I think Thom was right, again...

Started Mar 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
MiraShootsNikon Contributing Member • Posts: 871
Um, no. Why exaggerate?

Yikes, Steve.

So, I agree with you that film is probably more expensive to shoot than digital, if the two can be reasonably compared.  (For better and worse, I'm not sure they can.)

But why do you so often argue with gross hyperbole rather than truth?   Credibility is worth more than just "winning" an argument.

Steve Bingham wrote:


$2,900 camera body (F6)

Try $2449, and that's the most expensive place I can find it:


I got mine, new, in 2011 for $1950.   I've seen them at local stores on the east coast for $1800.   Canon 1Vs are even cheaper than the F6, and that's B&H:


1000 rolls of Fuji Velvia (36 exposure) at $12 each plus $10 for developing. Total, $22,000

B&H stocks rolls of Fuji Veliva 50 for $8.59 a roll (36 exposures, 35mm)--where does $12 come from?


Pro C41 (which is where most of the professional market for film is in 2013) is even cheaper--Portra 160 is $5.99 a roll:


If you like big color (and even finer grain structure than Velvia 50) Ektar 100 is only $4.99 a roll:


So, just to summarize:

(1) You overstated the cost of new SLR by about $500 (about 20%) if shooting Nikon, $1000 (or about 60% of its cost) if shooting Canon.

(2) You basically doubled the purchase price of film.

Film, developing, and body - $24,900 (36,000 exposures)

Cost of scanning film anywhere from $5 to $50 on just 10% of your photos could be enormous . . . $18,000 to $180,000. There is a real incentive for pros to go digital. Scan your own? VERY time consuming . . . been there, done that.

For most professional projects, would a 16-megapixel scan work?   (16 megapixel results seem good enough for D4 shooters, or for D800(e) users shooting with DX "reach".)

Per 35mm roll: Developing + 16-megapixel Noritsu scans + pro color correction from Richard Photo Lab: $24.

Per 35mm roll: Developing + 16-megapixel Noritsu scans + pro color correction from North Coast Photographic Services: $17.70

It's important to point out that in either case, you're paying for a real person to color-correct every scan--something most good labs do.

So, it's still costly--36,000 frames from RPL is $24,000 in development cost.  (Or, the revenue from one wedding if you're a film shooter in the pro market RPL serves--Jose Villa, Jon Canlas, etc.)

But if we're comparing accurately, then we need to factor in, on the digital side, the cost of having your digital frames professionally color-corrected, too.   It's neither fair nor accurate to conveniently ignore that a huge part of the film "cost" involves a serious professional service--a service that has a great deal to do with the ultimate look of the product.

Total: $67,000 to $204,900

No.  I've re-totalled, below.


$2,900 camera body including SD card (D800)

36,000 exposures - free

Not free.  As mentioned above, you're comparing professionally color-corrected film results with non-corrected digital RAW.   Assuming the same level of professional attention, you'd need to send your digital frames out to a pro lab.

RPL would do it for $0.50 a frame, 100 frame minimum.  So, for 36,000 exposures, that's $18,000!

Total for body, SD card would be $2,900. (36,000 exposures)

Uh, no.  $2900 + $18,000 (for the pro color correction you automatically factored in to the film workflow) = $20,900.

Computer: Needed by both.

Computer is not needed by both.

See, Steve, this is a case where your limited knowledge of contemporary film workflows gets you into rhetorical trouble.  You clearly didn't understand that many labs, these days, include pro color correction with their scanning services--so the disc you get back from the lab is designed to be "ready to use."   Richard Photo Lab and North Coast Photographic both argue for this--they intend to give you a complete project you can hand to a client.

For a fair comparison, then, we have to assume that a pro lab is looking at the digital files, too--so a computer wouldn't necessarily be needed on the digital side, except that it would because there's no other way to get the digital files to a lab!  (Most pro labs like FTP for digital color work.)

So let's review non-exaggerated totals that actually factor in real, marginally comparable workflows, for 36,000 exposures.

(1) FILM:

  • Camera (New F6): $2449
  • Film (50% Portra 160, 50% Ektar 100): $10,980
  • Pro Lab (Develop/Scan/Color Correct/Deliver--assuming RPL): $24,000

TOTAL: $37,429--or, just about the famous $1/click estimate.


  • Camera (D800), SD Card: $2900
  • Computer Equipment: (How about a middle-of-the-road iMac?) $1799
  • Color Correct (also assuming RPL): $20,900.

TOTAL: $25,599

So, it's cheaper.  But we're talking about a 30% difference, not about 100% or 1000% difference.  For artists who are interested in what might be achieved with traditional photographic methods, a 30% difference may not be such an onerous premium.


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