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Kodak announces 14mpix DSLR (UPDATED)
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, September 23, 2002 - 20:28 EDT)

New high-spec Digital SLR announced ahead of schedule...

Eastman Kodak Co. has today announced a new single-lens reflex digital camera that was initially scheduled to be announced at 4AM Eastern time tomorrow. In particular, two things about this camera are likely to make your jaw drop; the sensor, and the expected price. The Kodak DCS Pro 14n Digital SLR features a whopping 13.89 megapixel full 35mm-frame sized CMOS image sensor, and a pricetag expected to be just US$4000 (street)!

We had the opportunity to discuss the camera and the technologies behind it with Kodak's worldwide product manager for SLR cameras, Jay Kelbley. What follows is a summation of the information he shared with us, and that available in the press materials.

Kodak's DSC Pro 14n digital camera. Courtesy of Eastman Kodak Co., with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Kodak is expecting that when it ships, the Pro 14n will be the highest resolution digital SLR on the market, and will offer the lowest cost per pixel of any digital SLR, and with the impressive figures already mentioned we'd be inclined to agree. There's a lot more to the DCS Pro 14n than price and resolution, though. For one thing, the camera isn't a reworked Nikon film-camera body like past Kodak digital SLRs have been - instead, it is a new design manufactured in part by Nikon specifically for Kodak, and one which just happens to use some parts from some existing cameras. For example, the shutter and metering system are shared with a Nikon F80, whilst the camera has magnesium encasements like a Nikon F5 and features that model's 10-pin remote trigger and PC sync connector. Compared to Kodak's own DCS 760, the new body is only around two thirds of the height and weight, at 131mm high and 900 grams, versus 194mm high and 1.6kg for the '760.

The DCS Pro 14n is not targetted at photojournalists, aiming instead for the portrait, wedding, event, studio and advanced amateur markets with image quality and resolution placed ahead of frame rate, but it isn't exactly a slouch either. A brand new DSP and microcontroller coupled with a whopping 256MB buffer (which is service-upgradeable to a 512MB buffer, a first for any digital camera to the best of our knowledge) can capture 8 frames - or, if upgraded to a 512MB buffer, 18 frames - in either RAW or JPEG mode at 1.7 frames per second. The camera can simultaneously capture RAW and JPEG images, and save them either to separate cards or both to the same card using the second one as an overflow when the first is full. There's no overhead when writing JPEG and RAW simultaneously, other than the obvious added time to finish writing the extra data to the flash card(s). JPEG files can be saved at resolutions equivalent to 1, 3, 6 or 14 megapixels.

The sensor is interesting not only for the resolution and full 35mm frame-size - the sharp-eyed amongst our readers will have noticed that it is also a CMOS sensor, a first for Kodak's Pro cameras. Until now, CMOS sensors have been touted as the future of digital imaging, with reduced cost and power consumption over their CCD counterparts listed among the potential advantages - but only Canon has been able to make them work with adequate quality for a high-end camera, using CMOS sensors for both the EOS D30 and D60. Now, it seems that Kodak has likewise reached the point where it feels CMOS is good enough for the high-end, and it will be interesting to see how the DCS Pro 14n performs in our rigorous tests. Kodak tells us that the DCS Pro 14n should offer slightly better noise than the DCS 760 offered. The camera also offers the ability to drop the resolution and group pixels to keep noise levels down, something we've seen in the past on cameras from FujiFilm, and indeed at ISO 800 the resolution is limited to 6 megapixels. Interestingly, the resolution combination can also be done before saving RAW files, meaning that you can save RAW files in three different resolutions as well!

Interestingly, our sources at Kodak tell us that the CMOS sensor in the DCS Pro 14n is not a microlens CMOS, and hence avoids potential problems with varying lenses on an interchangeable-lens digital camera. Instead, fill factors are kept as high as possible by using a three-transistor pixel instead of the more common four- and five-transistor pixels on other imagers, and removing the consumer electronic shutter - shuttering on the DCS Pro 14n is completely mechanical. (Note that the sensor does still have an electronic shutter - it just isn't a light-shielded shutter).

