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Author Topic: 14n report  (Read 16474 times)
Peter K. Burian
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« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2003, 08:12:16 AM »
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Imaging Resource (USA) has published the first very long review of the Kodak Pro 14n. It's a preview really, because Firmware upgrades are proceeding, and they used early Firmware.
 
I don't agree with all of it, and I have some perspectives that they did not consider, but at least it's done with a logical approach.
 
See full text at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/14N/14NP.HTM
 
Peter Burian
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Quentin
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« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2003, 11:16:37 AM »
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Without wishing to be an S2 cheerleader, I wonder how much better the 14n will be in comparison to work like this:

http://www.pbase.com/image/14644768/original

Taken with a Fuji S2 by talented fashion photographer James Russell.

Quentin
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James Pierce
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« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2003, 03:18:05 PM »
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Image quailty asside, the other limitations of this camera make it totally unacceptable for anything but studio use.  Max 1/4 of a second ? 10 second turn on ? Come on guys - I'm really not sure why people insist on flogging the dead horse.  Firmware can make small changes, if there was a big improvement to be made it would have happened already.
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Mike Spinak
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« Reply #23 on: March 24, 2003, 04:46:14 PM »
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Thanks, Peter.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #24 on: March 25, 2003, 02:06:50 PM »
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Regarding the 14n's poor low light performance (ie can't shoot at high ASA and can't use long shutter speeds), video cameramen who have been shooting on chips for years have a saying:

"All cameras shoot great in the sunshine"

Peter
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Eric Fredine
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« Reply #25 on: March 25, 2003, 10:42:42 AM »
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Peter - I cannot see the 14n being practical "for some outdoor nature, travel and landscape photography, in good light".

Good light does not equal 'lots of light' (which seems to be the real requirement here).  Many of the most successful images are made at the edges of the day and involve long shutter speeds.  Are you supposed to carry around 2 cameras: one for bright daylight and another for all the rest?  I think most of us would just want to carry one camera.  

This doesn't necessarily invalidate the camera for other uses, I just can't imagine any 'outdoor' photographer accepting the 14n limitations.  (Full disclosure: I'm a contented 1Ds owner.)

cheers,
Eric
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Eric Fredine
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« Reply #26 on: March 25, 2003, 11:33:27 AM »
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Peter,

Of course there are many successful landscape images with shorter shutter speeds.  However, I know I wouldn't CHOOSE a camera for landscape work if I felt it had limitations at longer shutter speeds - there are just too many situations where this comes up.

If you were going to spend several hours hiking in to a location would you rather have a 1Ds or a 14n with you?  

cheers,
Eric
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Nick Devlin
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« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2003, 05:38:48 PM »
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The studio portaits on the Steve's Digicam's review are positively alarming.  One needn't look very closely at the model's hair to spot the awful noise/c.a effect which appeared so acutely in Michael's test images (see next to her chin).  

The lower portions of the model's hair are unacceptably 'muddy' and have that lovely "Memories of the Mavica" texture I hadn't enjoyed since the early 90s.  

If these results prevail under optimum studio conditions . ...yikes.
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Peter K. Burian
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« Reply #28 on: March 28, 2003, 09:41:02 AM »
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And, Steve has arrived at essentially the same conclusions as I did. He has just been more polite about it.
Michael:

Steve's Digicams conducted very thorough testing, in a very wide range of conditions, before publishing any conclusions. http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/dcspro14n.html

I'm sure they were tempted to be the FIRST to publish any Conclusions about the Pro 14n, but they resisted the temptation to publish before full testing was completed. (As did Imaging Resource http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1048477334.html )

Instead, they waited until they had a camera for several weeks, and were able to test it extensively. That is a logical, fair and balanced approach. My only complaint? They both used a pre-production camera.

DP Review has still not published a Review because (apparently) they feel it would be premature to do so, with a pre-production camera. And perhaps until they get another firmware update. (As far as I know, consumers cannot yet buy the Pro 14n; by the time they can, there will be even more advanced firmware.)

Most of our debate (primarily by E-mail) has been about approach and publication of strictly negative Conclusions based on very, very limited experience with the camera. Your Part I, as originally published, especially. Part II, after your second experience under different circumstances, is more balanced. <<< ... I'm ready to eat some crow. >>>

Part III, after your full, extensive testing of the Pro 14n, should be even more balanced.

