Say hello to Kodak's latest Professional Digital Camera, the DCS 620x. You'd be forgiven for doing a double take as this is (purely from a body, photographic and controls point of view) identical to the DCS 620 (which I reviewed last year).
So the big question is, what's new about the DCS 620x? Well essentially Kodak are targeting their largest audience for the camera, and that's news photo and sports journalists, they've enhanced the camera to perform at amazingly high ISO levels (400 - 4000, at a push 6400). This is incredibly important to working in medium / low "available light" situations where you still need high shutter speeds to capture "that moment" (think floodlit football, basketball, ice hockey, a dusk shoot-out in a war torn country).
Kodak have done several things to produce such high sensitivity, to understand this totally we have to go a little deeper into the technical details of how digital cameras capture images.
Full Frame vs. Interline Transfer CCD's
|Interline Transfer CCD|
Your typical consumer digital camera uses what is called an Interline Transfer CCD, put simply the CCD can itself control the start / stop of when it measures light falling on it, otherwise known as an electronic shutter, it does so by shifting values out of the photodiodes into "shift registers" then pushing all of that data out as a final image. The advantages to Interline Transfer CCD's are simply that, they can be controlled by software and don't require a mechanical shutter (though are often used in conjunction with one) and can produce a video feed output (a requirement for a live preview LCD feed).
Because of the extra electronics required around each
pixel the "fill factor" (size of the photodiode) tends to be
quite small (about 30% of the pixel area). To get around this Interline
Transfer CCD manufacturers place a layer of "microlenses" (click
here for electron microscope image of microlenses) over the CCD to
capture more light and focus it onto the smaller photodiode area which
then gives them an better effective fill factor of about 70%.
|Full Frame Transfer CCD|
Kodak's professional CCD's are Full Frame Transfer, they don't have a shift register, this means that a mechanical shutter is absolutely required to control the start / stop measurement of light. The shutter is opened and then closed again (say 1/60s later), the whole CCD shifts data off itself into the serial register where it's processed as the "RAW" image. As Full Frame CCD's are simpler (don't have shift registers and associated electronics around each photodiode) they have a much better Fill Factor (around 70%) and don't require or use microlenses.
The disadvantage is that you can't get a video feed out of them which is the main reason we don't see more manufacturers using Full Frame CCD's (we're all too used to our LCD preview).
Pro's & Con's associated with each CCD type:
|Full Frame CCD||Interline Transfer CCD|
| High image quality
High dynamic range
Not capable of video feed
Top shutter speeds limited by mechanical shutter
Require mechanical shutter
Good image quality
Colour Filter Arrays (CFA's)
Photodiodes, the tiny light sensitive materials used to measure the amount of light for each pixel on a CCD are essentially monochrome devices, that is they can't themselves tell the difference between different wavelengths of light. To produce a colour image a CFA (Colour Filter Array) is placed over the monochrome sensor pixels, in reality the CFA is made up of very thin layers of coloured dye. This CFA filters out all but the chosen colour for that pixel. Software interpolation later produces a full colour for a pixel based on the value of surrounding pixels.
The GRGB Bayer Pattern is the most common CFA used, it was used by Kodak on the DCS series cameras and is used in most consumer digital cameras (except for Canon up until the S100 who used a CYGM CFA). A primary colour (GRGB) Bayer Pattern is produced by placing two layers of coloured dyes over each other as such:
|Red = Yellow + Magenta|
|Green = Yellow + Cyan|
|Blue = Magenta + Cyan|
Kodak's new CMY CFA
One way to increase the sensitivty of a CCD would be to do away with the CFA, unfortunately if we did that we'd have a monochrome sensor, but there is another answer. Kodak Professional decided they would produce a CCD with a CFA which uses only one layer of dye using the three primary additive colours, Cyan Magenta and Yellow, this would of course results in a more sensitive imager (less light sapping dye over each pixel). The new CCD offers a wide ISO range (400-4000), 8-9 stops of dynamic range and with the addition of new lower noise electronics and a 12-bit ADC the overall result is the most sensitive CCD yet available.
In addition to the updated CCD and electronics Kodak have also introduced a noise reduction algorithm into their "Acquire" software (TWAIN driver) which is required to open the RAW TIFF files the camera produces. This (optional) filter removes noise and effectively cleans up very high ISO or noisy images.
As I have previously reviewed the DCS620 I'll be covering the camera itself in less detail and the image quality / noise reduction in slightly more detail, that said I'll still cover the major features and controls of the camera.
Google is holding a competition that could see your Pixel photos gracing millions of screens.
Nikon's 100th birthday party continues worldwide as a distributor in Italy organized a one-of-a-kind feat: assembling the world's largest 'human camera' from over a thousand volunteers.
Ricoh has dropped the price of its Theta SC 360 spherical camera by to $199, a reduction of roughly $50. The camera features two 12MP sensors and can record Full HD video in addition to stills.
Photojournalist Pete Souza served as the presidential photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. In an interview with fellow photographer Marcia Nighswander, he discusses several of his most noteworthy images.
Photographer Michael Wolf has been documenting the crowded conditions of Tokyo's subway trains since the 1990s. The photos have gone viral regularly in the years since he started the project, and he just published the final edition in the series.
The just-launched OnePlus 5 is getting a minor update that should improve camera function.
A Belgian camera shop is showing off an extremely rare, limited 'Rex Edition' Nikon D500. The cosmetic alterations were provided by a customer's German Shepherd Rex, who got ahold of the camera within a day of its purchase.
Adobe says that many of its users have been relying on SkyBox for VR editing and it therefore made sense to make the plug-ins available to all subscribers through Creative Cloud.
The Pictar grip provides a number of customizable physical controls for your iPhone camera, but at its price point we would like to see better materials and build quality.
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not famed as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you look in the right places. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.