i just realized how expensive film is... wow...

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Mike Henley, May 26, 2004.

  1. Mike Henley

    Mike Henley Guest

    Okay. Over the weeked i bought a few compact film cameras (olymups
    mju-ii (stylus epic) and a minox gt-s, in particular). It was somewhat
    easy, as they've depreciated already and are likely to somewhat retain
    their prices for some time in case i sell them in the future,
    therefore, to me it seemed not a loss. Coincidentally, my brother,
    who's been desiring the canon powershot pro1 for a while now, got
    encouraged by my purchases and bought it, somewhat to my discontent as
    i shuddered at its almost $1000 price tag (with some accessories and
    ready to run, but he says he's got a "partner" who's a fellow hobbyist
    sharing the cost).

    Yesterday i went to the park and took a few pictures; within a couple
    of hours i had used a film, despite a mild degree of restraint. It was
    just so easy to click at beautiful sights. It was a lovely walk and i
    should say i enjoyed it. Now, i have two films that need processing,
    one from the day before. So i looked at the least expensive options.
    And i thought i'd look up something, once and for all, that i would
    use from now on, rather than rushing to the 1 hour lab and paying a
    premium. After all, film photography is somewhat an exercise in
    delayed gratification, for me at least, so i might as well delay it a
    little more.

    The easiest way was to make some calculations about how much it'd cost
    me over a year. Buying film in packs of 20 from the least expensive
    supplier and then developing it at the absolutely-the-least-expensive
    service which happened to be a postal one, regardless of its quality
    or reliability.

    Now here comes the shocker; at a rate of four 24 exposure color films
    per week (96 images per week, not difficult to reach that number,
    especially if you take multiple shots at a time experimenting with
    varied exposure/composition etc, as a budding hobbyist would do),
    purchased and processed at the absolutely least expensive option,
    regardless of quality of processing (fuji superia 24/400 from cheapest
    supplier)(processed by truprint), it'd cost me £10 per week, or £520
    per year! A second least expensive option would cost almost twice as
    much, or restrict me to two films per week for same budget. Meaning
    for the cost of running my mju-ii for a year while considerably
    restrainting myself, i could get a canon powershot pro1! For those who
    aren't sure what £520 equals in dollars, it's $944.

    I am shocked. :-/

    I am also somewhat dismayed, considering that last friday i felt a
    little bothered by my brother's "expensive" approach in buying the
    canon powershot pro1 when a mju-ii could take images that may rival it
    in quality (or so i would've liked to think, i'm not sure considering
    the costs of running both now over a year that the mju-ii takes equal
    or better shots).

    Mike Henley, May 26, 2004
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  2. Mike Henley

    Tom Thackrey Guest

    You didn't figure in any costs for printing the digital images. Or the cost
    of replacing the digital camera every few years. Or the cost of the computer
    and software.

    It's not rocket science to determine that at some point the higher entry
    costs of digital are offset by the higher recurring costs of film.
    Tom Thackrey, May 26, 2004
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  3. Are you sure you want to continue taking pictures at that rate?
    That would amount to about 5000 pictures a year. What are you going
    to do with that kind of volume?

    Of course, you may want to waste some film when you are in a situation
    you have not encountered before (which is basically everything when you
    are just starting), but after a while, it might be better to spend a bit
    more time thinking about a picture, then trying to be lucky.
    Philip Homburg, May 26, 2004
  4. Mike Henley

    Joseph Kewfi Guest

    I am shocked. :-/

    If you think film is expensive, don't ever get into buying lenses.
    Photography is not a cheap interest to have.
    Joseph Kewfi, May 26, 2004
  5. Mike Henley wrote:

    96 * 52 = 4992 exposures per year. $944.00US / 4992 = $0.19US/exposure.
    Nineteen cents a shot... well, not bad considering you're getting prints
    in return. Do you like the quality of your prints at that price?
    What does he do with his shots? How does he save them? Does he get them
    printed, or are they just for viewing on the computer monitor?

    You have negs, and if he loses his files somehow, he has nothing.

