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Author Topic: 14n report  (Read 16484 times)
Ray
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« Reply #60 on: March 22, 2003, 05:26:50 PM »
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This is a great disappointment. Not that I have any Nikon mount lenses, but I was hoping the competition from a cheaper alternative would put pressure on the pricing of the 1Ds. There's been much speculation that the 14n might persuade some people to switch systems. In view of these initial impressions from Michael, that seems very unlikely.

For those who have invested heavily in Canon lenses, it's gratifying to know that Canon is still ahead in the game. There must be a lot of pressure on Kodak to catch up, otherwise they wouldn't be releasing a camera that clearly isn't ready and needs further firmware updates. You'd have to have a lot of faith to buy the 14n at this stage in the expectation that things will eventually be put right. Look at the Contax debacle.
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« Reply #61 on: March 24, 2003, 09:47:28 AM »
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Peter,

Am I to assume that you are infering that my approach isn't logical?

At least I'm willing to be honest about the limitations of this camera. Can you imagine saying to a customer who is about to buy a film camera, "Oh by the way, you can't use film rated higher than ISO 100. And, be carefull shooting backlight subjects with fine detail. And, did I mention - you can't use shutter speeds slower than 1/4 second."

The fact that the firmware in dealers cameras is not the final version is beside the point. Kodak has had 6 months to get the firmware right and they're still scrambling. I doubt that another week, or month, is going to change things dramatically. In any event, the firmware that I used yesterday is, according to Kodak, the one that will be in the shipping cameras and though there are some small fixes it hasn't dramatically changed anything.

I refuse to pussyfoot on this issue. For U.S. $5,000 a professional photographer deserves to get a superb camera able to be used in a wide variety of situations. The Kodak 14n is seriously limited and potential customers deserve to be informed of this. The fact that it is built based on a $350 consumer model body is also not going to be addressed by a firmware upgrade.

Sorry Peter, the King is naked and someone has have the guts to say so.

Michael
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Peter K. Burian
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« Reply #62 on: March 24, 2003, 04:37:31 PM »
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Peter, first you mention the value of the ERI-JPEG, then a few sentences later, you say that this is camera is targeted for studio and portrait photographers, not available light photographers. (By the way, am I remembering incorrectly that Kodak was also originally marketing this as a landscape shooter?)

Those seem contradictory to me. Why would a studio photographer, using controlled lighting, ever be wildly missing his/her exposures, and therefore be needing the ERI-JPEG?

Frankly, I don't see much value in the ERI-JPEG, at all. I'm strictly an available light nature photographer, usually spotmetering and manually setting aperture and shutter speed, and I can't remember the last time that I've missed my exposure by a stop. (Autoexposure works darn well, too.) It's a very, very rare occurrence, if it ever happens at all. I'm guessing that the the same is true for practically all the people who spend $5,000 or more on cameras.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the value of the ERI-JPEG. Please feel welcome to elaborate.

--Mike
Mike: I do not recall Kodak saying the camera targets the landscape photographer (but see my comment below). ERI JPEG is useful when you don't have a lot of space on a memory card.

e.g. A photographer shooting grad photos at a school. Hundreds of students. Smaller JPEG files are great, because he does not need to keep switching to new memory cards. And in 13.5MP capture, the JPEG's are gorgeous.

If color balance and exposure are great ... fine. Don't use the Kodak software to adjust them.

I think the camera would be fine for some outdoor nature, travel and landscape photography, in good light. Then, the ERI JPEG feature might be useful.

If you get exposure dead on every time, and color balance too, great! Ignore the benefits of the ERI JPEG mode.

Peter
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Peter K. Burian
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« Reply #63 on: March 25, 2003, 11:51:34 AM »
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If you were going to spend several hours hiking in to a location would you rather have a 1Ds or a 14n with you?
Eric: Am I hiking an hour through deep sand, carrying a lot of equipment and a tripod? In 90 degree temperatures? And then an hour to get out?

