SmallHD 501 & 502 Monitors are Causing Major Problems with the Digital Bolex Camera

Digital Bolex
The SmallHD 500 series of monitors are causing issues with the internal hard drive on the Digital Bolex D16. Both companies are working on resolving the problem.

[UPDATE: Digital Bolex and SmallHD have determined that the issues stem from the 500 series of monitors using a new data standard in their HDMI signal that the D16 didn't recognize. A firmware patch for the D16 will be released on 8/31/15 in order for the camera to properly accept the signal from the 501 and 502 monitors.]

In a statement released yesterday by Elle at Digital Bolex, the company revealed that there have been multiple reports from users of their flagship D16 camera that the recently-released SmallHD 501 and 502 monitors are causing the internal SSD to dismount or freeze, which jeopardizes the camera's ability to record and playback footage.

Elle went on to add that Digital Bolex strongly recommends D16 users avoid the 500 series until the issue has been resolved because there is potential for damage to the camera:

Digital Bolex SmallHD 501 Issues

For the time being, we are currently recommending that users of the Digital Bolex do not use the new SmallHD 500 series EVFs with our camera until the newest D16 firmware patch is released. With the current D16 firmware configuration, the 500 series monitors may damage your camera after continuous use, and we will not be able to provide warranty repair for issues resulting from the use of a 500 series monitor at this time.

We continue to support SmallHD and its products, and recommend enthusiastically their DP4, DP7, and AC7 monitors as reliable accessories for the Digital Bolex. We hope to update this notification soon when the error has been identified and fixed.

If you're a Digital Bolex user hoping to use a SmallHD 501 or 502 — they are pretty much a match made in heaven, minus this whole ordeal — keep an eye out on the Digital Bolex blog for an update on when it's safe to pair the two.     

Body image from instagram user big_ole_bleekramsey

Your Comment

39 Comments

Seems odd that they're blaming an external monitor for this issue.
If they'd designed their camera properly this wouldn't happen.

August 26, 2015 at 1:53PM

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Richard L
Camera assistant, DIT, DOP
228

There clearly not blaming fault there trying to resolve the issue. This is obvious.

August 30, 2015 at 8:25PM

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They're blaming SmallHD for this problem? Give me a fucking break.

I've used the D16 multiple times and it never works properly. Once on an extremely high budget sports commercial. One of our director's ran around with it all day shooting some 'b-roll' and guess what? It didn't record a single clip! This was ages before the 501/502. Record flag and everything (I tested it myself). I called the owner (CEO, whatever, the top guy) on his cell phone and his response was essentially "I don't give a shit."

Great company and product.

August 26, 2015 at 3:04PM

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Conrad
126

Using this camera on anything "high budget" was a pretty f̶o̶o̶l̶i̶s̶h̶ bold move ! But I guess the Fisher Price PXL2000 is getting hard to find these days.

August 26, 2015 at 5:32PM

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Our primary camera was an Alexa XT. The D16 was just running around getting some additional stuff.

Regardless of the budget, if a camera is telling me it's rolling, I expect it to actually roll.

More than anything the director, DP and I were disappointed with the big fuck you we got from the company. The footage lost is whatever. We got what we actually needed on the Alexa.

August 27, 2015 at 10:03AM, Edited August 27, 10:03AM

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Conrad
126

I don't know you Conrad, but I do know the folks at DB and something must missing from your story. I can't believe Joe would tell you to "eff off" if you had an issue with one of their cameras, or say he doesn't give a shit. Don't doubt you had issues - I do doubt that was the reaction you received.

August 27, 2015 at 12:30PM

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Pete Balistrieri
Filmmaker
175

Pete could not have said this better. Back in May, I shot a short and rented a D16 with a 502 monitor. I was probably one of the first people to try out this combination, and it caused the camera to freeze after our first setup was complete.

I contacted Joe and Elle and they *immediately* began troubleshooting with me and even sent their beta firmware with no NDA as an emergency measure to try to fix the issue. It unfortunately did not resolve the issue, but I was blown away by their commitment to their customers.

I was disappointed that I had to switch camera systems on my shoot, but I have nothing but positive things to say about the dedication of the company and its founders. They blew me away.

August 28, 2015 at 8:27AM

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Of course I was never directly told "eff off" or "I don't give a shit." The response I got and support I received conveyed those words.

It's been a while since I've picked one up, but it's obvious the camera still has firmware problems and this 501/502 issue is an example of that. Far more issues with this camera than any other I have (or any colleague has) used. If you're going to sell a product I expect it to work properly regardless of how difficult it is to make that happen. And maybe if the record tally is on, make the camera actually roll? I believe reporting that issue and requesting support on it would warrant an apology and a sincere effort to resolve it. Definitely not too much to ask.

I made my opinion on my experience clear. I have nothing to take back. I'm glad all your interactions with the company were great.