And that has been my point all along as I wrote in a posting on March 23: <<< I refuse to make -- or publish -- powerful conclusions based on preliminary testing, with early Firmware, and based on very limited shooting and lighting situations. (With any camera.) Although I have made several hundred images with the PRO 14n, in various situations, I must write my "preview" without the benefit of even more advanced Firmware. Consequently, I refuse to do so with final conclusions and "absolutes". I refuse to take a "my mind is already made up" approach.>>>

Peter Burian
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Ray
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« Reply #29 on: March 29, 2003, 02:08:49 AM »
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I have to disagree. Most reviews of cameras are positive because modern product design and manufacture is at this point in time (assuming a company is really trying) essentially perfect--meaning that most cameras are essentially good (I'm not talking about the 14n) and any failings noted in a review are merely the expression of the personal fetishes and preferences of the reviewer.
Erik,
Okay! So you're not talking about the 14n - just objecting generally to my comments. Fair enough!

I can only speak from my own impressions and experiences over the years, not just with cameras but hi fi equipment, computer components and all sorts of things.

I get the impression some magazines (and web sites), for example, will simply refuse to print a bad review because it only serves to antagonise the advertiser. Other reviewers will make polite criticisms cloaked in euphemisms, leaving the reader to 'read between the lines' as it were. Many reviews simply don't get to the guts of the matter and merely give an overview heavily dependent on the manufacturer's specs and brochures. Some reviews simple leave out the most critical information of all. (The number of reviews of flat bed scanners I've read that don't even mention the Dmax, is not funny.)

It's my impression (and after all it's only an impression, but I like to think based on some hard evidence) that many reviewers of products either don't have the financial independence to do a ruthlessly objective job or don't have the time and in-depth knowledge to properly evaluate the product.

Your notion that modern product design is essentially perfect, is (without wishing to cause offense) quite naive. (Okay! Buy you a beer some time). It's very easy to be dazzled by the bells and whistles and be distracted from the basic performance of the product.
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Peter K. Burian
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« Reply #30 on: March 28, 2003, 07:10:34 PM »
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Mike: Because of lossy compression (etc.) any JPEG image will have lower quality than a RAW image. I'm not sure what Steve was getting at, but ERI JPEG's do not seem to be of lower quality than regular JPEG's.

Of course, I have no idea how to test for that.

The big advantage of ERI JPEG's is wide dynamic range and exposure latitude. Using a Kodak provided Photoshop plug-in, you can extensively adjust exposure (about 2 EV of leeway) and color balance before converting the image to TIFF, or conventional JPEG. While maintaing excellent image quality. I was especially impressed with the ability to control exposure - much better results than most photographers would get in Photoshop with a conventional JPEG. (Perhaps advanced PS experts could do as well.?)

Steve's sample image: You know, a lot of people send me images as small JPEG's and most Web sites exhibit them as small (to medium size) JPEG's. I find it impossible or difficult to make quality judgements on such files.

What is the quality of the original file and how much has been lost due to compression or introduction of JPEG artifacts? And in a test, what settings were used in Photo Desk software re: Noise Reduction, Sharpening, etc? That can make a huge difference.

I would really prefer to see a TIFF: a small part of an image area so the file is not excessively large. That would allow for more accurate evaluation.

Cheers!

Peter Burian
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Ray
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« Reply #31 on: March 31, 2003, 10:28:02 PM »
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Erik,
No matter how good you think a product is, there's always room for imrovement. Take the VCR as a case in point. Generally hopelessly complicated (or has been) for time recording, requiring the user to keep re-reading the manual unless they pre-record frequently. Lousy fidelity as compared with the original broadcast (only 250 lines horizontal resolution compared with 450 or so for live broadcasts - unless you have an SVHS machine which requires much more expensive tapes and still shows a noticeable loss in fidelity. The latest analogue VCR's, which are quite affordable, will probably be SVHS, have a Time Base Control built in and the ability to record 'almost' SVHS quality on a standard VHS tape. Definitely an improvement but now obsolete as a result of the introduction of DVD recorders.

It's the same with all products. I've never come across a perfect product - which is not quite the same as saying a particular product might be ideal for the job at a particular point in time.

Take the case of Epson printers. The 1200 was the first desktop printer that some people claimed could rival the quality of wet darkroom prints. A mature product? Not on your life. Hopelessly non-archival inks and papers, inability to reproduce certain hues visible on the monitor and a very clumsy roller feed system. The 1290 which I currently use, has a slightly less clumsy roller feed system. At least the roller attachment comes with the printer as well as a plastic sleeve to facilitate rolling the paper in the opposite direction, which seems to be a necessary rigmarole if you want the paper to feed.

