Digital Bolex D16: Raw 2K Video for the Price of a DSLR

In the old days, affordable consumer cinema cameras used the same film as high-end ones, allowing everyday folk to capture high-quality videos. All that changed when digital video rolled around. However, there’s a new camera in development called the Digital Bolex that aims to bring us back to that:

The Digital Bolex is a “digital cinema camera” or a camera that shoots RAW images (sometimes known as Digital Negatives) instead of compressed video. Unlike the digital cinema cameras used on big budget films, the Bolex is designed with consumers as well as pros in mind, and will be inexpensive, compact, and easy for anyone to use, just like the film cameras many of us remember using as kids.

The camera captures 2K RAW video using a 16MM equivalent sensor. It records in DNG, TIFF, or JPEG sequences and has XLR inputs for audio.

Here’s a video showing the first frames captured with the prototype camera. It’s a time-lapse video of downtown Los Angeles:

The project has already reached its Kickstarter fundraising goal of $100,000 with many days to spare, so the camera will definitely be produced. Contributing $2,500 to the effort will land you one of these cameras when they’re available.

The Digital Bolex on Kickstarter (via Philip Bloom)

  • Slobit75

    Oh a timelapse… 

  • Claude Seymour

     One man’s “inexpensive” is the next man’s first born child.

  • hynee

    (a) 2K is 1080p and
    (b) Anyone can do a 4K timelapse with at least an 8MP still camera.

  • Arnem

    By the time this gets made, you can get a Red for half the price.

  • MrRocking

    And here’s a tempered look at what all those figures mean.

    I like the Idea of this but it seems like a another half camera.

  • Jefforig

    Bolex is 10 years too late.  Canon owns this space.  And Canon will continue to dominate because of their awesome lenses.  Nikon and Red might have a shot at this market, but I don’t think Nikon fully understands the motion picture market.  Keep in mind Canon has been making video cameras for years.  And Red is still too expensive for this market.  BTW, Michael in your post you mention that Bolex “allowing everyday folk to capture high-quality videos.”  Technically, it was not video.  It was motion picture, film, or movies.  Video has to do with interlaced fields and electronic image capturing versus frames of film captured multiple times.  Sorry for the nitpicking.

  • Dustin

    Jefforig, Michael knows the difference. He’s talking about what you watch after, not what you shoot on. Say you’re sorry and go to your room.

    This will be a great camera for film students and low budget indy filmmakers going for a 16mm look.


    Does anyone else hear a ghastly high-pitched whining noise in the first video? Yeesh.

  • Pauljmoleiro

    I think that means you’re going to die

  • Northwestvp

    The only thing Canon dominates is a pile of crappy plastic lenses. And a pile of crappy plastic cameras that shoot in crappy codecs and crappy color bit depths. And 2k isn’t 1080p. It’s all of you people that make it near impossible for real shooters (people with balls who understand light acquisition) to get up in the morning. We’re sick of your idiocy.

  • Northwestvp

    2k isn’t 1080p. Image acquisition is about precision.

  • Rdwomack2

    In what universe did you take camera classes?  That’s like saying 16mm is the same as 35mm, or super 35mm. And no, 4k is 4k. Hence why you need a 4k sensor.

  • Doing Business In India

     Bolex-Digital brings your memories back to life in High Definition. Bolex, since 1924, is the swiss leader of Super8, 8mm and 16mm film. We offer high quality film digitization services and the best available digital restoration technologies.

  • MrRocking

    The thing is this camera doesn’t give a 16mm look anymore than an Alexa or a Kodak Zi8 does. The 16mm look is something you would apply in post. The camera produces image files not video. So more post conversion. A process I can see getting old really quickly.

    Course if they’re going with original Bolex fittings it probably means original Bolex lenses will gain in value.

  • MrRocking

    They’ll fix it in one of the many stages of post.

  • Wwebaraw1

    so because you understand light acquisition, that equates to having balls? sounds like a hipster film elitist to me 

  • Drew Garraway

    To be fair 1080 is the same pixel density as 2k, but it is more anamorphic. The phrase “upscale” to 2k from 1080 is not really applicable.

  • Drew Garraway

    I think what hynee is referring to is the fact that 1080 and 2k both have the same pixel density, only 2k is just a tad bit more anamorphic.

  • Flgraphics

    I’m confused how showing a time-lapse is supposed to convince me?

  • hynee

    Well yes, one of the RED’s is advertised as a 4k camera but has a 3k sensor… if that’s the case it’s good enough to call 1080p 2k. I think if you added RAW video out to a 1080p camera you could call it 2k.
    Anyway, my point is I’m unimpressed.

