Kodak DCS-14n Q & A
Photokina 2002: As a part of our coverage of the new DSC-14n digital SLR from Kodak we've had a chance to question Jay Kelbley, Worldwide product manager. This article includes some exclusive questions I asked as well as a reproduction of a set of questions and answers supplied by Kodak as part of the DCS-14n press kit. We asked some probing questions about the new camera and especially Kodak's entry into large format CMOS sensor territory.
dpreview.com Interview with Kodak Pro Q & A
The interview below was carried out with Jay Kelbley from Kodak.
|Q.||Does Kodak see the future of sensors in their professional range being CMOS?|
|A.||Yes. Kodak has spent a long time developing their own CMOS sensor technology, this new sensor has a much simplified design with just three transistors per photosite, this helps improve the fill factor.|
|Q.||Does the Kodak CMOS sensor use microlenses?|
|A.||No, we have avoided the use of microlenses because of potentional problems of fall-off with full frame sensors.|
|Q.||Does the Kodak CMOS sensor have an anti-alias filter?|
|A.||No, the sensor's much higher resolution reduces the need for an anti-alias filter because the high frequency of detail required to cause moire will seldom occur. Additionally we have some moire reduction built into DCS Photo Desk and the camera Firmware. Not having an anti-alias filter also delivers sharper images.|
|Q.||What advantages does the use of CMOS deliver in the DSC-14n?|
|A.||Much better power consumption, easier to manufacture and thus lower cost.|
|Q.||Will Kodak be licensing their CMOS sensor to any other manufacturer?|
|A.||Kodak has more patents on CMOS sensor technology than any other company, we are already licensing several elements of such technology to other manufacturers. The sensor in the DCS-14n is made by a third party company for Kodak.|
|Q.||Are there any side-effects related to the use of full frame sensors in digital SLR's?|
|A.||Not in our case, we're not using microlenses and so won't experience any fall-off isssues. 35 mm lenses are designed to deliver an image onto a 36 x 24 mm negative.|
|Q.||The camera body appears to be based on the F100 / F80 is this correct?|
|A.||The camera is based on components from several Nikon bodies. The metering system, viewfinder and shutter are the same as the F80. The 10-pin connector and PC Sync terminal are the same used on the F100 / F5. The body is made from the same magnesium-alloy as the DSC 760.|
|Q.||Are Nikon making the entire body mould for the camera?|
|A.||No, Nikon supply the top of the camera, the mount ring, 10-pin connector, PC Sync connector and 4-position switch. The case and remaining display and controls are made by Kodak.|
|Q.||What's the significance of the ERI-JPEG technology?|
|A.||ERI-JPEG (Extended Range Imaging JPEG) is a new file format we introduced at PMA this year, it functions in the same way as a normal JPEG file but is a little larger in size. The extra size is occupied by compressed data capable of recovering the JPEG image to a RAW equivalent. The JPEG can be viewed / used in normal photo applications, however when opened using a Kodak plug-in Module (Photoshop) this module can recover the full 12-bits of image data and can provide a +/- 2 stops of exposure compensation, white balance adjustment and other RAW format-like features.|
Kodak provided FAQ
|Q.||What is the KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS Pro 14n Digital Camera and how does it differ from the DCS 760?|
|A.||The DCS Pro 14n is the latest in six generations of single-lens-reflex KODAK PROFESSIONAL Digital Cameras and full digital workflow systems. The DCS Pro 14n is dramatically different from the KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS 760 Digital Camera. The Pro 14n is a feature-rich digital SLR with a new electronics architecture, new camera body, and a full-size CMOS image sensor.|
|Q.||What is the difference between the CMOS sensor and the DCS 760 sensor?|
|A.||The DCS 760 uses a traditional CCD image sensor with 6-millionpixel resolution. The DCS Pro 14n uses the newest professional CMOS sensor technology available and has 13.9 million total pixels. CMOS and CCD imagesensor technologies are distinctly different. CCD image sensors are (electron) charge-coupled devices that require very sophisticated and power-hungry electronics to operate, and due to the amount of support electronics, take up more space and power inside the camera. CMOS image sensors incorporate light-sensing technology that allows for charge conversion right inside the pixel, therefore dramatically reducing support electronics and power consumption. The small size of the DCS Pro 14n, even though it incorporates a full 35 mm area sensor, was achieved through the use of CMOS sensor technology.|
|Q.||Does the DCS Pro 14n have a NIKON Camera body?|
|A.||Nikon has custom-manufactured the camera body components for Kodak Professional. While the DCS Pro 14n does share features and components with some of Nikons own cameras, this particular body is custommanufactured for Kodak. Kodak enhanced the body with additional professional features, such as a vertical smart shutter release, magnesium alloy encasements, and a 10-pin remote release terminal compatible with most Nikon accessories.|
|Q.||Can NIKON Lenses be used with the DCS Pro 14n?|
|A.||Yes. The DCS Pro 14n uses the NIKON F Mount and supports the full line of current NIKON Lenses.|
|Q.||What other features does the DCS Pro 14n offer?|
|A.||In addition to the new image sensor, the DCS Pro 14n
has a wide range of professional features that ensure superior image
quality and performance.
- High resolution 13.9 million total pixels, producing an image size of 4536 x 3024 pixels.
- Full-size 35 mm frame sensor (24 mm by 36 mm image area).
- Selectable, variable-resolution raw files.
