3 Responses

  1. Bruce Mattes

    You hit the nail right on the head..I have only been back into photography for a little more than 2 years..In that time I started back with a digital camera..I soon realized that what I really wanted to do was shoot black & white film, which is how I got started in photography in the late 1970’s..

    I am constantly amazed when I read the posts on any photography forum that is discussing the imminent demise of film to learn of how many photographers that profess to love film, but do not purchase and shoot very much film over the course of a year..Virtually to a person the reasons given are: 1) Film costs far more than digital–False… 2) Film is messier than digital–True… 3) Film is more time consuming than digital–False…4) Film is more difficult than digital–False…

    The number one reason given by older photographers for not using film is, of course, that film costs more than digital..To all those that truly believe that digital is less expensive than film I challenge you to keep an old-fashioned account ledger written in pencil..Try to find one that you can flip over and use from both sides..

    Start in the front with your digital expenses..Include EVERYTHING that is in any way related to the digital process from hardware to software..To be absolutely fair in this accounting you MUST include the costs of ALL of the computer-related hardware, as well as software..The argument that I constantly here for not including the computer, monitor, etc. in the calculations is that people ALREADY have a computer in the home for other purposes..That argument fails to take into account that a digital camera simply CANNOT be utilized without a stand-alone computer to post-process the images..Period..So, include all of the computer-related equipment in the digital accounting as if it were only used for photography..

    For the comparison to be fair the digital / lightroom process MUST be separated from the film / wet darkroom process..Even if you are a hybrid photographer, such as Mr. Schaub is, for the purposes of fairly comparing the costs of both methodologies, keep the two processes separate..

    On the other side of the ledger write down all of the expenses that you incur related to film photography..

    When one looks objectively at EVERY single facet of the equipment, materials, and software necessary to capture a digital image (with any kind of digital camera) to the final print that one can hold , and observe, in one’s hand; it is patently obvious that both systems cost virtually the same amount of MONEY and TIME for the amateur photographer to produce for themselves at home..This statement presupposes that an advanced amateur photographer is going to practice both 35mm and medium format film photography, as well as digital photography..It also presupposes that this photographer will have both a complete wet darkroom (from developing film to printing silver gelatin prints), as well as a complete lightroom (camera of above average quality to an inkjet printer) in the home..For, let us say, prints up to 13″ x 19″ in size..

    It is very important in doing these kinds of comparisons to be very fair to both methodologies..The prices paid for equipment need to reflect real world realities..One cannot fairly compare a new $2000 to $5000 digital camera to a used $250 35mm film camera..A fairer comparison might be to use the price of a new medium format, Mamiya, Hasselblad, or Pentax medium format camera..These cameras are still available new in Asia..Nikon’s and Canon’s flagship digital cameras will give a well-scanned medium format 6×6 or 6×7 negative a run for the money..

    When comparing prints from digital files versus wet darkroom prints; one also needs to be sure that the prints are executed by printers of equal ability using equipment of equal quality..This is especially true if one is sending out to have prints made..To be really fair a pro lab with a first class reputation should be utilized for a print comparison..Using WalMart, Costco, and other similar labs is not really fair, as the quality control at these types of labs can be very spotty..As far as possible the papers and inks for the inkjet print should be as near to equal in quality to the silver gelatin papers and developing chemicals are for the wet darkroom print..

    Whenever I read comparisons online that claim that digital is far cheaper than film, two things stand out..First is the claim that one can take as many digital images as one likes after the cost of the camera and memory card are paid for..This is true..Digital can, and does, offer instant feed back that film photography simply cannot..For certain types of photography this is invaluable..Digital has changed those types of photography, and the photographers practicing those types of photography forever..Action, sports, wildlife, and journalism photography have changed dramatically..

    The second thing that stands out is that the very ability of a digital camera, especially the high-end models, to take from 3-8 fps also means that the average photographer is coming home with memory cards filled with hundreds, sometimes thousands of images from a several hour photography session..In the past, that very same photographer would usually only expose 2-5 rolls of film in the same period of time..What this means is that once the photographer arrives home they need to spend just as much TIME in post processing the images contained on the memory cards, as they would need to spend developing their own film at home..In other words, the time being spent is pretty much the same..If the photographer is what I call a “Fiddler” (someone that fiddles around with digital files in trying to get the “Perfect Image”), the time spent on the digital process can FAR exceed what is required to develop, stop, fix, wash, and dry film..

    Virtually all of the online comparisons that I have read comparing the costs of digital to the costs of film simply do not take into account the TIME that the amateur photographer spends in front of a computer in post processing their images..These comparisons act as if a photographer’s time has NO value..In my opinion, this is wrongful thinking..Every photographer is born with a finite number of hours in their life..Each of those hours is precious, and has a value..In determining the costs of digital versus film photography the time spent on each process MUST be accorded a value..Regardless of whether one is paying an outside source to perform a digital or film related task, or whether one is performing that task themselves; the time spent has a monetary value..That monetary value should be recorded in the ledger when tabulating the differences between film and digital..

    In my opinion, the twin arguments that film is more expensive and that it is more time consuming than digital are not valid arguments..All of my research leads me to believe that when both systems are fairly compared in a side-by-side fashion; color film and digital photography are approximately equal in costs when averaged out over the course of a year..

    On the other hand, black and white film almost always comes in as less expensive in overall costs than does digital, or color film..

    Sorry for the very long post!!!..If you TRULY like film start purchasing 20-100 rolls per year, AND SHOOT IT!!!!..Shoot it, develop it, and make prints out of the keepers..

    Do not choose one system over the other..Use both film and digital where they are strongest..Where the methodology is most appropriate..Shoot film, especially black and white, for its ability to render shadows and tonality..

    Long Live Film!!!..

    Bruce

  2. Steven, amen brother!

    I am sick of photographers bashing Kodak for its supposed lack of “commitment” to analog photography, after they’ve decided to “punish” Kodak by boycotting their products! Talk about cutting off your cable release to spite your shutter!

    Many of these idiots harbor an anti-business attitude that is all too common in the art world; to them, Kodak’s principal sins is that it is a BIG company whose management has a fiduciary responsibility to maximize its shareholders profits; and that Kodak has laid off workers as they’ve shrunk. They’d rather have Kodak go bankrupt making products they can’t sell at a ROI sufficient to guarantee continued capital investment in the company. By this logic, a liquidated Kodak making nothing and employing no one is the noblest outcome.

    If I could only pass a law guaranteeing corporal punishment for anyone who makes economic pronouncements without having the slightest understanding of the subject….

    Two new films and a host of improvements to existing ones—sounds like commitment to me, even as Kodak’s sales shrank by some 15% last year. Their film quality control is second to none—when did you last hear of someone getting a bad roll of Kodak film?

    Go Portra, Go 400TMY-2, Go 320TXP!

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