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  • Digital Bolex is out of the camera manufacturing game



    Thank You
    Posted on June 27, 2016 by elleschneider
    Anyone who’s started a small business can tell you that it’s not easy, especially in tech; even the most viable and promising product can be held back by the discontinuation of a part, a materials shortage, or rising cost to manufacture when facilities close or require large minimum orders to continue production.

    As a small business, always facing potentially fatal hurdles and unknown competition, it can be extremely difficult to know when the “right time” is to for a product line to come to an end. Do you try to read the tea leaves looking for potential new competitors? Do you hold your breath and dread a future when stock could be collecting dust on the shelves? If production costs rise, do you raise prices? What is the right margin for survival? What happens if the sensor you’ve been waiting for to make your next camera simply doesn’t exist?

    After much deliberation, our team has recently decided that, for us, it’s the responsible decision to leave the table before any of those questions begin to affect our company and our customers.

    Digital Bolex will no longer be producing cinema cameras after this month, and we will close our online store effective June 30th. Cameras will still be available to purchase until 11:59PM, PST on that date, and we still have cameras in stock. So if you’ve been eager to purchase a D16 for your project, consider this last call.

    Five years ago, in summer of 2011, when I started on this journey with Joe and our team, we were filmmakers a vision: we wanted to use the new culture of crowdfunding to amplify the voices of independent filmmakers and show the camera industry that creative storytellers didn’t need to rely on big box corporations to choose the look and function of how they told stories for the big screen. When we raised $262K within 36 hours of launching our Kickstarter in March of 2012, we lit a fire and proved that filmmakers truly wanted control over their tools of expression, and were willing to think outside the box and join a revolution to create those tools. From that revolution a community was born that’s grown over a thousand members strong, and includes world-renowned artists and filmmakers from every background and tradition, using their D16s on the smallest of independent projects to the largest of network television shows, screening their work in theaters and major film festivals across the globe. We couldn’t be more proud of our accomplishment, and of the community that helped us to build it.

    Our community is a strong one, and (not to brag, but) the most helpful, considerate, and brilliant group of filmmakers I’ve had the honor of conversing with and sharing work with online—a rarity these days. On a personal level, I’ve grown tremendously as a storyteller, cinematographer, and director through interacting with our users, and many have come to be close friends.

    From suggestions on how to improve the original KS camera, to tips on grading, development of color science, encouragement to fellow filmmakers to test and learn and experiment and share, our users have intimately participated in the development and growth of the D16 from day one, and are to thank for making the D16 one of the most important cameras in the field today—not just because it was the first crowd-sourced cinema camera, but because, even after two and a half years on the market, it still remains the only affordable camera with fully raw, uncompressed 12-bit footage, native global shutter, incredible audio capabilities, and, as of our most recent firmware update this May, color science that now rivals cameras tens of times its cost (and is finally recordable through HDMI to compressed formats of your choice.)

    As we still debate the value of higher bit-depth 2k over compressed 4k in the trades today, and what high resolution really means when people watch content at home or on small screens, it’s clear the D16 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and we’re proud to have created a storytelling tool that will live on for years to come as the right choice for filmmakers who don’t want to compromise on their creative vision or ability to control what their stories look like on screen.

    We’ve learned a tremendous amount from our filmmaking community over the past five years, as we’ve listened to your feedback on ustream and our forums and twitter, designed new products to make using the camera even easier for professionals, and produced and sponsored content to show the world just what our camera is capable of, and we’re excited to keep growing and sharing content with you. As we’ve always said—buying a camera from Digital Bolex isn’t the end of our relationship, it’s just the beginning.

    While we aren’t going to be making cameras anymore, we’re not going anywhere—you don’t have to go home, but you can stay here. Our website, forum, and help section will continue as a resource for existing customers and those renting the camera from private owners or rental houses who need help, and as a way for filmmakers to promote their D16 projects. Our phone will stay on, and all warranties, repairs, and upgrades will continue to be performed by our team as we honor our commitment to the users who have chosen to enter into a relationship with us. Our in-kind support of filmmakers, film initiatives, and our grant for women cinematographers will also still be active, and we will also continue to support owners by sharing rental information and locations for interested filmmakers.

    We want to thank our community for supporting our team and championing the Digital Bolex like it’s your own (it is), believing in our mission, and taking a new step in this journey with us as we transition away from retail and towards becoming the best resource for our community of users that we can be. We’re excited to keep sharing our stories with you, and to see the stories you’ll share with us.

    We will have one final UStream hangout on June 30th at noon Pacific time, and we hope you’ll join us.
    Elle and Team Bolex
    http://www.digitalbolex.com/thank-you/
    Aaron Lochert

  • #2
    They had good tech but that ugly looking retro style... definitely no one will take anybody seriously using such equipment that only looks good in a museum. Sometimes people are just too stubborn to think the market is them. I would not want to be caught holding that camera unless I was in a vintage replica show.

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    • #3
      Bummer. I think if BM had never released the Pocket these guys could have gained some real traction. The only other similar product was the Ikonoskop and they couldn't keep the fires lit either. Good luck in the future DBolex guys.

