Shot a short documentary on Venice Beach with the beta production model a couple of weeks ago (it had an uncalibrated sensor) of the Digital Bolex d16 using vintage 16mm c-mount lenses. Equipment: Manfrotto monopod, 5-in-1 reflector (for interviews), audio with a Tascam D-40 and Rode NTG-2 microphone (Michael Plescia) (beta test model did not have audio firmware installed). Color grading through Adobe Camera Raw.

Special thanks to Joe Rubinstein and Elle Schneider of Digital Bolex for letting me be the first to shoot with the camera outside of the Bolex team.

My intention: Can the D16 be used as a run and gun documentary camera in the field?

As you look at the image, remember that this is shot around noon--the worst shooting conditions possible--and no ND filters, but despite a few clipped values in the highlights I'm still seeing details and skin tones that would have fallen apart on an 8-bit compressed camera (DSLRs, prosumer video cameras). Also take note of the whip pan at end of video, how it has no rolling shutter issues.

My test shows that this camera can be used for documentary work.

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Kurt Lancaster

Kurt Lancaster Plus

Films by Kurt Lancaster, author of DSLR Cinema: Crafting the Film Look with Video (Focal Press, 2011) and Video Journalism for the Web: A Practical Introduction to Documentary Storytelling (Routledge, 2012).

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  • Andrew Smith

    I loved the Antonin piece. He is certainly one of my photography heroes.

    by Andrew Smith

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