Perhaps the lighter camera.

 

All joking aside, I am not getting into a Canon vs. Kodak debate. If someone paid me enough to conduct and write a full COMPARO TEST REPORT, maybe I would do so.

Peter
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Peter K. Burian
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« Reply #64 on: March 27, 2003, 05:15:37 PM »
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http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/dcspro14n.html
 
He used firmware v 4.1.2  

<< Kodak DCS Pro 14n Review Posted Steves Digicams >>

Very long and multi-faceted review.

Peter
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #65 on: March 28, 2003, 04:01:05 PM »
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Stick to your guns, Michael. After looking at the 14n sample images on Kodak's web site and the images in your review and elsewhere, it became apparent to me that the 14n, pixel for pixel, has lower image quality than even their DC4800, a 3.1 megapixel digicam discontinued nearly 2 years ago. (I bought one on closeout at the time and shot over 10,000 frames with it so I have a fairly good idea of its' capabilities) The 4800 isn't much better than the 14n in the noise department, but it is generally significantly better in terms of color fidelity, except when the 14n is at ISO 80 in sunlight. And the 4800 has never exhibited that funky stippling the the 14n shows in some of your test shots.

The fact that you can make any kind of comparison between a $400 consumer-grade digicam and a "pro" DSLR that costs 10 times as much  is kind of ridiculous; the only advantage the 14n has is 4x the pixels; but they aren't any better then the DC4800's pixels. That is truly unfortunate.
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Ray
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« Reply #66 on: March 28, 2003, 07:39:06 PM »
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I find it very refreshing to read an honest, 'no pulled punches' review of a product. I think most readers of this forum should be savvy enough to realise that most magazines, and many web sites, are inevitably compromised to some degree in reviewing a product, by financial considerations. How often do you see in a magazine, a review of a particular product and then 2 pages further on, an advertisement for that very same product.

Michael's review of the 14n is negative, sure. And his review of the D30 was equally positive, if not more so.

The public is not served by reviewers masquerading as being truly independant and able to say whatever they feel to be true without fear or favour, when in reality their existence is dependent upon advertising revenue or sales commissions.
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Peter K. Burian
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« Reply #67 on: April 02, 2003, 12:41:49 PM »
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BJL: The MSN.com Review is very, very long. The best I can do is to send you a copy of it in an e-mail.

Here is an excerpt:

<<< Early Look at the Kodak DCS Pro 14n Digital SLR

 14 Megapixels of Detail and Color, But What About Noise?
By Charlotte K. Lowrie, managing editor>>>

<<<< It takes a village: Camera reviews seldom involve more than the writer/photographer who reviews the camera. For this review, however, I had invaluable assistance from Dan Hyde of Digital Vista Studios; Marc Konik of GA Communications in Stone Mountain, Georgia; David Norris, chairman and CEO at OnRequest Images; and Peter Burian, MSN Photos contributing writer. In addition, the professional team at Kodak, particularly Jay Kelbley, worldwide product manager, provided ongoing, in-depth technical information throughout the two weeks of evaluation.

Update Note: This review, as well as early reviews on the DCS 14n, was initially written after using a pre-production camera. The camera firmware on that camera was not final. Just before publication, however, I was able to use a Pro 14n with a later version of the firmware, and the improvements to overall operation and tweaks to image quality were impressive.

Conclusions

Since the cameras went out to reviewers, the DCS Pro 14n has created a storm of opinion. Much of it has been negative, perhaps because the first published review (on the Web) was very critical of the camera and included sample images with high noise levels. As I understand it, that first review was based on a brief shooting experience with an early version of the firmware with pictures taken primarily in low light at ISO 400. Unfortunately, a "first" review can prematurely set public opinion.

More detailed reviews, based on more extensive testing in a broad variety of conditions, were published during the subsequent week on other digital camera Web sites. While those tests were also made with the early version of the firmware, they did highlight both the pros and the cons of the DCS Pro 14n.