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      • #4
        Not surprised to be honest. Was expecting this way earlier. The D16 has a lovely image, it just came a couple of years too late and was too expensive.
        Vimeo profile
        VFX Showreel
        IMDB

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        • #5
          Originally posted by 4saken View Post
          Not surprised to be honest. Was expecting this way earlier. The D16 has a lovely image, it just came a couple of years too late and was too expensive.
          Absolutely right, if only the price was not so high then maybe they had a chance to rise further.

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          • #6
            Sad, but not unexpected. Other than a pretty cool looking form factor, it was basically a pocket cinema camera, but 3x the price. Yes, some slightly better hookups and connections, but at it's core - pocket cinema camera format, in a prettier box for too much money. If they'd been in the $1500 range I for certain would have bought one.
            Ursa 4.6k, Pocket Cinema 4k, BMCC, GoPro Hero4 Black, Mavic Air, Phantom 2, Canon T3i, Lots of glass.

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            • #7
              Damn.
              instagram
              my work

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              • #8
                Not surprised either.

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                • #9
                  It's so sad really, because it seems like a unique device; not only because of the approach to imaging, but also their dedication to sound. The D16 is almost exactly the camera I wanted when I was in film school, which is why I'm kind of excited that they had those refurb models today. I just wish they'd stuck the landing on a few more points;

                  - Losslessly compressed CinemaDNG.
                  - HD-SDI instead of HDMI or... Composite!?
                  - Simultaneous CF and SSD recording.
                  - Better built in display.
                  - Support for a rasterized format, like ProRes.
                  - 60fps, like they said in the original spec sheet.
                  - Electronic control of MFT lenses.
                  - Lower price.

                  That said, a lot of these complaints carry over to the BMPCC as well. Honestly, I'm happy I own both now because they seem to complement each other really well:

                  BMPCC
                  + Super small/inconspicuous.
                  + More latitude.
                  + Higher sensitivity.
                  + ProRes Support.

                  Digital Bolex D16:
                  + NO MOIRE/ALIASING.
                  + Much easier to record single system sound.
                  + Higher resolution sensor.
                  + Global shutter.
                  + 4-Pin XLR power output.

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                  • #10
                    To their credit I was a disbeliever, I never thought the camera would ever see the light of day. Look at how hard it was for even a midsize company like Blackmagic to get a camera out and they already had the infrastructure in place, teams of engineers, designers, manufacturers, supply chains, etc., building all of that from the ground up on a project as complex as a camera is no small feat. People seem to feel the camera was too expensive which for many may be true but I'll bet you their margins were razor thin.

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                    • #11
                      It's a shame to see them go.

                      Perhaps someone will buy up their imaging technology and put it in a different box. Image quality was always FANTASTIC on this camera.
                      Cameras: Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Blackmagic Pocket Camera (x2), Panasonic GH2 (x2), Sony RX100 ii, Canon 6D, Canon T2i,
                      Mics: Sennheiser, AKG, Shure, Sanken, Audio-Technica, Audix
                      Lights: Every Chinese clone you can imagine

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by DPStewart View Post
                        It's a shame to see them go.

                        Perhaps someone will buy up their imaging technology and put it in a different box. Image quality was always FANTASTIC on this camera.
                        I think anyone could use the TrueSense CCD they bought. It was an off the shelf part.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by EYu View Post
                          They had good tech but that ugly looking retro style... definitely no one will take anybody seriously using such equipment that only looks good in a museum. Sometimes people are just too stubborn to think the market is them. I would not want to be caught holding that camera unless I was in a vintage replica show.
                          I have had mine for two years now, and would not trade it for anything near its price range that has come out since. Seriously, make it a square box and make it black makes a difference? It is a far more ergonomic and practical design than the original BMCC, which is not exactly a beauty queen either.
                          The manufacturing shut down is not for lack of sales, it was never going to be a mass market product, nor was it intended to be. But it is an expensive camera to produce in limited production runs, far more so than any comparable CMOS design. The sensor alone costs more than the entire manufacturing cost of a BMPCC.
                          The rapid rise of the 4k market has made its future questionable in the face of increasing production costs. At present there is no viable off the shelf 4k sensor to build a future model around if the same image quality, nearly completely free of any common digital artifacts, is to be preserved in a similar price range.
                          The D16 is as close to a pure, simple photographic instrument as one will find in this digital age. A pure joy to shoot with. Wish I could say the same about any other non-film camera I have ever used.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Alex.Mitchell View Post
                            I think anyone could use the TrueSense CCD they bought. It was an off the shelf part.
                            The sensor is analog. There is no on chip processing. Building a camera around it is a much more expensive proposition than a typical off the shelf CMOS sensor. It's primary application has historically been for scientific/ industrial applications where time coherent image capture and wide accurate color gamut are most important, like the Mars Rovers for instance, or critical dye color matching applications in textile manufacturing. You can buy it in an industrial box camera platform with no on board processing for around $2500. It has to be run connected to an outboard AD processing board and a computer for image capture.

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                            • #15
                              I am very sad for this...OK, maybe DB was a bit overpriced, however....digital bolex was the only CCD camera in the market. CCD has its limits, however, it is a different beast. Even when I look Alexa footage on the big screen, I think "The colorist has been fantastic. However, it would be great to watch the same film shot with a CCD 14 stops Kodak Alexa version.."

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