Is Film Photography Expensive?
Film Vs Digital – thats the question everyone seems to be asking lately and I have heard a lot of answers. One of them includes the idea that film is just too expensive to shoot. Before I answer this question I wanted to talk about the mind set of each type of photographer.
The Digital Photographer Thinks:
I need to take as many photos I can because I can always delete them later.
I can edit that out or make the image look different in Lightroom later.
I want the newest gear so that I can stay current.
Newer is better – I can shoot 22DPI and film can’t to that!
The Film Photographer Thinks:
I need to think about my shots and click the shutter at the exact right time.
To make my image look different I need to use a different film stock.
My gear is Fine the way it is.
Film is better than RAW format.
What does this mean? Well, when you shoot Film, you are more attuned to the value of an image which forces you to slow down and think about every photograph you take. If the image isn’t worth taking then you don’t take it… and you defiantly don’t take 5 of the same thing. You make your images count and in turn you have a MUCH higher keep rate. Lastly I feel like this makes you a better photographer. Not because of anything magical but when you are forced to be aware of the number of images you take then each image has more thought put into it therefor making your eye more refined.
Some people won’t argue that the look of film is better, or that you do less work on the back end but they will argue one thing… Film is too expensive. This is a complete myth. In truth it is comparable in cost. Let’s take 3 examples, 35mm, Medium Format and Digital. The first year you have to buy your camera, lenses and film/memory cards and developing (on the film side) in year two you still have the film and developing costs but on the digital side you maybe just bought some newer memory cards. At this point your film numbers are still higher… But what is interesting is that on year 3 it all changes. The Digital photographer sees the newest camera just came out and HAS TO HAVE IT. Guess what happens!? The buying process starts all over again. With Film, this doesn’t really happen. Your film gear will usually last YEARS longer.
And Guess what! The numbers for Medium Format and Digital are about the same after 3 years. Also, if you outsource your images for digital, then that is another additional cost. If you don’t, then you need to calculate how much editing time you spend instead of working on your business.
As far as the quality of the image, the censor on a cropped frame digital camera isn’t even as large as the 35mm film and a full frame is not even close to the medium format film. Also if you are looking at this from a archiving viewpoint, film is also better than digital. Film quality only gets better with time. As technology gets better, so will your ability to re-scan an image at a larger size/quality. Today, a really good 35mm film negative scan can be 80 MB in size. THATS HUGE! For comparison sake the 5d Mkiii Raw file size is about 27 MB in size. Also, that digital file will never outlast the film negative.
All this being said, I shoot digital! Yes… but I am making my way into transitioning into film. The time saved alone will be more than enough to make me happy.