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Kodak DCS-14n Test Review (dry lab critical analysis)
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Personally I've passed on this camera. From what I've read it takes waaaay too long to turn on (20 seconds, twice as long as most slow consumer point-and-shoot digicams). Worse still about the long turn-on time is that I also read it has no power-saving mode, so unlike my D1H you can't just leave it turned on. This is awful and relegates it to studio use plugged in a wall. Get a 1Ds, D100 or D1X and be happy. I don't know if this has been fixed in newer versions, personally I'd prefer any of the Nikon DSLRs over this.

As you should know, megapixels alone has little to do with performance. For you Canon fans the 10D is also excellent and a third the price.

As I understand it this is a $400 Nikon N80 with some electronics added by Kodak, who in turn mark it up to $3,700.

It was introduced at Photokina in September, 2002.

People compare it to the Canon EOS-1Ds, but the only similarity is sensor size. Here's a comparison made by Canon.

This Kodak is a plastic Nikon N80 with a showy metal cover. The Canon EOS-1Ds is built like a professional workhorse, although it's also too slow. Therefore if you want the Kodak this price differential plays to your disadvantage. People who want the Canon can use this to haggle down Canon, if you of course ignore the fact that there are entirely different classes of camera.

The Kodak is only rated for 30,000 exposures by Canon at the comparison above, which means that I would wear it out in six months. I have not seen Kodak or Nikon offer a number, although Nikon has told me that the D100 has to be much sturdier than 30,000 exposures. You will shoot more on digital than you ever expected. The Canon EOS-1Ds is rated for 150,000 exposures, more appropriate for a digital SLR camera.

Both the Canon and this Kodak are too slow for professional use for the sorts of action photos for which digital is ideal. At slower than 2 FPS and only 8 frames of burst depth and maximum ISO of 800 this Kodak is too slow. It may be perfect if you shoot in a studio for portraits; that's not what I do.

Of course as a cheap replacement for use in a studio or for weddings, go for it if you like the images.

You can see Kodak's data here and the press release here.


I have not played with one so I have no comment. Everything I've seen and read about it says PASS. The images are way too noisy at higher speeds, (even noisy in dark areas at slow speeds) and the real insanity is that the slower shutter speeds may be plagued with noise. There are visible aliasing artifacts because Kodak deleted the anti-alias filter used on every other DSLR. I caution you that image quality alone for test charts as reported by other sites has little to do with the real performance of this or any digital camera. I find image quality of digital cameras is more similar than different from camera to camera (see digital vs. film) and the real differences are ease of use and speed of operation.

You can see some sample images here from Kodak.

Here are some far more illustrative comparison images. You'll see how bad the alias artifacts are.

In racing we have an expression "The baloney stops when the green flag drops." Kodak did the right thing in December 2003 and mailed me a 24 x 36" print of a studio shot of a girl. This is an ideal application for a digital camera, and the print looks great. Not perfect; there are some weird artifacts in the girl's eyebrows if you look to closely, but the lack of film grain and texture removal native to digital cameras' limited resolution makes for a great looking print.

Ignore me; remember I'm out shooting film for landscapes and digital for speed. If I worked in a studio this just might be the ticket.


This camera lacks the required anti-aliasing filter. (see here and here again).

Anti-aliasing (AA) filters are required with single-chip striped-sensor cameras like this (and all popular digital still cameras) since if you point the camera at any fine repeating pattern of lines you can get nasty color artifacts. Remember how Johnny Carson's suits could sometimes flash wild colors on TV if he wore one with a fine line pattern as the camera zoomed in and out? This is the same effect, and likewise will vary with the size of the repeating pattern.

You can see these artifacts here as color fringes all around the black netting.

Before you buy this camera make sure to test it with your own lenses pointed at repeating lines (like a far away office building) at different magnifications and see for yourself. Bad luck tells us that no matter how many patterns you try that you'll not see this until AFTER you buy the camera. If the effect is severe it will be obvious on the camera's LCD but not through the viewfinder.

Deleting the required AA filter indeed will increase the sharpness, but also can introduce very nasty artifacts visible at every resolution with certain subjects. No, I have not tried this.


I'm not a fan of Kodak. Pros I know who used the Kodak cameras before the Nikon D1 came out hated their bad reliability. Once they got their Nikons they never used the Kodaks again. To this day every time I ask for data from Kodak they mail me a package of literature on 5 year old DCS cameras which shows them in my opinion to be clueless, and remember I'm dealing directly with Kodak USA, so personally I'm unexcited about this camera or Kodak. They have too many engineers running around and no photographers, so they do things like make it impossible to get both the required IR and anti-aliasing filters simultaneously and make the menus unintelligible.

Even if I loved the way the camera worked (I don't know since I have yet to see a production model) I don't trust Kodak to deliver a reliable, usable camera.

Remember when I need ultimate image quality I shoot and love film. 14 megapixels is no big deal compared to film. (See The Megapixel Myth.) A 14MP camera is only about as good as film resolution up to about 10 x 15" prints, which is pretty good. When I shoot digital I go for speed, so resolution is unimportant. The biggest advantage of all the pixels is much better quality at lower resolution settings. Personally if you shoot it all the way up you really are going to fill up your memory fast. As I explain in film vs. digital the look is entirely different and digital has a horrendous problem with color rendition in highlights.

For my $3,700 I way prefer the fully professional Nikon D1H or D1x, which sell for less. When I shoot digital I need speed, and this little Kodak lacks it. Even the D100 is much better, for less than half the price. Amateurs worry about meaningless resolution specs, professionals worry about getting the image in the first place.

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