Digital Bolex D16 vs. Blackmagic Cinema Camera (comparison table)

Well, I knew that putting my money in Digital Bolex Kickstater’s project just few days before NAB is risky. But then I saw prices of Canon’s C500 and 1D Cinema, and I thought that there couldn’t be two miracles in one time. And I can always sell Digital Bolex and buy that 5D Mark III.
Seems like there is a place for two miracles.

I made this table according to specs from internet, mostly by copy-paste. Specs of Digital Bolex are subject to change (and to improve), camera is still in developing stage.

update: I found this two huge discussions about this cameras, mostly about BlackMagic: on EOSHD and on dvxuser.

update2: Here is the reply from Joe Rubinstein, one of the creators of Digital Bolex.

BMCC review by Philip Bloom.

Digital Bolex D16 Blackmagic Cinema Camera
Resolution 2336 x 1752 (4×3), 2048 x 1152 (Super 16mm mode), 1920 x 1080 pixels (16mm mode), 1280×720 (720p mode) 720×480 (480p mode) 2.5K RAW at 2432 x 1366, ProRes and DNxHD at 1920 x 1080
Format Adobe Cinema DNG (RAW), TIFF, JPEG image sequences, at all resolutions RAW 2.5K CinemaDNG, compressed Apple ProRes and Avid DNxHD. All compressed recording in 1920×1080 10-bit YUV with choice of Film or Video Dynamic Range.
Colour depth 12 bit – 4:4:4. 12 stops 12-bit. 13 stops
Sensor 2336 x 1752, Kodak CCD: 12.85 mm (H) x 9.64 mm (V) – Similar to Super 16mm 2592 x 2192, CMOS. 16.64 mm x 14.04 mm, active 15.6 mm x 8.8 mm.
“It does have a rolling shutter, and it’s there if you look for it, but I’d say that it’s no worse than on any other camera at this price point.”
Pixel size 5.5 micron
Framerate up to 32 fps at 2K, 60fps at 720p, 90 fps at 480p 23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 30p
ISO options 100, 200, 400 400, 800, 1600. Native – 800
Sound Balanced, 2 channel via 2 XLR (includes phantom power). 24 bit, 96 kHz Analog 2 x 1/4” jacks for professional balanced analog audio (switchable to AES/EBU digital), switchable between mic and line levels.
4 channels in HD-SDI, 48 kHz and 24 bit.
Viewfinder 320×240, 2.4” diagonal, with Focus Assist, might be B/W 5″ and 800 x 480 resolution, Integrated LCD capacitive touchscreen, Focus button turns on peaking
Video out 1920×1080 via mini-HDMI or 640 x 480 B&W via ⅛” video jack (HD-SDI available in separate unit) Video 1 x 10-bit HD-SDI 4:2:2 with choice of Film or Video Dynamic Range. Thunderbolt port for capture of RAW video and audio.
Ports headphone, USB 3.0 (for firmware updates, but can be used for downloading files from the camera also) 1 x 3.5mm stereo headphone output, USB 2.0 mini B port for software updates and configuration.
Remote control 1 x 2.5mm LANC for Rec Start/Stop, Iris Control and Focus Control
Data Storage Dual CF card slots, SSD (buffer drive) Removable 2.5” SSD
Power Internal battery, 12V External via 4 pin XLR port. 12V DC output for accessories Integrated Lithium-ion Polymer rechargeable battery.
12V-30V DC port for external battery power or use included 12V AC adapter.
Mount Interchangeble. C-mount comes standard; Optional PL, EF, B4. M, Micro 4/3, turret in development. EF and ZE (Zeiss Canon) mount compatible with electronic iris control. Passive m4/3 model available in December.
Microphone and speaker Integrated mono
Mounting options 1/4″ thread tripod mount on the bottom of the camera (and on the bottom of the pistol grip)
2 x cold shoes on the top and on the left side of the camera
3 x 1/4″ thread mounting points on top of camera.
1 x 1/4″ thread tripod mount with locator pin.
Metadata Support Automatic camera data and user data such as shot number, filenames and keywords
Controls Physical buttons (up-right-left-down and few more). Lovely crank (will be programable to anything the menu controls) Onscreen touch menus and physical buttons for recording and transport control
Camera Dimensions 5”H (without pistol grip) by 2”W by 5”D. (~127×50.8x127mm) 166.2mm by 113.51mm x 126.49mm excluding detachable sunshade and turret dust cap
Camera Weight 5lbs (~2.26 kg) 1.7 kg / 3.75 lb
Body Magnesium alloy and hard plastic
Accessories Pistol grip, 5”H by 2”W by 5”D, free Blackmagic Cinema Camera Handles, $195
Also in the box pistol grip, USB 3.0 cable, internal battery, 4 pin XLR Battery, cable, video cable, transcoder/raw conversion software
Kickstarter buyers also receiving leather carrying case and additional lens mount (EF or PL)
Detachable sun shield, camera strap, turret dust cap and 12V AC adapter.
DaVinci Resolve grading software including Resolve USB dongle for Mac OS X and Windows.
Media Express software for video capture from the camera’s Thunderbolt port.
Blackmagic UltraScope software for waveform monitoring from the camera’s Thunderbolt port.
Price $2500 for early Kickstaters (available in early November 2012),
estimated $3299 (available ?),
international shipping ?
$2995, available 30 August 2012

