Kodak has upped the digital ante for quality-minded digital shooters with the announcement of the DCS Pro Back. The removable, 16 megapixel digital back for certain medium format Hasselblad and Mamiya cameras delivers approximately 48MB files, with or without a FireWire connection to a computer. At first glance, the DCS Pro Back looks like it may offer both strong image quality as well as a level of portability in digital that medium format film shooters will welcome.
Kodak DCS Pro Back
Kodak claims that the DCS Pro Back delivers twice the resolution of any other single-shot medium format camera. A company press release indicates the back is built around a 4K x 4K Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) CCD sensor that is both designed and manufactured by Kodak. The sensor measures 36.86mm x 36.86mm, which translates into an approximate focal length magnification of 1.6, relative to the 2 1/4 film format. It's ISO is fixed at 100. Processing 16 megapixels of data has a direct impact on the back's shooting rate, which is 2 seconds per frame for a total of 8 frames. When the back is released in the first quarter of 2001, it will be compatible with the Hasselblad 555 ELD and Mamiya RZ-series cameras.
The DCS Pro Back includes an LCD monitor which provides for image review after a photo is taken. In addition to a histogram, the LCD display offers zoom and pan capability, focus check and a built-in spot meter. It can also be angled up to 90%, for the digital equivalent of a waist level viewfinder. The back may also be connected to an external video display for review of photos when the camera is tucked into hard-to-reach places.
In keeping with Kodak's engineering of its digital SLR cameras, the DCS Pro Back features a removable anti-aliasing filter. The filter may be replaced by an IR cutoff filter, or swapped out entirely. The back accepts up to two CompactFlash Type II-size cards, including the IBM Microdrive.
The DCS Pro Back features an IEEE 1394 FireWire port for connection to a computer, enabling remote shooting via Kodak's DCS Capture Studio 1.5. A demonstration of DCS Capture Studio at PMA earlier this year revealed a promising program for controlled light shooters. In particular, it made light work of the creation of an ICC input profile, a key workflow step in any fine-tuned digital workflow. The version to be released with the DCS Pro Back will including masking and feathering tools, image sharpening and an "eyedropper-style color selector." The software will initially be released for Mac only, with a Windows version to follow at an unspecified point in the future.
Kodak has not yet announced a price for the back, which is to ship early next year. The DCS Pro Back will be on display at Photokina 2000 this week in Koln, Germany. Kodak's announcement of the DCS Pro Back follows closely on the heels of Foveon's unveiling of their own 16 megapixel sensor based on CMOS technology.