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12 DECEMBER 2013

Digital Bolex: 16mm Filmmaking Goes Digital

"Most film students now use DSLRs. But for those who want a digital tool to produce more film–like images, Bolex – one of the classic 16mm camera makers – recently started shipping a digital 16mm–equivalent video camera that's fully compatible with the most desirable vintage C–mount lenses.

The new Bolex camera, dubbed the D16, doesn't just sport a retro look. Its Kodak–produced CCD sensor is very close to Super 16–sized, which is uncommon in modern cameras. Even better, that sensor shoots in RAW at 32 frames per second at a resolution of 2048x1152 pixels. Every uncompressed frame should be sharp, as opposed to the compressed footage even full–frame DSLRs produce. Plus, the Super 16–sized sensor means that the D16 can use C–mount lenses without any crop factor.

The camera is being produced under the name 'Digital Bolex,' but it's actually a joint venture between the original manufacturer, Bolex International, S.A., and Cinemeridian, Inc, a young company of digital wizards that was formed to bring this idea to fruition."

(Kif Leswing, 11 December 2013,




16mm • 16mm-equivalent • 2012 • 32 fps • Blackmagic • Bolex • Bolex camera • Bolex D16 • Bolex International S.A. • C-mount lens • camera • camera maker • camera technology • CCD sensor • cinematic devices • Cinemeridian Inc • classic 16mm camera • compressed footage • D16 • digital • Digital Bolex • digital cameradigital cinema technologydigital pictures • digital tool • digital viewfinder • DSLR • film and video equipment • film camera • film school • film-like images • ilm grain • image qualityindependent cinemaindie filmmaker • joint venture • KickstarterKodak • moviemaking • old-school • pistol grip • RAW • retro look • sensor • Serious Cinema • stereo audio • Super 16mm • test footage • uncompressed frame • video camera • XLR


Simon Perkins
08 JANUARY 2012

Film Fading to Black: ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have quietly ceased production of film cameras

"While the debate has raged over whether or not film is dead, ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have quietly ceased production of film cameras within the last year to focus exclusively on design and manufacture of digital cameras. ...

'The demand for film cameras on a global basis has all but disappeared,' says ARRI VP of Cameras, Bill Russell, who notes that the company has only built film cameras on demand since 2009. 'There are still some markets––not in the U.S.––where film cameras are still sold, but those numbers are far fewer than they used to be. If you talk to the people in camera rentals, the amount of film camera utilization in the overall schedule is probably between 30 to 40 percent.'

At New York City rental house AbelCine, Director of Business Development/Strategic Relationships Moe Shore says the company rents mostly digital cameras at this point. 'Film isn't dead, but it's becoming less of a choice,' he says. 'It's a number of factors all moving in one direction, an inexorable march of digital progress that may be driven more by cell phones and consumer cameras than the motion picture industry.'

Aaton founder Jean–Pierre Beauviala notes why. 'Almost nobody is buying new film cameras. Why buy a new one when there are so many used cameras around the world?' he says. 'We wouldn't survive in the film industry if we were not designing a digital camera.'

Beauviala believes that that stereoscopic 3D has 'accelerated the demise of film.' He says, 'It's a nightmare to synchronize two film cameras.' Three years ago, Aaton introduced a new 35mm film camera, Penelope, but sold only 50 to 60 of them. As a result, Beauviala turned to creating a digital Penelope, which will be on the market by NAB 2012. 'It's a 4K camera and very, very quiet,' he tells us. 'We tried to give a digital camera the same ease of handling as the film camera.'

Panavision is also hard at work on a new digital camera, says Phil Radin, Executive VP, Worldwide Marketing, who notes that Panavision built its last 35mm Millennium XL camera in the winter of 2009, although the company continues an 'active program of upgrading and retrofitting of our 35mm camera fleet on a ongoing basis.'

'I would have to say that the pulse [of film] was weakened and it's an appropriate time,' Radin remarks. 'We are not making film cameras.' He notes that the creative industry is reveling in the choices available. 'I believe people in the industry love the idea of having all these various formats available to them,' he says. 'We have shows shooting with RED Epics, ARRI Alexas, Panavision Genesis and even the older Sony F–900 cameras. We also have shows shooting 35mm and a combination of 35mm and 65mm. It's a potpourri of imaging tools now available that have never existed before, and an exciting time for cinematographers who like the idea of having a lot of tools at their disposal to create different tools and looks.'"

(Debra Kaufman, 2011, Creative COW)

Fig.1 The Xterà by Aaton (Super16 camera with film magazine).

Fig.2 The Penelope–Delta by Aaton (digital camera with internal full resolution recorder).




16mm200935mm • 35mm camera • 4K • 4K camera • 65mm • Aaton • AbelCine • ARRIARRI Alexascameracamera-making businesscelluloidcinemacinematographer • consumer cameras • creative industries • demise of film • devicedigitaldigital cameradigital cinematographydigital filmmakingdigital progressDSLR • ease of handling • feature filmfilmfilm camerafilm industryfilm makingfilmmaking • Jean-Pierre Beauviala • motion picture industry • obsolescencePanavision • Panavision Genesis • radical innovationRED Epic • Sony F-900 • stereoscopic • Super16 • technology innovation


Simon Perkins

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