PMA 2004: Kodak Professional today announced the new DCS Pro SLR/n. This digital SLR is based on the 14n but has numerous improvements including a redesigned sensor, a new type of filter over the sensor surface, new analog and digital boards and new software features. The DCS Pro SLR/n has a 35 mm (full frame, 36 x 24 mm) fourteen megapixel CMOS sensor, 512 MB of RAM for a buffer depth of around 19 RAW images and is based around the N80 (F80) camera internals and top. Existing 14n owners will be offered a return-to-Kodak upgrade path to have various components changed to turn their 14n's into a '14nx' (essentially the same as the SLR/n).

Phil: We've had an early SLR/n in house for a short time, just long enough to take a few shots of the body and put together a small samples gallery (click here). My initial reaction is good, the SLR/n does appear to be a noticable step up from the 14n, image quality is very nice, especially in good light, amazing resolution (see our small samples gallery).

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Changes / improvements

  • Redesigned sensor, new photodetector shape, new manufacturing plant
  • Instead of hot mirror over the sensor Kodak are now using an absorption filter
  • Brand new analog processing stage (the next step from the sensor)
  • New digital board and processing electronics
  • New software and extra advanced features such as Long Exposure mode
  • Custom setup memories (10 of)
  • Improved power management
  • Media activity light on storage compartment door
  • PhotoDesk improvements

Press Release:

New KODAK PROFESSIONAL Digital SLR Camera Delivers High Resolution, Broad ISO Performance; Extended Burst Depth

Next-Generation Camera Offers Medium-Format Image Quality, 35 mm Flexibility

LAS VEGAS, Feb. 12 — Strengthening its commitment to push the boundaries of high-end digital camera technology while delivering outstanding image quality and ease of use, Eastman Kodak Company unveiled the new KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS Pro SLR/n digital camera.

The latest addition to Kodak’s venerable professional camera portfolio, the DCS Pro SLR/n digital camera contains a new high performance imaging system with an entirely new 35 mm size CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensor, which delivers 14 million pixels with a total available ISO range of 6 to 1600.

Built on an F-mount compatible body, the DCS Pro SLR/n is ideally suited for wedding photographers and uniquely addresses the needs of event, portrait, commercial and advanced amateur photographers as well.

“The DCS Pro SLR/n combines the best of medium format image quality with the convenience and flexibility of 35 mm photography. Its high ISO provides excellent performance in low-light settings and captures images with stunning detail that wedding and event photographers expect. It also creates amazing images at low ISOs using long exposures,” said Madhav Mehra, General Manager, Professional Digital Capture. “We’ve accelerated the evolution of the digital SLR with this camera. The DCS Pro SLR/n is able to merge high-resolution and the best image detail with a broad ISO range.”

Image Quality and Key Features

The camera contains a new 4536 x 3024 pixel (effective), 12-bit CMOS imager that covers the full 24 mm-by-36 mm image area of 35mm film. With a full-size sensor, photographers regain the benefits of true wide-angle lenses and can use their F-mount SLR lenses the same way they used them with 35 mm film. This new sensor incorporates advanced High Performance-Low Noise (HPLN) technology, incorporating a unique new pixel design and an optimized device manufacturing process that enables increased sensitivity and reduced noise levels that result in broader ISO performance.

When combined with the new “Expert-Level” noise reduction tools in the latest release of KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS Photo Desk software, the camera delivers the highest resolution of any digital SLR with an ISO range that meets the needs of a wide variety of professional photographers. The new sensor also incorporates an enhanced optical transmission system that further increases image quality – particularly with tungsten light sources – and is supported by new digital and analogue electronics. Consistent with the recent generation of DCS Professional cameras from Kodak, photographers can select the appropriate image size – full 14MP, 6MP, and 3MP – that suits the shooting environment.

Photographers will have the benefit of a fully calibrated ISO range of 6 to 800, while those that utilize DCS raw files can also access a non-calibrated ISO range that extends from 1000 to 1600. Aside from a broad ISO range, the camera’s feature set includes long-exposure capabilities, enabling exposures up to 60 seconds at lower ISO settings, a full resolution raw image burst depth of ~19 frames from the cameras integrated 512 MB RAM buffer and a hardware “sleep mode” that conserves battery life when the camera is not in use.

The camera captures images at about 1.7 frames per second. Images can be saved as DCR raw files, normal JPEG files or ERI JPEG files. The ERI-JPEG files serve as another form of picture protection for photographers, especially in situations where re-shooting is inconvenient. They provide two stops of exposure latitude and extended color space within a JPEG workflow – a benefit no competitor offers.

Images are stored via COMPACTFLASH memory card and/or MMC/SD memory card interfaces. The camera can write to both types of storage media, and the image can be sent to each card simultaneously in any combination of the three available formats. In addition, FIREWIRE connectivity - at a transfer rate of up to 12MB per second – adds speed to the photographers’ workflow.

Designed with a durable magnesium body, the DCS Pro SLR/n includes a vertical trigger that works in conjunction with the camera’s auto orientation sensor. The sensor detects the camera’s orientation +/- 90 degrees from the horizontal position. This enables automatic rotation of the image as it moves to a computer for manipulation, saving photographers time and improving workflow – hallmarks of Kodak’s efforts to make digital easier for customers.

Simplifying Digital, Free Firmware Upgrades

The DCS Pro SLR/n camera includes features for new and more advanced digital shooters. The camera operates in two user modes: Basic and advanced. It defaults to the basic setting and offers a very intuitive, simple interface. In the advanced mode, the user can access and adjust a host of capture, resolution, storage and other settings.

Many key features of the DCS Pro SLR/n camera are based on KODAK PROFESSIONAL firmware and are not hard-wired within the camera, so they can be enhanced and easily upgraded with free firmware downloads from Kodak. Free firmware upgrades essentially give photographers a “new” camera, whereas most other manufacturers require the purchase of an entirely new camera system to receive the latest enhancements.

Kodak leverages Nikon’s Digital Through The Lens (DTTL™) flash metering in the DCS Pro SLR/n digital camera. Photographers can expect near-perfect flash exposures with the camera, an improvement over many existing professional digital cameras.

The DCS Pro SLR/n has a camera interface localized in nine languages. It works with the latest versions of the following software:

  • KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS Photo Desk – including new Expert level noise processing tools
  • KODAK PROFESSIONAL Extended Range Imaging Technology File Format Module

Availability of the KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS Pro SLR/n digital camera begins in early March through authorized dealers of KODAK PROFESSIONAL digital imaging solutions.

Additional images

'Small' samples gallery

There are 10 images in the preview samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). I make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), I do so in good faith, don't abuse it.

Images taken at full resolution (4500 x 3000) RAW mode, JPEG's saved from DCS Photo Desk 3.3. Image copies reduced down to fit into 1024 x 1024 bounds to fit onto your screen, as always the original full size image is available by clicking on a link below the reduced image.

Notes which appear above the image indicate the camera and DCS Photo Desk conversion settings. For example:

ISO 160, 28-70, Product Look, (-0.2 EV), NR Moire, Sharp 5

The shot was taken at ISO 160, with a Nikkor 28-70 mm F2.8 lens. The Look used was 'Product', a digital exposure compensation of -0.2 EV was applied before conversion, Noise Reduction was Advanced with Moire reduction, Shparening Amount was 5.

Kodak DCS-SLR/n Preview Samples Gallery (10 images) - posted 12 Feb 2004