Kodak Professional DCS (1990)

The Kodak Professional Digital Camera System aka Kodak DCS DC3 aka Kodak DCS-100. Why the confusing model names? Let's shed some light. After having invented several early Kodak DSLR cameras and a professional camera back for government, military and agency customers, Kodak's Professional Photography Division (PPD) wanted to turn their efforts into a commercial product for news reporters, journalists and such. After disclosing a prototype model in 1990 to a selected audience, the camera was marketed May 28, 1991.

To preserve the common feel and look of a professional SLR camera, Kodak chose the Nikon F3. The regular back was removed and a special digital camera back was attached instead. Underneath the Nikon F3 there was a camera winder (similar to the Nikon MD-4). The camera winder had an extended grip with a separate shutter release button. So users were advised to use this button instead of the Nikon F3 shutter release button. Nikon F3 + digital camera back + camera winder became one unit (see 360° picture).

Back to the names. The digital camera back was called DC3 or DM3 (depending on whether it had a color or monochrome imager). The entire unit + DSU (digital storage unit) and other periperhal devices like cables, keyboard etc. was called Kodak Digital Camera System. And we all know that after the Kodak DCS-200 was marketed, a journalist referred to this set as the Kodak DCS-100. A name that stuck ever since. So, there you go.

The DSU by the way was available in different version, for instance with an optional modem connection port. Also, there were 8MB and 32MB units produced as well as digital backs with monochrome and color imagers. The DSU unit had an internal 200MB harddisk for permanently storing images taken with the camera. Another interesting fact is that the camera itself was completely inoperable without the DSU! This is because the camera, winder and digital camera back did not have any form of power supply built-in. The DSU (which had lead acid batteries) needed to be connected to the camera winder in order for the camera to be operable (of course the Nikon F3 was completely unmodified so it could be used as a 35mm SLR nonetheless).

The camera could capture up to 6 images in a single burst at 2.5 frames per second (this could be expanded to 24 image bursts by adding DRAM to the DSU). The images taken could be reviewed, deleted and processed with the Digital Storage Unit (DSU). By hooking the DSU up to a modem (Telebit T2500) and a telephone line, the images could also be sent. To the right you can see some shot of the entire system. A remote shutter could also be attached as well as a flash hot shoe for dedicated Nikon flash units. Apparently some sort of TV video adapter was also available (made by Chinon btw.).

According to leading engineer Jim McGarvey a total of 987 units were sold between 1991 and 1994.

 

Specifications

  • Brand: Kodak
  • Model: Professional DCS
  • First mentioned: 1990
  • Marketed: yes in 1991
  • MSRP: $20,000 - $25,000
  • Imager Type: Kodak KAF-1300 (M3) 1.3MP CCD
  • Resolution: 1024x1280
  • Internal Storage: -
  • External Storage: external 200MB harddisk
  • Lens: interchangeable lenses
  • Shutter: -
  • Aperture Range: -
  • LCD screen size: monochrome
  • Size: -
  • Weight: 1537 gr. (camera body with back and winder)
  • Remarks: Dubbed DCS-100

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