Kodak DCS Pro SLR/c Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Very high resolution, but requires careful processing to deliver full potential
- Excellent dynamic range with over one stop of extra data in RAW and ERI-JPEG images
- Improved color response, more vivd and 'punchy' than the DCS-14n
- Ability to produce very sharp lower resolution images (very crisp six megapixel images)
- Full frame 35 mm size sensor, offers excellent wide angle shooting
- ERI-JPEG offers 'RAW like' image recovery for overexposed images
- On-screen histogram displays extended dynamic range
- Job Tracker / IPTC support in-camera
- Lightweight and high capacity battery pack
- Dual storage (Compact Flash & Secure Digital / MMC), although SD proved to be slow
- Low noise at ISO 160, higher noise from ISO 400 upwards
- Good image buffering and write speeds for RAW files, considerably slower for JPEG
- Has RAW+JPEG capability (even split by media format)
- Supplied neck and hand strap
- Firewire (IEEE 1394) connectivity with remote computer control
- GPS data support via serial port
- Voice annotation feature (built-in mic)
- Excellent RAW conversion software (DCS Photo Desk 4)
- The only current third party digital SLR with a Canon lens mount
- The likelihood that things will improve due to Kodak's constant firmware update policy
- Value for money (you get a lot of resolution for your money)
Conclusion - Cons
- Moiré at resolution limits
- Green color cast introduced by Lens Optimization option
- High ISO noise levels (more so at slow shutter speeds, higher ISO's)
- Intrusive noise reduction (which can not be disabled)
- Various performance related issues:
- Slow startup time (6 seconds or more)
- Slow JPEG encoding / write times (15 seconds)
- Slow record review (6 seconds for RAW, 14 seconds for JPEG)
- Poor continuous shooting performance (1.66 fps, over a minute to write a burst)
- Poor SD / MMC slot performance (in some cases twice as slow as CF)
- Camera system still in 'two halves' (photo / digital)
- No direct control of contrast and color saturation
- Must shoot a RAW to take a manual WB reading
- Poor automatic white balance with flash (best to manually select Flash WB)
- Poor ergonomic design, feels very bulky, uncomfortable vertical hand grip
- Constant firmware updates ('not quite finished')
When I first heard of the SLR/n (the Nikon mount version of the SLR/c which was announced before it) I was excited that Kodak would have taken the criticisms leveled at the DCS-14n and implemented a raft of fixes. Unfortunately many of the major bugbears I (and many owners) had with that camera haven't really been addressed in the SLR/n or SLR/c. As a professional digital SLR it still feels slow, no anti-alias filter means moiré, there's the intrusive noise reduction and higher than average noise anywhere above ISO 400.
Throughout this review comparisons to the SLR/c have been with the Canon EOS-1Ds, the only camera with anywhere near the resolution and the only other camera with a full 35 mm size sensor. There is however an important difference between the SLR/c and EOS-1Ds, price, the SLR/c is some $3000 cheaper than the EOS-1Ds and while they're not really in the same league from a performance and build quality point of view if all you want is resolution you'd be foolish not to at least consider the SLR/c.
Get it right, shoot RAW, good light, low to medium ISO's and be careful about the development of your RAW images and you really can get some mind-blowing good resolution with rewarding image quality attributes (good dynamic range, good color). That's just where the SLR/c fits in, it's certainly not a camera for everyone, it's not a point and shoot digital SLR, it's a camera for enthusiasts who are ready to work around its quirks and utilize it as a photographic tool.
If you are willing to learn how to use it, don't need sports camera performance and can live with the occasional artifact or three you're unlikely to be disappointed by the SLR/c. It's probably also worth noting that Kodak do have a habit of progressively improving their cameras with new firmware updates.
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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