Kodak DCS 200 (1992)

The Kodak DCS-200 was the successor of the Kodak DCS and announced at the MacWorld Boston in 1992. After it came out, the DCS was inofficially dubbed DCS-100. The Kodak DCS-200 was again a Kodak digital back but this time placed on a Nikon N8008s (F801) instead of a Nikon F3. Aimed at desktop publishers rather than photojournalism. The biggest difference was that the storage unit was incorporated into the digital back. This was only possible because 2.5" harddisks were just out. If that wasn't enough, companies like Mass Microsystems marketed an external 160MB hard disk drive called "HitchHiker". On the other hand, Kodak erased the LCD playback screen and transmission possibilities.

The Kodak DCS 200 was conceived and brought to market within a year. It became the world's first integrate model with a CCD sensor. Kodak chose the cheapest Nikon SLR with a removable back to keep the costs down. Some models came without an internal harddrive which lowered the price even more. There were also plans to market just the body without the Nikon SLR but these plans were canned. Studio owners with a monochrome sensor camera could buy a color filter wheel which was piggybacked to the camera and attached to the SCSI port to achieve color images.

Because the bulky storage unit that came with the Kodak DCS was no longer needed, powering up the DCS 200 became somewhat difficult. The digital back had it's own set of batteries and the camera had it's own set of batteries. The camera did not supply power to the digital back and the digital back did not supply power to the camera. You had to take the camera apart to change the batteries in the Nikon SLR. In case anyone wonders why the brand KODAK is spelled in large letters on the body grip, it's because most people thought the Kodak DCS system was a Nikon invention rather than a Kodak thing. So to clarify this, they emphasized the brand name on the body.

Although aimed at desktop publishers, the US Navy also used this specific camera in their US Navy Combat Camera Teams to take pictures anywhere in the world, compress them and sent them to the Pentagon within one hour by using INMARSAT, data radios or telephone lines. Average transmission time was around 30 seconds. It became a very popular reconnaissance camera among combat forces around the world.

Up until now, the world only knew of five models to exist. Today I received information that a sixth model has surfaced which is probably the rarest Kodak DCS camera to date! The so-called Kodak DCS 200 High Speed Target Camera. I have created a separate entry for this one, check it out in the digital camera section.

DCS 200c - color CCD, single-image storage in the 2MB buffer
DCS 200ci  - color CCD, 50-image internal harddisk (80MB)
DCS 200m - monochrome CCD, single-image storage in the 2MB buffer
DCS 200mi - monochrome CCD, 50-image internal harddisk (80 MB)
DCS 200IR - infrared monochrome CCD, 50-image internal harddisk (80 MB)

It's insane how much public attention the Kodak DCS series has achieved over the years compared to other vintage digital cameras. I sometimes wish other vintage digital cameras would have received that kind of publicity. That would make researching material a lot easier. According to Jim McGarvey, former Kodak DCS engineer, a total of 3,240 DCS 200 were sold between 1992 and 1994. In the pictures you can see the DCS 200ci version.

Specifications

  • Brand: Kodak
  • Model: DCS 200
  • First mentioned: 1992
  • Marketed: yes
  • MSRP: $9,995
  • Imager Type: Kodak M5 1.54MP CCD (color and monochrome)
  • Resolution: 1524x1012
  • Internal Storage: 2MB buffer / 80MB internal 2.5" harddisk
  • External Storage: HitchHiker 160MB harddisk (optional)
  • Lens: interchangeable lenses F-mount (28mm lens included)
  • Shutter: -
  • Aperture Range: -
  • LCD screen size: -
  • Size: 208 x 170 x 114mm
  • Weight: 1700 gr.
  • Remarks: -

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