The Big Three – The Fraternity of Digital Super 16 Shooters

Recently, a heated discussion erupted on the Blackmagic Forum following a plead to Blackmagic Design to incorporate Bolex Log and Bolex Wide Gamut RGB support as an option in the Camera Raw panel of DaVinci Resolve. The biggest benefit from the implementation of such a feature, the pleader Alex Mitchell holds, is that highlight information that exists 5 stops and more above middle grey might be preserved instead of clipped in the Digital Bolex D16 (which reportedly is more sensitive to highlight clipping and shadow crushing compared to Blackmagic Design cameras). This may be easily conducted by Blackmagic Design engineers as The specifications for Bolex Log and Bolex Wide Gamut RGB have been documented in a “white paper” and published openly by Eddie Barton, Digital Bolex’s colour engineer, who also partook in the discussion and seconded the suggestion and personally asked for the implementation of a color matrix and a transfer function as an option in the camera raw panel for Cinema DNG. However, one statement posted by Michael Garrett caught my attention in particular:

I’d like to think there was still some camaraderie between these companies that started making cameras that output CinemaDNG raw files, as I heard not too long ago how BlackMagic, Ikonoskop and Digital Bolex used to apparently meet up at the CinemaDNG group at NAB (or was it Siggraph?) and share some tips with each other.

I enjoy and appreciate this notion very much, and also that there should exist a common ground of interests or fraternity between CinemaDNG users, and especially so amongst those that prefer to shoot in Super 16 sensor formats (a club that also BMCC 2.5K users may belong to, besides BMPCC owners). In my opinion there are currently five Digital Cinema cameras that can be categorized as adapted for Super 16 filmmaking, i.e. cameras that are able to use lenses manufactured for 16 mm (10.26 x 7.49 mm) and in particular Super 16 (12.52 x 7.41 mm) film formats. These are the Ikonoskop A-Cam dII (10.6 x 6 mm sensor size in 1080p), the Digital Bolex D16 (12.85 x 9.64 mm sensor size in 2K), the Blackmagic Design Pocket and Micro Cinema Cameras or BMPCC/BMMCC (12.48 x 7.02 mm senzor sizes in 1080p), and last but not least the classic Blackmagic Cinema Camera or BMCC (15.81 x 8.88 mm sensor size in 2.5K). It is my strong conviction that it is wrong to describe the sensor of the BMCC as being halfway between Super 16 and Super 35. Simply compare its sensor size in mm and you will see that the BMCC is much more closer to Super 16 than the almost twice as large Super 35 sensors of the Blackmagic Production Camera or BMPC (22 x 11.88mm in 4K) and Backmagic Design URSA (25.34 x 14.25mm in 4.6K); the BMCC has a Super 16 sensor more than anything else in my opinion, which may be best described as a oversized Super 16 sCMOS sensor.

The family of Blackmagic Cinema Cameras, from left to right the BMCC, BMPCC and BMMCC
The family of Blackmagic Cinema Cameras, from left to right the BMCC, BMPCC and BMMCC

Why this special bond between Digital Super 16 Film shooters? Because both Ikonoskop and Digital Bolex originally wanted to create Digital Super 16 Film cameras, or Super 16 film cameras with a Kodak CCD sensor, that captured the organic feeling and look of old 16 mm film stock, to which also Blackmagic can count itself when introducing the BMPCC shortly after the D16, their first outspokenly dedicated Digital Super 16 Film Camera, being a tradition they have preserved with the BMMCC. So yes, although I count myself being a “Blackmagic fan boy”, I am all behind the notion that Blackmagic Design should introduce features that are adapted for both the Ikonoskop A-Cam dII and the Digital Bolex D16, although both cameras has been discontinued. Wouldn’t it be swell if we all could find a common ground in DaVinci Resolve, and shared our experiences in that context? Definitely! Altough I love the images coming from my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, I also very much enjoy what I have seen coming out from both the Ikonoskop and the Digital Bolex, especially the latter. I might even buy a used one in the future…

The Digital Bolex D16 (left) and Ikonoskop A-Cam dII (right)
The Digital Bolex D16 (left) and Ikonoskop A-Cam dII (right), the other two of the Big Three S16 brands

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