Kodak Professional DCS 560 (1998)

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Jun 18, 2016.

  1. Prolegomenon to this post

    I had originally hinted ( http://www.photo.net/casual-conversations-forum/00dyGv ) that we needed either a new forum, or (better) to broaden Modern Film Cameras into something like “Modern Collectible Cameras” so as to include the early digital as well as the late film models. That hasn’t happened, of course.
    After some uncertainty, I decided to post my first report on early Canon digital cameras in the Casual Photo Conversations forum ( http://www.photo.net/casual-conversations-forum/00dzLY ). I don’t feel that worked out very well, although it maybe is just that few people care a rat’s tail about such topics. Also, as the account of the Casual forum goes

    “All of the photo.net staff/volunteers share moderating duties on this forum.”

    In my opinion, that makes it difficult to judge how and what kind of moderation takes place, as I have discovered elsewhere on that forum which seems to be morphing into a sort of combination of “philosophy of photography” with the friendliness of the old Off-Topics forum.

    Nonetheless, I recognize that much of the participation here at the Canon EOS forum is more geared to recent advances, etc., so I hope people will at least tolerate an historical diversion.

    Kodak Professional DCS 560
  2. The first Kodak digital camera, “The Electro-Optic Camera - the World's first DSLR” was based on the Canon F-1 for a particular U.S. Government buyer that preferred Canon to Nikon ( http://nikonrumors.com/2013/04/09/interview-with-kodaks-lead-engineer-on-the-early-nikon-based-kodak-dcs-cameras.aspx/ ).
    However, when Kodak prepared a commercial version, they built the digital camera around a Nikon F3 body (ibid) because they felt there was a larger US government market for Nikon lens mount. Interestingly, to me anyhow, Kodak bought the F3 bodies commercially and converted them without involvement or the knowledge of Nikon. In 1991, this became the Kodak DCS with a 1.3 megapixel Kodak KAF-1300 sensor.

    Some of this history of the Kodak digital cameras is given in the Wikipedia article at ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodak_DCS ). Despite the common “knowledge” that Kodak failed to adapt to the digital onslaught, the truth is that Kodak was a, perhaps, THE, real pioneer here ( http://www.techradar.com/news/photography-video-capture/how-kodak-invented-the-digital-camera-in-1975-364822 ).
    Another of those things done first in the USA, but successfully developed into a commercial venture elsewhere.

    Both Nikon (F3 body) and Canon (EOS-1n body) were developed. Further integration of the digital works with the camera bodies were made , especially in the 500-series including a 2 MP DCS 520 and a 6 MP DCS 560 (the camera presented here). An LCD preview screen was added in the 500 series.

    These Kodak Professional DCS cameras were also sold by Canon directly as the Canon EOS D2000 and D6000, respectively. ( http://global.canon/en/c-museum/product/dslr777.html and http://global.canon/en/c-museum/product/dslr778.html )

    The initial price from Canon for the D2000 was ¥1,980,000, and the D6000 was ¥3,600,000!

    This was at a time of rapid fluctuation in the yen and dollar relative values, but the latter price comes out to somewhere between US$38,000 and $28,000.

    I think that the Kodak Professional DCS 560 and the Canon EOS D6000 were not aimed much at the consumer market. Most of the concern in discussions of design and so on seem to be with government markets, although a version of the earlier DCS 420 was sold as the Associate Press NC2000, so buyers with deep pockets were welcomed. Although the later prices for the DCS 500 series dropped down considerably (by 2001, $8000 - http://www.robgalbraith.com/content_page08d3.html?cid=7-3847-3857 ) to the ca. US$5000 range, this was still pricey for 2000 and earlier.

    So what is this expensive, expensive, digital camera?

    AF single-reflex lens digital camera. Single-shot camera with 36 bit full-color (RGB each 12 bits). Object frame size: 18.4 x 27.6mm. 6 megapixel CCD (3040 horizontal x 2008 vertical pixels. Aspect ratio = 2:3. Maximum burst: 3 frames. Maximum frame rate: One fps at 1/250 second shutter speed or higher.
    ISO range: 80-200

    It uses the EF-mount Canon and compatible lenses with a 1.3X “factor”. Files are saved in TIFF format. I was intrigued by the
    Infrared-cut Low-Pass Filter: Built-in, removable by the user.

    It’s not all that heavy and feels very much like the later 1D series cameras:
    161 x 174 x 92mm, 1650g (without battery)

    Reviews and discussions of the 560:

    Manuals and supporting data are available at http://www.camerahacker.com/Forums/...Camera/Kodak/Kodak_DCS-Series_On-Line_Manuals as well as elsewhere.

    On mine, the total number of “actuations” is listed as 5895. This is remarkably low, so this unit is practically “new” if that figure is right.
    Very great thanks to Ed Avis for making this camera available to me. I'm having great fun.
  3. I’m still somewhat house-bound, but definitely on the mend. So, I just went out with the camera and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 and my Canon EF 100-400 mk 1 and took my end-of-driveway shots. I will be trying for something more, I hope (boy do I hope) in the near future. For now, at least this makes it somewhat easier to compare to my other recent posts.

    The first shots are at ISO 80, the low setting on the camera.This is with the EF 50mm lens

  4. Here is a 100% crop from that image. The anti-aliasing filter has been removed, and you will notice some artifacts.
  5. Here is my street scene at ISO 80, 50mm
  6. and a 100% crop from that

  7. Then, the water tower at ISO 200 (the maximum on this camera) with the Canon EF 100-400mm mk i at 400mm (handheld). With the 1.3X “crop factor” that is a equivalent of a 520mm lens on a 35mm camera.

