Ikonoskop's Digital 16mm Movie Cam: Retro on the Outside, RAW on the Inside

What's going on in the world of pro-video? First the RED ONE emerges from the company of a former sunglasses manufacturer, and now a completely cutting edge Super 16 replacement has sprung from Ikonoskop, a Swedish company founded by two filmmakers in 1999.

The A-cam dII is a digital version of the classic 16 mm film camera. The 1920 x 1080 sensor is the same size as a frame of Super 16 film, and the camera and can take lenses from many classic Super 16 cameras (PL, Leica M, IMS and C-mount). That's about as far as the retro goes, though -- there are some pretty modern tricks hidden inside.

Ikonoskop A-cam dII

First is the file format. The A-cam shoots RAW (DNG) and throws it uncompressed onto the memory card at anywhere from 1-60 fps. This means you can just take care of the exposure and focus and concentrate on everything else when you get back to your computer.

Second is the Ikonoskop Memory Cartridge, a custom designed card which "records at almost twice the speed of the second fastest memory card on the market". We're all for speed, but if the Ikonoskop guys get all Sony on us and charge a premium, we're not so happy. With a write speed of 240MB/second, an 80GB cartridge will hold 15 minutes of footage.

Ikonoskop Memory Cartridge

That the team designed their own memory is great and all, but we get excited when we look at the camera. It looks just like a movie camera should -- boxy, utilitarian and yet somehow very sexy. There is, though, one thing that worries us: The USB port. How the hell are you supposed to shift 80GB of data over USB2? Maybe the guys skipped FireWire 800 so you could have an authentic 16 mm experience: waiting days for your footage to get back from the lab.

Ikonoskop is currently taking pre-orders with production slated to start in "late 2008." If the image quality is up to snuff, the dII could prove to be a favorite camera for indie film production. It's bargain priced (for pro gear), extremely compact and gives filmmakers the option of printing to film without losing resolution or risking ugly compression artifacts.

Preliminary Price: €6.950 (including 1 battery, 1 Ikonoskop 9mm lens and 1 Ikonoskop 80GB Memory Cartridge).

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Article by Charlie Sorrel, Wired Blog
Video by Rick Young, MacVideo