The Cost of shooting with DSLR


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Ansel

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#1
I want to compare the cost of shooting with a DSLR verses a film SLR. For those who are still contemplating whether to jump into the DSLR bandwagon or stick to 35mm film solely from the cost standpoint, this may be an interesting case study.

I bought my D70 kit in 2004 at about $2100. I sold it recently at $800.

My shutter count at that point was around 18k give or take 1k. So I have spent $1300 for those 18000 shots.

If I were shooting film, I would have been less trigger happy, so let's assume that for every 3 shots in digital, I would have taken just 1 shot if I were using film. This will translate to 6000 (18000/3) shots in film.

6000 exposures will translate to 150 rolls (assume 40 exp/roll).

The cost of shooting 1 roll of film is roughly $15 (film~ $5, processing ~ $5, low-res scanning ~$5, conservatively).

So I would have paid at least $2250 (150x$15) if I had shot film.

$1300 for digital, $2250 for film. For the roughly the same amount of shooting pleasure.

If I had shot more with the D70, then my cost would have come down even more. Conversly, if I had shot less, then, I might have been better off shooting film.

Was my calculation flawed in any way? Please comment.
 

zac08

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#2
The tendency to shoot more in digital is higher as there is relatively no cost involved in the shots. You just need more memory.

Plus, you would be able to bracket better as you get an indication on the quality of the shot immediately.
 

Hobbesyeo

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#4
It's an interesting analysis.

Perhaps another point that you may want to consider is the cost of harddisk storage.

With film, since you've stated that it only has a low-res scan picture, the storage requirements would be far less than that of digital.

I feel with digital, storage is definitely an issue, especially if you shoot raw only.

Another point I feel worth considering is the CPU setup. The higher the resolution of the cams, the more powerful a CPU and more RAM will be needed. All this adds to the cost as well (altho it can be argued that the computer can be used for other purposes as well).

:think:
 

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#6
for digital, there is diminishing marginal cost as the only cost is that of the initial investment in the camera(fixed costs). the cost of the additional photo approaches 0 (lim $ -> 0)so of course it'll make sense to shoot more.

there is also diminishing marginal cost for film but less so. the marginal cost is made up of diminishing average fixed costs(the camera) and constant variable costs(film+development). the cost of the additional photo approaches the cost of film+development (lim $ -> film+dev)

if you plan to shoot more then n photos, where n is the photo which costs the same for both film and digital, you should get a dslr.

this is assuming the camera will never breakdown.
 

zcf

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#7
still have to add the SLR film body cost, if you bought like 5 year plus ago, the depreciation is quite big also :sweat:
 

Ansel

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OK thanks to all the above for replying.

No printing cost involved since I assume the final form is a digital file for both cases.

Additional costs:

Film:
----
1) Transport cost for sending/collecting. Quite a substantial amount. Assume each time I process 3 rolls, that will ental 50 trips to the lab. Assume $4 per trip for petrol and parking, that will be additional $200 in all.

2) Depreciation of film camera. For me the only camera that depreciated was my F80. When I bought it new in 2001 it cost me almost $800. Now I don't think I can even sell it for $400.

Digital:
1) Memory cards depreciation. Yes, this is a lot too. When I bought my Sandisk Ultra II 512MB in 2004, it cost me $200. Now a 4GB Transcend 120x is only $123 at the recent Comex show. But since I still have them all, I don't consider that as realised loss.

2) Upgrade PC. Yes, I had to upgrade my RAM and HDD to accomodate the files. Well I need it for the scanned film images too, so not counted.

3) Backup cost. Need to buy DVD-Rs to backup my images in case the HDD crash. Easily $100 not including the drive cost.

4) Almost forgot. Upgraded my 17inch CRT to a good 17inch LCD. $500 six months ago. But I need it for scanned film too, so not counted.

Anymore?
 

obewan

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#9
Good to know the cost sometimes of where your hard earned money is spent.
But for myself, I think it is pointless.
As long as you enjoy the hobby, it is money well spent.
It is good to calculate the % of good shots you get for a shooting session,
rather the quantity.
Most of the time my % of good shots are very low. :cry:
Waste time, shutter counts, etc. :bsmilie:
 

jacob

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#10
one thing you should count in is the time your take to view and edit your digital pictures. pls count using mcdonald rate($4.50 per hour?) and see.
 

#11
Good point. I totally agree that calculating the cost of using a film or digital SLR is really pointless, as the other benefits of either film or digital counts more to me. I rather capture more image, than missed that opportunity.

For me, the ease of digital format (preview, ease of storage) is more important, and with the entry of the D50, where the entry cost is now lower, makes it a big incentive to go digital. I have not used my film SLR since. Don't really missed the supposedly better quality of film in my shots.
 

ST1100

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#12
Do the following have any financial value?

- Security of knowing you 'got the shot' on the spot, vs waiting for the lab. Useful for paid shoots, and a safety against 'weird things', like flash-go-haywire, lens misfocus, etc.

- Able to know exact shooting parameters (aperture, speed, etc) This shortens the learning curve for me considerably. i would never have bothered to learn panning with film.

- Not having to keep an eye on the film counter, so as not to run out of film at the wrong time. (Much less likely with digital and big memory cards.)

- On-the-fly ISO switching.