42 Responses to “Digital Bolex D16 vs. Blackmagic Cinema Camera (comparison table)”

  1. PaulVTX42 says:

    This is a great thing to see – Thanks for doing this.

  2. EOSdh says:

    I love Canon but this BlackMagic Cinema product is amazing. Not sure I see any point in the Bolex that I donated money to – right now I am working with Amazon payments to get my money back. The BlackMagic offers a lot more and the ability to use SDD and Thunderbolt, plus the extra Dynamic range is fantastic.

    Bravo BlackMagic!

    Bolex will be a fun “collectible” digital device but it will be forgotten quickly.

    Take care everyone!

  3. Benjamin Wilt says:

    This is a great comparison. Thank you for taking the time to put it together. Very helpful. Someone mentioned above there doesn’t seem to be a need for the Bolex anymore but wouldn’t the rolling shutter still be an issue? My understanding is that the CMOS sensor will still have a rolling shutter issue comparable to the DSLR camera whereas, since the Bolex is CCD, it won’t have this problem. Is this true or am I mistaken?
    Thank you

    • Well, as someone who already invested in Digital Bolex I can’t say “screw Bolex, I’ll go with BlackMagic”. That’s why I built this chart – to understand how I’m winning or what I’m losing.
      And I thought that when we were excited about Digital Bolex, is was not only because of RAW, it because of that we’re not having with that camera any of the DSLR issues – compression, rolling shutter and moire.
      Blackmagic camera still has that rolling shutter, according to what their tester says – “It does have a rolling shutter, and it’s there if you look for it, but I’d say that it’s no worse than on any other camera at this price point.” That means it even not as good as at 5DMIII/D800 – it as bad as at 5DMII.
      So why should we sacrifice that? Because of the EF aperture control? Hope we can have it with Bolex in future. Or may be because of the touchscreen with nice control, zebra and peaking? Well, that’s nice. It’s nice that you can have fully working camera out of the bag. But it’s also nice that you can attach good EVF monitor do Digital Bolex. Well, you can also put one to Blackmagic too, but it’s SDI and expensive.
      Also with Digital Bolex we’re receiving external battery – you should buy one for Blackmagic camera. Both with SSD drive, I’d say, minimum two drives, to swap them. This is at least plus 500$ investment. You have to buy few SD cards for Digital Bolex too, but you don’t have to buy that many, and not in one time.
      Other than that, they are very similar. And I already bought some nice 16mm c-mount lens for 50$ including shipping, so I’ll have some wide angle. With EF mount, I’ll have to buy something much more expensive.

      And – Bolex supposed to be handhelded! According to what I saw from BlackMagic footage, it’s too shaky, at least without their 200$-more handles. Of course you don’t have to buy those, and other 30$ solutions would work, but pistol grip from Digital Bolex is free!

  4. Yalamber says:

    Does blackmagic come with the lens or body only?

  5. Joe Rubinstein says:

    Hey Guys,

    Nikita, Thanks for building this chart.

    I wanted to add a couple of things that I think no one is talking about, if you don’t mind.

    1. The D16 will have in camera redundant back ups of your files. One copy on the SSD, and one on the removable cards, so if something happens to your cards, you can always copy from the SSD. This is super important for on location work especially. If you are don’t have in camera redundant back ups and your drive goes down after half a days work, you would be unhappy to say the least. Many more expensive cameras have this.

    2. The D16 is an interchangeable mount camera. Which means if you want two different mounts, you don’t need to buy two different cameras.

