October 6, 2014

Magic Lantern Will Develop for Successfully Crowdfunded Apertus Axiom 4K Camera

Apertus Axiom Angle Rendering
With less than three days left, Apertus Axiom, the first Open Source 4K camera, has reached its €100,000 crowdfunding goal, and is sprinting on past it.

If you don't know anything about it, the team has put together this handy little video:

We wrote about the crowdfunding campaign when it began, but just in the past week we've learned that Apertus will be offering an additional sensor option, a 2/3" inch 1080p sensor which is very close to Super 16mm, and Monochrome versions of all of the sensors currently available (2/3"/Super 16mm, Micro 4/3, and Super 35mm):

Apertus Axiom Available Color and Monochrome Sensors and Prices

Not only that, but the project will be receiving the support of the Magic Lantern team. This is huge news, as they have done some amazing work with Canon cameras (and will continue to work on them), and they will likely be able to do far more with Axiom as they'll have full access to all of the source code. A1ex from ML has said that depending on how the Super 35mm 4K sensor is sampled, it may be capable of a whopping 800fps in 1080p mode, which would be incredible (though this wouldn't necessarily be something available in the first iteration of the camera as it's limited by its outputs at the moment). Check out some of his detailed calculations here, where he mentions:

Global shutter and 300fps are not free - you lose a little low light ability, but not much.
CMV12000 - full resolution
The base ISO is about 400 (maybe lower once you attach the IR blocking filter), and it goes to about ISO 1250 with analog amplification. At high ISO, the noise improves by only 0.4 stops. If my math (and also DxO and sensorgen's math) is not screwed up, this sensor is on par with the little Nikon 1 V2, and about 1 stop behind a Canon 60D.
The row noise (banding) is a major problem, and I don't currently have a solution for it.
CMV12000 - 1080p
I didn't test this mode, but with proper 2x2 binning (without introducing additional noise), this sensor would catch up (but that's because Canon does poor downsizing). At its base ISO, it's really close to the 5D3 in 1080p RAW at ISO 800 (note that 5D3 ISO 800 in LiveView is more like DxO ISO 500). In low light, it's only 0.5 stops behind the 60D in 1080p RAW (1734x975), and about 2 stops behind 5D3 in 1080p RAW ISO 6400.
Not bad for a very fast sensor with global shutter. And there are tricks to squeeze even more DR, without motion artifacts, like averaging 4 or 6 frames, or exploiting the black sun correction to squeeze more highlights.
KAC-12040
For low light, in rolling shutter mode, the smaller sensor is better on paper, despite its smaller size (I expect it to be about 1 stop better). I didn't test this sensor, so I've only plotted what I could figure out from the spec - but there are hints that low-light performance might be even better.
I believe this sensor will be very similar to GH4 in low light, and with a bit of luck, on par with 60D (which is 0.5-stop better than GH4).
In global shutter mode it's not that good for low light - you'll get better results from a smartphone (Lumia 1020).
But hey - you can choose between global shutter and low light, without swapping the sensor!

Apertus Axiom Size Comparison

Though the Super 35mm sensor dynamic range may not be that high, there are some interesting on-the-fly HDR modes that could be useful in higher-contrast situations:

Here's the previously published test footage:

And here's a new grade of some of the test footage by Kimon Kodossis that was shot by the Apertus team:

https://vimeo.com/107801527

There is still time to get in on the crowdfunding campaign if you'd like, and if you back now, you'll have an upgrade path to the production version of the camera they are calling Apertus Axiom Gamma:

Apertus Axiom Development Cycle

They also have some interesting stretch goals:

€110,000 - AXIOM Beta Remote Control with Real Buttons and Knobs: We will develop an AXIOM Beta wired remote control device complete with LCD, buttons, knobs and dials (no live video monitoring). A wireless design might be possible, but needs more testing. Estimated retail price of the Dictator will be around €300 (gross estimate)

€120,000 - Active Canon EF Mount: We will develop an AXIOM Beta EF lens mount module with electronic lens control. This will allow setting aperture and focus (with the Dictator or from a smartphone/tablet) with most Canon EF lenses when attached to the AXIOM Beta. Canon EF Mount retail price will be around €300 (gross estimate)

€130,000 - AXIOM Beta Active Battery Mount: We will develop a battery mount for NP-F970/F750/F550 batteries to power the AXIOM Beta. Includes power usage and capacity monitoring to estimate remaining charge and time remaining.