I could go on, but I'd be digressing from the subject of the thread.
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Erik M
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« Reply #32 on: April 01, 2003, 10:54:00 AM »
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>>It's the same with all products. I've never come across a perfect product - which is not quite the same as saying a particular product might be ideal for the job at a particular point in time.<<


Ray,

You've made my point better than I trying to do. If I like the non-archival inks in the 1200 then it's perfect for me. If you don't then it's not perfect for you. It's okay to describe the 1200 (in a review) as not having archival inks (or any other measurable characteristic)--that's objective. But it's subjective to say that that characteristic(s) then makes it a good or a bad printer. The product only becomes good or bad based upon the needs of the user.
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Erik M
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« Reply #33 on: April 02, 2003, 11:32:06 AM »
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>>But you're right, if that's what you're saying, that peoples' expectations differ widely<<

Ray,

That's exactly what I was trying to say. All of our expectations differ widley.
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pixman63
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« Reply #34 on: April 02, 2003, 03:27:15 PM »
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Peter,

  Macintoshes (and Netscape) are forbidden to read that "MS software only" site


FWIW, I am also on a Mac (OS X using IE 5.2) and had no problems accessing the MSN site. I do have an MSN account - for hotmail etc - which may explain this. As an experiment I tried using Apple's Safari browser, and did get knocked back.
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Andreas
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« Reply #35 on: March 22, 2003, 11:55:51 AM »
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Hi Michael,

thank you for the report.

The Canon D1s images seem indeed to be sharper. But, do they really carry more detail? If you blow them up you see that the Canon accentuates contrasting areas by dark or even black lines.

You can apply a similar effect to the Kodak pictures by adding a second layer with black stylized edges (blending 'multiply', low opacity). To me - as far as sharpness is concerned - they have the upper hand after that procedure.

Or do the old short-sighted eyes fool me?

Andreas
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Mike Spinak
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« Reply #36 on: March 22, 2003, 09:06:55 PM »
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Michael,

Thank you very much for your comparison of the 14n and 1Ds.

Oddly, the 1Ds images looked worse than I've come to expect from mine, but there are so many variables that it is hard to make a firm statement about that. Even so, the 14n appeared to my eyes considerably worse in most every way: noise, resolution, color accuracy, dynamic range, chromatic aberration (though I am still convinced that this is almost entirely lens related, not sensor related), odd digital artifacts, etc. Further, I'm wondering whether the testing procedure went easy on the 14n; I wonder whether differences would have been greater if the 1Ds had had its mirror locked (nor an option on the 14n, apparently), and if both cameras had prime lenses to reveal as much as possible. On the other hand, perhaps, somehow, the  14n just needs to work out the kinks, and/or perhaps there was some hidden way in which the 14n was handicapped. If the 1Ds samples looked oddly off to me, perhaps the same could have been true to an even greater degree with the 14n. But I don't think so; I have fair confidence in Michael's competence at testing. I'm just trying to give the 14n the benefit of the doubt.

I guess it's too early to say, either way, but I can't deny that I came away from reading the review with definite conclusions about what I saw.

I'm sure glad that I got the 1Ds, instead of the 14n. I really did want the 14n to be good, though. I wanted a good Nikon family camera to drive down the price of the 1Ds, so that I could buy a second one for less than I paid for the first. Also, even though I've switched to Canon (and I'm liking the Canon side better, so far), I haven't sworn off Nikon forever. I still prefer the Nikon ergonomics. I even kept my favorite Nikon lens.

I'm no expert in the matter, but, it doesn't seem to me that there is much that 14n firmware updates will be able to do to improve the output of an intrinsically noisy sensor. Is there something more to be done than somehow make the noise-reduction algorithms a little less artificial looking?

--Mike

P.S. Michael, you were right! Now that I am running my own photography forum on photo.net, I see that people really are a lot more interested and responsive to articles about gear than to articles about doing photography.
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Peter K. Burian
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« Reply #37 on: March 23, 2003, 08:11:55 AM »
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I am looking forward to your next findings with the camera. I would like very much to see you include this camera at it's best, which is ISO 80. CLIPPED
Peter Gregg
I have a sample of the Pro 14n too, including newer Firmware, and have made some images of absolutely stunning quality. Completely free of artifacts or noise, and as sharp as I want: sharpness is easily adjusted in the RAW image converter software.