- ISO 800, 1600, 3200. These are more expensive options for film, and should be factored in if used frequently.

- The space and time required to file and maintain negatives, and sometimes, the frustration.

- Unless you print your negs the traditional darkroom way, the time/cost required to get high-res digital copies of negs is significant.
 

#13
In that sense, film is indeed impractical and more "expensive" :)

For the common man on the street, buying a $200 digital camera is the way to go, why spend on film ? Even phones will probably have 5mp soon in their built-in cameras.

Shooting film these days in this fast-paced world is obviously not for everyone. Real enthusiasts of film just love the entire process, and others won't understand. Only for the patient and less stressed photographers who also don't mind the cost :)

So IMHO the question on cost is irrelevant. If one has to think about cost, better go digital. I don't believe real film enthusiasts will say they are sticking with film because it's cheaper ?


ST1100 said:
Do the following have any financial value?

- Security of knowing you 'got the shot' on the spot, vs waiting for the lab. Useful for paid shoots, and a safety against 'weird things', like flash-go-haywire, lens misfocus, etc.

- Able to know exact shooting parameters (aperture, speed, etc) This shortens the learning curve for me considerably. i would never have bothered to learn panning with film.

- Not having to keep an eye on the film counter, so as not to run out of film at the wrong time. (Much less likely with digital and big memory cards.)

- On-the-fly ISO switching.

- ISO 800, 1600, 3200. These are more expensive options for film, and should be factored in if used frequently.

- The space and time required to file and maintain negatives, and sometimes, the frustration.

- Unless you print your negs the traditional darkroom way, the time/cost required to get high-res digital copies of negs is significant.
 

Snoweagle

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#14
For film, it's cost of buying and developing the films.

For digital, it's just cost of buying a memory card and shutter change.
 

honda

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#15
I think the most important factor is how much can you afford? Only 50 dollars or 100 dollars for a cheapo film camera? Or 200 dollars for a digicam? Or few thousands for a dslr? Which can get you a better picture or wont make you miss the priceless picture? I will take the dslr for all the convenience over film camera. The advantage over digicam is more individual choice.
 

Teo

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#16
honda said:
I think the most important factor is how much can you afford? Only 50 dollars or 100 dollars for a cheapo film camera? Or 200 dollars for a digicam? Or few thousands for a dslr? Which can get you a better picture or wont make you miss the priceless picture? I will take the dslr for all the convenience over film camera. The advantage over digicam is more individual choice.

Personnaly I find film is having the convenience in a way I need not need to waste time on post processing. I enjoy photography during the process when snapping the shot rather than the the after effect of sitting in front of the PC editing the images.....agreed, end of day, it is up to individual.
 

#17
clubgrit said:
In that sense, film is indeed impractical and more "expensive" :)

For the common man on the street, buying a $200 digital camera is the way to go, why spend on film ? Even phones will probably have 5mp soon in their built-in cameras.

Shooting film these days in this fast-paced world is obviously not for everyone. Real enthusiasts of film just love the entire process, and others won't understand. Only for the patient and less stressed photographers who also don't mind the cost :)

So IMHO the question on cost is irrelevant. If one has to think about cost, better go digital. I don't believe real film enthusiasts will say they are sticking with film because it's cheaper ?
Yeah, I used to enjoy doing my own developing of B&W film.

With digital, you need not do any processing either, just take it straight from the camera, and it would just be like film sent to the labs, which does the processing for you. However, I like the fact that you can actually have images in non-std sizes (3R, 4R, 5R, etc) and can crop what you need.
 

smallaperture

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#18
Teo said:
Personnaly I find film is having the convenience in a way I need not need to waste time on post processing.
Post processing is not a waste of time. It makes a mediocre shot look much better. Or you can salvage some average shot to something more presentable....... To me it is part of the fun.

At times, when I am short of time, I just download to PC, browse thru' and leave it there for a week or so until I have time to pick a few to do the PP.
 

#19
smallaperture said:
At times, when I am short of time, I just download to PC, browse thru' and leave it there for a week or so until I have time to pick a few to do the PP.
Same here, this is the power of digital. With film, many of those great photographs we see in books or magazines have some filter used. With digital, no need, just add in later.

One has to harness this power, but one has to be adept too at the software.

I remember a magazine review shootout between the Nikon D200 and Canon 5D. All photos shown for comparison were unprocessed (there were several). To the man on the street, there is no doubt, one glance and the Nikon photos are soft and low contrast, and not vibrant. No need to read the review, go buy the Canon. But read further on, the conclusion ? Nikon D200 performance same as Canon 5D, after post-processing for both. And the magazine is not pro-Nikon, many of its awards go to Canon.
 

zac08

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#20
clubgrit said:
Same here, this is the power of digital. With film, many of those great photographs we see in books or magazines have some filter used. With digital, no need, just add in later.

One has to harness this power, but one has to be adept too at the software.

I remember a magazine review shootout between the Nikon D200 and Canon 5D. All photos shown for comparison were unprocessed (there were several). To the man on the street, there is no doubt, one glance and the Nikon photos are soft and low contrast, and not vibrant. No need to read the review, go buy the Canon. But read further on, the conclusion ? Nikon D200 performance same as Canon 5D, after post-processing for both. And the magazine is not pro-Nikon, many of its awards go to Canon.
But were the settings the same? :think:
 

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