We all have our "normal," stock-in-trade tools that are used on a daily basis. You know, the camera and support gear you go to for the majority of your projects. But what about when you want to step outside of your comfort zone a bit, to try something a little different? In this article, we highlight technology that was conceived with a different purpose in mind than most mainstream products.
Several of the products were brought to market through Kickstarter or other crowd-funding sources. Other products were simply the result of an idea that needed to be realized in order to solve a specific technology or price-point challenge. The resulting innovations allow users to create spectacular visuals in new ways that they might never have achieved with their regular gear.
What do you get when you take a traditional small-format film camera and combine it with sophisticated electronics in a cool, retro, futuristic package? The Digital Bolex D16 (www.digitalbolex.com) was conceived as a tool for those who loved shooting traditional 16mm film, but need a digital camera to integrate into a modern workflow.
The D16 resembles a traditional small-format film camera except for the diminutive menu screen and access buttons on top of the body. It comes with a removable aluminum pistol grip, and it even features a crank on the side that slightly resembles the mechanical crank on the original Bolex film cameras. It handles programmable functions like ISO, shutter angle or headphone volume, and also serves to control frame rate while shooting. As far as lenses, the camera is equipped with a C mount, allowing use of vintage 16mm and Super 16mm glass, but with the Synonymous mount system, users also can utilize modern lenses such as Canon EF, Micro 4/3 or even PL-mount high-end cinema lenses.
The Digital Bolex utilizes CF cards and records in native RAW Cinema DNG format, which allows the capture of up to 12 stops of dynamic range in 12-bit color. The camera records to an internal SSD, either 256 GB or 512 GB, and the user then transfers data directly to dual CF card slots. The D16 is one of the few cameras on the market with CCDs rather than the much more common CMOS imagers. CCDs aren’t as light-sensitive or clean at the same ISO as CMOS, but on a camera intended as a digital film camera, this may be an acceptable trade-off. Unlike CMOS, CCDs lack skewing, jello vision and other rolling-shutter artifacts, which is of paramount importance on a camera that probably will be shot handheld more than the average camera.
The Digital Bolex is an interesting product and will appeal to the filmmaker who wants a simple, yet sophisticated high-quality camera. MSRP: $3,299.