Apertus Axiom Battery Prototype

There will certainly be more interesting updates in the future for this project, and you can check out their website for all of them.     

Your Comment

14 Comments

Appart from the conversion rates to nz dollars I hope the camera gets made.... sounds like an awesome little thingy ma jig ... seriously... if I had some spare coin these guys might be in line for it.

October 6, 2014 at 5:55AM

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Bryce
whatever... can do any crew position
168

It looks promising. but remember Red One took about 2 years after release to become stable and that's with the backing of a billion dollar company. This may be digital bolex but better, but again, I unfortuately long for the days where the camera comes out then you buy it - not crowdsourcing the money from random people. I think Ouya and other tech released this way has disappointed many and the ability to raise millions this way is more and more diminished. Damn I sound like a grumpy old man.

October 6, 2014 at 7:10AM, Edited October 6, 7:10AM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

I take back everything I said - this is an exciting project and a worthwhile investment if the camera can deliver. This is the future - the internet and crowdfunding and how new technology can be made not with the support of bigger hands but with young smart talent. I think this could be a hit product - but of course, meet all new ideas that aren't out yet with healthy skepticism.

October 6, 2014 at 7:59AM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1676

Why is this the first time a camera manufacture contacted them? The camera has a nice gritty look. It definitely has a unique look.

October 6, 2014 at 9:47AM, Edited October 6, 9:47AM

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Zachary Will
Cinematographer
868

Hey Joe, do you mind expanding on the 'upgrade path' you mentioned? I can't seem to find anything on that. Do you just mean 'it will be in the same family' or will parts (i.e. the sensor or brain) of the Beta be re-usable in the Gamma? Any links? Cheers.

October 6, 2014 at 11:05AM

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PJ Palomaki
Cinematographer | Motion Graphics
355

I know that the upgradability/reusability is the ultimate goal (especially looking at/into the Gamma) but would be great to know what parts 'survive' from the Beta to Gamma.

October 6, 2014 at 11:20AM, Edited October 6, 11:20AM

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PJ Palomaki
Cinematographer | Motion Graphics
355

The sensor and possibly some other hardware will be used in the future version, but they haven't really expanded too much on what the Gamma version will include, probably because there is still time for it to change.

The ultimate plan is for a modular camera that can take separate modules, but I'm sure we'll find out more once the Beta starts shipping.

http://nofilmschool.com/2013/10/open-source-apertus-camera-4k-global-shu...

October 7, 2014 at 12:29AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

I hope Apertus moves away from the CMV12000 as soon another, better-specced s35 sensor is available. I have faith that Magic Lantern and Apertus will wring as much performance as possible out of the sensor, but mediocre dynamic range, relatively poor low-light sensitivity, and substantial fixed-pattern noise make it a suboptimal choice. Unfortunately, there's a paucity of off-the-shelf s35 sensors, and none of them appears very good.

October 7, 2014 at 5:16PM

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the main problem is that most sensor manufacures have nda's on there products so they can't use it because in a open source hardware you also have to access the sensor registers. cmosis and truesense have open specs and the manuals can be shared. at the moment there is no other choise. when they can sell 1k units and more then the dors will open for more sensor types :-)

October 7, 2014 at 5:54PM

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The DR Is a bit disappointing at that price point, but the expandability is promising.

October 6, 2014 at 11:42AM

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Alex Smith
Documentary/Cinematographer
1378

Looks to be comparable to a Sony NEX in size. If the weight is less than 600 grams, then it will be a nice aerial camera.

October 6, 2014 at 9:08PM, Edited October 6, 9:08PM

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Tom Holton
UAS Specialist
279

¡Good news! I have adoubd. Why the max version of this camera don't have 16/9? Only have 4/3 or may be in the final result , the add it?

October 7, 2014 at 1:12PM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7591

This is our industries version of net neutrality.

October 7, 2014 at 10:37PM

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Jeffrey Siljenberg
Cinematographer
248

Had to back it. For the price, specs and the upgrade path - why not. Looking forward to mine, even if it might not make it to a serious project to start off with.

October 9, 2014 at 9:44AM

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PJ Palomaki
Cinematographer | Motion Graphics
355