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553ELX and the Kodak DCS digital back


I thought I'd write a message in the 553ELX forum just for something different. I figured I'd just post some pictures taken with my 553ELX and Kodak DCS 16MP back so it'll remind people that if you're willing to lug around a heavy, motorized camera and an "ancient" digital back to an event that you can still end up with nice pictures. They're not the most advanced pieces of equipment on the planet, but they are able to capture images. In fact, aren't pictures what this whole thing is all about and not just "how many mega-pixels" and "how big is your sensor?"

The photos were taken with a 553ELX, 120mm Makro, Kenko 2x teleconverter (yeah, I know. Don't laugh), and the Kodak 16MP DCS Pro Back Plus.

You'll see in the Maserati pictures the full frame and then an enlarged portion of the frame. You'll notice that the eyes can be seen. I know that a 39MP back will show you the pupils of his eyes, but $25000+ for a digital back wasn't available in my bank account so I made due.


> I also have a 553, and have been "toying" with the idea of finding > a Kodak back. Glad to see I am not alone!!!

You certainly caught my attention with these shots.
It is not easy to catch a fast moving object.
I had trouble doing this kind of photography using 35 mm cameras many years ago.
Slow lenses and fast cars do not go together well.
I think it is save to presume these cars especially the Ferrari move fast.

The Kodak back gives very good results.
It makes MF digital quality available at an affordable price now.
I do not have a problem with the Kenko converter.
It is well suited to do this job.
The 553 ELX is an underestimated camera.
Large mirror, acute matte and battery operated it is a delight to use even for handheld shots.

Natan, there is absolutely no need to "apologize" for the Kodak back. It is as relevant today as it was the day it was announced. Yes, the original DCS was a bit cumbersome with the big battery you had to lug around, but it did, and still does, "out-image" the Canon 1DsMKII and I believe was the first to take onboard CF cards, cutting the tether cord to a computer.

The later DCS models went totally portable using an on-board battery ... and IMO, are a real value for those interested in MF digital photography with a 645 camera.

Like your shots, the proof is in the pudding ... PIC: Kodak DCS 645C, Contax 645, Zeiss 140/2.8 with 1.5X. ISO 400.

Marc A. Williams (Fotografz) wrote on May 24:

' 2007 - 10:55 am,'

I have one of the older DCS backs where I need to carry the "brick" (the battery). It does make the system a little unweldly at times, but I clip the battery to my backpack and reach back and switch it on whenever I need it. I felt sort of like those guys in the movie Ghostbusters with the particle beam gun and the mini-nuclear reactor on my back.

The photo you have is fantastic. I think I saw one of your other photos in the other thread about digital cameras. Very nice!

I'm actually still on the fence with whether I want to keep the Kodak DCS back or not. Since it was my first steps in the digital world I have absolutely nothing to compare the imaging with, be it a DSLR or even a P/S camera. I've been 100% film up to the point I got the Kodak back a couple months ago.

I'll post more pictures as I get them. It's fun to be able to share without having to first scan the image. I know what many of you are saying, "welcome to the 20th century." I'm a little behind times.


Paul Kirchhoff (Polypal) wrote on May 24:

' 2007 - 8:37 am,'

There were quite a few photos that I took that day that didn't make the cut. However, because I was using digital I felt I could experiment, so I used very, very slow shutter speeds and panned on a few cars as they raced by. Some of the photos came out really poorly since I didn't have a monopod or a tripod. However, there were others that came out pretty well. I'll post one of those later today.

The Ferrari FXX I have above was actually taken at 1/500 of a second. As you can see it wasn't fast enough to stop the streaking as the car drove by. In the raw file you can look at the door and right under the "20" it reads "FXX."

One thing I found I don't like about digital is that if there's an unknown dust spot, or a lot of dust specks, they won't be seen in the LCD screen. You won't see it until you get home and it'll drive a person batty as they go from picture to picture seeing the same dust speck from picture to picture. That's never happened with film other than a hairline scratch mark that appeared from frame to frame. Personally I'd take a dust mark over a hairline scratch anyday.

Paul, you're right that the 553ELX is an underestimated camera. It does everything flawlessly. I have both a 500c/m and the 553 and the 553 is the camera I've taken everywhere. I just like the idea that I have a motor. I have the cables for the digital back and the 500c/m but for some reason the 500c/m just doesn't do anything for me and it's basically a backup camera.

When I carry the 553ELX and the digital back around I normally use my Denis Reggie Stroboframe to lug it around. Having a handle is very, very convenient. Plus I'm able to put the shutter button on the handle where my trigger finger is located and makes for a conventient, fast working camera.