- Selectable ISOs in 1/3-stop increments.
- Basic- and advanced-mode operations.
- 12 MB-a-second image transfer about 3 to 4 times faster than the current IEEE 1394 interface.
- A large, bright LCD panel for image analysis.
- D-TTL-enabled hotshoe and pop-up flash.
- A sensor that detects camera orientation +/- 90 degrees.
- Picture Protection including KODAK PROFESSIONAL Extended Range Imaging Technology.
|Q.||What is variable resolution?|
|A.||For the first time, you can select the resolution you
want for RAW files.
Resolution / ISO Range
100% (~13.6 MP) / 80 640
67% (~6.1 MP) / 80 800
50% (~3.4 MP) / 80 800
|Q.||How do you get variable resolution from RAW files?|
|A.||Variable resolution for RAW files is a unique capability offered in the DCS Pro 14n. To achieve true RAW status for the lower resolution image files, the entire 13.9 MP resolution is read off the sensor at 12 bits dynamic range. Then a proprietary image-processing algorithm interpolates and resamples the high resolution into a lower resolution while keeping the 12-bit dynamic range. The resulting image is specially color encoded and losslessly compressed to reduce the file size. This technique achieves high quality and low artifacts, while reducing the native resolution. The powerful DSP engine in the DCS Pro 14n performs all this processing incamera, so you can benefit from more images per storage card for assignments that do not require the highest resolution.|
|Q.||Does the DCS Pro 14n use an anti-aliasing filter?|
|A.||No. The DCS Pro 14n does not have an anti-aliasing filter. Consequently, the DCS Pro 14n yields images that are sharper than most other digital SLR cameras. The resolution of the Pro 14n is so high that aliasing artifacts are generally not an issue for most applications.|
|Q.||Who will benefit most from the DCS Pro 14n?|
|A.||All professional photographers who require high-resolution and highquality digital images, including portrait, social, wedding, school, event, and commercial photographers, will benefit most.|
|Q.||What is the function of the Basic Mode?|
|A.||The Basic Mode makes digital photography easy for anyone who wants to take it out of the box and shoot, without extensive training or experience.|
|Q.||What is Picture Protection?|
|A.||Picture Protection is included in our entire line of KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS Digital Cameras. It offers a variety of workflow features that include postshot exposure compensation, white balance corrections, file recovery, dual card storage, and KODAK PROFESSIONAL Extended Range Imaging Technology (ERI). ERI gives you image files that work as standard JPEGs but include the dynamic range and color gamut of raw, 12- bit, DCR camera files.|
|Q.||Whats included in the box with the DCS Pro 14n?|
|A.||The DCS Pro 14n Digital Camera ships with hand strap, neck strap, body cap, DC Power Module, a custom rechargeable Li-Ion battery, and charger/AC Adapter, printed user guide (English), documentation (localized in 8 languages) on CD, and localized software CDs for Photo Desk and Camera Manager, warranty card, and service information.|
|Q.||Is there an IEEE 1394 cable available for use with the camera?|
|A.||Yes, and you can purchase it separately.|
|Q.||What is the focal length magnification?|
|A.||Since the DCS Pro14n has a full 35 mm film size sensor, the focal length magnification is 1. This means that 35mm lenses operate as they would with film and will show the same full image that the lens was designed to image.|
|Q.||Does the DCS Pro 14n offer an external video output?|
|A.||Yes, user selectable NTSC and PAL video formats are supported by the video connection.In NTSC mode, the color LCD and the video output are enabled simultaneously. In PAL mode, simultaneous operation is not supported.|
|Q.||The DCS Pro 14n has a top end ISO of 800, but the DCS 760 only went to 400. How was this improvement accomplished?|
|A.||The DCS Pro 14n camera is based on a significantly different sensor and electronics architecture that makes use of more advanced technology to enable this top-end ISO improvement.|
|Q.||Will a Software Development Kit (SDK) be available?|
|A.||Yes, the SDK will be available at no charge on the Kodak web site. The SDK for the DCS Pro 14n will incorporate significantly improved functionality and, therefore, will differ from that of previous DCS models. Developer support for the new SDK will also be provided via the Kodak Website: http://www.kodak.com/US/en/developers/tools/07kproA.jhtml|
|Q.||Are there any plans to market an EOS-mount version of the DCS Pro 14n?|
|A.||Kodak currently is not publicly discussing any plans to create a CANON EOS-mount version of the DCS Pro 14n Digital Camera.|
|Q.||What is Nikons role in the development of the DCS Pro 14n?|
|A.||Nikon designed and supplies the lens mount and photographic body architecture for this camera.|
|Q.||Will Nikon also sell the 14n?|
|A.||No, the DCS Pro 14n Digital Camera is exclusively a Kodak Professional product.|
|Q.||What about camera warranty, service programs?|
|A.||The DCS Pro 14n will have a oneyear warranty, with service provided at Kodak Service Centers worldwide. Various extended warranty programs are available through dealers of KODAK Products on a country-by-country basis.|
|Q.||What is the suggested price of the DCS Pro 14n?|
|A.||In the U.S., the estimated street price for the DCS Pro 14n is near $4,000. Please contact a local authorized dealer of KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS Digital Cameras for detailed pricing information.|
|Q.||Where and when will the DCS Pro 14n be available?|
|A.||The DCS Pro 14n is planned to be available from authorized dealers of KODAK PROFESSIONAL Products at year-end 2002.|