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Kodak DCS Pro 14n Digital SLR

Kodak's latest digital SLR brings full-frame, 13.7 megapixel resolution to market for under 5,000.

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 03/23/2003


Featuring a camera body custom-built for Kodak by Nikon, the DCS Pro 14n looks a lot like Nikon's high-end 35mm cameras. Measuring 5.16 x 6.22 x 3.50 inches (131 x 158 x 89 millimeters), the 14n is about the same size as most high-end 35mm cameras. It's noticeably larger than prosumer cameras like the Nikon D100 and Canon D60/10D, but quite a bit smaller than high-end professional models from Nikon or Canon. (See the shots below comparing the 14n's size to that of the Canon EOS-10D and Canon EOS-1Ds.) The 14n has enough heft to give it a solid feel, at two pounds five ounces (1042 grams) with memory card and battery, a good bit lighter than I'd expected. (For comparison, the Canon EOS-10D comes in just 6 ounces (170 grams) lighter.)

The front of the 14n features the large lens mount, which accommodates Nikon's "F" lenses. Directly to the right of the lens (as viewed from the front) is the lens release button, which unlocks the lens from the mount. Just below is the Focus selector switch, and below that is the 10-pin accessory socket (which hosts Nikon's remote control accessory), protected by a small (and easily lost) cap. In the top right corner is the PC sync terminal, protected by another tiny cap. On the opposite side of the lens is the camera's Depth of Field Preview button, nestled between the lens and hand grip. Directly above it is the AF assist lamp, which also lights when the Self-Timer is active and serves as the Red-Eye Reduction lamp as well. The camera's Sub-Command dial appears at the top of the hand grip, changing camera settings when it's turned.

The right side of the 14n (as viewed from the rear) shows only the secondary Shutter button, used when the camera is held vertically. - The bulge of the battery compartment that projects in front of the camera along its bottom serves as a vertical-format handgrip, but I found it rather awkward to use. It's certainly workable, but far from comfortable, with the bulge of the main handgrip forcing your middle finger lower on the body than I'd like, and making it rather a stretch for your index finger to reach the secondary shutter button.

On the opposite side of the camera are the Video and IEEE 1394 connection ports. Above these is a small battery compartment, which houses the coin cell battery used for clock/date chip backup power. The main battery slot is just below the connection jacks, and features a small latch that releases the battery from the slot.

The majority of the 14n's controls are the rear panel, along with the optical viewfinder eyepiece and 2.0-inch LCD monitor. A sliding diopter adjustment on the left side of the viewfinder eyepiece adjusts the optics for eyeglass wearers. Directly adjacent on the right is the Metering selector and AF/AE Lock button. The Main Command dial in the top right corner controls lens aperture and/or shutter speed when shooting, and a variety of camera settings when used in conjunction with the LCD menus system. In the center of the right side of the rear panel is a Four-Way controller, surrounded by a locking ring useful for preventing any accidental settings changes. Just above the Four-Way controller are the OK and Cancel buttons, with the Delete and Tag/Record buttons to its left. Lining the left side of the LCD monitor are the Menu, Nav+, Hotkey, and Digital Status buttons. Just above these are the Flash Mode and Auto-Exposure Bracketing buttons, in the top left corner. A monochrome status LCD just below the large LCD monitor reports specific camera information, such as white balance, JPEG quality, ISO, etc. Finally, the media compartment is in the lower right corner, protected by a hinged door that snaps firmly shut. A thumb pad on the right side makes a comfortable thumb rest when holding the camera, counterbalancing the support from the handgrip. There's also a tiny microphone just below the viewfinder eyepiece.

On top of the 14n is the pop-up flash compartment, just in front of the external flash hot shoe. A button on the side of the flash compartment releases the flash, letting it spring open. On the left side of the top panel is the Exposure Mode dial, which sits on top of the Drive Mode selector. A small button beside the dials locks the Drive Mode selector in place, preventing it from slipping out of position inadvertently. Angling down towards the front of the camera, the Shutter button and Power switch are on the far right side. Just behind the Shutter button are the Flash Exposure Compensation and Exposure Compensation buttons. On the righthand side of the camera, another status display panel reports basic exposure information, with a switch for the backlight illuminator lamp directly to its right. Also visible from the top of the camera are two eyelets for attaching a neck strap. (A minor point: The neckstrap eyelets are positioned such that the camera body by itself will hang straight. With a lens of any sort attached though, the camera will tilt downward at an awkward angle. While it's obviously impossible for the camera to hang straight with larger lenses attached, regardless of the eyelet positions, I'd like to see the eyelets moved as far forward as possible, to result in better balance when relatively lightweight lenses are attached.)

The bottom of the 14n is pretty plain, featuring only a metal, threaded tripod mount and the bottom lip of the battery slot. A third neck strap attachment eyelet is also on the bottom panel, for use when holding the camera vertically. Thanks to the large battery compartment, the 14n has a very broad, flat bottom, great for secure mounting on a tripod.

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