The Kodak DCS 620 would forever ruin me from ever owning or using another consumer-priced digital camera if it wasn't for two things. They are (1) Price, ~$10-11K - ouch! and (2) Size - this thing is huge and heavy, it's not going in your pocket or fit in any regular size camera case either.
The DCS 620 is based on the Nikon Professional F5 35mm camera and offers the same camera features -- Programmed Automatic mode, shutter and aperture priority modes, 3D Color Matrix metering and selectable autofocus and spot metering to name just a few.
Instead of exposing a 35mm film frame the DCS 620's focal point is a 2 megapixel CCD imager that produces 1728 x 1152 pixel, 36-bit color, uncompressed TIF images. With its powerful onboard image processing and RAM buffer the DCS 620 can capture up to 12 images at a rate of 3.5 fps before it begins writing to the hard drive.
One of the advantages of using a CCD imager instead of film is that you can vary the ISO sensitivity without having to change film. The DCS 620 covers the range of ISO 200 - 1600 at the flip of a dial. Of course at ISO speeds above 200 you are prone to electronic "noise" that becomes more of a problem the faster you push it.
My DCS 620 came with a Viper 340MB Type III hard drive and it only took
about 2 seconds to write a 2MB TIF file to the speedy
little drive. It also came with a 28mm lens which I swapped for
a 28-85mm f/3.5 Nikkor AF lens. The focal multiplier for the DCS 620
is 1.5x so the 28-85 zoom is effectively a 42-127.5mm lens. This is
because the area of the CCD imager is smaller than a 35mm film frame.
I told you it was big! Here's the DCS 620 dwarfing the Nikon Coolpix 950. You can build some serious muscles toting this camera around all day. The specs say it's 3.9 pounds but that's before the battery pack, the hard drive and the lens are added in.
Because of its size the Kodak folks engineered in a special vertical
shutter release which can be seen on the lower left side of the front
of the camera. On the back is a vertical start button for the
autofocus system and the bottom has been "bulged out" to form a
finger grip area for greater stability.
The nerve center of the DCS 620's digital side. Color TFT
LCD for reviewing captured pictures and setting menu options and even
more importantly, to see a histogram of any picture you have shot.
Below the color LCD is a monochrome data LCD where you keep track of the ISO,
battery level, white balance setting and picture numbers.
The images displayed on the LCD are not very impressive, in fact the first few I looked at made me wonder if the camera was working right or not as they very dark and dull looking. The pictures displayed on the LCD come from low-res, preview thumbnails in the 1.9MB TIF images stored on the camera's hard drive.
Those 2MB TIF files are not directly readable, you use the DCS TWAIN
Acquire module and it expands them to 6MB TIF files for further
manipulation. Image size is 1728 x 1152 pixels which is not much bigger
than the Coolpix 950's 1600 x 1200 pixel resolution but the DCS 620 is
gathering data in 12-bits per pixel. There's also a very special and
expensive anti-aliasing filter mounted behind the lens to improve the
The view from the top makes it look just like an ordinary Nikon F5 film camera, it
has all the same dials, knobs and buttons. If you like shooting with the
Nikon F5 -- you'll feel right at home with the DCS 620 !
On the bottom is the digital unit and here is where a hefty 7.2v NiCd rechargeable battery pack (the size that you normally find in a laptop computer) and dual PCMCIA slots are located. At this time only one of the slots is active but Kodak has some new firmware due in September that will activate both slots.
Sitting next to the camera in this picture is a Viper 340MB Type III hard drive which gives the DCS 620 enough storage for about 145 pictures.
Be sure to check out my IBM 340MB Microdrive
user review as we put it to test in the DCS 620 too!
On the other side of the bottom unit is the AC power input connector and
an IEEE-1394 "FireWire" data port. The DCS 620 can be run from a
FireWire-equipped PC as a tethered camera (with extremely fast image
acquisition speed) in a studio environment.
This is the heart of the Nikon F5 camera controls. Main power switch (with safety button) and shutter release, EV override, camera operating mode (Program, Aperture, Shutter) and focus mode. And a monochrome data LCD that displays the current setting for all of these options.
The Nikon folks designed all the major camera controls to be fairly easy
to get at without moving your hand or fingers around a lot. This lets
you focus on taking pictures instead of fumbling with camera ergonomics.
The prism finder is interchangeable and has a diopter correction knob on the side.
The view inside of the SLR viewfinder is impressively bright, even with an f/3.5
lens on it. Over to the right is the Auto Exposure Lock (AE-L) / Auto Focus Lock (AF-L)
and the AF-ON button. The dial (Main-Command) allows you to select the camera's
operating mode if turned when the "Mode" button is held depressed.
Inside the viewfinder is an array of LEDs to indicate exposure and
focusing, a data readout below the subject area shows shutter speed, f/stop,
metering mode and camera mode. With just a glance you know the current settings
of all major camera functions without taking your eye away from the viewfinder.
On the front, below the shutter button is the sub-command dial, this allows you
to adjust the f/stop values, shutter speeds and etc. depending on what mode of
operation the camera is in. On the side of the prism finder is the metering mode
selector switch to choose between 3D Color Matrix, Center-Weighted and Spot modes.
I'm not sure how to rate this camera as I have little to compare it to except for vastly inferior consumer-priced digital cameras. The only negatives I see are the price and size of the DCS 620. Other than that it is a photographer's dream -- you have an almost unlimited variety of Nikkor lenses to extend your picture taking capabilities to the infinite.
Kodak has already reduced the price of the DCS 620 down to the $10-11K range and is currently offering a $3400 bundle of accessories to new buyers. It's still expensive but it's one helluva camera!
The DCS 620 is a favorite of today's professional photo journalists,
many of the pictures in the newspaper are the product of this fine,
high performance digital camera. Follow the link at the end of this
review and visit Rob Galbraith's web site devoted to Photo Journalists
using professional digital cameras.
|DCS 620 Specifications
Specifications are subject to change without notice.
Steve's DCS 620 Sample Pics
Return To Our
Note: All photographs and page content
Copyright © 1999 Steve's Digicam Online, Inc.
Nothing on this page may be used, distributed or
copied without the author's prior permission.