Open Source Digital Cinema Cameras (Octopus, Apertus)

Let’s talk about open source digital cinema cameras. Has anyone had experience with these projects? I do not own one, and cinema cameras are usually outside the budgets of the typical video artist – but I felt like this forum would be a good place to post an open call for discussion.


That CCTV video also reminded me of this discussion which, as I recalled correctly, went nowhere.

I have zero experience with any of those projects and thus cannot really contribute much to a discussion. But I do think it is very interesting. And hope they progress to the point where the price can perhaps come down and be within reach.

A modular digital camera just makes so much sense — from a user perspective (but probably a lot less so from manufacturers’?). I would generally ditch 90+% of the features of a camera if I could just get a bigger, brighter viewfinder and the ability to swap in a native B&W sensor when I want it.

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I haven’t checked in with this project in a while, but there is an effort to make. Raspberry Pi and it’s HQ camera into a cinema camera (complete with 3D printed case). It uses c mount lenses which are a favorite of mine.

The Apertus choice to use Magic Lantern is a brilliant one. It’s astonishing how comprehensive ML is. I wish all my cameras had it.

If one is looking for an affordable cinema camera, and you can live with a slightly kooky UI, a canon EOS M can be had for around $150. With Magic Lantern it can shoot 2.5K RAW. It can even shoot 3K and 4K with some compromises. It’s a hack, but an ingenious and deeply interesting one, and I love it.