DSLR owners have an easy life today compared to this 35mm digital hybrid from 1994

May 24, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

DSLR owners have an easy life today compared to this 35mm digital hybrid from 1994

May 24, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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nikon_n90s_kodak_nc2000

The Nikon N90s was not only my first DSLR but the first camera I owned that wasn’t just a disposable.  I loved this camera, and even use it today, but I still lusted after the convenience of digital on an SLR.  At the time, the 1.3MP Kodak NC2000 was one of those cameras I dreamed of, knowing I’d never get close to that $17K+ price tag.

In this video from The Camera Store we revisit this hybrid system and see how it stands up.  Also featured is an interview with Rob Galbraith, a constant source of knowledge and inspiration to me in my early photography days, who made the switch from Canon to Nikon just to shoot this camera.

YouTube video

Built off the back of a Nikon N90s, quite literally, the Kodak NC2000 turned this 35mm film SLR into a DSLR hybrid with a 4:3 aspect ratio and a crop factor of around 1.55 (slightly smaller than current Nikon DX crop bodies).

Developed in cooperation with the Associated Press, the Kodak NC2000 was designed for one purpose; Getting images back to the news agency as quickly as possible.

With the internet still in its relatively early days, and much of the world still only on dialup, bandwidth was scarce.  Fortunately, newspaper images didn’t require much resolution, and the 1.3MP files from the Kodak NC2000 were large enough to print but small enough to easily transfer over dialup in just a few minutes.

While a necessity at the time, this camera was not very well liked by those who had to use it, as Rob Galbraith explains when asked if he liked this camera.

No. No, absolutely not.  No, there was nothing to like about this as a shooting tool.  What got me excited about it is what it represented about the future.  The future of photography.

kodak_nc2000_rob_galbraith

Having issues such as limited storage space, even more limited battery life, odd colour casts and a shooting speed of 2 frames per second, this camera was fraught with flaws we thankfully don’t have to deal with today, and even then, many photographers would choose to shoot film over a camera like this.

Exposure with the NC2000 was even more critical than it was with slide film, with specular highlights easily turning into what Rob calls as “Christmas Tree Highlights”, including the catchlights in peoples eyes as the NC2000’s computer simply didn’t know what to do with overexposed pixels.

kodak_nc2000_blown_highlights

It certainly didn’t have the latitude of film or modern digital sensors, but with no built in LCD that let you see your images as you shot them, you didn’t really know whether you’d gotten your exposure just right or not until you got the card into the computer.

Sure, you might be able to bracket, but with very limited storage space, you couldn’t do that too often.  In the video, they couldn’t get a card larger than 96MB to even format and that only stored around 66 images.

Even if you were using a handheld light meter, the lack of an infrared filter on the sensor meant that your meter reading could potentially be off by different amounts from shot to shot.

With ISO ranges that can see in the dark, 4K video, 14fps+ shooting speeds, lightning fast autofocus, and cameras starting to top 100MP, things sure have come a very long way in the last 20 or so years.

As for my N90s.  I’ll never get rid of it, and I’ll still keep shooting it, but I long gave up any desire to get a digital back for it.

That being said, if I ever spot a DCS 460 floating around for the right price, I might be persuaded to part with some cash.

For those of you who were shooting 20 years ago, what camera were you using?  What are you most thankful for with the camera technology we have now compared to then?  If you haven’t been shooting quite that long, what was your first camera?  Let us know in the comments.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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9 responses to “DSLR owners have an easy life today compared to this 35mm digital hybrid from 1994”

  1. Rob Avatar
    Rob

    I used an Agfa ActionCam and a Kodak DCS 520. I am most thankful for smaller frames, lighter batteries, and much improved battery life!

  2. Alexy Frangieh Avatar
    Alexy Frangieh

    compare it to DCS100 with the Nikon F3 or the digital Nikonos

  3. Steve Pellegrino Avatar
    Steve Pellegrino

    I still have my Nikon N90s!

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      I’ll never get rid of mine (even if I can’t shoot full manual with G lenses, heh).

  4. Raphael Bruckner Avatar
    Raphael Bruckner

    Digital Photography was still too wongie back in the 90’s and into the early 2000’s my dh2 was 4 mpg’s so i was shooting film till then…it seemed every upgraded excited the industry but the real life results were far from that…..and digital has come a long way however i still prefer film….it has been doing the job longer and better and the results are still more stunning than digital……I’ll keep my f5 thank you

  5. Bryan Thatcher Avatar
    Bryan Thatcher

    I had that camera! downright amazing at the time.

  6. Bryan Thatcher Avatar
  7. Micke Holmgren Avatar
    Micke Holmgren

    omg…. first SLR ever was a fully manual pentax mx with a handful of more or less crappy lenses. moved on to Nikon – FE, Mamiya 645 super, Nikon F3HP, Nikon F80 – that was the last of analogue cameras – have had a few different digital ones – olympus and nikons, oh yes also a fujifilm superzoom – shooting with a Nikon D7000 and D700 today.

    of course a lot has chenged in the way one works when shooting – for one – you can burst a lot of images, earlier you couldnt afford to shoot +200 frames and have them developed just for fun… nowdays – hell yeah – every time :)

    then again, in that alson comes preps – one was more careful and planning earlier, since every shot counted back in the day, regardless of B/W or color – one thought the shots through in a different manner then, less rush and stress… and the hours spent in darkrooms.. those i can miss today

  8. Les Hassell Avatar
    Les Hassell

    I had a NC2000 and still have several DCS3c’s (Canon equivalent) sitting around acting as the world’s most expensive doorstops. They got the job done back in the day but other than their doorstop duties, the only thing they ever really excelled at was keeping chiropractor’s kids in college.