    Now, about the prints: you can, if you can live with a size limitation of 8
    x 10, equip yourself with a very nice scanner and printer for under $500US.
    Then you can get your negs processed only, and then you can print only what
    you deem worth printing. On average, that might be one or two shots per

    See what the price difference is for getting the film processed only, with
    no prints and no index. Do the arithmetic to discover how long it would
    take you to be ahead of the game if you scanned and printed yourself. I
    suspect you'll find that it'll be less than two years.

    Think about it!

    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, May 26, 2004
  6. Mike Henley

    Lisa Horton Guest

    The MjuII does have a very sharp lens, with sharp fine grained film, it
    may well be able to match or beat the Pro1. But it's a little like
    apples and oranges to compare a non-zoom compact with a high end
    prosumer. Compare the Mju to a non zoom, inexpensive compact digital,
    and I think you'll see the quality edge goes dramatically to the film
    True, but measures can be taken with minimal effort and expense that
    make losing files much less likely. Like multiple backups in multiple
    I agree with William here, with the caveat that you might see nearly
    identical benefits from an equivalent digital. The key to the savings
    here is not printing shots you don't want prints of.

    Lisa Horton, May 26, 2004
  7. Mike Henley

    Chris B Guest

    Man! I just realised how expensive sandwiches are.
    I sometimes like to buy sandwiches from the local shop rather than make my
    own, I always thought they were pretty cheap and they're much nicer than
    anything I could make.
    Coincidentally, my brother, being encouraged by my joyous purchases, started
    buying baguettes from the more expensive shop further down the road. I
    shuddered at the cost - £5.95 for a BLT! Such extravagance.
    Yesterday I took my sandwich-eating further and bought a can of drink and a
    packet of crisps to go with it. After all, buying sandwiches from a shop is
    a bit like delayed gratification - having to queue to buy them and take them
    back to the office and everything, so I thought I'd delay the gratification
    more by eating crisps first. Mmmm!
    I did some calculations to figure out how much it'd cost me over a year. I
    found it cheapest to get my freshly-made sandwiches from another shop
    further from the office - they lacked the delicious sauces of the more
    expensive stuff nearer me, but the fillings were still very nice.
    Here's the shocker. I can get a sandwich, a packet of crisps and a can of
    drink for £3. Now, assuming I go to the shop ten times a week, I end up
    paying £30! Not to mention the time it takes me walking there and back to
    quench my insane hunger for sandwich-eating. You know what that is? £1560
    per year! I could buy 262 expensive BLTs for that! 262 BLTs! Can you believe
    I am stunned!!

    And fat!!!!!
    What really annoys me is how bothered I was about my brother buying BLT's
    from the expensive shop and it turns out his approach would probably get me
    just as much, if not more, gratification, but with less actual eating
    involved. How stupid I've been - especially when I consider that since using
    my amazing statistical abilities, I think I've proved that the costs of
    eating both over a year makes the BLT taste nicer!

    Oh what a sandwich folly!

    Chris. ;)
    Chris B, May 26, 2004
  8. Hi Mike,

    I used to buy my film at Mailshots (a mail order place that advertises in
    Practical Photography - equipment based mag - and Amateur Photographer -
    execellent mag BTW) relatively cheaply. I used to buy Agfa HDC 400 for
    around 2 pounds per roll (I used to order around 50 rolls or so at a time).

    For developing I used to use Klick (certainly not Jessops) and get their
    basic service: developing and 4x6 inch prints. That used to cost me around
    2.50 per roll - probably more now. Klick would send the stuff out and it
    would come back in around 2-3 days. The quality was decent and the price
    was right. Those negs are still holding up more than 10 years later. When
    I switched to slides I called around to find a few places that did E6
    in-house, compared prices, submitted test rolls and compared the quality.
    I found a little place near Fountainbridge in Edinburgh that was great -
    can't remember the name.

    There is a cost associated with photography - but with a little research
    it can be reduced.

    The other thing to remember is that you haven't yet factored your friend's
    cost to make prints from his digital images. Paper and ink are not free.

