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Digital Bolex raw camera, no longer made
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  • Well, I'm not building the camera, so it would be remiss of me to speculate too wildly...

    However, it's been made fairly clear that they are buying the sensor, the main processing chips (confirmed as re-programmable for firmware updates) and the hardware for transferring data into the storage, as well as the storage and sockets for the storage, off the shelf... All that's really left is a circuit board to pass the sensor data around, and that circuit won't be doing very much at all, other than moving the data from one place to another (next to no internal "processing" or alteration).

    I think the only bit of actual image processing being done on the D16, will be to cut the sensor stream from 2K down to 1080p for the HDMI out. No debayer, no colour presets... Just a straight crop.

    It's, in essence, a very "simple" camera. No bells and whistles. And for those that want a Raw workflow, that's just what we are after.

    Of course, there are things like this, some would say, bizarre crank handle... I assume the actual rotary switch for that will be shelf bought, and the handle will be injection molded... So, the processor and firmware will need work done to cater for it's input.

    As I understand it, the most complex thing about this project is going to be the Firmware (which is incredibly simple when compared to that used in the likes of an all-singing-all-dancing video or DSLR camera), and that is being built by a group with experience of this process.

    The D16 has essentially ONE job to do... Move the sensor data onto storage media. That's it.

    From what I can gather, the ratio of bought parts to custom made parts (not including the chassis) is notable, to say the least. This camera is not breaking new ground. It's not revolutionary. It's just filling a niche, with existing tech, that no-one's really gotten around to filling yet.

    Ikonoskop is the closest there is... But it's 1080p, with proprietary storage, and so isn't quite hitting the mark for many of us who are looking for the 2K Raw, accessible, "Film like" camera.

    But, if you are genuinely interested in specifics, it would be worthwhile asking over at the boards (http://www.digitalbolex.com/forum/), where Joe has been active in answering questions about the project.

    There are still many answers yet to come, but the updates and info have been coming regularly, and have been enlightening.

  • if they been more honest we wouldn't waste time on this talk ... i hope they succeed but i wont put my money in front ...

  • @PaulVTX42

    Are you affilated with them?

    However, it's been made fairly clear that they are buying the sensor, the main processing chips (confirmed as re-programmable for firmware updates) and the hardware for transferring data into the storage, as well as the storage and sockets for the storage, off the shelf...

    Can you provide links to sources where you get it all?

    Yep, they get the sensor, but it still requires significant engineering to put it right, make all connections, add cooling, etc

    All I know is that they claim that they use FPGA, and it is not some easy to make thing. Complex things require hundreds of man years. It is not really off the shelf part. They'll also use CUSTOM 256Gb SSD, and if you think that it is easy to do properly, you are quite wrong.

    They also need all buttons processing, screen and HDMI, SDI to function properly. Each of this components uses dedicated hardware with very long and complex specs.

    I really hope that they are not developing SD sockets themselfs. :-)

    While it all could look simple, it is not.

    You can just talk with guys who are making modern computer motherboards (and this guys have reference designs provided by main chips manufacturers, made by hundreds of engineers).

  • Vladnik : "if they been more honest we wouldn't waste time on this talk ... i hope they succeed but i wont put my money in front ..."

    Which, brings me to my Life Motto : "I live this way, so that you don't have to!" ;)

  • QUOTE Vitaliy : "Are you affilated with them?"


    Only in so much as I'm backing them. I heard about the project the day it came up on Kickstarter, and followed it from then. A few days later, having read a lot, I took the plunge on one of the $3500 slots (all the cheaper ones were gone by then). Near the last couple of days, I could have jumped to the cheaper one, but I like the bag so I stuck with the $3500 option.

    QUOTE Vitaliy : "Can you provide links to sources where you get it all?"


    Most of the information is in various threads on the forums I linked to before : http://www.digitalbolex.com/forum/

    Can I ask what you mean by custom 256GB SSD? Why would it be custom built? Surely it's a laptop hard disk they will be using, available from any wholesaler?

