Press photo gear: NC2000 launched the digital camera movement

Photo supplied: ©Barry Sweet/AP Connect

Photographer Barry Sweet remembering his first digital camera.

This article is reproduced with kind permission of Barry Sweet and first published on Paul Stevens AP Connect Newsletter:

Barry Sweet: I have attempted to get the Associated Press /Kodak/Nikon NC2000 for more than five years. It was my first digital professional camera which came out to us in 1994. The NC in its name means News Camera. It was developed for the journalist. I have heard many estimates of its cost; but it seems most likely to have sold for around $18,000. I have been digital ever since that time. While I got the NC2000 from the AP, I just purchased the NC2000e. It is an upgrade of the original. The ones I located before were too expensive for my budget or in collections or museums.

The Associated Press brought me in to Princeton University to get my camera and for training. I was one of the first group of AP photographers who got the camera. They trained a few of us with the idea we could use what we learned and train other AP photographers. While they gave us background, it pretty much became trial and error and learning came from the use of the camera.

 Robert Galbraith, of the AP, was the lead for the camera and was our guide into digital.

 The digital camera took us out of the darkroom. No longer did we travel with cases of stuff, like enlargers, film tanks, etc. I was out of the motel bathrooms. It was a flip of a coin as to what I ended up with on a shoot. You couldn’t see the images like today and it didn’t always work. While the camera continued to click away, it didn’t mean anything was being recorded. All it had was 1.3 MP image, which is pretty small and it had lots of noise in the photos which I had to get rid of before posting the work on the wire. The higher ISO, the more noise. The main thing about the camera was it stored the photos on a removable card freeing me to handoff the photos and continue shooting with another card. It was the first professional DSLR camera but it was bulky and weighed almost 4 pounds. I checked my old pictures from those years and almost all of them were under 1 MP.

 I think the Vancouver Sun in Canada was the first newspaper to staff its photographers with the camera. I have heard that only between 600 and 3,000 cameras were made.

 One the other things I remember is a Kodak official laughed when we told them what a great camera. He told us that film would never go away and the digital camera was only for the professional photographer. Normal people will stick to film because of the cost. I think they learned something from going down that road.

 So I got two days training and told to go home and use the NC2000. That’s pretty much what we all did.

 The camera now sits on the top shelf of my office.

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