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Thursday, 19 January 2017


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I have Kodak DCS 14n (the first "full frame" digital SLR). It cost a lot more in 2004 than I would contemplate spending today.

It is based around a modified Nikon F80 body (N80 I think they were called in the US?) with kodak electronics.

Frankly, it isn't very good. I still have it because I don't want to inflict it on any unsuspecting victim.

Hope you make it - if so, see you there.

Should be a fascinating lecture, Mike. Look forward to reading your report here. Amazing how Kodak fell over its own feet on digital. They did some very good things; before I moved up to the ILC m43 cameras, I had several small sensor cams as I transitioned from 35mm. The best was a Kodak P880 "prosumer" which had great ergonomics, a 12-140 (FFequiv) f2.8 Schneider zoom (very sharp), and one great design feature I loved: a dedicated accessory flash with tilting head so bounce was possible, and so designed that the flip-up flash could be open and operating at the same time. You got bounce AND a bit of direct flash to even out the illumination (but not take over) and some catchlight in the eyes. What more could you ask? It they had taken that up to a 1" sensor…

Cheers, Geoff

PS: Sorry to hear of the illness. Best wishes for recovery.

Cheers, Geoff

15 years and 7 months for me. First digital was a Kodak, a DCS4800. I waited until a) 3 megapixels, and b) cost below a thousand.

Seventeen (17!!) digital cameras in those 15.5833 years. It's been a crazy trip, but I've put on the brakes. The cameras I now have are better than the photographer using them. Frankly, I had had the most photography fun fooling around with CHDK hacks on Canon point & shoot cameras. I'm aiming to get back to the "FUN" now.

Somewhere in the middle 90's I got a call from Kodak asking if we, my repair shop, would service some digital cameras for them. These were modified Canon cameras that were being used by the special forces in the Middle East and were teathered to satalite links back to the Pentagon. The Canon bodies had been both milled for sensors and had the transport removed as well as holes cut into the inside body for wires. Out of 25 bodies that were made 21 were defective. The milling to the back for the sensor caused static damage to some of the electronics, the holes cut in the bodies sometimes went too far and damaged pares and in more than a few cameras when the hole was cut the pare that was cut out was still inside the body ànd had jammed the camera. Canon refused to repair them because they claimed they were modified, which they were, and Kodak refused to fix them claiming it was Canon's problem and they weren't in the business of fixing cameras.
We never got to test the results as these were military hush-hush things but none ever came back k under warranty.

In 2003 I spent a ridiculously high £1300 on a Nikon D100... Then quickly went back to film.

Tord Gustavsen is multi talented, you should hear his jazz. Oh wait, slight typo...

It would be great to meet you! I'll bring my Kodak DC4800... 3 mp and still clicking.

So It's about 1988. I am working as a photographer/darkroom tech in Kodak's Commercial & Government Systems division, and I get an assignment to photograph a new experimental camera. I head up to our little in-house studio, and it turns out that the job is to shoot the first prototype of the DSLR and its designer, Jim McGarvey. It's built around a Canon 35mm camera body; they've ordered a lens but don't have one yet. My department used Nikons... so the first pictures of the new camera have its designer holding a Nikon 50mm lens on the front.
I made the photo on B&W film in a 4x5 camera and with hot lights, as was the practice in our department at the time. I can't say that I felt the Earth moving under my feet... I did go on to photograph many other prototype digital cameras, and one or two of the early production models (although the illustration at the top of your article is not by me). And it was some years before my group got our collective hands on a digital camera to actually use.

I waited until 2004 to get into digital, and when I did, I did so reluctantly. I was ambivalent about it then and that ambivalence never left me, it just receded into the background like static, always there when I care to take notice of it.

Digital has saved me a small fortune, which I appreciate, and it is nice being able to shoot at insanely high ISOs, or bring up details out of dark shadows.

Some things you just can't hold back. The transition from film to digital was one of those, and there was no point in trying. I recognized this shortly after recording my first digital images.

On a tangentially related note, I'd be very interested in reading a detailed study of how Kodak lost the plot, if anybody knows of one. Invented the digital camera, marketed it first, had it in the hands of pros and governments for a number of years, but, despite all that, out of the picture today and for a long time now. A textbook case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Kodak SLR/N
Great FF camera for its Lovely colors still somewhat unmatched.
Look at the comparometer comparing the SLR/N vs. Nikon D4
High resolution and sharper.
I still sometimes use it over newer FF DSLRs

I bought the Kodak SLR/C in 2004 for a trip to Iceland -- Sigma body, Canon mount, 12 MB sensor and no AA filter. With great colors and incredible accutance it produced some of the crispest detail and most beautiful landscape images when printed up to A3+
But its handling and operation was so quirly in many ways that I sold it and bought the Canon 5D Classic instead. Much more practical, but much less crispness.
I still love to print the Kodak images -- their character remains unique in comparison to images taken with my later cameras up to my present Sony A7RII.

@Doug Thacker: Kodak didn't "lose the plot" in digital cameras. They were pioneers (as noted in this article), and by 2006 they were a leading supplier of digital sensors and the leading seller (at least in the US) of digital cameras.

But there was simply insufficient money in digital photography. There was no film. There was no processing. Minilab printing was way down as people printed at home. Margins on the cameras were poor. Kodak was #1 in digital photography, yet making nowhere close to the $4 billion-with-a-B per year they needed to keep Kodak in the black.

So, the King of the Hill intentionally abdicated. As it turned out, Kodak never would've survived the current collapse of the point-and-shoot market, anyway.

As a consumer, the great thing about digital photography is how inexpensive it is. As a supplier, the terrible thing about digital photography is how inexpensive it is. Today's "Kodak moments" are captured on a mobile phone, then transmitted, stored, and viewed digitally, at a cost of approximately $0.00 to the consumer. How do you make money on that?

The change goes beyond digital photography. As has been said, most photos are now taken with mobile phones. Most photo kit is probably bought on line. Around ten years ago I can think of around six camera shops in the middle of Frankfurt. Last year it was down to two shops. One a general camera shop the other a Leica shop which, besides all the modern Leicas, they had many older models. Another part of it had photo books and upstairs had a small gallery. Yesterday I was there and they have all gone. Perhaps they have moved, I hope so.

My first digital camera was a Kodak PalmPix, which plugged into my Palm III:


Amazingly enough, some new ones are still available at Amazon.

640 x 480 pixels. I still have some of those photos.

I graduated from there to a Nikon Coolpix 4500 twist-body 4 MP camera, and my first DSLR was a Canon 6 MP DSLR on the first day of availability.

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