    I'll defer to you in regards FPGA... I'm not a camera engineer. I just shoot with them. ;)

    The SDI is not a part of the actual camera... It will come as an attachable module which will be available at a later date for around $3000. It will have Full HD, Full Colour, Preset Graded stream which you can use for both realtime monitoring on set or recording to a 3rd party recorder (which, I think, defeats the purpose of a Raw camera... But that's why it's an optional module, and not part of the actual camera architecture). All SDI processing will be carried out within the SDI module (at least as far as I can gather).

    I would just point to Raspberry Pi... It's a mini PC that can play full HD compressed video (yes, I know it's not the same as tranferring 3MB per frame Raw), and costs only £15 each... That is a full functional mini PC, and was designed by a small team. In this world, I don't see what's so mythical about building a camera that essentially just moves data from the sensor to the storage.

    As I say, I'm not a camera engineer... But, I can clearly see that what they are aiming to do is orders of magnitude more simple than a video or hdslr camera is.

    That said... I'm still expecting there will be delivery delays, for the very reasons you mention.

  • Most of the information is in various threads on the forums I linked to before : http://www.digitalbolex.com/forum/

    Can you provide specific links proving your words in previou post, please.

    Surely it's a laptop hard disk they will be using, available from any wholesaler?

    Link to their words, please.

    I am also sure that it is very easy to make high speed custom SATA controller working with their FPGA in this case:-)

    The SDI is not a part of the actual camera... It will come as an attachable module which will be available at a later date for around $3000.

    I think you are some treasure for DBolex investors, as you know inside parts better than even authors (who can't formulate a shit).

    would just point to Raspberry Pi...

    You couldn't provide worse example. As this thing is generally small board made according to manufacturer documents around highly integrated LSI.

    But, I can clearly see that what they are aiming to do is orders of magnitude more simple than a video or hdslr camera is.

    It is much more complex, as all modern cameras are based on highly integrated LSI developed inside big corporations by hundreds of engineers and used in many product at the same time. So, camera team do not need to spend their time on the things DBolex team will spend their time (if they'll start doing something actually).

    That said... I'm still expecting there will be delivery delays, for the very reasons you mention.

    I hope this is not official DBolex position.

  • Relating to the transcoding/debayering process on your computer :

    JOE - "...Users can transcode their footage in any way they want, but we are creating a 1:1 transcoding program... If you put in 2048 x 1152, you get out 2048 x 1152... [We will do this by using the method whereby we] average color information over an existing pixel space. This mode takes much longer, many many many more calculations, but doesn't displace any pixels and doesn't generate other problems. This is 1:1 transcoding..."

    LINK - http://www.digitalbolex.com/forum/building-the-digital-bolex/what-to-include-what-not-to-include/page-8/#p236

    Relating to outsourced development of Transcoding software for sensor data :

    JOE - "...I just left San Francisco, where I met with a really cool Software Designer that makes a product called Raw Photo Processor. His name is Andrey Tverdokhleb and he has the same design principals I have, but towards software..."

    LINK - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/joedp/the-digital-bolex-the-1st-affordable-digital-cinem/posts/200632


    HD-SDI is a seperate Module...

    JOE - "...basically the electronics to make [the HD-SDI built into camera itself] would easily double the price of the camera... So our solution is to make a separate unit that costs about the same as the camera, and attaches to the bottom of the camera in a seamless way... This way we kind of have the best of both worlds..."

    JOE - "...We will in the future release an HD-SDI unit that will have full color functionality and control... This would be the right unit to record an HD signal from..."

    JOE - "...Eventually we will release an external unit to attach to the bottom of the camera that will have HDMI and HD-SDI full 1920 x 1080 outputs on it, and this units entire purpose will be to get color out of the camera in a good way. The electronics necessary to do this are just not affordable in a camera in this price range, it would double the price of the camera which is why we have chosen not to give you bad color now. We promise to give you good color one day soon :)..."

    JOE - "...If we make an HD-SDI unit it will put out 1920 x 1080, in color with adjustments for color balance, black level, contrast, saturation, and things like that..."


    Relating to why HDMI out will not be colour processed :

    JOE - "...Even if we could do color for the HDMI, it would be very basic. You really need some elaborate color controls to get the raw files down to a color space properly. Not doing that in a bad way is sort of the whole point of the camera..."