An interesting side-effect of the extremely high resolution of the camera is that Kodak has opted not to include an anti-aliasing filter inside the DCS Pro 14n. The company tells us that whilst aliasing artifacts can still occur, they are 'overwhelmed' by the sheer amount of data in the image and generally aren't visible unless you zoom in to a 1:1 scale, and that even at large print sizes, the aliasing is essentially not noticeable. Should a specific troublesome situation crop up, though, external anti-alising filters are available, and Kodak is testing a number of screw-on anti-aliasing filters with the camera currently. The high resolution of the camera shouldn't be beyond the limits of the lens, however. According to Kodak, some other digicams have been able to avoid using anti-aliasing filters simply because the sub-7 micron pixel sizes are right at the resolving capabilities of the lens, whereas the 8-micron pixel size on the Pro 14n is comfortably inside the lens' capabilities.

A few other points are worth noting. The IEEE 1394 FireWire performance of the DCS Pro 14n is apparently much improved over past models, with a 12MB/second transfer rate that Kodak tells us is triple what the DCS 760 could offer. The camera has an orientation sensor built-in that is used to automatically mark images with a rotate tag in the JPEG or RAW metadata, along with video out connectivity that mirrors whatever is on the LCD display. (Note that this being a digital SLR, the LCD and video connectivity cannot be used for image framing, only reviewing captured images).

Also, note that the JPEG images captured by the DCS Pro 14n use Kodak's ERI JPEG standard. These files are about 20-25% larger than standard JPEG images, and can be opened in any JPEG-aware application. When opened with Kodak's ERI JPEG plugin, the data that's normally discarded when encoding a JPEG file can be read out of the EXIF header, and used in combination with the compressed JPEG data to do things that aren't normally possible with a JPEG image, such as two stops of exposure compensation, the ability to choose an output color space, and other tools normally available only for RAW files. Compressed RAW files from the DCS Pro 14n, meanwhile, are apparently in the region of 12 - 16MB (with a photo of a grey card being more compressible and nearer 12MB, whilst portraits with fine detail tend to be nearer 16MB).

The Kodak DCS Pro 14n Digital SLR should reach US customers in mid-December with a list price of US$4995 and a street price of US$4000, approximately. Courtesy of Kodak, we have the following FAQ on the DSC Pro 14n:


KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS Pro 14n Digital Camera

Frequently Asked Questions

Kodak's DSC Pro 14n digital camera. Courtesy of Eastman Kodak Co., with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Q. What is the KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS Pro 14n Digital Camera and how does it differ from the DCS 760?
A. The DCS Pro 14n is the latest in six generations of single-lens-reflex KODAK PROFESSIONAL Digital Cameras and full digital workflow systems. The DCS Pro 14n is dramatically different from the KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS 760. The Pro 14n is a feature-rich digital SLR with a new electronics architecture, new camera body, and a full-size CMOS image sensor.

Q. What is the difference between the CMOS sensor and the DCS 760 sensor?
A. The DCS 760 uses a traditional CCD image sensor with 6-million-pixel resolution. The DCS Pro 14n uses the newest professional CMOS sensor technology available and has 13.9 million pixels. CMOS and CCD image-sensor technologies are distinctly different. CCD image sensors are (electron) charge-coupled devices that require very sophisticated and power-hungry electronics to operate, and due to the amount of support electronics, take up more space and power inside the camera. CMOS image sensors incorporate light-sensing technology that allows for charge conversion right inside the pixel, therefore dramatically reducing support electronics and power consumption. The small size of the Pro 14n camera, even though it incorporates a full 35 mm area sensor, was achieved through the use of CMOS sensor technology.

Q. Does the Pro 14n have a NIKON Camera body?
A. Nikon has custom-manufactured the camera body components for Kodak Professional. While the DCS Pro 14n does share features and components with some of Nikon's own cameras, this particular body is custom-manufactured for Kodak's use. Kodak enhanced the body with additional professional features, such as a vertical "smart" shutter release, magnesium alloy encasements, and a 10-pin remote release terminal compatible with most Nikon accessories.

Q. Can Nikon lenses be used with the Pro 14n?
A. Yes. The Pro 14n uses the NIKON F Mount and supports the full line of current NIKON Lenses.

Q. What other features does the DCS Pro 14n offer?
A. In addition to the new image sensor, the DCS Pro 14n has a wide range of professional features that ensure superior image quality and performance.

