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AFTER A COUPLE OF YEARS in which digital camera news has focused on the
consumer market, Kodak has shaken up the professional market with a new model
in its DCS series. Aimed squarely at the professional, the new DCS 520 is a
1,736*1,160-pixel camera to be priced at $15,000. It was developed jointly
with Canon, which also will market it under the name EOS D2000.
Among its impressive characteristics is a shooting rate faster than that of
earlier cameras-3.5 frames per second in 12-frame bursts-which may help to
make it the premier digital camera for news journalists. At least, that's the
way it appears, and the DCS 520 will get a good test at the Winter Olympics
being held this month in Nagano, Japan.
Before probing the DCS 520 in detail, we'll set the scene with a note on why
this camera is so important.
Kodak has launched no fewer than six consumer DCS digital cameras in the past
two years. But we have not seen a professional DCS camera from Kodak since the
top-of-the-line DCS 460 was introduced three years ago, unless you count the
cheaper DCS 410 variant of the well-established DCS 420. There have been other
variants using Canon 35mm SLR (single lens reflex) bodies instead of Nikons,
and the special NC 2000 for the Associated Press. The DCS 460 (Nikon body) was
the first six-megapixel, high-resolution camera with complete portability.
There is also a Canon body version, the EOS 1.
Professional digital imaging capture began when Kodak introduced the DCS
(Digital Camera System) in 1991. This was a two-part system: a digital camera
back and a separate digital storage unit connected by an umbilical cable. A
landmark product, it failed to inspire photographers, perhaps because of the
added "baggage" and obtrusive color aliasing from which it suffered. When the
first-ever self-contained pro digital camera, the DCS 200, was introduced the
following year, the original DCS became known as the DCS 100. In 1994, …