New top-of-the-line digital camera

 by John Henshall


Kodak DCS560 cameraThis is a camera for 'Professional Performance, digital speed and Freedom'. Kodak designed this camera to shoot high resolution digital images anywhere -- hand held, with no cables to trip over. The camera is aimed at a wide market, from studio to location fashion. Kodak's publicity shows a model being photographed in a boat -- completely feasible as this camera does not need to be tethered to a computer.

The camera looks very much like it's smaller (file size) brother the DCS520 (see Chip Shop April 1998) with one huge advantage: the viewfinder image is large, not like a postage stamp. Kodak's electronics are fitted into a Canon EOS-1N body but, unlike the DCS520, Canon told me that they will not be marketing a version of the DCS560 themselves.

Gilly Russell

My assistant, Gilly Russell, and I borrowed a DCS560 for a day while in San Francisco. Unfortunately my lovely Canon-fit Tokina AT-X lenses were back in the UK and we only had a Canon 28mm lens.

The 6 Megapixel chip produces 2008 x 3040 pixel images, over three times more pixels than the DCS520. The CCD is so large that the focal length multiplier is only 1.3x -- making the 28mm lens equivalent to about 35mm.

We shot from a range of locations, including the top of the Coit Tower, which gave us fantastic views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

I kept portraits wide, to avoid unkind perspective exaggeration.


Downtown San Francisco


The DCS560 has outstanding image resolution with a new six megapixel CCD which, like the DCS520, has improved colour analysis. Each pixel of the new CCD is analysed by twelve bits. Unlike the DCS460 -- which it replaces -- which had a fixed ISO equivalence of ISO80, the DCS560 has variable sensitivity which may be set anywhere between ISO80 and ISO200. The camera can shoot at one frame per second for three consecutive frame captures before it has to take a pause to write the images to the PCMCIA card.




Alcatraz from the Coit TowerA big advantage of this camera is the built in colour LCD that lets you check composition and evaluate exposure and histogram information on the spot, without a long processing time. As in the DCS520, I continue to be suspicious of the internal anti-aliasing filter which seems to soften the images slightly. But there is so much real data there that the images respond well to a little sharpening in Photoshop. And no aliasing is apparent.

All the digital technology in this camera, including the magnificent CCD, is made by Kodak, who have poured all their unmatched experience into it. There are no compromises. Complimented by Kodak's unmatched pedigree and support, the $29,995 DCS560 looks like being a truly great product.

This article first appeared as "John Henshall's Chip Shop" in "The Photographer" magazine, October 1998.
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