For the past few years, we've been covering the intriguing work of Apertus, a group of volunteers dedicated to creating the world's first open source digital cinema camera.
Although there were times where it felt like the Apertus Axiom cameras would never see the light of day, the company today started a crowdfunding campaign in which backers can purchase the Axiom Beta camera at cost. Not only is the concept bordering on revolutionary, but this might just be the most affordable 4K digital cinema camera yet.
First up, here's the crowdfunding video for the Apertus Axiom Beta camera.
So let's talk a little bit about how the Apertus Axiom Beta is priced. On their campaign page, you can essentially purchase the camera for the cost of everything but the sensor. This includes all of the miscellaneous components and the cost of assembly etc. Depending on which sensor you choose for the camera (either s35 or 4/3), that price is about $450 and $390 respectively. Then comes the more expensive part of the equation, the sensor. Once the campaign finishes, Apertus is going to buy the sensors in bulk and then sell them to you at cost. Here's a breakdown of the two sensors offered on the Axiom Beta,
Effectively, once you've paid for everything, the s35 model of the Axiom Beta will set you back about $3500, whereas the 4/3 camera will land in the $2900 range.
Now let's take a look at the specs that will definitely be in place for the first version Axiom Beta, which is expected to begin shipping in April of 2015:
- 4K Resolution with large Image Sensor Diameter for cinematic Depth of Field
- Pin-Sharp Uncompressed Full HD 4:4:4 (downscaled from 4K) via three independent HDMI ports at up to 60FPS
- Canon, Nikon, MFT lens mounts available (all passive, more will follow)
- Real Time Image Processing on Reprogrammable Hardware (FPGA), Dual Core ARM CPU runs custom Linux operating system with components from ArchLinux/Raspian
- capture 4K raw still images
- maximum flexibility: separate acquisition and recording and choose any external HDMI recorder
- two Global Shutter image sensor options available (more options will follow)
- smartphone/tablet/laptop remote control of all camera functions, through wireless and wired connections
And here's a taste of what kind of footage the camera can produce.
These are just the features that will be available on the first batch of Axiom Betas. Here's a brief taste of what Apertus has in store for future hardware and software upgrades.
More Image Sensors
Do you want a 5K Full Frame image sensor? Or a 16mm high speed option? Is dynamic range more important to you than resolution? More image sensors are lined up to be turned into AXIOM Beta modules and you help us decide which one will be implemented first.
IO shields featuring 3G-SDI, TC, Genlock, Trigger IO interfaces are on the roadmap. But what do you need most? We are also testing a PCIe interface as bridge to high speed SSDs or a computer to act as recorder. Built-in LCD and control buttons/dials - we want them too.
More Lens Mounts
E-mount, C-Mount, Leica, PL, IMS or electronic lens control? As the lens mount is designed as AXIOM Beta screw-on-module creating new mount options is straightforward. Which mount would you like to see?
The most interesting aspect of the Apertus cameras is that they have the potential to be the last camera you will ever need due to the fact that they're infinitely upgradeable, which means that they won't eventually become technologically obsolete like most of the cameras on the market will. New sensors and various other hardware options will continuously be added to the Beta, which also means that it will ultimately be one of, if not the most, highly customizable cameras on the market. For filmmakers on a budget, they'll only have to pay for the options and features that they need, while still having the ability to upgrade the camera at any time.
Ultimately, the folks at Apertus are aiming to change the way we view cameras and camera technology. By adopting the open source ideology and applying it to their business model, they're essentially taking a shot at other camera manufacturers entrenched in the world of proprietary hardware and software, something which most certainly does not benefit the end user. The amazing thing about this is that if enough people decide to adopt the Axiom Beta, we could very well see a shift in how cameras are developed and manufactured, with interchangeable components becoming the norm. We can only hope.