Anyone familiar with the Nikon F80 (N80) or indeed the Fujifilm S2 Pro or Nikon D100 will find the top portion and area surrounding the lens mount very familiar. As all three cameras are loosely based on the F80 these portions are essentially the same across each of the three cameras (although the D100 takes the modifications a little further). The DCS-14n is about the same height as the Fujifilm S2 Pro but is considerably 'fatter' at the base, unlike the S2 Pro the 14n has an integrated vertical hand grip (although it's uncomfortable to use). The actual body of the camera is a Kodak design and is molded from magnesium alloy.
In your hand
As well as the base the hand grip of the 14n is considerably deeper than that of the D100 or S2 Pro, for my normal 'large' hands this translates to a comfortable grip. Kodak has also chosen to coat the entire grip and rear pad with a sticky soft rubber, great for ensuring a steady hold. As noted above the vertical hand grip is difficult and uncomfortable to use, there is simply not enough space between the grip and the lens mount for your fingers and so you must tuck your little finger around the back of the lens, it's awkward and uncomfortable over time.
Side by side
Here's the DCS-14n looking small for a change, beside Canon's EOS-1Ds. Both of the above cameras feature full frame (35 mm size) CMOS sensors, the 14n carrying 14 million pixels, the 1Ds with 11 million pixels. There's little doubt that the EOS-1Ds is put together better, with environmental seals around all major compartments and rubber seals around all controls it's also considerably more weatherproof than the 14n. The 14n body without a lens but with battery and a CF card weighs 1.0 kg (2.2 lb), the 1Ds in the same configuration is 1.6 kg (3.5 lb).
The DSC-14n has a large (by digital SLR standards) 2.0" TFT LCD monitor which has 130,000 pixels. It's bright and clear with good resolution and color response. My only niggles would be that when it comes on it does so with a delay rather than instantly (almost as though the backlights are powering up slowly), the second complaint should be a lack of an anti-reflective coating on the protective perspex window over the LCD.
For those who are new to digital SLR's it's worth noting that they don't provide a live preview image like consumer digital cameras. This is because of the reflex mirror, mechanical shutter and design of the sensor (which can't be used to provide a video feed). The LCD is only "On" if you have image review enabled (after taking the shot), when you're navigating menus or reviewing images in play mode.
Top Status LCD
The DCS-14n's top status LCD panel provides information about the photographic side of the camera, this includes settings such as exposure compensation, AF point, flash mode as well as a readout of exposure (shutter speed / aperture). This panel is illuminated by a green light at the same time as the rear display panel by pressing the small backlight button to the right of this panel.
Diagram of all possible information available on the top status LCD:
Digital Status LCD (rear)
On the rear of the DCS-14n below the main LCD monitor is a small display panel (similar to that found on the S2 Pro, indeed it's exactly the same size and dot pitch). This panel performs three main functions: (1) in shooting mode provides a summary of 'digital' settings (white balance, sensitivity etc.) and allows you to change these settings by holding the STATUS button and navigating around the panel options, (2) in play mode provides a summary of the current displayed filename, folder name and size, (3) in menu mode provides help messages for the currently selected menu option.
|Shooting mode: White balance, ISO sensitivity, CF file type, SD file type, aspect ratio, JPEG compression, RAW size, JPEG size. Hold STATUS to navigate this 'mini menu' and change settings.|
|Play mode: Image filename, Media, Folder name, File format and size|
|Menu help: while navigating menus a small help message is displayed on the panel|