Are digital cameras as economical as film.

Started Jan 16, 2013 | Discussions thread
tex Veteran Member • Posts: 7,148
Well, there's maybe a couple of answers to that

Jerry R wrote:

Before digital cameras all you had to do was change film emulsions, when new ones became available, to improve IQ.  I think the biggest improvements came from better lens purchases.  For most of my years using film, the emulsions didn't get that much better.  Certainly not likr the gains we've seen in sensors in the last 10 years.

Now one has to invest in a new camera when an improved sensor comes to market.

Just sold my D5000 & a lens for about $200 less than what I paid for the pair 3 years ago.

You did awfully well, imo!

Thats about 15 rolls of film, or five rolls per year. I usually used more, many more, than 15 rolls of film per year. When I bought my first digital camera I estimated it would take 5 years to pay for it in terms of film. It looks like their considerably more cost effective than originally thought.

maybe so, if you shot a lot of film.  But because of processing costs, I shot film far more judiciously (sheet by sheet in LF...).  I had to retrain myself to shoot with abandon with digital.

For me it's been a little....weirder.  First off, I used manual (still use) cameras and lenses with film, and they tend to last a long time---built that way, and no electronics to go bad, no AF motors to fail.  Also, you could (and still can) get those mechanical cameras repaired pretty easily.  Lenses were a little more delicate, but manual ones were/are still robust.

So, the upgrade path in digital has definitely cost me a lot more.  Now, on the processing side things are cheaper, sort of.  If you don't print, then it's a huge difference. If you buy the right printer, then you can get your costs down to approach drugstore printing if you factor in that you only print the keepers now, instead of the whole roll.  It's much cheaper than keeping a home darkroom.

But on that last point, not many people did keep a home darkroom, and apropos of that there are now some costs we maybe don't think about, to whit:

With the abilities we have now in digital photography, some of us are now spending a whole lot more on photography than they did before because before some things were not feasible, so we didn't even attempt them.  In my case, after I lost access to a fine darkroom, I was unable to set one up in my house---no room or money for it (that fine darkroom was one I designed for a college, and it had great tools, and it spoiled me. I didn't want a 1/2 a$$ed setup...).  I also did not even attempt color processing, even E-6, although we had a Ciba printer in that darkroom.  Using a pro lab proved so expensive I gradually dropped off doing photography much at all until 2001 and my first digital camera.  But since then it's been 7 digital cameras (not including others for the family, which is another 6...), as opposed to 7 cameras for everyone from 1978 to 2001.

Now, fantastic equipment for all stages of image making from capture to printing is available for amazingly reasonable prices, where it was just out of reach before.  And it is so much easier to get fantastic, duplicatable results. So, for me I have gradually (and in some cases not so gradually) ramped up my photography purchases across the board to a level I didn't consider possible before.

So, I haven't exactly saved money... :-/  , even though it's "cheaper" to do my photography now.  In aggregate, it's a lot more money.

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"Photography is the product of complete alienation" Marcel Proust
"I would like to see photography make people despise painting until something else will make photography unbearable." Marcel Duchamp

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