September 1, 2015 at 11:27PM, Edited September 1, 11:41PM

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Conrad
126

Yeah this company is more than responsive with problems. I had a camera and the ssd failed before a big shoot. They overnighted me their personal office camera free of charge for the weekend.

September 2, 2015 at 7:26AM

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Josef Lorenzo
Director
419

Hush now child. Don't speak badly of that Digital Bolex. ;^)

/sarc/

August 28, 2015 at 7:19AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1963

Not sure what that even means Gene. Care to explain?

August 31, 2015 at 4:57AM, Edited August 31, 5:15AM

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http://i.imgur.com/jFK9Nbi.png

Care to revise, Conrad?

August 28, 2015 at 1:49PM

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Elle Schneider
Director/Director of Photography
74

No.

I don't know much but it sounds like SmallHD is using a new HDMI standard that the D16's were not able to handle.

If I can plug my 5D, BlackMagic Pocket Cam, GoPro, or any other camera for that matter into my 502 without problems, then I blame the guys at Digi Bolex.

Honestly the wording is what got me. To find a way to blame SmallHD for this problem rather than owning up to it themselves is fairly ridiculous.

SmallHD doesn't have the best track record of build quality, but their service is near perfect. I've dealt with them and many other Vitec subsidiaries and have had nothing but stellar experiences.

EDIT: Just noticed that photo you posted. Sounds like your experience with them was great. Mine was not. And it was not my camera so I have nothing to return.

August 29, 2015 at 4:18PM, Edited August 29, 4:28PM

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Conrad
126

...right, but they told you to F off and "I don't give a shit"? At least have the decency to retract. Pretty damning info wouldn't you say?

August 30, 2015 at 10:03AM

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Pete Balistrieri
Filmmaker
175

Exactly.

September 21, 2015 at 11:32PM

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Jeff Macpherson
Writer / Director
206

There not blaming, there working hard to resolve the issue with 501. Actually its allready been resolved! 5d black magic pocket Cam and gopros are nice cameras but not anything I'd care to shoot on for serious projects. even if they can accept 501. Anyways point is The DB team is incredible and there trying to bring us a unique cinematic image in an affordable way. Also there trying to build a company from scratch against big corporate mumbo jumbo to give us a true digital replace for 16mm. Rather then tear down senslessly, why not build up such a company that wants to give us the features we ask for! 5d never came with xlrs or RAW no rolling shutter. None of those cams you mentioned do. This industry needs a company like DB. Sorry but my experience has been nothing but positive. Firmware is SOOOOOOO unbelievably delicate that its even a wonder they have gotten to this point! You don't have to like them but you don't have to talk poorly about them senslessly. My opinion? Best cinema camera for the price.

August 30, 2015 at 8:45PM

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I don't understand how using the hdmi output could break the camera. That's crazy.

August 26, 2015 at 5:26PM

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Frank
366

If the HDMI is totally different, using new ways of communicating to the camera that are not normally used, it can tear apart a firmware very easily. There are so many combinations of key punches and zeros and ones ect that can lead to a crash. If I got a dollar everytime my Gopro crashed I'd be rich an there "so mainstream." My canon 7d crashed all the time with non canon lenses. Not sure what you are all surprised at. Not only that but it's already fixed!

August 31, 2015 at 5:05AM

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Devastating news for the five people who use this camera.

August 26, 2015 at 6:01PM

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Benjamin Lebeau
Cinematographer, Colorist, Editor
347

Since I don't want to come off like a pool of negativity, I'd like to follow that up with: The Digital Bolex looks like an amazing camera that I'd *love* to use. It's just way too expensive and niche for any normal gig.

August 26, 2015 at 6:08PM, Edited August 26, 6:08PM

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Benjamin Lebeau
Cinematographer, Colorist, Editor
347

Make that four: my friend (one of the five) is not using his anymore.

August 27, 2015 at 4:03PM

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There are a ton of DB users my friend. Not sure what the point was in posting this comment other then trying to be hurtful to a community of film makers like yourself.

August 31, 2015 at 5:08AM, Edited August 31, 5:08AM

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y'all are tripping I love my digital bolex, but I use the zacuto pro evf

August 27, 2015 at 5:21AM

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Josef Lorenzo
Director
419

I love mine too!

August 31, 2015 at 5:09AM

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Other than the vintage frame, why would anyone buy this camera? Isn't it just Super 16mm Raw like the BMPCC?

August 27, 2015 at 9:13AM, Edited August 27, 9:13AM

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Raw
Global Shutter
Dual 24-bit 96kHz audio recording capability
12-bit color depth

August 27, 2015 at 9:21AM, Edited August 27, 9:21AM

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Pete Balistrieri
Filmmaker
175

Also, it uses the KAI-04050 analogue CCD sensor, the same one which was used in the Ikonoskop camera, which is reckoned to give a particularly pleasing filmic image.
https://vimeo.com/124575174
https://vimeo.com/94800395

August 27, 2015 at 3:42PM

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Saied M.
1311

Clearly, 'pleasing' is a relative term.