    John Cuthbertson, May 26, 2004
  9. Mike Henley

    TP Guest

    What unalloyed joy I felt while reading your reply.

    It was so entertaining that I will even forgive you for making me
    spill coffee over my keyboard ...

    TP, May 26, 2004
  10. Mike Henley

    Mike Henley Guest

    The thing is, you don't need to print digital images to view them,
    unlike film.

    As for computer, I would tend to think that computers are now such a
    commodity that probably almost all those who purchase a digital camera
    already own a computer.

    Personally i think i'll just use a combination approach, i'm waiting
    for my dimage x21, which i'll use for unlimited snapshots, and just
    reserve film for the good ones.
    Mike Henley, May 26, 2004
  11. Lisa Horton wrote:

    Ordinarily, or actually until recently, I would have agreed with you. But
    no longer. Here's why:

    It has been discovered that the longevity of CDs are much less than formerly
    thought, that there is a phenomenon called "CD rot", where the burned
    images/bits simply degrade into unreadability. It's also been shown that
    the brand name of a CD that is purchased has little or nothing to do with
    the manufacturer of the CD. One cannot, therefore, rely on an ability to
    purchase quality CDs.

    So the scenario is that one has a large directory of images that one stores
    on CDs, perhaps a half dozen. They are distributed to various places for
    safe-keeping. For whatever reason, the directory is then deleted (a hard
    drive does not a Turing machine make!!). And now, it is discovered that
    each of the CDs, regardless of where stored, is defective.

    Nightmare scenario that apparently has already happened all too often in the
    very recent past. Looks like some CDs are reaching the end of their
    usability not only prematurely, but (naturally enough) without warning as

    I can say is that mag tape seems to hold up rather well in reasonable
    climate controlled storage, degrading gracefully as the result of constant
    reuse. So I do my backups to mag tape.

    In this regard, it appears that the first sign of CD rot is that one player
    won't read it but another will. As soon as that happens, read the entire
    iso back onto your drive immediately and md5sum it (something I would do
    with iso's before the initial burn). If you can verify that what you have
    is okay, then at least you'll have a way of checking it in the future.
    Then re-burn another half dozen.

    Make sense?

    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, May 27, 2004
  12. Mike Henley

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Okay, you are forgetting another cost item. I am guessing that you are
    having 4" by 6" prints made with the film processing, otherwise the costs
    would not be that high (compared to process only). If you price out the
    current ink cartridges, inkjet paper, and add the cost of the printer,
    then you will have a truer comparison. A slightly newer option is small
    dye sublimation printers, though costs are very similar to inkjet.

    So what if you did not want to print every image . . . then you might
    consider transparency (slide) films. Many labs can easily produce prints
    from slides, and often for nearly the same per print cost as from
    negatives. Just a thought, but I am not going to talk you out of going
    digital only.
    Gordon Moat, May 27, 2004
  13. Mike Henley

    Matt Clara Guest

    Sorry to hear that.

    [What follows is a crazy tale, which sounds like really bad advice in
    retrospect; however, it is true that the costs that you lament caused me to
    follow the same advice.]

    The costs of developing film is one of the reasons I switched to B&W and put
    in my own darkroom--unfortunately, now I have no idea what I'm paying per

    I do know that I can develop and print whenever I want, and I don't think,
    "it'll be $10 per roll for these four rolls, and I'll have to make sure to
    ok it with the wife because this is a bad week, what with the new _blank_
    (this week it's tires) and all." Instead, I stock up on chemicals and paper
    when I can, not to mention film, which I buy in bulk and roll my own, and I
    shoot and print when I want.

    Plus everyone thinks I'm very artsy, now that I'm shooting B&W almost
    exclusively! I also appreciate the medium--photography is inherently
    abstract, and B&W just takes it a step further. And the grain structure is
    very pleasing, but I digress.

    The big bummer is the drain on time. I can spend an hour and a half just
    working on a single print*, easy. More, if I start to create elaborate
    masks with which to dodge and burn.