  • High resolution - 13.9 million total pixels, producing an image size of 4500 x 3000 pixels.
  • Full-size 35 mm frame sensor (24 mm by 36 mm image area).
  • Selectable, variable-resolution raw files.
  • Selectable ISOs in 1/3-stop increments.
  • Basic- and advanced-mode operations.
  • 12 MB-a-second image transfer - about 3 to 4 times faster than the current IEEE 1394.
  • A large, bright LCD panel for image analysis.
  • D-TTL-enabled hot shoe and pop-up flash.
  • A sensor that detects camera orientation +/- 90 degrees.
  • "Picture Protection" including KODAK PROFESSIONAL Extended Range Imaging Technology.

Q. What is variable resolution?
A. For the first time, you can select the resolution you want for RAW files.

Resolution ISO Range
-100% (~13.6 MP) 80 - 640
-67% (~6.1 MP) 80 - 800
-50% (~3.4 MP) 80 - 800

Q. How do you get variable resolution from RAW files?
A. Variable resolution for RAW files is a unique capability offered in the Pro 14n. To achieve "true" RAW status for the lower resolution image files, the entire 13.9 mp resolution is read off the sensor at 12 bits dynamic range. Then a proprietary image-processing algorithm "interpolates and resamples" the high resolution into a lower resolution while keeping the 12-bit dynamic range. The resulting image is specially color encoded and losslessly compressed to reduce the file size. This technique achieves very high quality and low artifacts, while reducing the native resolution. The powerful DSP engine in the Pro 14n performs all this processing in-camera, so users can benefit from more images per storage card for assignments that do not require the highest resolution.

Q. Does the DCS Pro 14n use an anti-aliasing filter?
A. No. The DCS Pro 14n does not have an anti-aliasing filter. Consequently, the DCS Pro 14n yields images that are sharper than most other digital SLR cameras. The resolution of the Pro 14n is so high that aliasing artifacts are generally not an issue for most applications.

Q. Who will benefit most from the DCS Pro 14n?
A. All professional photographers who require high-resolution and high-quality digital images, including portrait, social, wedding, school, event, and commercial photographers, will benefit most.

Q. What is the function of the Basic Mode?
A. The Basic Mode makes digital photography easy for anyone who wants to take it out of the box and shoot, without extensive training or experience.

Q. What is "Picture Protection?"
A. Picture Protection is included in our entire line of KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS Digital Cameras. It offers a variety of workflow features that include post-shot exposure compensation, white balance corrections, file recovery, dual card storage, and KODAK PROFESSIONAL Extended Range Imaging Technology (ERI). ERI gives you image files that work as standard JPEGs but include the dynamic range and color gamut of raw, 12-bit, DCR camera files.

Q. What is included in the box with the DCS Pro 14n at purchase?
A. The DCS Pro 14n Digital Camera ships with hand strap, neck strap, body cap, DC Power Module, a custom rechargeable Li-Ion battery, and charger/AC Adapter, printed user guide (English), documentation (localized in 8 languages) on CD, and localized software CDs for Photo Desk and Camera Manager, warranty card, and service information.

Q. Is there an IEEE 1394 cable available for use with the camera?
A. Yes, and it can be purchased separately.

Q. What is the focal length magnification?
A. Since the DCS Pro14n has a full 35 mm film size sensor, the focal length magnification is 1. This means that 35mm lenses operate as they would with film, and will show the same full image that the lens was designed to image.

Q. Does the DCS Pro 14n offer an external video output?
A. Yes, user selectable NTSC and PAL video formats are supported by the video connection. In NTSC mode, the color LCD and the video output are enabled simultaneously. In PAL mode, simultaneous operation is not supported.

Q. The DCS Pro 14n has a top end ISO of 800, but the DCS 760 only went to 400. How was this improvement accomplished?
A. The DCS Pro 14n camera is based on a significantly different sensor and electronics architecture that makes use of more advanced technology to enable this top-end ISO improvement.

Q. Will a Software Development Kit (SDK) be available?
A. Yes, the SDK will be available at no charge on the Kodak web site. The SDK for the DCS Pro 14n will incorporate significantly improved functionality and, therefore, will differ from that of previous DCS models. Developer support for the new SDK will also be provided via the Kodak web site: www.kodak.com/US/en/developers/tools/07kproA.jhtml

Q. Are there any plans to market an EOS-mount version of the DCS Pro 14n?
A. Kodak currently is not publicly discussing any plans to create a Canon EOS-mount version of the DCS Pro 14n Digital Camera.

Q. What is Nikon's role in the development of the DCS Pro 14n?
A. Nikon designed and supplies the lens mount and photographic body architecture for this camera.