  • Northwestvp

    Did I say the two equate? No. I listed them separately. By balls, I meant people who don’t rest on the excuse of “low budget indie” as their reason for choosing an image capture device that produces web-quality video from the get-go. People that have balls still go out and fundraise, and don’t compromise the quality of their image with half-cocked shitty equipment like the 5/7d. And if they don’t have the money they keep fucking fundraising and trying for it until they have the means to do the thing correctly. Hipsters are the reason you probably think its ok to keep spewing out tiny-brained crappy ideas into the YouTube and Vimeo world so your friends can call you an artist.

  • Chris Newhall

    Wouldn’t 24 frames of RAW images every second take up an astounding amount of memory? Even at 2K?

  • Indyjetflyer

    I looks like a fairly good entry level camera.  Now to Quality and yes I looked at the specs and know what they mean.  

    Now in filmmaking….this goes for Elitist & Wannabe alike.  So long as your image quality is consistent throughout, it doesn’t make a damned bit of difference if it’s shot on 70mm Film or a 1980 VHS camcorder or even the cheapest 8mm stock shot on a 1960 Kodak.  Consistency is paramount even if putting your images through a spectroscope shows your colors are all fouled up….it doesn’t matter. How many film goers gauge color quality? NONE.  How many criticise grain? NONE.  How many have any idea what anyones discussing here? NONE.  They just go watch a movie and either like it or don’t, it’s that simple.  

    Keep the image quality consistent, keep the audio CLEAN, make sure it’s a GREAT story acted in an authentic manner and you got yourself a Good film.

    Kudos for them bringing this camera out…it’ll assist a lot of people wanting to get to the next level.

  • Daniel Ballard

     Diss Canon all ya want, then count the awards won. Canon is just getting started in cinema. Don’t see how a 5d or 7d or C300 is just plastic lenses & crappy codecs. Martin Scorsese would disagree with you…

  • Northwestvp

    Scorsese also made the movie Hugo, so he can go fuck himself now. Before he made shit movies like that, he shot film, and shot it well.

    And awards rarely mean dick. Take the Oscars for example. People have grown accustomed to awarding themselves for nothing. Canon is no different. Crappy crap garnering meaningless recognition for sucking the pursuit of quality out of what used to be an industry only fit for people who understood and respected their craft.

    It’s like a pussy zombie apocalypse.

  • Northwestvp

    I agree with what you’ve said here. However, if 2001 or Lawrence of Arabia had been grainy, or poorly colored, I doubt they would have received the long-standing credit they have. I agree, viewers aren’t looking for it, outright. But they’ll sure as hell leave a film behind for reasons they can’t even verbalize. It’s the responsibility of the filmmaker to make sure he doesn’t compromise on his end. All I’m sayin.

  • camera1978
  • Don Carlson

    This looks like a cool camera. I am not fond of RAW because of the crazy amount of disk space it requires and the difficulty in converting Canon’s proprietary format to something an editor can use, but for the longest time we have needed something that replaces the 16mm home movie cameras of old. I thought the companies producing HD pocket video cameras completely jumped the shark by releasing them in 30p format. 15 frames per second looks closer to the cadence of motion picture film in terms of fantasy than 30. 30 makes everything look like Saturday Night Live.

    My question is, given that we know the resolution and frame rate are possible inexpensively, where are all of the affordable 2k cameras that can shoot at 24p? It’s just 23.976 FPS in a 29.976 FPS wrapper. Canon delivered with their HF-G10, A2200, and A1200. Where are the other camera makers on this? Granted,those are only  P&S, but it’s a start. RAW or no, it’s the frame rate that matters when it comes to storytelling. You just can’t bring the viewer into a dream-like state at 30, 48, or 60p. I don’t know why any of those formats are bothered with.

  • Mr. Frank Rodriguez

    imagine these people played by Fred Armisen and carrie Brownstein, then imagine the folks who gave that 2500 dollars.

  • William Burrus

    i’m a 63 yr. “old fart” who’s written many screenplays but submitted
    all simple comedies ala “sleepless in seattle” — no “2001” or “lawrence of
    just learned AVID to edit.
    have 2 jvc gy-hd100 — hdv 720p (records in 24p mode and uses a 2:3:2:3
    pulldown when recording to tape and converts images to 60 frames. component
    output is converted to 60 frames during playback. a 2:3:3:2 pulldown (24p
    advanced mode) is also supported.
    i like like what you’re saying about keeping “Keep the image quality
    consistent, keep the audio CLEAN, make sure it’s a GREAT story acted in an
    authentic manner and you got yourself a Good film”.
    will this camera do it for me.
    what about “film festival” limitations using these cameras?

    don’t want to take the time to film only to find i lost it because i used a
    deficient camera.
    thanks so much.

  • William Burrus

    btw: i ain’t got no money, honey…