Kodak drops DCS Pro Back H645 medium format digital camera back.

Here are two results from the Kodak camera test photography in Antigua, Guatemala. Although we have 20 different printers to select, we are tending to chosethe Canon imagePROGRAF W8200 because of its near continuous tone quality.
The Canon W8200 is faster than any Epson; the Canon ink costs noticeably less than Epson or other inks, and the Canon printheads produce remarkable quality. Ifyou are a photographer, you ought to get a test print done on a Canon printer to seewhat you are missing.

We liked the Kodak Pro Back Plus so much that we wanted to try out the close relative, the H645. Unfortunately Kodak went through so many internal crises that they could never get around to understanding the value of outside independent reviews.

In the meantime, the result of not being able to chart a path through the shifting sands of medium format digital photography, Kodak became another victim of lack of vision in medium format digital photography. MegaVision is also effectively out of the market, as is Rollei. Pentax never got into the medium format market to begin with. Even Heidelberg did not last more than a year or so.

This is unfortunate, since a Kodak DCS Pro H645 on a Hasselblad H1 would have been a perfect portable camera for wedding and portrait photography, and ideal for nature photography as well.

Now that the Kodak is out of the race, we recommend the Leaf Valeo 11 and Leaf Valeo 22. We would consider the new portable Imacon Ixpress (just realize you do not get the megapixels they claim at 16-bits; printers can accept only 8-bit files). We would also seriously consider the new PhaseOne P for portability models. You can't use 4-shot or 16-shot in portability mode anyway (in the past generations of medium format digital backs, multi-shot requires a PCI card which requires a desktop computer).

Sinar has a portable unit but it requires a dedicated Sinar computer at another $7,500+. The beauty of the Kodak solution was that not only no computer was required, it did not even need a viewer (the viewer was already built into the back).

Note there is a difference between “consider” and “FLAAR Recommends.” We do not certify any camera unless we have we use the same make and model ourselves so that we can test how long the camera holds up. We know the Nikon D100, BetterLight Super 6K because we have them in use for years. The Kodak we can certify because we used it under both studio and field conditions and it performed great despite a kludgey interface.

 All further updates during Spring and Summer 2004 are being added to the textbook on photography by Nicholas Hellmuth. This textbook is not sold other than given to students and participants in the FLAAR courses on photography . You can get all the www.cameras-scanners-flaar.org web site, plus essentially the entire digital-photography.org website, organized as an easy course, if you sign up for the FLAAR program.

The FLAAR course on photography is available worldwide, in the comfort of your home or office, via the Internet. Next course starts late August or early September 2004.

Medium Format Digital Camera Initiative

For over 30 years Nicholas Hellmuth has used Hasselblad cameras to record the flora, fauna, and archaeology of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Now he intends to extend his medium format experience to digital photography.

Although FLAAR has a large format digital (4x5) BetterLight and a 35mm Nikon D100 as well as point-and-shoot digital cameras, we believe that medium format size and features offer capabilities found nowhere else.

Starting by late July 2004 you will see the results of our medium format initiative. We are starting with a Leaf Valeo 22 coupled with a Mamiya 645 body and lenses, however we are open to showcasing Hasselblad or Contex bodies and other digital backs.

Camera resellers or manufacturers who wish to have their cameras, lenses, and backs included in this initiative are welcome to join. Creo joined first because they have seen the results during the last four years of what happens when FLAAR does an in-depth review of a product (in their case their $45,000 Creo EverSmart Supreme scanner, one of the top scanners in its pre-press class).

FLAAR is the de facto source of information because we are university based, independent, blunt, and we are one of the few review sources that dares to review advertising specs, advertising claims, and advertising hype. We can afford to reveal all the pros and cons because FLAAR is a research institute: we do not buy or sell cameras, scanners, or inkjet printers either.


Most recently updated March 11, 2004.
Previous updates July 22, 2003.