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Digital does not save $


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#1 carl_goodier

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Posted 08 February 2003 - 11:05 PM

I have been hearing for along time that digital saves so much as the price per picture is cheaperthan film. I am not an expert account but do have basic finance competencies, I started putting things on a row.

Conclusion: It would take est.25,000 pictures before the price per pic is lower than that of a film using Velvia( F80 ). If only used for my diving, it would take me 15 years to get to break even, and if use on land, maybe it might go down to 10 years. Most high tech equipment has a write down period of 3 to 5 years........ conclusion. For pro's who shoot alot, they will get their money's worth, for ameteurs who shoot a reasonable amount ( 120 rolls a year ), the numbers dont justify the use of digital.


Wish I knew how to post my spread sheet on this forum.

Assumptions :
-Based on what I can buy the staff for here in Thailand
( USD$ )
Digital Body 2100, computer 1900, software 250 memory card 500 ( excludes cost of storage of 25,000 pictures on CD"s! )

Film
Velvia + develop $7.30, camera body and light box $915

Lens - using AF 105 2.8D micro, common to both so not in calculation.

Contructive comments welcome

#2 scottyb

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 05:56 AM

To start with my computer is not part of the cost because it's the same computer I use to print, post, and send film photos as well as other personal tasks. I have been doing this for the last 5 years. To do this I either have to buy a film scanner or have them burned professionally @ $1.69+ per image. I usually narrowed it down to 50 or so from an extended trip.

I paid less than $200 for a 500mb CF and now you can purchase 1GB for under $200. I used 500mb successfully while on a live-aboard and shooting RAW. I had to download between dives but that brings us to the next question. How nice would it be while shooting film, to see your shots as soon as you get out of the water? CD's can be purchased for as little as $0.20 so I burn the RAW images of each dive on one CD.

I thought I did well by purchasing Velvia or Provia for $5.00 through the net. If I wait until I return home, it cost $6.00+, or if I choose to develope on location $10 per roll for E-6 processing. I never tried the mailers, but that would literally drive me crazy to wait for the results a week or more after I returned.

I don't know what it would be worth but the instant gratification is worth a lot to me, not to mention the ability to make adjustments on subsequent dives. Another thing to remember is that the cost and quality of digital is coming down rapidly. I don't see film changing significantly, ever.

#3 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 06:20 AM

As Scotty said the costs are coming down now that the initial development costs have been recouped and in two years the prices of DSLR's will be at their long awaited justifiable price (Less than an electromechanical equiv.). So in 12 months recalculate and reassess the situation and remember you do not have to buy all new stuff!

With the advances in chip technology - Mainly CMOS, the quality and flexibility of fim is being reached. This massive advantage of instant recall saves a lot of disappointment during a trip as settings & techniques can be altered by the dive.

OK, I can do this on certain live aboards with film too, but it costs $10 every time or $30 - $50 per day, and over 10-12 days this adds up. Plus mounting and storing, and dumping the waste which can be as high as 30% for a pro.

#4 craig

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 08:00 AM

It is the pros that are claiming a cost advantage to digital. They shoot a lot and it could certainly be true for them.
For casual shooters, either way represents a large investment, so you choose a system based on its merits and what you want to accomplish. No vacation photographer ever "saved" money buying a rig.
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#5 tshepherd

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 08:47 AM

Another thing that you might factor into your calculation of 10-15 yrs is what I'll call the "experimentation" or "lost shot" factor. In the years before I had digital, I would take maybe 30 rolls of pictures with my film camera, usually with 24 exposure rolls, so 720 shots? Since October when I got my D60 (my 3rd digital), I've taken over 2000 shots in roughly 4 months. Many of those were experimentation to try out different modes of the camera, or techniques, which I wouldn't have done with film, as every shot has a hard cost to it.

So, looking at it from that perspective, let's suppose I shoot 5,000 shots / year. Well, I might only print a few hundred of those as "keepers", whereas I would have had to process each of those with film. I'm not going to do a ton of math here, but my point is that it's not always as cut and dry as X number of shots = Y number of years for payback.

And the comparison of setups, while accurate for some of us, might not be quite accurate for those people who are shooting "consumer" digicams, and blowing many of us away consistently with their results (Herb for one, Laz for another).

Just some thoughts...

Tom

#6 scottyb

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 11:38 AM

Good points Tom. I have probably shot the same as you, some from experimentation, others for documentation of projects. I even shot a couple dozen with the camera in housing to make sure TTL was working, before it went in the water.