For my part, I found that it took a full two weeks of shooting with the camera, in a broad variety of lighting conditions and ISO settings, with various versions of the firmware, to get a feel for it, to evaluate the images, and to formulate my opinion.

Considering all that has been written about this camera, I'll cut to the chase. There are lighting situations, ISO settings, and shutter speeds that produce digital noise that is objectionable. But, let's be fair here: I've shot with another brand, high-end digital SLR for around two years, and at ISO settings above 250 or 320, that camera also produces image noise that I find just too annoying to deal with. Frequently, I simply delete the images. As a result, it takes a really special photo op for me to crank up the ISO to anywhere near 400. The same hesitation applies when I think of making high ISO or long exposures with the DCS Pro 14n, particularly with firmware that is not optimized for exposures longer than 1/2 sec.

The Pro 14n produces ultra-high resolution images of exceptional quality, but it is not the perfect, do-it-all camera. It is not the ideal choice if you must routinely shoot long exposures, or work at ISO settings above 320, or if you're a wedding photographer who cannot use flash in a dark chapel. Because it does not offer a high-speed fps option, this is not the right camera for sports and news photography. And I don't recommend buying the DCS Pro 14n if you need an instant-on camera, or if you tend to bite your nails after one or two seconds of waiting for the buffer to clear. Wait to see what speed improvements are produced by later versions of the firmware and by the optional buffer upgrade (from 256 MB to 512 MB) that Kodak will offer.

Buy this camera if you routinely shoot at ISO 80 to ISO 200, or if you work under studio lighting, or if you rarely need exposures that are longer than a quarter-second. If you shoot within those parameters, you may need to fiddle with the "noise reduction versus maximum detail" settings, but you won't need to do this very often based on my experience. And if your photography falls into this category, buy this camera if you want beautiful, rich images with a level of detail that you've forgotten that pictures could have.

And if you buy the camera, take time to get to know its strengths and its weaknesses. The "getting-to-know-you" phase should take about two weeks; afterwards, you shouldn't have to think about it again. But do check for free firmware upgrades on the Kodak Professional Web site from time to time. Take advantage of updates for new camera functions, for faster startup time, for greater burst depth, for more ISO options in high resolution capture, and perhaps for improvements in image quality. Also think about the extra-cost option for doubling the size of the buffer memory. Once it is available, that upgrade will allow you to shoot more images more quickly.

Here is how I rate the DCS Pro 14n.

Color, detail, tonal range, ease of use Excellent.

Visible digital noise Depending on the lighting, ISO, or shutter speed, digital noise ranges from invisible to annoying.

As I've said before, this camera loves light and produces beautiful images under the right lighting conditions. Noise is virtually non-existent in low ISO images, particularly those made in sunny or cloudy/bright outdoor light or under studio lighting. For optimum quality, shoot in RAW capture mode and set Noise Reduction to zero in the Photo Desk software. Digital noise is more visible in images made at high ISO settings, of low-contrast subjects, and of scenes in deep shade or in low light. The lower the light and contrast, and the higher the ISO, the more objectionable the noise level tends to be. Images made under these conditions call for a trade-off: a higher level of Noise Reduction (in-camera or in Photo Desk software) to minimize color artifacts but with a loss of definition in intricate detail.

Value for the money Very good. I base this rating on several factors: the camera's outstanding image quality (within the previously stated parameters), the low price as compared to the EOS 1Ds, plus the ongoing firmware and software updates that will keep the DCS Pro 14n, as well as the processing environment, and workflow, up to date at no additional cost. While the buffer size increase will be an extra-cost option, it will enhance the camera's value.

To see a gallery of photos taken with the DCS Pro 14n and full-resolution cutaways from some of the images, visit wordsandphotos.org >>>>

THE ABOVE IS JUST A SHORT EXCERPT
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