Philip Bloom recently posted his review of the D16, and it was full of absolutely beautiful images from our camera!
We are very grateful to Philip for taking loads of his own personal time to create this wonderful piece, if you haven’t seen it here it is…
To us, the most important things he says are that he really likes the organic feel of the image from the camera, and that he enjoys shooting with it. These are the two stand out features in our minds. Shooting should be fun, and you should get great-looking results that feel like a movie.
He of course has his criticisms, but he also raises the question, “where does the D16 fit in the current market place” (now that there are several affordable raw format options)?
I would very much like to take this opportunity to answer Philip’s important question.
If you read Eric Ries’s book The Lean Start Up you’ll find a lot of references to the MVP or Minimum Viable Product. This is often used in context of web services and software, but we got to thinking, what is the MVP when talking about digital cinema cameras? So we created a list based on the technical aspects of a majority of films that have reached theatrical distribution. There are always exceptions, and this may vary some depending on preference, but I think the list we came up with is pretty solid.
First we listed the image requirements:
1. 12 Bit Color
2. Global Shutter
3. No Moire
4. Good Native Color Rendition
5. 12 Stops of Dynamic Range
6. 2K Resolution
7. Uncompressed Image Sequences / Raw
8. DCP compliant
9. 16mm / S16 Imager
10. Archival Format
Next we listed the physical attributes needed:
11. Sturdy Construction
12. 4 Pin XLR Battery Connection
13. Reliable On Board Media
14. Easily Hand Holdable Without a Rig
15. Works “Out of the Box”, just add lens.
And we threw in sound for good measure:
16. Two 3 Pin XLR Microphone Connections
17. 16 bit 48k Sound Recording (now upgraded to 24 bit 96K)
18. Phantom Power
19. Line Level / Mic Level Switchable
Once we came up with nineteen standards a camera had to hit to be considered MVP we took a look at the market. There were some cameras out there that hit almost all, but they were priced higher than $10,000. We thought this was too expensive to be accessible to most people, so we added standard twenty.
20. Must Not Be More Expensive Than a Top of the Line DSLR
So that’s what we built, the MVP for digital cinema cameras. We believe the D16 is the smallest, cheapest, and easiest to use true digital cinema camera you can buy.
You may say, well there is one that has global shutter and is cheaper. But after you add the cost of a high end SSD, that camera is more expensive. In fact, if you factor in the cost of an enterprise class SSD, a rig, a battery to get it to the same battery life that is built into the D16, and an external sound recorder, you are well over $1000 more than the D16.
And that camera is still not the MVP because it is not 16mm. The fact that the D16 uses a Super 16 / 16mm format sensor is really important. Super 16 has been the go-to format for independent films for decades for good reasons. These lenses are the smallest / cheapest / easiest to use true cinema lenses. Again, this is a really big deal. If you want to make movies that look like movies we believe the D16 is the cheapest and easiest way to do this.
So that’s where we picture ourselves: part of a long history of cinema quality cameras, giving people an image worthy of projecting in a theater for the price of a DSLR, easier to use in real world situations than anything in it’s price class, the bare minimum you need to make a movie.
Why did we do this? Why did we make huge financial investments, work tirelessly, and dedicate years of our lives to this project? Because we think it’s time the people of the digital age get the same abilities our parents had, to shoot our films on a camera that is projection worthy, at a price we can afford. That was the Bolex mission then, and it’s the Bolex mission now. Making movies, real movies, shouldn’t be reserved for companies that can spend a hundred million dollars. It’s something all of us should be able to do. Movies are one of the biggest parts of our culture, they are our story telling, they belong to all of us, and we will take them back.
– Digital Bolex