A laugh out loud Ken Rockwell moment, and a serious question

Started May 5, 2012 | Discussions thread
Jeweller Contributing Member • Posts: 915
Re: A laugh out loud Ken Rockwell moment, and a serious question

What percentage of your 60,000 images are definite keepers and what percentage are in focus and properly exposed?

When I shot film (mostly medium format) I never really wondered whether or not my photos were in focus and properly exposed. My lenses were manual focus and I used a handheld light meter. I would say more than 95% of my photos were in focus and properly exposed.

Can anyone here honestly say they get that kind of success rate using digital cameras?

My current cameras are a D700, D3s, and D4. They're really amazing cameras and I can shoot photos with them that I could never shoot with film cameras but my success rate is not even close to what I got with my film cameras. Is it just me or do other photographers notice this as well?

I would say that Ken's statement is fairly accurate. Our new modern digital cameras cost a lot more. We need powerful computers, software, etc before we can get to the point of having photos ready to print. Some of us have printers at home that cost $1000 or more and then it costs hundreds of dollars to replace the inks and to buy photo paper.

Maybe with the lower end cameras and lenses digital photography is cheaper but it certainly isn't at the high end.

David H Dennis wrote:

Okay. This is just for my amusement, because he made such a comically outrageous statement I felt it needed to be debunked.

Ken Rockwell suggests that shooting with "real Nikons", aka film cameras, is not only more satisfying than digital, but cheaper!


Film, he says, costs "only 50c a shot".

If I'd spent $0.50 per shot on photos I've taken digitally, I'd be bankrupt! I have well over 60,000 pictures on my D300, since I bought it in November 2008.

50c a shot is $30,000 over about 3.5 years, or $8,571 a year!

Well, that's for printing every photo, which you really need to do in order to see it. But what if you don't? Well, his figure of $0.14 for developing alone is still going to be $8,400 over 3.5 years, or $2,400 a year. That's enough to repurchase my D300 outfit every year.

My D300 outfit (with memory card and 18-200) cost me $2,500. I upgraded to a 24-70 f/2.8 for $1,800. I bought a cheapo used manual Tamron off Craigslist for $75. I bought a 32GB memory card for $80. This means I've spent $4,455 on photography over 3.5 years, or about $1,272 a year.

Clearly in my case, it is much, much, much less expensive to shoot digital.

But this leads me to a question, out of curiosity. Let's do a survey. How many pictures have you taken on your current camera body (if close to replacement) or your last one (if you just replaced it)? Is Ken Rockwell right in saying most reasonably serious photographers take under 20,000 pictures over the life of their DSLRs? That sounds ludicrously inaccurate, at least if my experience is any guide.

Ken does have one really good point. I seem to remember the old film cameras had decent manuals. His description is on the point: "My 5-year old can figure it out, while not even I can figure out most of how to get a D800 to go. The F3's owner's manual is only 46 pages of well-illustrated simplicity, while the D800's manual is 450 pages of meaningless menu nonsense."

I have been reading the D4 manual and it is nearly incomprehensible. It lists the menu items but doesn't explain what they do in any sort of systemic way. You pretty much have to know the D3/D3S/D4 series of cameras to make any sense out of the manual for the D3/D3S/D4 series of cameras.

So another fun question: What are your favorite third party books for the D4/D800 and predecessors?

(I apologize to those who hate Ken Rockwell as a subject of discussion. That's why I put his name in the subject line, so you could ignore this if you want.)


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