In this age of digital photography I often hear people say something along the lines of “Since it is digital I have no costs like in the days of film.” All I can assume is that those who say this must also play the lottery regularly, as it is a tax on people who are bad at math.
In the days of film most photographers I know shot with two Canon EOS 1n bodies. They paid somewhere in the vicinity of $1300.00 for the body with booster, if I remember correctly. That was Canon’s top line body, the best they made and in my opinion the most rugged camera I ever used. One could use this camera till it wore out, no need for an upgrade because the new version was “better”. Those upgrades really had no impact on image quality. We had a light table to edit slides on, cost about $150.00 no software required. We billed all film, processing, slide pages and shipping to clients.
Today in the age of Digital the same top of the line Canon costs from $5,000 for the 1DIV to almost $8,000 for the 1DsIII (cost when released, not now at the end of its run). Instead of a light table we have top end Mac’s running the full suite of Adobe software, usually a desktop tower and a notebook for location work. That is thousands and thousands more than a trusty light table, a device that did not require costly yearly “updates”.
Instead of FED-EX we use high speed internet connections to deliver images, and have to be able to do this reliably from the road as well as at home. Therefore, we have high speed DSL at home and a mifi card for the road. Each month that is usually more than we used to pay for all FED-EX shipping combined.
Instead of archiving images in boxes or file cabinets we need large redundant hard drives that can be searched to find old images when clients need them.
In hard equipment costs alone the digital era costs about $17,400 more than in film. That is just camera and computer expenses. If I add in the cost of the software that is another $2000.00 at least. Then the internet connections are around $150.00 per month.
This does not even get into software updates, hard drives and memory cards. All are additional expenses we as photographers incur.
Lets not forget that the “life” of our cameras is also greatly reduced as often the new versions do produce better images than the previous version. You may be able to skip one iteration, but not two.
So after taking all this into consideration how does digital not cost anything?