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Film vs Digital: why digital photography costs more than film for the professional photographer

9/09/2012 ISO 1200 Magazine 5 Comments

This is a short informational video showing why digital photography costs more than film for the professional photographer.

Cost for 20 years.
I often get asked by new photographers and potential clients alike why is professional photography so expensive. When figuring a business plan you have to put pencil to paper to figure out what you need to charge to break even and then to make a profit. This video should add some perspective to why I say for the professional photographer digital photography is more expensive then film. (text by Sherwood Cox)


Ed Walker said...

What a load of rubbish.

For a start, you just get your film developed and give it to your client un-retouched? If you print it yourself where is the cost of the darkroom equipment?

Also where is the cost of your film cameras?

On the digital side, you don't have to replace your digital back every 3-5 years. Also if you are replacing your computer every 3 years and spending $2500 you should find out more about PC's, I update my pc every couple of years and spend about £300.

In short this article is film propaganda. Ignoranceof technology is no excuse!

Daf said...

Try getting work/clients where you can't give them digital files, only courier over trannies.
So I think the majority of the digital post costs could be added to scanned film.

Val Vechnyak said...

I wonder if he only uses a bicycle for transportation because car ownership is too expensive because of parking, oil and tire changes.

Unknown said...

this is not an apples-to-apples comparison at all. there is no discussion of darkroom costs or time spent in post-production for film photography, and the $60/exposure cost of post on digital images feel rather arbitrary to me.

part of the point of digital is to be able to mitigate the per-exposure cost, permitting you to take more exposures during a shoot without incurring greater cost. the end result of this added flexibility is increased value to the client: you can experiment during the shoot and increase the chance of getting the perfect shot. surely this increased value is worth some monetary consideration, no?

furthermore, the argument that one must replace their digital camera equipment every 3 to 5 years "to stay current" is spurious. If the picture quality on the phase one is good enough for you today, why isn't it still good enough in three years?

i agree with ed... this comes across as thinly-veiled pro-film propaganda.

motomonkey said...

a)You gave only developed transparencies to the client. Nobody used negatives for pro work, so nobody did any darkroom work. Well, at least in architectural photography.

b)Try to hold your clients with your 16MP imacon back of the 2007 today and tell them "if 16 MP was good enough for you 5 years ago...." hahaha or even worst tell them that you have to shoot tethered cause your back is so old it has to be connected permanently to a computer; they are going to be so excited with the argument they are going to fart fireworks.

c)Keeping the extra slide in an archival plastic vuefilm holder for backup costs like 20 dollars and some space. What's the cost of your hard drives that you HAVE to mantain new and working to keep your clients work in case they need it, not you, your clients. If you are not archiving your clients job you are not really giving a lot of value to your job.