    JOE - "...Well the BW is what you are actually capturing... In my humble opinion, I think it's better to be truthful about what you are capturing, which is a B&W bayered image, so that's what I will show you!... You must debayer to get color. Otherwise the image is black and white. This is the same for almost all digital cameras, they just essentially lie to you about it, and we are trying to be truthful..."


    Relating to the design and build of the custom circuits and the choice of FPGA chip/programming :

    JOE - "...We are completing the final board designs and are getting ready to make the boards and begin testing, this usually takes a couple of months to complete... At the same time we are also starting to program the FPGA. The FPGA is a programable chip that will act as one of two "brains" in the camera giving it it's functionality. The FPGA is more expensive, but it means we can continue to add functionality down the road as it is completely re-programable, unlike other chips out there..."


    Relating to the function of the USB3 connection

    JOE - "...Yes the USB3 port will be primarily used if you want to off load footage directly from your internal SSD drive, or update the firmware of your camera..."


    -Paul.

  • @PaulVTX42

    What the hell is this? I do not asked you to copy paste all you could find.

    I'll edited this out, but for last time.

    And I failed to find backing most of your words here.

    All of this messages (and you copy pasted abotu 99% of their responses here that I deleted mostly because they are unrelated completely) contains widely known things.

    You stated many things, so I asked you specifically to back you words up. As most this things are your fantasies.

    All we know is that it uses Kodak sensor, b/w HDMI, some processor + one FPGA chip + unkown other stuff + unknown SSD + slot for SD cards (was CF cards not long ago) + unknown 320×240, screen + XLR inputs (with either 16 or 24 bit 48Khz recording, I do not see any format and method of audio recording)

  • With the best will in the world, I fail to see what you are missing from the information I provided. The information I provided related very directly to what I said earlier about the majority of camera parts being "off-the-shelf". I provided plenty of quotes describing how the camera would function and what would be inside it. Many of which are no longer in the post above.

    QUOTE Vitaliy : "All we know is that it uses Kodak sensor, b/w HDMI, some processor + one FPGA chip + unkown other stuff + unknown SSD + slot for SD cards (was CF cards not long ago) + unknown screen (I think they had some specs on their page here) + XLR inputs"

    Yes... And we know that the majority of that gear is off-the-shelf and will not be custom built, as the guys at Digital Bolex have stated in many very easy to find interviews (which you deleted the links I provided in the post above)... The thing is they are interviews everyone has already seen, heard and read... The information about the off-the-shelf choices in the camera design are well known, as the Dbolex people have stated as much many times publically.

    Sure, they don't go into specific of which parts they will use, but that is understandable.

    The information, quotes and links I provided above, clearly show that :

    A : There will be next to no internal processing required in the camera. B : Even the HDMI out monitoring will require next to no internal processing. C : They are building a custom electronics board with an FPGA for moving the data from the sensor to the storage. D : The camera will actually be doing very little indeed (just moving data from sensor to storage).

    As such, I actually did provide quotes, direct from the Dbolex people, relating very specifically to everything I mentioned previously. You even deleted some of them, which were definitely related to the topic in hand, despite your protestation that they were unrelated.

    But, I do appreciate you making the post easier to read, formatting wise. I haven't posted here much, so wasn't sure what codes to use to tidy it up.

  • @PaulVTX42

    I asked only for information that back your words about hardware.
    I fail to find it here. Except one that is widely known.

    Their comments also directly contradict to their specifications (that are official thing, btw).

    Format - Adobe Cinema DNG, TIFF, JPEG Image sequences

    Directly contradicts with "no processing" claims.

    320×240, 2.4” diagonal, with Focus Assist

    Directly contradicts with claims to make focus assist may be later.

    Data Storage Dual CF card slots

    It is now really impossible to understand if they'll use SD, or double SD cards. Or old specs are good.

    As for HD-SDI. They edited specs to add their "invention" of separate module.

  • Hey, I don't disagree, per se. That's why I'm saying "next to no internal processing". But, you have to admit that taking a non-debayered image and shrinking it to 320x240 for the on-board monitor, and similarly to 1920x1080 for the hdmi output, is nowhere near as complex a process as you would have on a DSLR or video camera...