    I like a lot of what Blackmagic is doing, to me the form factor, rolling shutter, and no substantial way to connect to external batteries, all say to me this is a small studio camera you should put on a tripod to do insert green screen shots, not really a production/location camera. I think it is a very different camera from what we are making. So the questions you’re asking shouldn’t be so much about the tech side, but more about how you will use it. Do you want something without rolling shutter to use on location in a more organic way, or do you want something with a bigger built in monitor, that will probably live in doors on a tripod almost all of it’s life. These are two very different cameras conceptually, but the tech numbers are so similar in most ways it almost doesn’t make sense for it to be the focus.

    Anyway that’s my 2 cents :)

    Thanks everyone for your support and contributions! Joe

    • FabDex says:

      Hey Joe,

      There is an external power port on the Blackmagic, so connections to an external battery would be a pretty easy thing. Inexpensive adaptors could allow the Blackmagic to use lenses from other makers: no need to buy another camera. As for form factor, being the owner of an excellent Shape shoulder rig, it would be pretty easy to take the Blackmagic on an exterior shoot.

      And most importantly: Blackmagic is a solid company that doesn’t need Kickstarter to launch a product (zing !).

      That being said: good luck with your camera: I wish you guys the best !

    • Fluoro says:

      While rolling shutter is not as good as global shutter it’s hardly the lemon you’re making it out to be. The Alexa has a rolling shutter, the Epic has a rolling shutter. They don’t just sit on a tripod in a studio.

    • amband says:

      Hi Joe

      Can the Bolex be used to shoot TV commercials indoors & outdoors with the expected quality. Is it commercial TV grade. Are it’s specs good for outside the US?

      Can you please make sure the thing can take our expensive investments of Canon/Nikon glass which many of us have, amateurs & pros alike. I love the CCD and the hand held comfort, but really, I can’t re invest in more & different glass

      A commercially practical answer, rather than an artistic one would be appreciated

      A good effort in getting this going, thanks

    • James says:

      I’ve got a deposit down on a Black Magic Digital Cinema camera but I’m thinking of forgoing it to get the Digital Bolex for some of the reasons Joe outlines above. I’m most excited about the form factor. I’ve owned a Scarlet for about 6 months. It’s an outstanding camera but it’s so un-erganomic and there are downsides to the modular system approach. I really crave something more integrated and comfortable in the hand, especially for documentary and hand-held narrative film work. I love the concept of the D16 – making filmmaking human again.

      • I really hope that guys from Digital Bolex wouldn’t forget special needs of documentary makers. As far as I understood for now all the process oriented for studio/team shooting, e.g. process of downloading files from the cards.

  6. cowboycoffee says:

    EF and ZF (obviously Zeiss Canon)

    ZF is Zeiss Nikon. ZE is Zeiss Canon. Blackmagic screwed it up in all the original press releases and on the web.

  7. cowboycoffee says:

    you’re welcome.

  8. Geraud says:

    Hello,
    When I heard about the bolex, I was very happy. But as i’m french, the non internationnal buyer thing is a big problem for the lunch of the camera….
    I think the hdsdi is a big plus for blackmagic…
    As a 5D intensive user I hate so much hdmi… so much trouble with it….
    So we will see in 2013…

  9. Walter says:

    Interesting chart.
    Especially CCD vs. CMOS and the ISOs seem to be the keydifferences in performance.
    Although opinions on rolling shutter differ I don’t like it in 5D mk2: it makes handheld almost impossible.
    (I don’t think moire will be an issue, since that is caused by line-skipping.)

    CCD vs CMOS also seem to cause a difference in light-sensitivity: 100, 200, 400 vs 400, 800, 1600.
    It seems the Digibolex will do fine in bright (sun)light without NDs, but Black Magic will do better in low light situations.

    XLR is a plus for the Digibolex.

    The only things missing in the chart are crop-factor for fullframe lenses and bandwidht (Mb/s) for the different (non)compressions. The first will tell you what lenses you need (or what you can achieve with the lenses you own) and the latter will tell you whether your editing HD’s are fast enough and what you’ll need to spend on memory (SD vs SSD needs some math to compare as well).

    And now I’ll wait to see footage from both cameras.
    I’m curious, but I’m in no hurry to rush in; at the moment I don’t really need either camera to shoot corporate films. And if I do, I’ll rent one, when they are available.

    Thanks for the list: these lists bring a lot of overview in the fast developments in the camera-world.

  10. Rhys says:

    The rolling shutter on the Blackmagic camera looks horrible. Like no thanks, unusable. “…but I’d say that it’s no worse than on any other camera at this price point.” Oh, because DSLRs are now the standard for crappy looking footage. Its a movie. The images move. Make a camera that can capture movement and also move. Not just a sensor you can grade pretty stills from.

