The computer industry - sans the software, which has been mostly controlled by only two companies - has been modular for the last 20+ years. To borrow from the new Mac Pro discussion, a potential customer can pick almost any combination of motherboards, CPU's, GPU's, etc., to build a fully customized rig but, at the moment, this can't be done with the cameras. Sure, you can switch lenses and the sticks, stabilizers, media and so on but it's very rare to be able to alter the insides of the camera itself. This takes a huge step in solving that problem and, depending on how this project succeeds, the famous brand name producers may actually respond by making their product more modular and open sourced as well.

January 3, 2014 at 5:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

Open source does not mean free (as in for no money). They can charge whatever amount for this camera and still make it open source. Open source in the case of hardware just means that they share the designs so that anyone else can make a copy of that hardware, if they want. Look at the open source hardware success stories of the last few years, such as Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc. Making money on open source hardware is fairly well established now. Here's an article about it: http://www.open-electronics.org/the-truth-about-open-source-hardware-bus...

January 3, 2014 at 12:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Shenan

This is a good product for Distributed Manufacturing with 3D printing and low cost CNC machines coming down the line. Great project! and a good model for a whole new approach to manufacturing everything else we use. Hopefully this will end all the Trademark problems we see with propitiatory code and file formats.

January 9, 2014 at 4:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Russpears

I met one of the guys running Apertus in person (Sebastian) in Vienna. Great guy. The thing with Open Source is that it's a question of feasibility - i.e. can you cross the Point of no Return in the development and marketing process. I am extremely certain that the Apertus Axiom will not just become a reality, but change the camera industry forever. Why? Because it provides a playground for the sleeping beauties around the world; genious programmers and developers that only need a platform to come up with solutions no one has ever thought of before. And that platform, that playground, sets Apertus apart from all the other manufacturers.

At the same time, the future is quite uncertain, so it will be exciting until the very end of seeing this come together while the camera industry itself will become more sophisticated and advanced in the meantime... it's a race against time.

January 9, 2014 at 4:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Very interested (open i like it!) send me info. Thanks!

January 13, 2014 at 9:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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