#7 scorpio_fish

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 01:45 PM

Time is money. Forgot about the time and cost of scanning your Velvia. I've still got 100-200 slides queued up to be scanned on my $1700 scanner.

Drive to shop to buy Velvia. Drive to lab to drop off slides. Drive to lab to pick up slides. I work 60 hours a week, not counting scuba instruction on the side. My time is very valuable. The switch to digital was primarily for three reasons; 1) workflow 2) workflow 3) workflow. I can now go shoot on the weekend without spending at least another weekend scanning.

Nor do I drive my car 45mph on the highway to save gas. The economic cost of lost time is greater than the gas savings.

Maybe that's not a good analogy, because I can't "cost" justify the digital SLR, but time is something I can't buy.
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#8 marriard

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 02:22 PM

Conclusion:  It would take est.25,000 pictures before the price per pic is lower than that of a film using Velvia( F80 ). If only used for my diving, it would take me 15 years to get to break even, and if use on land, maybe it might go down to 10 years.  Most high tech equipment has a write down period of 3 to 5 years........   conclusion.  For pro's who shoot alot, they will get their money's worth, for ameteurs who shoot a reasonable amount ( 120 rolls a year ), the numbers dont justify the use of digital.


Wish I knew how to post my spread sheet on this forum.

Assumptions :
-Based on what I can buy the staff for here in Thailand
( USD$ )
Digital Body 2100, computer 1900, software 250 memory card 500 ( excludes cost of storage of 25,000 pictures on CD"s! )

Film
Velvia + develop $7.30, camera body and light box $915

Lens - using AF 105 2.8D micro, common to both so not in calculation.

Contructive comments welcome

Wow - Velvia plus developing for $7.30. Even with my 'there every day' discount I never got down that low.

Now I shoot hundreds of 'rolls' a year, so my DSLR paid for itself in about 4 months, but in reality we are talking your usage, so based on 120 Rolls a year (man that isn't many unless you only shoot underwater)

Lets redo your chart a litte bit looking at hard cost:

Digital:

$2,000 USD Camera body
$1,500 USD 2.0 GHZ Laptop
$0,450 USD Two 1GB Microdrives
$0,200 USD Sets of needed Rechargable batteries & charger
---------
$4,150

--------------------------------------------
Film: One Year, 120 Rolls

$502.50 Velvia, 120 Rolls, (6 packs of 20 roll ProPacks @ $83.75 from focuscamera.com)
$864.00 Professional developing with mount. $8.00/ roll of 36, minus 10% friend discount
$300.00 Decent color corrected light box, not some cheap thing
$800.00 Nikon F100 (lets compare Apples to Apples kind of. If it is Film or Digital and we are talking serious, I would be looking DSLR or the F100 now the N90S is discontinued)
----------
$2,466

As you have recuuring costs the next year for film/developing, I'd put the return on investment at about 2 years (240 rolls/8640 pics).

If we are not talking serious, then lets say a F80 = Olympus 5050 and you are talking a whole different calculation with digital way ahead. Just because some of the DSLR's are built around a N80 body doesn't mean you can make a straight comparison.

Also note I am not including software as I thought software cost = scanning cost (or buying a decent scanner), although I think I am being overly generous to film as scanning costs would be a recurring cost, or a scanner of any quality would be ~$500 - $1000 USD while a reasonably serious amateur could probably get by with a $99 USD program such as Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop Elements.

This is just a quick look at hard costs. As others have pointed, the experimentation alone is worth it. I'm willing to try anything now - at RAW on my S2Pro I get 80 shots underwater. Now I can really play with my subject and know that I'll still have shots left for the next thing I see. Also when I have that dream dive I have WAY more shots to shoot than with a roll of 36 - how many times have you been out of film after 1/2 a dive when you are on a new dive location and you are surrounded by things you haven't seen before?

Also as the dive ends and I have 27-28 exposures I don't have to run around finding something to shoot my last 6-7 frames on because I don't want to start the next dive with only a few frames left, but with a fresh roll. When I think of the wasted frames it makes me cry.

Also if you see something cool you shoot a few frames, download it, and don't have to worry about how I am going to finish the roll before the next dive - or worse having to play around with rewinding and reloading 1/4 a used roll (I hated doing this). I probably shoot about 20-30% more than I did with film because I am not worrying about how much development is going to cost me.

