Kodak’s First Canon-based DSLR: A 1.3 Megapixel Slice of Photographic History

The San Francisco Chronicle ran this photo on the front page of the paper the day after the 49ers won the Super Bowl in 1995. The picture shows Jerry Rice, whose 10 catches for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns tied his own record for most touchdown receptions in a Super Bowl and the 49ers became the 1st team to win 5 Super Bowls. However, that wasn’t the only remarkable event of Super Bowl XXIX. The above picture was shot on Kodak’s very first Canon-based digital SLR–a 1.3 megapixel, no-LCD, nearly 4-pound behemoth that cost around $16,000. The image above was the first taken on this camera and published in an American newspaper.

©Fred Larson for the San Francisco Chronicle

©Fred Larson for the San Francisco Chronicle

This photo of a legacy marks the beginning of a revolution for digital imaging. When this photo was taken (you can see more from the set here), the Canon EOS-DSC 3 hadn’t even been released to the public yet (it would be released later in 1995). The camera was, in essence, a modified Canon EOS-1N film camera and modified Kodak NC2000e digital camera back put together. Kodak produced all of the major electronic components while maintaining the Canon EF lens mount. Approximately 189 images could be stored on a 260MB hard disk PC card and, with only 5 focus points and a maximum continuous shooting speed of 2.7 fps in 12-frame bursts, Chronicle photographer Fred Larsen did a tremendous job capturing these sports shots. Larsen, purportedly, had only had the camera for a couple of hours before having to go out on assignment with it. He nailed this shot with the help of a Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L USM, which would have had an effective focal length of around 510mms on the camera’s CCD sensor.

The EOS-DCS 3C next to the Canon 1DX. Photo courtesy of KoepnickPhotography.com.

The EOS-DCS 3 next to the EOS-1D X. Photo courtesy of Koepnick Photography.

The first digital EOS SLR camera wholly designed and manufactured by Canon wouldn’t be released until the EOS D30 in 2000. The EOS D30 also marked the beginning of the Canon CMOS sensor. Later developments allowed Canon to bring design and component manufacturing in-house, where they eventually, in 2004, developed their unique DIGIC (Digital Imaging Core) image processor, which allows the camera to perform high speed signal processing as well as the control operations.

Below is a quick comparison the stats of the EOS-DCS 3 with one of Canon’s current flagship cameras, 2012’s EOS-1D X:


How far we’ve come! See below for more pictures taken with this piece of history:

Courtesy of the Canon Camera Museum.

Courtesy of the Canon Camera Museum.

Courtesy of the Canon Camera Museum

Courtesy of the Canon Camera Museum.

Alexandria Huff's photography and lighting tutorials can be found on 500px and her blog. See her lighting tutorials here. She is a Marketing Associate Manager at BorrowLenses.com. She learned about lighting and teaching while modeling for photographers such as Joe McNally and has since gone on to teach lighting workshops of her own in San Francisco. Before focusing on studio portraiture, she shot motorsports for X-Games, World Rally Cross, and Formula Drift. See her chiaroscuro-style painterly portraits on her website.


  • Robert R. Fletcher

    I owned 2 of these cameras plus one of the DCS 1 when it came out. It has 6 million pixels and we thought we had died and gone to heaven!

  • Thomas F

    once again though, proof that it is not the equipment, but the skills of the photographer that is the most essential part of photography. One reason why I practice as often as I can ( and not often enough) to practice my skills, including knowing my equipment.

  • Jon Farmer

    Yes, we have come far!

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