  11. Meatpuppet says:

    Nah you probably will get stuck with the bolex. but hay it sounds like it’s not that bad of a camera. I was almost in the exact dame situation you are in but I missed the kickstarter deadline by a few hours. After reviewing this page I think I’m going to go with the blackmagic camera. They just feel like a more reliable company and seem to have a better track record on the digital market. The Digital boles camera seems to me like some guy made a camera and wanted to slap the bolex (a dying company IMO) name on it. I’m sure it’s a good camera but I’m not seeing a battle tested company standing behind a product with them.

    • amband says:

      I fairness, Bolex gave their blessing to use their name. That is a good thing, a major plus. Black magic also did something smart, they made sure poor long suffering buggers like me, could still use their Nikon and Canon lenses

      If D Bolex can let us use our lenses, that is a good thing, and makes commonsense, and is also commercially healthy for Bolex. We need the Joe Rubensteins of the world with their visions. We also need the Joe Rubensteins of the world with a practical knowledge of market needs with no artistic pretensions

  12. patrick sullivan says:

    can someone recommend a good external battery for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera

  13. Richard Saenz says:

    Looking at these both cameras. You can’t go wrong either way. RAWWWW! I am personally leaning more on the Black Magic Cienma Camera because you get more res, nice screen control/display, pro res format, thunderbolt port, 24bit audio, free copy of DaVinci Resolve ($995) and it’s cheaper than the Ditigal Bolex in retail price. I can see how there are some cons with the BMC but the pros greatly out weight the cons.

  14. Sandmann says:

    I have to say that I still give a bit of hope on Digital Bolex, simply because of C-mount lenses.
    I got a collection of C-mount lens and H16, unless BMD camera has a c-mount version or the mount can be modified easily,
    I have to remind you ZE lenses cost a fortune, and EF L lenses serving as movie lenses is not a good idea.

  15. Butch says:

    I’ll say what needs to be said that everyone else is unwilling to say…Black Magic Design is a credible company with a significant amount of real world experience in processing moving digital images and neither the two young kids nor Bolex have much experience building digital cameras or processing digital imagery and you feel like you were compelled to buy into the D-Bolex because there weren’t many non-DSLR options that filled the bill, but now that there is you feel like you wasted your money. I don’t know how much you donated, but to be honest if it was more than $100 shame on you for for being so naive as to think that such a green collective designers/manufacturers would build your miracle for you. If your Phillip Bloom, or Steven Spielberg or someone else that gets loads of free equipment and loads of equipment to test than you can afford to splurge on something as fanciful as the Digital Bolex…if not than you should have been more pragmatic when it came to your money.

    The Black Magic Cinema Camera looks to be a beast! Thus far I haven’t seen any rolling shutter issues in any of the footage that’s been posted and I haven’t seen moire in footage that has element patterns that would definitely cause a moire Hell for a lot of cameras. As for some “Rainbow Moire” someone mentioned, I’d just as soon believe that was added in post as it didn’t have the typical chromatic aberration that’s associated with that type of moire.

  16. Renaissanceman says:

    The Bolex image looks far more like film then the BMC. And to be completely honest neither are outstanding. The few samples from John Brawley are average at best. With all due respect, who cares about RAW and DR if in the end the image is still less then outstanding?

    Take a look at Philip Blooms review of the 5D MKIII ( http://vimeo.com/39292404 )- the final, graded and sharpened footage is head and shoulders above either of these RAW output devices. And for an extra 500$, you’re getting one the best stills cameras on the planet.

    My point is that specs and on paper capabilities don’t mean a thing when the final output is average.

  17. Filmmaker Bob says:

    Is there a digital CCD (non-CMOS) camera that is “straight” to cinema quality? ie 35mm?

  18. alan b'stard M P says:

    heard no progress yet. I hope they succeed, but time is marching on

    • According to their website:

      “Hey Steve,

      This is not yet a working model. We know everyone wants to see footage, we will post some as soon as we can, promise! We have the sensor board working, and the back end making Cinema DNG files (with some small meta-data issues, but Lars from Adobe is helping us with this). The next step is to connect the front end sensor boards to the back end FPGA and start calibrating the sensor.

      We have completed menu designs, but the GUI is not programmed yet so I don’t want to post pics just yet, but they will come in a future post!

      Audio will have meters and be monitored by headphones.

      Thanks for your questions, Joe”

  19. alan b'stard M P says:

    I just heard it was announced delayed till November

  20. THIS_GUY says:

    The comparison says the Digital Bolex will be Micro 4/3 compatible. Will lenses with a digital iris control be able to be used with it, like the Panasonic Lumix lenses?

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