The first two digital cameras that I used were Kodak models. These were in the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka.

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Kodak Digital Science.

The Kodak 420 was nice to start with but was exemplary of the beginnings of this class of photography. For example, the field of view was only a small portion of the viewfinder. This seems to have been an early stage in development, but it was sure better than the consumer cameras of the same year.

A few months after I began testing the 420 the museum bought the Kodak DCS model 460. This was the first digital camera which produced a result which came close to comparing with the quality of film. Pictures from the model 460 could be enlarged to 8x10, and if printed with the Kodak model 8600 dye sublimation printer, the results were as good as normal 8x10 lab prints. The cost, however, was staggering...$28,000 for the camera and $9000 for the printer. Just two years later, you could get a camera with five times the quality (a BetterLight or PhaseOne) for $19,000, almost half the cost of the Kodak price of 1995. Today, with $449, you can get an Epson model 800 printer that comes close to the quality of a dye sub printer which still costs over $8000. The Kodak dye sub printer is, however, a product of extraordinary quality.

The Kodak model 460 made many improvements over the model 420, especially in the field of view. Actually the Kodak system has one advantage, it is an "area" array chip, which means you can record a moving object. Area array chips (such as used in the ScanView Carnival from Color Crisp of Denmark) can photograph any subject that moves, such as animals, and plants (which tend to blow in the wind). The 4x5 format Dicomed and other linear array chips take a picture one line at a time, so they do not handle movement very well (but linear chips do marvelous jobs on panoramas and rollouts, which is controlled movement).

The Kodak cameras operate together with a PC or a Mac system, which is an advantage over cameras which are restricted to Mac-only situations.

If you are dedicated to 35mm format, then you might wish to try out one of the Kodak cameras. They come associated with Nikon or Canon camera bodies. The Kodak model DCS465 fits onto a Hasselblad and other cameras, though it makes little sense to affix a frame smaller even than a 35mm format to a Sinar, Toyo, or other large format camera. If you are already into large format, then stay in large format with the Carnival (for movement) or the Better Light, Dicomed or PhaseOne for still life.

Of the new crop of digital cameras that I saw at PMA trade show last year, the Nikon D1 looked the best (for 35mm; the BetterLight won the award for the best large format digital scan back). Kodak has not fared very well in the digital world, ironic, since it is Kodak that makes many of the best chips for the better digital cameras (Philips mades the rest).

The new Fuji chip caused a lot of excitement, but since all digital imaging software and hardware works with square pixels, the Fuji images have to be translated into square pixels at the end, thus losing their advantage.

A camera to check out (if you have plenty of money) is the Foveon.

If you really want technical details on inkjet media, inks, and/or inkjet printhead technology, and especially if you wish to meet the movers and shakers in this industry, be sure to sign up for the next conference organized by IMI. To contact them write to These seminars are outstanding; the senior review editor of FLAAR usually attends because he can get so much fresh information for the readers of the FLAAR Reports in PDF format and the FLAAR Information Network of web sites.

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