August 28, 2015 at 7:21AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1963

Make sure you have someone help you down off the horse Gene ;^)

August 28, 2015 at 9:42AM

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Pete Balistrieri
Filmmaker
175

So ok, "pleasing" is not a relative term, or something?

And, if I was on a horse I could get down myself. ;-)

August 28, 2015 at 11:35PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1963

More for less: Sony a7S w/ Atomos Shogun, in 4K:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDktgWkAHDw

August 28, 2015 at 11:41PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1963

A7s Rolling shutter xxxxx cmos color blaaaahh the usual. no battery life. Its a DSLR so apples to oranges realy. Great camera. Great in low light yes but doesn't mean it's "more for less" actually I thought the recorder and the A7s is actually 4000 so that's more expensive. Any way I really like my D16.

August 30, 2015 at 8:51PM, Edited August 30, 9:00PM

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The issue some may be having with the Digital Bolex is the fawning over it when it first came out. It makes a nice picture. But it is not really eye catching, especially considering there's cameras, like the $700.00 Panasonic FZ1000, that make a richer color, higher resolution picture. The fawning over the DB was not deserved. If the fawning and hype and been equal to what the camera produced then it wouldn't have rubbed some people in the wrong way. It's likely the nostalgic look of the body that got it all the attention. And to be painfully honest, the DB looks to be aimed at hipsters. The footage first put out from it was all hipster stuff. That may have been unintended, unplanned. But that is what came across about the camera.

The picture from the a7S with Atomos Shogun is more eye catching. The 4K Panasonic DVX200 is more ruggedly built. Regardless of the talk on the internet to the contrary, resolution is king. And regardless of the talk on the internet to the contrary, 4K is not a sales gimmick. 4K looks better than 1080p. That's all.

And BTW, 8K is on the way. It will take a few years in America. But it is clearly coming. If 8K rendered at 4K looks better than 4K rendered at 4K then 8K will have an immediate market. But that has yet to be seen.

If the Digital Bolex is working out great for you I am happy for you. If you are making a good living with it, and you feel comfortable with it, then that is great! I hope it continues to be a bread winner for you. I wish you the best. We all have our own preferences. And there is lots of competition in the video world. If the Digital Bolex is making your work distinct, and expressing your way, then I hope it continues to help make you a success. I wish you nothing but the best!

I am just pointing out to you why some are commenting about the DB the way they are.

September 2, 2015 at 6:53AM, Edited September 2, 6:57AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1963

Pretty clear by your language ["fawning" "hipsters"] that you're not being objective Gene. You're clearly miffed for some reason. Enjoy your A7S my friend. No reason to dig in.

September 2, 2015 at 9:24AM

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Pete Balistrieri
Filmmaker
175

Nope, not miffed. There was lots of fawning over the camera. And look up the first footage released by the makers of the camera. It was hipster stuff. Maybe you don't know what hipster is.

September 2, 2015 at 9:53PM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1963

I know what a hipster is, Gene. I also know what a condescending troll is as well. Feel free to pan the d16 all you want. Just don't act so surprised if there are many that disagree with you. The mere fact that they voice that, doesn't qualify as fawning no more than you're apparent distaste for the camera makes you a hater. It's just a camera. Some like it a lot. Some, like Conrad and yourself, do not.

September 3, 2015 at 8:19AM

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Pete Balistrieri
Filmmaker
175

Lighten up Pete. It's you that's miffed.

-I wasn't trying to condescend.
-I'm not panning the camera.
-I'm not surprised there's people that like it.
-I'm not surprised there's people that disagree with me.
-There was, indeed, fawning over it when it first came out.
-I don't have distaste for the camera.
-I like it.
-I like the audio specs, a lot.
-I think it looks cool.
-But the picture is not eye catching, making it not worth the cost.

There's more nuance in life than you see right now, Pete.

September 5, 2015 at 10:24AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1963

Yes. Lots of nuance, Gene. No condescension there at all.
One bit of nuance you seem to fail to acknowledge about the d16 and that is - raw. The picture you fail to find pleasing, is actually 100% in the hands of the colorist. Perhaps you saw some footage that didn't appeal to you? Well guess what? A good colorist can take that 12 bit file and make it look however you like. With as much nuance as your heart desires. So for roughly 3 grand US$. I'd say it's worth the cost. We disagree Gene.

September 8, 2015 at 1:52PM, Edited September 8, 1:53PM

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Pete Balistrieri
Filmmaker
175

Are there any reports of the 500 series causing issues with other cameras?
Seriously considering the Sidefinder as my next viewfinder.

August 27, 2015 at 8:46PM

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Stewart Fairweather
Cinematographer
460