Camera enthusiast Joe Rubinstein has sort of resurrected the Bolex name, that of a Swiss company known for the 16mm motion picture cameras it manufactured during the first half of the century. Rubinstein obtained a license to apply Bolex to his new D16, a digital cinema camera that debuted at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin.
The new Bolex D16 is set to sell at around $3000, and Rubinstein has already raised close to $300K via his Kickstarter project he put in place to fund initial mass production of the camera. Three thousand dollars is very reasonable for a digital cinema camera that shoots raw footage. Below is an exeprt from Rubinstein’s design philosophy:
“There is no camera on the market that offers affordable RAW quality to consumers and independent filmmakers. The Digital Bolex will mean filmmakers who prefer an uncompressed and “film like” look won’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve that. Isn’t it time for the digital generation to have image quality as good as our parents had?”
Indeed, not much is cooler than putting an imager that captures raw footage inside of a camera body that resembles a Flash Gordon raygun from 1980 that says Bolex on the side. Thing is, dealing with raw footage is not a simple thing. The file sizes are spectacular, with the Bolex D16 reportedly recording uncompressed Adobe CinemaDNG frames, which translates to roughly 50-75 megabytes per second. Raw footage needs to be transcoded before editing as well, and this process can take a while. Also, it would seem like focusing through a 320 X 240 viewfinder would be a task.
Still, the camera is cheap, for what it might be. It uses a Kodak censor, and features proper XLR inputs. A few digital filmmakers will likely believe themselves to be better cinematographers just by owning one, and the D16 will likely at least become a sort of niche collector’s item, like the Fischer Price PLX 2000, if it doesn’t take off after the initial run. The idea of having raw capabilities is one of those things – kind of like depth-of-field lens adapters when they first hit the market – sounds rad on paper, but doesn’t really solve issues like camera placement and production values in achieving digital filmlook.
Although the pre-order cameras all appear to be sold out, I wonder what will happen of the Kickstarter aspect of the project hits $1 million – Rubinstein states, “Our collaborators have extensive experience building cameras. We’re leaving the manufacturing and tooling to the professionals!” Who? Where?