    On DSLR and video camera, you have to : Debayer the footage, apply colour presets and white balance and sharpening and all manner of other stuff, then shrink it for the full colour on-board monitor, then compress it to a handy H.264 (or whatever) for storage on the CF card.

    The D16 has to do none of the above pre-processing. As such, it's a far simpler camera design. Not without challenges, sure... But, far from the complex systems being built by Canon, Sony, RED, et al. ;)

  • @PaulVTX42

    This talks about how easy is to avoid debayer are really not essential.

    Especially if almost all hardware that allow you do simple debayer for HDMI (as you still need it even if it is B/W), compress RAW, write output buffer at required speed and dispay it to HDMI in realtime, also allow to make proper full debayer.

    I really do not see the reason why CPU and FPGA models are still secret, same for SSD approach.

    I also need one clear answer with example of at least one digital camera this guys (IENSO) made in the past.

  • I wasn't aware that preparing an HDMI output (even if it's just monochrome) would be more or less the same as debayering... I suppose that makes sense as HDMI will require RGB values for each pixel, and therefore those have to be pulled from the Raw data (which, in essence, requires internal processing).

    Am I understanding that correctly now?

    I have to say, I'm not without questions myself, and I haven't let up on the Dbolex people. I am on their backs every day asking for answers about different aspects of the camera design. However, as a concept, I don't see anything that is not-doable. It's all possible.

    I think I understand your scepticism, particularly about delivering the camera this year. I would not be at all surprised if there were some delays. Possibly even quite long delays.

    Guess I'm just hoping there won't be! ;)

    As long as they work hard to achieve the camera they describe, then I will be happy to receive it. If I have to wait two years for it... Then, I will very likely be an angry filmmaker.

  • @PaulVTX42

    If you want to ask them seriously, ask specific questions.

    Like "exact CPU and FPGA models" and "at least one digital camera this guys (IENSO) made in the past".

  • Those are worthwhile questions... But, for now, I've taken up the question of the HDMI out. I think I've got a handle on that, thanks to your input. So, that's an interesting question to ask.

    From the quotes I provided above it does sound like Joe is aware that making the HDMI output will ALLOW them to provide colour output... But, it seems to me they are offering a black and white output as standard by CHOICE.

    So, I've asked a question relating to that (if you are doing debayer to get the HDMI B&W, then why not also offer colour to those who want it?).

    I'm not one of them, as the black and white will be more than fine for me. I don't want distracted during the shoot, by decisions that should be taken in Post.

    Here is a link to the question...

    http://www.digitalbolex.com/forum/building-the-digital-bolex/what-to-include-what-not-to-include/page-9/#p244

    I will ask into the other aspects at a later date.

  • @PaulVTX42

    Btw, I think ANY raw camera must have ability to show you RGB histogram and, rpeferable also over/under zebas (taking into account raw color channels, not debayered RGB values).

  • I'm not sure I'd agree that a Raw camera MUST have RGB histograms during the shoot. I can guarantee you that I could live without them. As long as we expose for the median, for that sensor, on the day, we can be 98% certain about what to expect when we come to work (and debayer) in Post. Particularly, when you get to know how the camera reacts to different situations (much like learning how a given film stock reacts to light).

    I guess my point is... My Light Meter doesn't give me seperate readings for R,G and B. Instead it gives me information for exposure time and aperture for the shot/scene. so why should my Raw camera give me seperate RGB histograms? As long as I expose at the sensor's median, for that lighting environment, then surely the R, G and B exposures are going to be equally covered by that?

    As long as you don't over or under expose your shot, then all the colours will surely be fairly represented.

    However, getting back to the HDMI... I wonder... If you have to produce a B&W HDMI image (for example), is it required to do a full colour debayer, and then remove all saturation, or is there a way to get the B&W without doing a full debayer?

    As I mentioned before, I am not a camera engineer, but definitely interested in finding out how this works.

  • hey guys ... dont buy hype ... buy product...