  8. and a 100% from that image:

  9. How was the camera to use?

    Frankly, I found the focus to be a little uncertain in the absence of strong vertical or horizontal lines, and it was difficult to lock in focus. All the same, it has a good viewfinder (that of the superb Canon EOS-1n) and touching focus up is easy enough.

    Other than that, the out of camera Tiff files were a little overexposed, but easily fixed in conversion to jpgs (as the above images have been).

    The menu structure and controls are clearly moving toward the later EOS standards, but are not quite “easy to hand” as of this incarnation.

    The absence of the antialiasing filter makes the images sharper (many, if not most, users did remove the filter for this reason) though moire is quite intrusive in something like a computer monitor.
    I am planning to try a red filter (Hoya R72) to see how infra red does on this camera, but not today.
  10. That's it for now.
  11. I was sooo close to pulling the trigger on a DCS-14, but I'm glad I didn't because the technology was improving so fast.
    But when the 5D2 came out, it was so compelling that I switched from Nikon.
    Hope you keep mending fast, JDM.
  12. Fantastic review JDM. Very informative. Share your views about the off-topic forum!
  13. JDM
    The 100% crop @ ISO 200 is nicely crisp. I hope your batteries give more pictures than mine but I am not going to buy new ones any time soon. The dcs 560 I have is some kind of a hybrid because the file size and ISO range are the same as the 520. The EXIF says 520C (?). Didn't know you were ailing so get well!
  14. As always an interesting review from you JDM.
    I hope you will recover soon.
  15. The battery, by the bye, is a new one, although I don't know how long it may have been in storage before I got it.
    It does work better than the batteries I got with the camera, which seem to have lost the capability for a full charge, although they "sort of" work.
    My illness is not threatening, just frustrating and uncomfortable. Don't know if I picked it up in India, or it is home-grown. Thanks for the good wishes.
    The flash card is limited to 1GB.
  16. I should also add that I don't remember having similar focusing problems with my film Canon EOS-1 or EOS-3 cameras ( http://www.photo.net/canon-eos-digital-camera-forum/00WvBD and http://www.photo.net/canon-eos-digital-camera-forum/00WyuM ). Admittedly, my subjects for these shots had lots of problems for any AF system.
  17. I feel like the mole in "whack-a-mole" in keeping popping up, but I did do a very quick test of the camera with the Hoya R72 infrared filter. You will recall that my copy of the DCS 560 does not have the IR/AA filter on it.
    The camera was set at ISO 80, exposure on Av (the same aperture priority setting as on other, recent EOS cameras) with the filter mounted on a PC-Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 with a Canon EF adapter. I didn't use a tripod but just pushed the camera up against the glass door.
    The lens was focused at infinity on the IR dot, and the camera chose 1/20 sec as the speed with this result. Later I will do some actual pictures with a tripod and all, but this is merely proof of concept.
    I always wanted a camera for IR work, and now I have one!
    Despite its age, this one is starting to show signs of actually being useful in a number of ways, as opposed to collector's shelf queen.
    I'm quite pleased and have no regrets, at least in this regard, that is.
  18. Great review of a digital pioneer camera JDM. Get well soon.
    Putting it in the EOS forum caught my attention. I obviously missed it when posted elsewhere and would be an unlikely candidate to see it that old cameras forum.
  19. Thanks JDM for posting it here. The Eos forum is the only one i read..
    Get well soon, i know what it is to be house bound.
    and on a side note. i like trains (ob Fred Eaglesmith) (see thursday picture)
  20. Kodak's failure to become a major player in the DSLR market has got to be one of the most baffling business decisions in history...
  21. Harry, I think the story of Kodak and digital cameras shares a lot with the story of Ampex and the VCR.
    In both cases, pioneering work, but aimed at government and high-end user$ and only developed for the "common person" by the Japanese.
    I think the "military-industrial-congressional complex" that Eisenhower warned about meant that many American companies simply didn't look for a consumer market - they were selling all the $28,000 cameras and $4000 adjustable spanners that they wanted to. Was it J.P. Morgan or Cameron that said
    "You can sell anything to the government at any price you have the nerve to ask"​
    or some such?
  22. Kodak had a nice sideline in digital SLR cameras when they were still a niche market. Canon or Nikon would make the bodies and Kodak would modify them into Frankenstein digital versions. Once Canikon decided they wanted to make their own digital cameras with their own sensors and electronics, Kodak were toast. They tried to collaborate with Sigma but the resulting product just wasn't up to scratch - far too clunky compared to Canon's offerings, which "just work".
  23. Harry, I recently read "A Triumph of Genius, Edwin Land, Polaroid and the Kodak Patent War". Very interesting book. It described Kodak management as hidebound and pigheaded, quite happy to sit there and rake in money from film and developing. Generally, they limited their innovation to the development of the Instamatic, Pocket Instamatic and Disk film formats. Though they did some groundbreaking digital cameras for that time, management was never really going to commit to that effort because digital threatened their film business.
  24. JDM, as always informative and interesting.
  25. Correction
    the quote was
    "You can sell anything to the government at almost any price you've got the guts to
    and it was reportedly said by Jim Fisk, one of the other robber barons. Although it was said in the Civil War, it equally applies to the golden age of government contracting after WWII.

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