I think Thom was right, again...

Started Mar 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
CharlesTokyo Contributing Member • Posts: 705
Re: I think Thom was right, again...


Some time ago Thom Hogan posted that digital might not actually be cheaper than film, because you end up buying new bodies so often.     I'm starting to agree with him, even though I shoot far more digital shots than film.

Here it is 2013 and I just bought yet another Nikon.   This year it's a D800e.

In late 2005 I bought a D70s.

In early 2007 I bought a D200.

In late 2007 I bought a D300.

In late 2010 I bought a D700.

Hmm.  5 cameras in 8 years.    And they've been significant upgrades, in at least some ways.  Enough to basically have me stop using the previous generation, except I did use D200 and D300 at the same time.

Which makes me wonder, what is Nikon going to have 2-3 years down the road that is going to obsolete my D800e?

(Or perhaps complement it.   I could see buying a D800es, which simply gives me 8fps and some small autofocus improvement.)

In contrast, I bought an N90s in 1995 and used it until 2005.   All I had to upgrade was the film I used.

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Just looking at how I shoot now, this is with the recent Fuji price increases for 20%. Although not exact, divide by 100 for a rough estimate in US dollars.

3 pack of Neopan 400 - 1524 yen (40-60 rolls a month, I'll go with 50 or 17 packs)

17 x 1524 = 25908 yen a month

Self development is pretty cheap, less then 5000 yen for the month probably, but time intensive. Summer I have problems with temperature control not having a freezer or a place for one in my current place (noise is an issue with smaller ones) Development at the local big stores results in poor negs, so going to a pro lab is about 700 yen a roll.

Development 5000-35000 yen a month depending on available time and season.

Paper - 100 sheets of 8x10 runs me 8400 yen now. That's probably around 4500 for contact prints including some test strips. I'm still not the greatest printer, so maybe 8 sheets per print (actually probably more). That would probably go down if I could always use the same equipment, but so be it. That's 672 yen per print just in paper. Chemical costs are pretty small. With a goal of 50 prints a month that's 33600 yen.

I'm looking at a month to month cost of 84508 yen, or about 890 dollars a month. (That's suggesting I do some self dev and get others at the pro lab. I just don't have the time to self dev all that currently and still get out). This is still missing some chemicals and other small costs.

Costs are actually probably a bit higher as I do test prints, try out different things, and often shoot more than 50 rolls a month, especially in summer. Prices have increased in the past couple years from about 400 yen a roll to probably over 500 when the price increase goes into effect. The paper used to be 6000 yen for a 100 sheets, now 8400. Those costs will probably continue go to. I normally have to reprint photos for the review sessions every 3 months, nor does this include the camera. If I continued with film going forward I'd probably want to move to medium format. Probably less photos, but still higher costs overall.

At over $10,000 dollars a year it's not even that close to the cost of my laptop, software, printer, ink and paper. With the laptop and printer not having to be replaced every year the cost difference is even more striking.

I haven't put camera costs in here. Those can vary widely depending on your choice of lenses etc, but things like telephotos or fast zooms cost quite a bit regardless of the system. For me I could include my camera and most used lenses and still be under my cost of film expendables just looking at a year. Looking at it spread out over a few years it's not really a contest.

EDIT: I see some costs of scanning above. I don't normally scan my film. At that point it's digital and I should of just started there in the first place. I scan my own, certainly not as well as a professional lab, but it's even more time consuming that developing the film in the first place.

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