Q. Will Nikon also sell the 14n?
A. No, the DCS Pro 14n Digital Camera is exclusively a Kodak Professional product.

Q. Are there any plans to market an EOS-mount version of the DCS Pro 14n?
A. Kodak currently is not publicly discussing any plans to create a Canon EOS-mount version of the DCS Pro 14n Digital Camera.

Q. What about camera warranty, service programs?
A. The DCS Pro 14n will have a one-year warranty, with service provided at Kodak Service Centers worldwide. Various extended warranty programs are available through Kodak dealers on a country-by-country basis.

Q. What is the suggested price of the DCS Pro 14n?
A. In the U.S., the estimated street price for the DCS Pro 14n is near $4,000. Please contact a local authorized dealer of KODAK PROFESSIONAL DCS Digital Cameras for detailed pricing information.

Q. Where and when will the DCS Pro 14n be available?
A. The DCS Pro 14n is planned to be available from authorized dealers of KODAK PROFESSIONAL Products at year-end 2002.

#

Kodak and Kodak Professional are trademarks of Eastman Kodak Company.

A brief note: This item was not supposed to be released until 4AM Eastern time tomorrow, however due to a leak Kodak has dropped its NDA. As our coverage of the Kodak announcement was not completed at this earlier time, this item has been updated several times as we completed the separate parts and posted them.
Source: Eastman Kodak Co.

Original Source Press Release:

Kodak Professional Debuts DCS Pro 14n Digital SLR Camera with Industry-Leading 13.89 Million Total Pixels and Competitive Price Point

Variable Resolution, Ease-of-Use Ideal for Portrait, Wedding Photographers

Kodak's DSC Pro 14n digital camera. Courtesy of Eastman Kodak Co., with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

COLOGNE, Germany, September 24 - Kodak Professional, a division of Eastman Kodak Company, which introduced the industry's first professional digital camera in 1991, today announced the latest addition to its camera family, the DCS Pro 14n digital camera, an SLR with the industry's first 35-mm size CMOS sensor (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) in an SLR camera. The new camera boasts a 13.89 million pixel CMOS sensor and provides variable resolution raw files. The estimated street price is near USD$4,000.

The easy-to-use DCS Pro 14n is Kodak's sixth-generation professional digital camera and is primarily designed for professional portrait, wedding, event and commercial photographers, but will likely be popular with advanced amateurs as well. Built on a Nikon lens mount, it adds speed, as well as quality, to the photographers' workflow through FireWire connectivity at a 12 MB per second transfer rate, nearly four times faster than previous Kodak Professional cameras.

"This is the camera that portrait, wedding and event photographers have been waiting for," said Jay Kelbley, DCS Product Manager, Kodak Professional. "In addition to its highly competitive price point and phenomenal 13.89 million total pixels, the DCS Pro 14n is loaded with features and, thanks to Kodak Professional firmware, its overall image path enhancements make it the most upgradeable camera on the market."

Kodak's DSC Pro 14n digital camera. Courtesy of Eastman Kodak Co., with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Resolution, Image Storage and Camera Body Features
The camera is equipped with a 4536 x 3024 pixel (effective), 12-bit CMOS imager, covering the full 24mm by 36mm image area of 35mm film, allowing photographers to regain the benefits of true wide-angle lenses and use their Nikon SLR lenses as they have used them with 35mm film. With the DCS Pro 14n photographers have the freedom to select the image size (full 14MP, 6MP, and 3MP) that suits the shooting environment.

The camera captures images at about two frames per second. Images can be saved as DCR raw files or Kodak Professional Extended Range Imaging (ERI) JPEG files. Kodak ERI-JPEG files serve as another form of picture protection for photographers, especially in situations where re-shooting is inconvenient. Kodak ERI-JPEGs are created by and stored in-camera on removable media for later color correction or manipulation, and provide two-stops of exposure latitude and extended color space within a JPEG workflow, a benefit no other competitor offers. The ERI-JPEG format provides professional photographers ease-of-use of JPEG files with the image quality and color/exposure control of Kodak's highly regarded DCR format raw camera files, to create the best quality images.

Images are stored in a CompactFlash memory card and a MMC memory card interface. The camera can write to both storage media, and the image can be sent to each card simultaneously in any of the available formats.

