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The Battle Between Digital Bolex and BMCC

Tips & Resources

(By Amy Olson)
The question that has everyone taking sides: Digital Bolex or the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, or both? With one of Digital Bolexs’ opening quotes on its website being: “Introducing the Digital Bolex D16, the first digital cinema camera to shoot RAW (digital negatives) at a price anyone can afford.” It is clear that Digital Bolex and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera are very similar in what their purposes and outcomes are.

Though both cameras shoot RAW images instead of compressed video there are still differences between the two cameras, so, what exactly are those differences? One main thing that differentiates Digital Bolex from the BMCC camera is that the Digital Bolex camera is designed to “take virtually any lens imaginable,” –( including older 16mm and 16mm lenses! This digital alternative is quite revolutionary and ideal for the filmmaker who wants to revive old time filmmaking and rebirth it in this new aged digital world. Digital Bolex is also cheaper, has a slightly higher frame rate, and a slightly more efficient combination to record RAW with different lens compatibilities.

Looking at the BMCC, yes it is more expensive by about $400 (this is the compared price for the Digital Bolex Kickstarter buyers), but it has a bigger and higher resolution display on camera and a slightly higher resolution sensor (2.5k as opposed to 2k.) You get quality EF and ZE mount lenses compatible with electronic iris control, and LCD touchscreen monitoring plus metadata entry. It also comes with the free Davinci Resolve color corrector.

Other common differences to look at when purchasing either or both of these cameras is that Digital Bolex’s format is Adobe Cinema DNG (RAW), TIFF, JPEG image sequences, and at all resolutions. This compared to BMCC’s format, which is RAW 2.5K CinemaDNG, compressed Apple ProRes, and Avid DNxHD. The BMCC has all compressed recording in 1920×1080 10-bit YUV with choice of Film or Video Dynamic Range. Digital Bolex’s color depth is 12 bit. – 4:4:4. 12 stops whereas the BMCC’s color depth is 12-bit. 13 stops. Digital Bolex offers Balanced, 2 channels via 2 XLR (including phantom power), 24 bits. 96 kHz for sound whereas the BMCC offers 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, and 48 kHz and 24 bits. Digital Bolex offers Dual CF card slots, SSD (buffer drive) as compared to the BMCC which offers a Removable 2.5” SSD. The Digital Bolex camera is about 5 lbs. in weight whereas the BMCC is 3.75 lbs. And finally Digital Bolex comes with a 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). This compared to the BMCC, which comes with 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, and Blackmagic Cinema Camera Handles.

In the end it seems not so much as a choice of which camera is better, but rather which camera is best tailored to you an your purposes and how much money you are wanting to spend.

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