Kodak DCS-14n Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Amazing resolution, the highest we've seen so far (takes the crown from the EOS-1Ds)
- Ability to produce very sharp lower resolution images (puts any six megapixel to shame)
- Full frame 35 mm size sensor, offers excellent wide angle shooting
- Good dynamic range with up to 1.5 stops of extra data in RAW and ERI-JPEG images
- ERI-JPEG offers 'RAW like' image recovery for overexposed images
- In-camera histogram displays extended dynamic range
- Job Tracker / IPTC support in-camera
- Large two inch LCD monitor
- Very large viewfinder view (100% 35 mm field of view)
- Lightweight and high capacity battery pack
- Dual storage (Compact Flash & Secure Digital / MMC)
- Controls intuitive for previous Nikon users
- Low noise at ISO 80, higher noise from ISO 200 upwards
- Good image buffering and write speeds for RAW files, much slower for JPEG
- Has RAW+JPEG capability
- ISO sensitivities selectable in 1/3 stop steps (from ISO 80 to ISO 400)
- Supplied neck and hand strap
- Illuminated status LCD's
- Firewire (IEEE 1394) connectivity with remote computer control
- Voice annotation feature (built-in mic)
- Excellent RAW conversion software (DCS Photo Desk 3)
- Good Nikkor lens compatibility
Conclusion - Cons
- High ISO noise levels (especially at slower shutter speeds)
- Intrusive noise reduction (can not be disabled)
- Moiré visible in images with fine detail
- Slow startup time (4.5 seconds is too long for a D-SLR)
- Slow continuous shooting
- Much slower write times shooting JPEG
- Flash sync max 1/125 sec
- Limited high sensitivity (ISO 400 max at full resolution)
- Camera system still in 'two halves' (photo / digital)
- Low color saturation
- 1/2 EV steps for exposure selection / compensation
- Must shoot a RAW to take a manual WB reading
- Camera feels bigger than it is, this camera needs a diet
- Uncomfortable vertical grip
- Awkward ISO selection on mode dial
- Constant firmware updates ('not quite finished')
The DCS-14n certainly created a stir at Photokina last year, since then it's been a case of 'forever delayed' for this camera, and even now while I review it I still get the feeling that Kodak haven't really finished developing it. Stepping away from that the DCS-14n is certainly a very interesting digital SLR, it offers a full 35 mm size sensor with huge resolution, even a year ago we couldn't have imagined double digit megapixels in a portable single-unit digital SLR (those kinds of resolutions were available only in medium format backs). Today you can get that resolution and for a relatively affordable $5000.
The DCS-14n is a camera which one moment can fill you with amazement and awe at its ability to capture such fine detail, and the next be frustrating you with its slow startup times, long write time or high ISO noise. It's also a camera of limits, you can't go above ISO 400 at full resolution, you can't shoot faster than 1.7 frames per second, you have to live with 1/2 EV stops and you should expect some occasional image artifacts (moiré, noise reduction etc.).
Yet there is no getting away from the fact that this is the cheapest way to shoot at such high resolutions, $5000 may seem like a lot of money but if you earn a living from your photographs then you could probably make it pay. Consider also that the nearest competition, Canon's EOS-1Ds (a different beast altogether) costs a whole $3000 more and you start to see that if you can live within the 14n's limits you can deliver some truly amazing images, big and detailed enough to post on the side of a five story building!
So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.
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