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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

How to deal with the demands of the rapidly evolving new technology and yet further the aesthetics of our filmic art?

"With digital capture and even digital intermediates, it becomes very easy to think of the image in the simplest of terms: contrast, saturation and color bias. But I think too often we forget about texture and sharpness. Film has organic grain texture that simply doesn't exist in digital cinematography. I'm not a film 'purist' but I think it's safe to say that with the advent of radical advances in digital cinema technology there has been a certain homogenization of the cinematographic image in regard to look and texture. It is common to shoot for an evenly distributed rich digital negative (protect the highlights, see into the shadows) with plenty of sharpness to endure the color correction suite and create the look in post. Everybody shoots the sensor the same way.

Painting is a great influence on me. Whenever I can I go to museums and look at the classics, the Dutch masters, Rembrandt and Georges de la Tour. Looking at these old paintings can be inspiring. These are the basics for cameramen because we can learn lighting from them. We can study the classic paintings and try to use that technique of lighting in our photography. I have lots of picture books at home–photography books and art books. When we did McCabe and Mrs. Miller, I showed a book of Andrew Wyeth's paintings to Bob Altman and said, 'What do you think of these faded, soft, pastel images?' And he liked it. Then I took the same book to the lab and explained to them that this was what we were aiming for. They understood right away why we were flashing the film. So it helps; a picture is worth ten thousand words. A picture can immediately tell you your feelings about something.

With digital capture, we have been given a completely different set of tools, trading physical lab processes for computer–driven non–destructive techniques, creating possibilities for the image to be pushed any way we wish in post. In a time when film is disappearing fast and digital is making progress in image quality improvement, it has become important for cinematographers to master these new tools."

(Vilmos Zsigmond ASC HSC, IMAGO European Federation of Cinematographers)


aesthetics • American Society of Cinematgraphers (ASC) • Andrew Wyeth • ARRI Alexas • art of colour • available lightcamera technologycinematographycolour • colour bias • colour correctioncolour saturation • colourist • computer-driven techniques • digital capturedigital cinema technologydigital cinematography • digital intermediates • digital negativedigital picturesdigital progressdigital technology • European Federation of Cinematographers • faded images • film grain • film grain texture • film lighting • filmic art • filmmaking • Georges de La Tour • GoProimage contrast • image highlights • image manipulation • image quality • image shadows • image sharpness • image tone • IMAGO European Federation of Cinematographers • iPhone cinematographyKodak Eastman • lab process • light exposure • look and texture • low lightmaking process • McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971) • mobile video productionnew technology • non-destructive techniques • organic grain texture • painting with light • pastel colours • post-productionpre-productionrapid technological changeRED ONERembrandt van Rijn • retraining • Robert Altman • soft image quality • Sony camerataste (sociology) • taste cultivation • taste formations • Vilmos Zsigmond • visual compositionvisual representation • visual richness • visual sensibilityvisual storytelling • visual texture


Simon Perkins

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