Next is the composition review on the LCD - after I take a shot I can look and CONFIRM that I didn't just cut off a fin, or way over expose, or way under expose, or all the other stupid things I do sometimes. That is worth the $$$ to me alone. Yesterday I took a series of shots looking for the right 'blue' for wide angle. Nice to be able to review aftr a shot and think 'too dark' or 'too light' - real useful when the sun kept coming in and out, and in shot/out of shot.

Others also point out the digital gratification - I can review what I shot that day and make any corrections. Also I know REAL quick if something is wrong with the camera. On a shoot I can tell that day whether I got the shot I needed or whether I need to go back and do it again. Also I test my TTL more often - because I hated wasting film on testing to see if it working or not.

In all, you are correct in one thing. Pro's will say quickly that digital is a cost saver - because it obvious (and we keep good records for tax purposes anyway). But I think the return on investment is much quicker than you think.

M

#9 davephdv

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 03:13 PM

All above arguments good. Myself and a photo pro sat down and figured out what I spend a year on photo. Not counting the cost of the Laptop I already owned. And figuring about 150 rolls a year from all uses (probably conservative). A 2000$ dollar DSLR will pay for itself in one year. Year and a half tops. Was essentially able to trade my film SLRs and housing for the DSLR housing (top of the line).

If I use this set up for two years I should clearly save money, immense amounts of aggravation, and gain heavily in the immediate satisfaction category.

The only way you could possibly end up losing money is in the trade in category. A top housing for a F100 will hold it's value as the camera will never become obsolete. Even if the camera is DCd used bodies will be around for years and the quality of the shots will be as good as with any new camera on the market. The current DSLRs will be outmoded in a year or two and obsolete in two the three years. It follows that the housings for them will retain little trade in value when you want to upgrade.

I don't count cost of Lap top as I already have one and of memory cards as they will be usable on other cameras and purposes and the prices are getting very cheap. You could buy a 1 gig CF card last week for about 200$.
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#10 scottyb

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 04:19 PM

We could start another topic. Given the rapid changes of DSLR's is it so bad to have an inexpensive housing available. With a 20% discount from my dive shop, I purchased my Ikelite, port, dual sync chord, and strobe arm adapters for $1300 + tax.

My plan was to use it until an aluminum housing became available. I suspect the upcoming pro housings will cost double that or more. Knowing more about the short lifespan of DSLR's, I'm not sure I want to invest in the pro housings. What will they be worth if they discontinue the S2 in a couple years?

#11 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 04:28 PM

It wouldn't be so bad if by the time we get to the S20 the camera layout stayed the same so you could still use the same housing!

#12 davephdv

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 05:58 PM

For years I had been told that Oly was keeping the layout of the 3030 the same as they had an agreement with L & M so that it would continue to fit in the Tetra housing. Then I was told by someone that has an in with L & M that the UW market is such a small percentage of their market that they pay it no attention at all.

From a camera manufactures point of view we are the only ones that don't want the camera layout to change. For them, changing the layout is part of constantly updating their cameras. From the housing manufactures point of view, digtial is a gold mine. Instead of selling a housing to a user maybe every 5 to 10 years they can sell one every year or two. I very much doubt that they want manufactures to update their cameras without changing the layout. They would sell less housings that way. Not more.
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#13 marriard

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 06:05 PM

It wouldn't be so bad if by the time we get to the S20 the camera layout stayed the same so you could still use the same housing!

No one ever did it for film cameras, so I can't see this happening for digital either :-(

M

#14 scottyb

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 07:28 PM

I very much doubt that they want manufactures to update their cameras without changing the layout. They would sell less housings that way. Not more.


I would say to this, advantage Ikelite.

#15 james

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 08:11 PM

First off, let's take the computer out of the equation, you just can't justifiably count it. If you ONLY use your computer for digital photo work, that is one thing, but do you check your email? Do you surf the web? Do you manage your finances on your computer? Do you do wordprocessing?

I can get Fuji/Noritsu Frontier 4 x 6 for $.29 and 8x10 or 8 x 12 for $2.95 on Fuji Crystal Archive paper. Let's add that to the spreadsheet.

Very interesting discussion!

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#16 marriard

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 08:50 PM

First off, let's take the computer out of the equation, you just can't justifiably count it.  If you ONLY use your computer for digital photo work, that is one thing, but do you check your email?  Do you surf the web?  Do you manage your finances on your computer? Do you do wordprocessing?

I left the laptop in with my calculations as I like to travel with my laptop as i don't like storing images on my microdrives when I could be taking more shots :-) Because I think it makes sense to travel with a laptop if you go digital, and I would rather have a desktop at home, I think this makes sense. Especially for those who only have a desktop right now.

M