    Matt Clara

    *when I say "single print", I mean many, many prints, in search of _the_
    single print. Once you've made that, you can often replicate it, but never
    exactly, unless it's a straight print--but then you wouldn't be spending an
    hour and a half on it!
    Matt Clara, May 27, 2004
  14. Mike Henley

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: Re: i just realized how expensive film is... wow...
    Hi John:

    Which E-6 film did you settle on and why (for what purpose/subject
    matter/lighting conditions)? Why did you switch from neg film to E-6?

    Lewis Lang, May 27, 2004
  15. Mike Henley

    RWatson767 Guest

    As you move from snapshots to pictures to photographs you will expose less film
    and procure better equipment. The next step will be to move to a larger format,
    medium or large, and then expose even less film and spend more for equipment in
    your quest to make the last step to photographs.

    Bob AZ
    RWatson767, May 27, 2004
  16. Mike Henley

    DM Guest

    You're going to shoot and print 5000 images a year? What are you going to
    do with all of them? And more importantly, will you even look at more than
    5% of them? I seriously doubt that. Unless you're a pro selling your
    images. Instead of wasting 5000 frames a year, take a course or learn
    photography, and you will make do with less than 1/10th that amount, or
    most likely much less.
    DM, May 27, 2004
  17. (Mike Henley) wrote in

    I will chime in and say that there's several points you should

    I agree with some of the others - you're not going to maintain that
    number of shots throughout a year. The novelty will wear off, you'll
    realize you already have perfectly good photos of such-and-such, and so on.
    You'll begin to concentrate on improving the shots, and will learn how, and
    how not to, take the image you want. You'll learn what the exposure
    characteristics are of the films you like, and what won't work for them. So
    it'll taper off, and it's impossible to say by how much. But when the bad
    shots hit you in the wallet each and every time, you are motivated to stop
    taking them, and your hobby changes from snapshots into real photography.

    Secondly, your expenses are stretched out over a period of time, and
    can be dictated throughout that time as well. Busy this month, or
    unexpected expenses? Then don't buy film. The digital costs the same
    whether you're using it or not ;-)

    And digital has untold semi-hidden expenses that don't get mentioned
    much - CDR/DVD costs, new harddrives and computer upgrades, new printers
    and materials for same, and so on. Not to mention "digitalitis," which
    means you get dissatisfied with your current camera and need to upgrade it
    when another comes along. This can happen with film, too, but usually to a
    far lesser extent.

    In short, don't worry about cost-effectiveness. Do what you're
    comfortable with. Do you know what your car is costing you per mile, and
    was that factored into your decision? How about the food you buy? Is your
    Significant Other a good deal? (be honest, we won't tell). What do you
    mean, you don't look at them that way? ;-)

    Have fun! That's what's important.

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, May 27, 2004
  18. Mike Henley

    Mike Guest

    Well, Matt, either spend an hour in the darkroom or hours in front of
    a computer screen.

    As for this:
    unlike film.

    This holds true unless you actually want to display your photos on the
    walls of your house/apartment. You could always shoot slides and
    "process only." Then scan only the ones you want, slap them on a CD
    and take them to the nearest 1-hour lab.

    Photography is an expensive hobby -- digital or film-based. You just
    have to accept this if you want to play.
    Mike, May 27, 2004
  19. Mike Henley

    Matt Clara Guest

    I've a film scanner, too, and it's still easier for me to burn time in the
    I'm sure you realize, but for clarification, I didn't say that.
    It's not as expensive as my wife's favorite hobby--shopping!
    Matt Clara, May 27, 2004
  20. 1) Compute the md5 of every file on the CD before you burn it and include
    the list on the CD. That allows you to verify which images are broken on
    a damaged CD.
    2) Keep important stuff on hard disks as well. I use three of them, one in
    my computer, one in my safe, and one off-site. Regular rotation (the
    one off-site gets swapped once a month, the one in my safe once a week)
    makes sure that the disk don't fail. Hard disks are big and cheap enough
    that you can keep all your important stuff online.
    Philip Homburg, May 27, 2004
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