Kodak DCS 460 (which lens?)

Discuss older Nikon-based Kodak digital SLRs, including DCS 100, DCS 200, NC2000, DCS 400/600/700-series, etc. Ask questions, post general comments, anecdotes, reviews and user tips.
Post Reply
Ashley_Pomeroy
Posts: 119
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 10:04 pm
antispam: No
Location: England
Contact:

Kodak DCS 460 (which lens?)

Post by Ashley_Pomeroy » Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:03 pm

Hi there chaps; I'm the person a few threads down who bought and sold a Canon D2000. I've since - about five minutes ago - won an auction for a Kodak DCS 460! Whoo. I've always wanted one of the older, odder Kodak SLRs, but I was wary of spending money on something I would barely use. With a six megapixel sensor and a 1.3x cropping factor and no anti-aliasing filter I am genuinely curious how this machine will stack up against the modern era.

The previous owner seems to have modified the battery in such a way that it tapes onto the front of the digital module, which seems very clever. I can use the PCMCIA adapter I had with my D2000. Shame I sold the hot mirror filter.

Now here's the thing. I'm a Canon user, mainly because the system lends itself to using other lenses with an adapter (I have a collection of M42 and Contax/Yashica/Zeiss lenses that I treasure). As I understand it the Nikon system is generally Nikon-only, and although some other lenses will mount with adapter they will not focus to infinity without an optical element in the adapter, which doesn't appeal to me.

Also, I understand that modern Nikon bodies have a hard time with older Nikon lenses, in the sense that they mount but the meter doesn't work. I have no idea if the N90s body has this limitation. I seem to remember reading that some old lenses have to be mounted in a special way, with the aperture ring at a certain point, but phffft (sound of mind deflating).

So therefore I wonder if there is a such a thing as a good, cheap, Nikon-compatible lens with a small filter mount that I could use with this camera; perhaps a 35mm or 50mm prime lens from the past, with excellent image quality but a low price, and hopefully a filter thread that lets me use the cheapest hot mirror filter I can find. Something like a 50mm f/1.8 for portraits. What would you choose? I trust you.
Last edited by Webmaster on Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Changed subject to include lens reference

nikonnl
Posts: 162
Joined: Sun May 07, 2006 2:51 pm
antispam: No
Location: South-Holland
Contact:

Re: Kodak DCS 460

Post by nikonnl » Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:46 am

Hi Ashley, congratulations with that camera. As you stated yourself this is a 'modified' Nikon N90/F90. It can take older Nikkor lenses but the best is to use the AF-D lenses; in order to make use of the various programs. A cheap but very nice lens is the Nikkor AF-D 1.8/50 mm. If you would use lenses of other makes via an adapter you have to set everything by hand and - if there is no exposure meter contact - the exposure meter will not work. If you use older non-AF Nikkor lenses you may set the camera at A = aperture priority and set the aperture of the lens by hand. The camera program will choose a shutter speed. This is only possible with non-AF Nikkor lenses build after 1977 thus having the AI-lens mount. You may use the camera for film as well, but you have to remove the digital component, buy a regular back door and battery chamber door & battery holder and - finally - you should replace the little chrome button above the upper film rail at the back of the camera.
Regards,
Nico
D1/D1X/D1H/D2H/D2X etc.

Webmaster
Site Admin
Posts: 1005
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 4:12 pm
antispam: No
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Kodak DCS 460

Post by Webmaster » Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:05 am

Hi Ashley. Congratulations with your DCS 460.

In addition to what Nico said, I'd just like to add that you don't need to worry about the "D" in the AF lenses. Any AF lens will do just fine. The 50mm f/1.8 is great value for money (and a fine lens regardless of price, for that matter).

The D simply means that the lens provides distance information as part of flash and ambient light exposure processes - I've never seen any real world difference between D and non-D AF lenses.

You should also note that the DCS 460 has a 1.3x crop sensor, meaning that you probably want to avoid Nikkor DX lenses (made especially for Nikon's current 1.5x crop DX sensor cameras).

Jarle

Anssi Krooks
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 2:45 pm
Location: Espoo, Finland
Contact:

Re: Kodak DCS 460

Post by Anssi Krooks » Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:25 pm

It is also notable that F/N90 doesn't offer ability to user to control aperture if lens doesn't have aperture ring. It means that G-lenses are usable only in P and S exposure modes where camera controls aperture. In A and M aperture stays in whatever the smallest in particular lens is (mostly F/22-F/36). VR is also not working with F/N90 or cameras from that era.
D1X, DCS PRO SLR/n, DCS 760, DCS 420c & Canon Pro70

Webmaster
Site Admin
Posts: 1005
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 4:12 pm
antispam: No
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Kodak DCS 460

Post by Webmaster » Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:18 pm

To summarize all of the above: The best/easiest solution if to get a full frame (i.e. not DX) autofocus lens with an aperture ring (i.e. not a G lens).

Here's a lens compatibility chart you may find useful: http://www.nikonians.org/nikon/slr-lens.html

Hope this helps.

Jarle

Ashley_Pomeroy
Posts: 119
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 10:04 pm
antispam: No
Location: England
Contact:

Re: Kodak DCS 460 (which lens?)

Post by Ashley_Pomeroy » Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:25 pm

That should come in handy. I was on the verge of buying one of those 28-100mm G-type plastic zooms, but thanks to this and also Thom Hogan's page on the 460 I decided against it. Instead I have ordered a 50mm f/2 and a lensless M42 adapter for close-up work.

The DCS 460 has arrived. It's lighter than I expected. The shutter is very loud; the N90s's controls seem self-explanatory. I assumed that the ISO value was locked at 80, but it can be changed both up and down. The manual suggests that it will shoot one shot and then revert back to ISO 80, I haven't tried it yet.

In the meantime I've taken a few photos by simply holding an M42 Yashinon lens in front of the mount, with an extension ring to block stray light. The maximum focus distance is only a foot or so with this arrangement. Here's an example; it's not much, but I'm still mind-boggled that a camera from the late 1990s, costing the same as a house, looking as it does, can produce images that rival the Canon 300D of many years later, at least at base ISO:
Image

That's a box for a 49 lens hood, sitting on top of a packet of Polaroid film that expired in April 1974, before I was even born.

The EXIF calls it a Kodak DCS 460D, and a search on Google for that string returns this lovely image of a bee:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gisleh/37842489/

It came with a 160mb Lexar PCMCIA card. There's an auction on eBay for a job lot of eight cards of the exact same type, ending in two hours(!), but although the bidding is at $10 with no bids, postage to the UK is $77! I just know I'm going to end up spending more than $77 on SCSI adapters etc for the DCS 460. It would be nice if I could connect the DCS 460 with SCSI to this laptop; it is of the same generation as the DCS 460, and I could update the firmware at least.

Odd thing with cards, which I think has been done to death in these forums already. The PCMCIA card works fine, and I can load the images to my main computer via my ancient Windows 98 laptop in a roundabout way. I have a PCMCIA-CompactFlash adapter. I understand the camera has a hard-coded upper card limit of 512mb. An old 256mb Toshiba card, formated as FAT in the laptop, does not work at all. It shows an E2 error. A 2gb SanDisk Ultra II formatted in the same way shows an E7 error.

However, a 2gb "Silicon Power" card seems to work. The camera recognises it, says that there are 313 images (which is basically correct - 6mb time 313 is roughly 2gb), it takes shots and writes to the card, and decrements the frame counter by one each time. I can delete the files in the camera and the frame counter counts back up again. So far so good. The problem is that when I try to read the card with Windows, no files appear. The appropriate amount of file space has beeen taken up, so presumably the files are there in some form, but Windows cannot see it. This is a damn shame.

NB As a postscript, a chap called 30Cal mentions in this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=358
that a utility called Cardrecovery will exhume the missing files. It does! The process takes a while, but the missing files are there and I can open them in Photoshop etc. Cross fingers. The registration fee of £29 is cheaper than a bunch of PCMCIA memory cards and messing around with SCSI and of course I can use it to undelete other things.

nikonnl
Posts: 162
Joined: Sun May 07, 2006 2:51 pm
antispam: No
Location: South-Holland
Contact:

Re: Kodak DCS 460 (which lens?)

Post by nikonnl » Wed Apr 22, 2009 6:33 am

Again, congratulations with the camera. For macro photography you could use a M42-Nikon adapter and/or a 39mm/42mm step-down ring so you can use EL-Nikkors (enlarging lenses). Concerning the CF-cards, you should use small CF cards (like 128 Mb) via that PCMCIA-CF-adapter and format them in the camera, not in the laptop.
Regards,
Nico

www.nicovandijk.net
D1/D1X/D1H/D2H/D2X etc.

Ashley_Pomeroy
Posts: 119
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 10:04 pm
antispam: No
Location: England
Contact:

Re: Kodak DCS 460 (which lens?)

Post by Ashley_Pomeroy » Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:20 pm

Well, since then I've (a) got hold of a 50mm f/2.0 and (b) an old Powerbook 3400, which has a SCSI port and (c) the appropriate cable. I now have the kind of setup that a studio photographer might have had in 1996; it would have cost something like $40,000 back then for all of this, and I feel a strange frisson using it. The Powerbook talks to the camera easily enough, and Photoshop 5.0 LE runs the DCS Acquire module. I have the .CAL file in the appropriate place; it'll be interesting to see what effect this has on the file, whether the result is any different from using a modern version of Photoshop on a PC without the .CAL file. I assume it maps out stuck pixels... or calibrates the colour, or something. Acquiring the images feels painfully slow by modern standards but then again I only have 40mb in the laptop (the DCS application has *just* enough memory to run).

According to the DCS software, the camera has the latest firmware. I've tried formatting various FAT-formatted CompactFlash cards - 16mb, 256mb, a 512 Lexar "Digital Film" one - in the camera, using this software, but it crashes the application with a Null Pointer Error. The odd thing is that the cards seem to work if I have the camera hooked up to the mains supply - they report the right number of images, and take pictures - but with battery power alone they throw up E2 and E7 errors. And yet the battery is fully-charged.

I've also got a plain non-optical M42-Nikon adapter, which works surprisingly well with longer lenses. A 135mm almost focuses to infinity and would be perfectly useful as a portrait lens.

One thing I have noticed is that the blue channel doesn't extend quite to the edge of the image, particularly the top-left. I notice that the camera's resolution is slightly larger than subsequent six megapixel Kodak DCS designs. I assume that the DCS 560, 660, 760 masked out the edges of the sensor in order to cut off the blue channel's ragged edges. Blue channel noise is worse than the DCS 520, with the result that the images tend to have yellow blotches where there is no signal in the blue channel. I'm running the camera without an infrared filter for the time being, and the result reminds me of two-strip Technicolor. Having said that, the results are very sharp and detailed, and they upscale well. It would be a fantastic camera in a well-lit situation in subzero temperatures with lots of green things in the frame. Or in black and white, although I suspect the DCS 460m would be even more awesome in this respect. I also suspect that a Fuji S2 Pro or Nikon D100 are probably much more practical as a vintage six megapixel Nikon-body semi-pro SLR.

In my opinion, for web shots, the DCS 520 is more practical; the colour is more consistent with the filter, when sized down to 800x600 the images look much the same, and although the DCS 460 has more room for cropping, it's possible to simply snap away frame after frame with the DCS 520 until you get something you want. On a historical level, I suspect that the DCS 460 must have felt like a solution in search of a problem; not as fast as the press models, and for a host of reasons (expense, inconsistent colour, slow frame rate) not quite enough to displace film. With the exception of a few academic papers about mapping settlements or geological surveying I have yet to find an account on the internet from someone who used the cameras professionally back in the late 1990s, e.g. for portraits, product shots etc.

Here's a strip of three images. On the left is the original out of the DCS 460, in the middle is the blue channel, on the right is my best go at making it look good:
Image

I plan to carry it around with me and take a lot more pictures, just to see what it's like. In a way it's very similar to the Leica M8 - Kodak sensor, same cropping factor, same infra-red problems, no anti-aliasing filter - but in many other ways it is not similar at all. Stupidly I sold my 52mm hot mirror filter - found on eBay for $14.95 - when I got rid of the D2000. Bah.

Webmaster
Site Admin
Posts: 1005
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 4:12 pm
antispam: No
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: Kodak DCS 460 (which lens?)

Post by Webmaster » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:17 am

Hi Ashley,

Interesting write-up. Thanks for sharing. No matter how good it looks on paper, the DCS 460 is an old camera with serious shortcomings, compared to later models.
On a historical level, I suspect that the DCS 460 must have felt like a solution in search of a problem; not as fast as the press models, and for a host of reasons (expense, inconsistent colour, slow frame rate) not quite enough to displace film.
That's evolution for you. You can't make a perfect camera without first making a few less than perfect ones..
I also suspect that a Fuji S2 Pro or Nikon D100 are probably much more practical as a vintage six megapixel Nikon-body semi-pro SLR.
No doubt about that. These models are both a different generation and in a whole different league.
Here's a strip of three images.
On my monitor, the original, unprocessed version looks best.

Here are a few owners comments on dpreview.com, if you haven't seen them already: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/read_op ... dak_dcs460

(It's alway funny to read contemporary reviews of these things: "Picked this up from Kodak when they were clearing them out. For the money, 2500 USD, it was a bargain.")

Have fun!

Jarle

30Cal
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2009 5:05 pm

Re: Kodak DCS 460 (which lens?)

Post by 30Cal » Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:34 pm

The hot mirror makes a huge difference on the 420c that I have. I guess I got lucky--the local shop had one used for $12.

The N90s takes AI and later lenses (and AI converted ones). The 55mm micro is a favorite on mine for the 420c (with 2.6x crop).

Post Reply