The Kodak Professional DCS Pro 14n Digital Camera is leveraged from a Nikon lens mount and the magnesium body is more durable and robust than plastic digital cameras based on similar camera platforms. The DCS Pro 14n uses cast magnesium encasements for a solid, rugged camera body instead of the plastic encasements commonly used by other manufacturers. The robust body 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 Professional's efforts to make digital easier for customers.

Simplifying Digital, Free Firmware Upgrades
Heeding photographers' calls to simplify the transition to digital photography, the DCS Pro 14n includes features for new and more advanced digital shooters. The camera operates in two user modes: basic and advanced. The camera defaults to the basic setting and offers a very intuitive, simple interface. In the advanced mode, the user can adjust many more capture, resolution and storage settings, among others.

"The digital camera learning curve has been sharply reduced with the DCS Pro 14n. Novices and advanced users will be equally at home with the camera's user-friendly functionality," said Kelbley. "As Kodak continues to lead the industry in digital capture, we design our cameras to grow with the photographer. Whether it's a beginner or experienced digital photographer ready to move up to a pro series camera, the DCS Pro 14n will help users explore new territory and upgrade along the way."

The camera is capable of capturing images at two frames per second, for a full burst of up to eight frames in full-resolution mode. Because the features of the DCS Pro 14n are based on Kodak Professional firmware and not hard-wired within the camera, the camera can be enhanced and easily upgraded with free firmware downloads from Kodak Professional. Free firmware upgrades essentially give photographers a "new" camera whereas other manufacturers require the purchase of an entirely new camera system to receive the latest enhancements. Unlike competitors' cameras, the DCS Pro DCS 14n can be taken to Kodak Service Qualified Sites to enable a deeper burst depth (from 8 frames to 18) by doubling the camera's built in RAM buffer from 256MB to 512MB image memory.

Kodak Professional leverages Nikon's digital through the lens (DTTL™) flash metering in the DCS Pro 14n, which represents a major step forward for the technology. Photographers can expect near perfect flash exposures with the DCS Pro 14n, an improvement over many existing professional digital cameras. Unlike competitors' digital cameras, the DCS Pro 14n provides improved image quality and better-exposed images, resulting in more sellable images for photographers.

The DCS Pro 14n has the first professional camera interface localized in eight languages. It includes the latest versions of Kodak Professional DCS Photo Desk and Camera Manager software, and supports DCR FFM and Kodak Professional ERI-JPEG format and is compatible with Kodak ProShots Studio Software Suite, an online image management and display tool that links the photographer to both client and lab in an effective digital workflow for film-based and digital camera images.
The camera is digital camera format (DCF) compatible, a first for a Kodak Professional digital camera. The standardized DCF format gives photographers more access to printing services because most printing systems are calibrated to work with DCF files.

The camera includes a power source in the form of a single rechargeable Li-Ion battery pack, or by an accessory AC adapter. Photographers may select NTSC or PAL video formats for image review. In NTSC mode, the color LCD and the video output are enabled simultaneously, a feature particularly useful for portrait photographers preparing set-ups. Using a video monitor, photographers can "play back" images captured during a shoot as a preview and potential sales opportunity with customers.

Product availability begins in December through authorized dealers of Kodak Professional digital photography equipment.

Eastman Kodak Company and infoimaging
Kodak is the leader in helping people take, share, enhance, preserve, print and enjoy pictures -- for memories, for information, for entertainment. The company is a major participant in "infoimaging" - a $385 billion industry composed of devices (digital cameras and PDAs), infrastructure (online networks and delivery systems for images) and services & media (software, film and paper enabling people to access, analyze and print images). Kodak harnesses its technology, market reach and a host of industry partnerships to provide innovative products and services for customers who need the information-rich content that images contain. The company, with sales last year of $13.2 billion, is organized into four major businesses: Photography, providing consumers, professionals and cinematographers with digital and traditional products and services; Commercial Imaging, offering image capture, output and storage products and services to businesses and government; Components, delivering flat-panel displays, optics and sensors to original equipment manufacturers; and Health, supplying the healthcare industry with traditional and digital image capture and output products and services.

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Editor's Note: For information about Kodak Professional, customers may call: 1-800-235-6325, or visit the Kodak Professional web site at: www.kodak.com/go/professional.

(Note: Kodak, Kodak Professional, ProShots are trademarks.)
Eastman Kodak Company is an authorized licensee of the CompactFlash trademark.

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