  • Over at the boards for Dbolex, someone has suggested the following as possible options for obtaining a monochrome HDMI signal...

    "2) Will the monitor output be obtained by, for example, every 4th CLEAR or every 4th GREEN photosite. 3) Will the HDMI output be obtained by, for example, every other CLEAR or every other GREEN photosite — yielding 1280x720 output. (Both techniques avoid debayering in-camera.)"

    LINK : http://www.digitalbolex.com/forum/building-the-digital-bolex/what-to-include-what-not-to-include/page-9/#p246

    We're awaiting confirmation from Joe on which of these it might be, or whether he's doing a full debayer.

    1280x720 would make sense as the EVF's being discussed have resolution not far below that. 1920x1080 would be a bit wasteful.

    The HD-SDI unit which is coming later will have both HD-SDI and HDMI, and will output 1080p full colour from both. So, the HDMI on the actual camera body is really just a video tap, so it would be pointless to make that full HD. The EVFs can't use Full HD, so a 720P stream from a selection of photosites on the sensor, would be a worthwhile option. As I understand it, this technique will require far less processing than a full debayer would.

  • @PaulVTX42

    I really like your fantasies about HDMI. But they have zero value.

    I specifically provided you questions about real items that they'll be using and cameras they actually made before.

  • Vitaliy, you must be aware that those boards are open, and anyone can go in there and ask questions. If you want to ask about the FPGA or the other chip, I think you should do that. As I've mentioned several times, I am not a camera engineer. It's better for someone who knows how those items work, to ask about them. So, feel free - I'd be keen to read about it.

    I am, however, keen to show that the processing being carried out in-camera is minimal in comparison to that carried out in other cameras. You've suggested that the D16 will require a lot of in-camera processing and that the only way to get monochrome HDMI-out would be full in-camera debayer... As it turns out, that's not strictly true. There are some other ways to do it, which require far less processing in-camera.

    So, whilst you may not find value in this line of questioning, I can guarantee you others do. Not least myself.

    Anyway - hopefully we'll get an answer from Joe quite soon.

  • So, whilst you may not find value in this line of questioning (perhaps because it counters your claim), I can guarantee you others do.

    I don't see how "it counters" some of my claim.

    I really like you supporting this guys without real foundation. And you have fully rights. But it is really enough to repeat same thing again and again.

    Now, if you want to find out about the FPGA and the other chip, then as a person who knows something about that kind of equipment, there is no reason you can't ask about that at the boards. I would be very keen to read that discussion, as would others, I'm sure.

    I have zero intention to talk with this guys on their "forum".
    If you so afraid to ask questions that I proposed, I suggest to invite them here.

    DBolex is good example of very dangerous "internet investing" approach then company refuse to provide vital information necessary to make decision. Other extremely dangerous thing is that they had been supported by influential people in first few days, most of this people pulled out later without much fanfare.

  • @PaulVTX42 , I really hope that these guys deliver. It seems that this whole D16 process was not that well thought out. Things keep changing. I know that happens during the genesis of a camera, but it's silly not to have the actual blueprint when other people's money is involved.

    @Rambo And I cannot take Schneider in that video seriously for a minute. USC film school, bfd. She comes off as bullshitting or in over her head for the better part of the clip. Why anyone would hire a DP associated with that site (Crap shooting/Prod value) is beyond me.

  • Quote Rockroadpic : "I really hope that these guys deliver. It seems that this whole D16 process was not that well thought out. Things keep changing. I know that happens during the genesis of a camera, but it's silly not to have the actual blueprint when other people's money is involved."

    @rockroadpix : Yes, that was definitely a concern for me leading up to the last day of their campaign. I was concerned they were going to make very fundamental changes (some people were suggesting totally inappropriate changes) that would make the camera not match the original plan. Thankfully, the changes that came from consulting potential backers were not as drastic as I'd feared. In fact, very little changed.

    The main function of the camera remains, and the design looks like it is still very true to their less-is-more idea it originated as.

    As, I understand it, the design is now locked, and everything should move forward now.

  • @PaulVTX42

    Yep, let's hope all wil be good.

    And hope that this guys start provide facts, not fantasies.