Kodak DCS Pro SLR/c Review
The SLR/c has one of the widest ranges of white balance choices of any digital SLR, there is of course automatic white balance and no less than twelve preset color temperatures split between Sunny, Incandescent, Fluorescent and Flash. Each preset category has a selection of slightly different temperatures available for select (a pop-out sub-menu).
In addition the SLR/c's manual preset white balance (named 'Click balance') allows you to take a reading from a gray area of a RAW image (viewed magnified). The measured white balance preset is then applied to the image and recorded for subsequent shots. You can choose to save click balances and retrieve them later (this can also be done from DCS Photo Desk). Annoyingly you can only take presets from RAW images hence if you are shooting JPEG you must take a RAW shot, take a Click balance reading and then switch back to JPEG.
Auto white balance does appear to be slightly better than it was on the DCS-14n however it's still not perfect. The wide range of white balance presets is impressive however it still seemed quite difficult to pick the correct one, sometimes there can be too many choices.
Settings: ISO 160, Canon EF 24-70 mm F2.8L, Normal NR, Low Sharpening, Product Look
|Outdoors, Auto||Outdoors, Sunny Standard||Outdoors, Manual|
|Incandescent, Auto||Incandescent, Incan. Warm||Incandescent, Manual|
|Fluorescent, Auto||Fluorescent, Fluorescent Office||Fluorescent, Manual|
Also available for download
- Outdoors, Sunny Cool
- Outdoors, Sunny Warm
- Incandescent, Incandescent Standard
- Incandescent, Incandescent Cool
- Fluorescent, Fluorescent Cool White
Night / long exposures
Just like any other digital SLR you can select long exposures using manual exposure mode, however the SLR/c will suggest (by a message on the LCD screen) that you use the dedicated Long or Longer exposure modes. These are selected from the record menu, the Long exposure mode is suggested for exposures up to 1/2 sec. Select Longer exposure mode and a table allowing you to select a combination of ISO sensitivity and exposure is displayed. This provides access to ISO 6, 12, 25 and 50 at exposure lengths of 2, 4, 8, 15 and 30 seconds. This of course also enables you to take long exposures in daylight conditions without the use of an ND filter.
Settings:Canon EF 17-35 mm F2.8L, Normal NR, Low Sharpening, Product Look, RAW
|Manual exposure mode: ISO 160, 4 sec, F5|
|Longer exposure mode: ISO 50, 15 sec, F5.6|
|Longer exposure mode: ISO 25, 30 sec, F5.6|
The SLR/c is listed as being fully compatible with the Sigma EF-500 DG Super flash lite, Canon EOS 220EX, 420EX, 550EX, MR-14EX, MT-24EX Speedlights and STE-E2 E-TTL transmitter. The shots below were taken using the Canon 550EX. Our first impression was that the SLR/c's automatic white balance does not work with a flash attached, you must manually select a flash white balance to get usable results.
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
Just like the DCS-14n the SLR/c is certainly capable of delivering some stunning resolution. I had the same levels of 'ooh and ahh' checking these 13.5 megapixel images at 100% zoom. Because the SLR/c doesn't have an anti-alias filter it's capable of pulling out finer detail than we are used to seeing. Unfortunately Kodak haven't done enough to address the image quality issues which occur too frequently to ignore (detailed below). It's worth repeating what I said in my 14n review, thanks to the sensor's immense pixel count you can get very 'Foveon X3 like' images by switching resolution down to 6.0 megapixel output size (several input pixels used to create each output pixel).
Image quality issues
There were several image quality issues we noted with the SLR/c, some if not all can be avoided or reduced by shooting RAW and careful processing using Photo Desk or third party RAW converters. This meant that shooting JPEG in-camera delivers images which are below what is achievable. Issues identified:
- Moiré at resolution limits - As the SLR/c doesn't have
a low pass (anti-alias) filter high frequency information (fine detail)
tends to produce moiré which must be dealt with in software.
Unfortunately neither DCS Photo Desk or third party RAW converters could
completely eliminate this artifact. (see sample below, ironically one
of the most detailed images we've ever captured)
- Green color cast introduced by Lens Optimization - Switch it
off and you will sometimes get a magenta cast, leave it switched on
and you will sometimes get a green cast. (see
bottom of page 12)
- High noise levels above ISO 400 - Converting SLR/c and EOS-1Ds
samples in Adobe Camera RAW was very revealing, it exposed the high
levels of noise exhibited by the SLR/c's sensor above ISO 400. Kodak's
noise reduction systems keep this in check but at the expense of detail.
(see bottom of page 15)
- Watercolor-like appearance due to noise reduction algorithm - Ever present even when set to very low levels Kodak's noise reduction algorithm has an excessively intrusive effect on image quality leaving many areas of the image with a 'watercolor-like' appearance. (see sample below)
|Moiré at resolution limits|
|Watercolor-like appearance due to noise reduction algorithm|
|Chicago Alley by tko|
from Down the alleyway
|Callan-5680 by vbuhay|
from What Child's Dream May Come
|Widget by Wilfried HKG|
|Oxbow Bend by stickpointed|
from Landscape - Colour #2
|Isolated by PEB|
from I'm single!