For the past four months or so, I've been attempting to build my camera setup for the future. I'm not naturally a tech guy, so making a final decision was anxiety-inducing. However, I finally landed on a camera that I have committed to being my partner in crime; the Digital Bolex D16.
Why the Bolex?
I'm not a cinematographer. Learning the art and details of camera operation has been essential to creating the work that I'm most proud of, but it hasn't been a driving force for me creatively. I wanted to change that. Before owning the Bolex, I had bounced around between using DSLRs and my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. While I found both experiences rewarding, and would happily shoot with those cameras again, the looks I got from them felt like a means to an end. More specifically, my videos looked like most of the other videos I was seeing being put out by indie filmmakers even with the personal touches I was adding. These cameras were getting the job done, but weren't inspiring me as an artist.
When I was whittling down my choices for a camera upgrade and came upon the Digital Bolex, I was fascinated by the footage people were getting. It looked astonishingly like the 16mm film I was used to seeing on older independent productions, but with the vitality of modern digital filmmakers behind it. Bright colors popped, skin looked soft and smooth, and movements looked natural. There were other cameras with specs that sounded more appealing and sharpness that looked more marketable, but in the end it was the Bolex's images that I couldn't get out of my head.
How's the Setup?
Inspired by my great experience with the Metabones Micro 4/3 Speedbooster for Nikon that I had on the BMPCC, I bought the micro 4/3 mount for the Bolex and transitioned all of my Nikon glass over to it. This turned out to be a great decision, because the Bolex is a real pain in the ass in low light, and the speedbooster is a real lifesaver when combined with relatively fast lenses. Plus, Nikon has a great catalogue of vintage lenses to play with, so I still get the fun of seeing what old glass looks like on such a filmic camera.
The screen on the Bolex requires an external monitor, so I went basic with the Lilliput 668 GL. It gets the job done, but eventually I'd like to upgrade to the Zacuto Z-Finder or something along those lines.
The battery on the Bolex is built-in and doesn't last particularly long. I bought the Switchtronix Powerbase with the camera and haven't looked back since. Being used to switching batteries in and out constantly on DSLRs and the BMPCC, I love having a battery pack that has powered 12-hour shoots with lots of room to spare. I will run out of the 512 GB of storage on this thing before I run out of battery life.
On the storage note, the Bolex shoots huge RAW files and has forced me to really step up my file management game (and buy a few more terabytes in external hard drives). It's a hurdle that hasn't been to difficult to clear, yet...
Having used this camera on a few paid DP gigs, a comedy sketch, and a music video, I'm very excited about the things I'm going to be able to do with the Bolex in the future. It has been even more creatively inspiring than I had hoped and its limitations have already forced me to become a better filmmaker in a number of ways. I will be sharing more about the camera, along with videos I have taken with it, soon.
Feel free to comment below and stay tuned for more about my experiences with the Digital Bolex D16.