Octopus 16 - Super 16mm cinema camera

UPDATE: cined.com has published an article about the “OCTOPUS16” and includes additional specs from the company itself. (it’s called a prototype for a reason, so keep that in mind as you read about this could-be, interesting camera)

Another day, another article about the mysterious Octopus camera.

This time well-regarded site TechRadar has a brief piece on the upcoming (?) cinema camera that could hold wide appeal for fans of vintage looks.

With the new Fujifilm X100VI APS-C camera becoming a viral hit, perhaps there’s still more appetitive for all things retro (vinyl, 8-16-/32-bit video games, physical books, etc.).

In this case, for that cool looking aesthetic afforded by vintage film. Though the Octopus won’t actually shoot film itself — it’s a digital camera — with a small sensor it can approximate the Super 16 look. In a world of Super 35 and, increasingly, Full Frame cameras that’s could be a welcome change for content creators, YouTubers and indie filmmakers looking for something less modern. Something with more character, defects and all.

As for the Octopus camera itself (great name!) it comes in a nifty little cube measuring 3.15 x 3.15 x 2 inches (8 x 8 x 5 cm) and weighs in at .88 pounds (400 grams). There’s a built-in 2.8-inch LCD for controlling the camera and presumably for monitoring the action, albeit in tiny fashion.

Internally you can record 12-bit raw 4K video. That’ll be a  headline feature for many, as in theory you should be able to shape and pull and season footage to taste given the latitude such files would (again, in theory) provide.

Octopus: the Anti-iPhone

Octopus Super 16 Cinema Camera
Octopus 16

Given that the makers of Octopus are suggesting the price will come in under $1,000 USD, I could see a lot of excitement around this kind of camera. Sort of like what Blackmagic Design (Australia) brought to the table in the early days of budget cinema cameras. Back then, circa 2013-ish, it was unheard of to be able to buy a professional cinema camera with RAW recording capabilities for under $3,000 USD. To reach that pinnacle you had to spring for something typically unattainable (aside from renting) like a RED or Arri cinema camera.

I was one of those eager early Blackmagic fans. It was hard to resist the alure of that gorgeous, organic footage coming out of the OG Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. I sprung for the box version, the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera. Amazing value for about $1,300 if I recall. Not an easy to camera — there’s no IBIS, no auto-focus, etc. This was a pure-and-pure old school cinema camera. No auto-pilot here. And that’s the job, and thrill, of shooting on something like these sorts of cameras. It’s all about technique and image. In my experience it can be a great way to learn the basics of cinematography.

Something like the Octopus could tap into that appeal.

Stark Insider - Arts, Film, Tech & LifestyleOctopus 16 Super 16 Cinema Camera

Key Features

  • Super 16 cinema camera
  • 4K internal raw recording (12-bit)
  • True 16-bit sensor readout
  • CFexpress type B media
  • HDMI
  • MFT lens mount
  • 80 x 80 x 50mm, less than 400G
  • Cost: under $1,000 USD
  • Shipping/availability: ?

Source: Octopus

In a day and age when we’re all carrying incredibly capable phones at every moment it may seem counter-intuitive for somebody to want something less feature oriented, with seemingly more work and effort to get up and running to produce something… grainy?! Why, yes. This is the appeal of retro! It harkens back, tickles some nostalgia no doubt, but makes the journey an interesting and rewarding one.

I’ve been squirreling away a vintage Angenieux film lens I bought off eBay several years ago (the one Godard made famous on the streets of Paris during the French New Wave). I’ve only shot on it once, with the aforementioned Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera. Along with the Pocket, they make for ideal Super 16mm pairings. All in glorious 1080p HD video. Some of the newer Blackmagic models also can do well with Super 16 by cropping or windowing the sensor as necessary. But the as a tiny, purpose-built Super 16 style digital cinema camera (for under $1,000!), the Octopus does look appealing indeed.

OCTOPUS16 – Prototype Footage

Who knows when or if the Octopus 16 Super 15 Cinema Camera will ever make it to market. I hope it does! These sorts of creative products make things more interesting and provide intriguing possibilities that otherwise would likely not be brought to consumers by the typical large camera players like Canon and Sony.

I guess if it doesn’t work out I can always try to score a Fujifilm X100VI off eBay and join TikTok.

Clinton Stark
Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear