Kodak DCS 560

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.
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Ashley_Pomeroy
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Kodak DCS 560

Post by Ashley_Pomeroy » Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:45 pm

As mentioned in a previous thread there was a DCS 560 on eBay in the UK a while back, and I bought it. In general it's almost exactly the same as the Canon D2000 I used to own, with the same strengths - fast operation, quirky but no-nonsense interface, good histogram display, solid camera body - and a more useful resolution. The only difference I can see is that the D2000/DCS 520 supported batch JPEG processing whereas the DCS 560 doesn't have that option. Given that the D2000 took about a minute per image, with two megapixel images, I surmise that JPEG processing six megapixel files would have been impractically slow. And that the intended market for the DCS 560 was expected to shoot raw all the time anyway, probably straight to the computer via Firewire.

As Stan Disbrow pointed out, the image quality is leagues ahead of the Kodak DCS 460 which I sold in part to fund the purchase of the DCS 560. I also got the same kind of IBM Microdrive that I sold when I sold the D2000, plus the mains power adapter - which is huge - and the manual! The manual is very good, and has a well-written section on flash photography, explaining that older TTL units work inconsistently because the sensor glass has different reflective properties to film. My T90-era 300TL TTL flash unit seems to work in direct and bounce mode surprisingly well. The two off-brand ETTL flash units I have both crash the camera. The autofocus-confirmation lens adapters that I have also crash the camera.

I was confident enough to put it in my bag and use it for something sensible, rather than messing around with it, to whit:
Image

That was shot with the infrared/antialiasing filter taken out, and a Tiffen Hot Mirror filter mounted on the lens. Nonetheless the hot mirror filter wasn't quite perfect because the model's hair has turned out purple in that image, which is wrong. It should be black. Shades of the Leica M8 debacle. I surmise that I need a stronger hot mirror filter, or two or them, or one that blocks different wavelengths of infrared.

With the antialiasing filter in place the colours are generally modern-looking, although the imaging system sill has a problem with flare from bright lights at the edge of the frame. I haven't shot a finely-detailed object with the filter in place and then removed, to compare the two states. Nonetheless I wish I'd kept the plain infrared filter I used to have with my D2000. In that respect I am in the same position as Stan Disbrow, which is spooky.

I have only take a few out-and-about shots with the camera, generally using a Zenitar fisheye lens. Here's a shot at ISO 125:
Image

And here's a shot at ISO 200:
Image

ISO 200 seems fairly decent - better than the DCS 460 at ISO 80. I suspect that whatever modifications Kodak made to the sensor or the camera's electronics to enable ISO 400 on the DCS 760 were fairly modest.

Overall I'm very impressed. It feels like a rock. The image quality is smooth and finely-detailed, and it's nice to have a 1.3x crop factor. Six megapixels are much less limiting than two megapixels.

I plan to see what the pictures look like if I take out the infrared/antialising filter and shoot in daylight. The DCS 460's images were occasionally usable like this although the colours were too inconsistent. It's nice to have a screen on the back.

Stan Disbrow
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Re: Kodak DCS 560

Post by Stan Disbrow » Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:04 pm

Hi,

The 560 is much better without the IR filter than the 460 was, but I found that you really do need it in there. You might get upwards of 50% keepers, but I find that far too many shots wind up with IR issues - like your purple hair (not that I think most viewers of that particular subject would be looking too critically at her hair!).....

I also have found that the in-camera IR filter is much better to use than hot mirrors in front of the lenses. Of course, I found that out only after buying a hot mirror filter in every size so I'd have one to go with any lens I have! :(

The worst part about all this is that finding an IR-only filter for a 560 these days is next to impossible. The Nikon variants show up several times a month, but I have not seen a Canon variant show up in well over a year....

Later!

Stan
Amateur Photographer
Professional Electronics Development Engineer

Ashley_Pomeroy
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Re: Kodak DCS 560

Post by Ashley_Pomeroy » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:53 pm

There is one thing that puzzles me. In the properties menu there's an option to "enable sharpening", which can be on or off. If I recall correctly, this was part of the JPG processing system in the DCS 520 - you could select sharpening, output resolution and quality, and whether the JPG should have the product or portrait look. The DCS 560 doesn't have the JPG engine and so the sharpening option seems redundant.

I thought it might turn on a flag in the image file so that when I load the image with DCS Acquire, the software will apply sharpening as it renders the image, but DCS Acquire seems to ignore it. I assume it's a bit of code that was never removed, although it's odd that in remained up until the very last firmware version. Perhaps the JPG engine was in an earlier version of the camera's firmware and was taken out?

While I'm at it, here's a shot of Salisbury Cathedral taken with the IR/antialiasing filter out, using an Olympus 24mm f/2.8 at I think f/2.8:
Image

The sky is a bit purple but I don't mind.

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Re: Kodak DCS 560

Post by Webmaster » Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:11 pm

Hi Ashley,

Nice shot of the Salisbury cathedral, which leads me to this off topic reply. Have you read Ken Follet's "The Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End"? If not, you really should. The cathedral in the fictional town Kingsbridge is similar to the one in Salisbury, with rows of narrow, pointed “lancet” windows: http://www.ken-follett.com/pote/kingsbridge.html

Another must-read medival novel (set in Spain) is "Cathedral of the Sea" by Ildefonso Falcones.

Jarle

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