The weather has been terrible -- I am also in Toronto, Canada -- so I still need to do a lot more shooting, but so far, I'm impressed with the image quality potential of the Pro 14n. Like any camera, it has pros and cons, but I'm not ready yet to publish conclusions.

Suffice to say, we all need to do more shooting with a Pro 14n. Also, Firmware upgrades are still continuing. That's one reason why other Digital magazines on the Web have not posted test reports.

Personally, I cannot make final decisions on this camera's pros and cons because I have not been able to complete full testing, using even more advanced firmware, in more types of shooting situations, in order to produce conclusions with  truly valid results.

Peter Burian
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Peter K. Burian
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« Reply #38 on: March 24, 2003, 07:18:18 AM »
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The Pro 14n that I am testing, produced excellent image quality at low ISO, particularly in sunny, and in cloudy/bright light. Others indicate similar performance under studio lighting. See http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/25354

At high ISO -- particulary in low light and in deep shade -- the Pro 14n does not produce optimum image quality. It will be interesting to see Michael's evaluation after he uses a Pro 14n at lower ISO, and in brighter lighting conditions.

It does take some practice to determine the most appropriate settings in the RAW converter software for Noise Reduction and Sharpness. For low ISO images, the default setting for NR is too high. Sharpness is fully adjustable, as in Photoshop OR in the PhaseOne software that Michael used on the EOS 1Ds images.

PhaseOne produces higher image quality than the Canon RAW software. For a comparison test, I feel that the manufacturer's software should be used for both cameras. Not a superior aftermarket software for one of the cameras. (At this time, PhaseOne software does not support Kodak RAW files.)

I evaluate image quality before applying Photoshop, and after. <b>I never use any other software when evaluating any camera.</b>

<<< The 14n needs to produce images of 'at least' equal quality to the 1Ds, otherwise it's over-priced - even in relation to the generally unaffordable 1Ds.>>>

I really do not understand the logic of that comment. re: a $5000.US camera vs. a $7500.US camera.

<<<It may well be that current and future firmware updates will produce a marked improvement. It still leaves me wondering why Kodak would release a model that, initially at least, fairs so badly in relation to its competitor.>>>

I don't know that Kodak has shipped anything but dealer samples so far. The third version of the firmware is ready now (I used that yesterday) and development work continues.

Peter Burian
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Peter K. Burian
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« Reply #39 on: March 24, 2003, 10:33:34 AM »
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Michael: We have exchanged very frank E-mails and discussed our views of our differing approaches. I don't think we need to air ALL that on a forum.

I did not say your approach was "not logical". I should have said that "Imaging Review tested the camera in a wide range of circumstances and lighting conditions. I do consider that to be a logical approach and one that I also try to take."

Even if they did only test the camera with the very early version of the Kodak Firmware. Today, I am using the third version for some testing. A much higher/more advanced version may be in cameras that people actually buy. And upgrades will be posted on the Kodak Web site for a simple/quick download.

Also, Imaging Resource used Canon and Kodak RAW software, not an aftermarket software for one camera, and not the other. Again, a logical approach.

Having said that, I disagree with some of Imaging Resource's perspectives on the Pro 14n, as I detailed in an e-mail to you (and to Imaging Resource). And their omission of important points, like the value of the ERI JPEG format.

My "preview report" of the Pro 14n will include the pros and cons of the camera, and also discuss its target market. I don't see the Pro 14n as an all-purpose, do-everything camera.

According to the Kodak press releases, it targets studio, portrait, wedding and event (like PR shots, taken with flash) photographers. Not action or news photographers; not "available light" fans; etc. I suppose that Kodak is surprised at the level of interest expressed by photo enthusiasts who expect a "do-everything" camera like a Nikon F5.

I refuse to make -- or publish -- powerful conclusions based on preliminary testing, with early Firmware, and based on very limited shooting and lighting situations. (With any camera.) Although I have made several hundred images with the PRO 14n, in various situations, I must write my "preview" without the benefit of even more advanced Firmware. Consequently, I refuse to do so with final conclusions and "absolutes". I refuse to take a "my mind is already made up" approach.

I don't know that "the King is naked", Michael. I do know that I have made some images with the Pro 14n that are absolutely stunning in all aspects of image quality. And that this camera has pro's and con's.

So for now, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

Cheers!

Peter
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