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The Hidden Costs of Digital Photography

Updated on May 1, 2011

How much is digital costing you?

Have you ever sat down and added up the real cost of going digital? It is actual quite frightening. First, there is digital camera, which is often at least double the price of a decent 35mm camera use to be. Then there is a computer or laptop, the software to run on it, plus the printer, black and coloured ink cartridges, special photo paper and storage media for the camera. The true price of going digital can easily set you back at around $3,500 plus.

Add to that the digital camera market is constantly changing with newer bigger and better camera coming out all the time. And of course, you must have the latest model with even great mega pixels. It is a vicious and expensive circle. Upgrading to a new digital camera with increased image size frequently means either upgrading your computer or purchasing a new one to cope with the large image file sizes and running the software to manipulate and sharpen the pictures.

There is another hidden cost to digital too, which is not immediately obvious. The cost of your valuable time is a lot higher than it is with traditional film. Going digital is very labour intensive indeed. Firstly, you have to learn a complete new skill set, which some people find a lot harder than others. Then, if you're anything like me you have gone out with your new digital camera in “happy snapper” mode, and take literally hundreds of images, just because you have the capacity to do so.

Once back home, you then spend hours and hours downloading, editing, manipulating and probably consigning a vast majority of the images to the trash bin and deleting them. I find all this messing about quite a chore, and really takes the fun of out of photography.

Do you want to spend increasingly more time sitting in front of a computer sorting out vast amounts of images or do you want to go out and take pictures?

Another problem is with storage of modern image media. Yet, despite numerous back ups, burning on to CD ROMs and actually printing images, many people are still not comfortable storing their images in this medium. How many good images have been lost to simple bad computer management, a damaged hard drive or several nasty viruses that have wiping everything clean. In contrast, my fifteen year collection of both 35mm and medium slides taken before my move to digital are still perfectly intact.

It really makes you think. We are firmly committed to digital photography now, but time management is essential unless prefer to spending yours on computer rather out taking pictures.

Taming Digital : Six Top Tips

1) Turn auto/happy snapper mode off - every picture taken is extra time on the computer.

2) Limit the size of your memory card, so you cant take too many pictures - remember the days of 36 images per roll?

3) Plan your photo sessions, just don’t go around aimlessly snapping everything you see.

4) Slow down the process, put the camera on a tripod and compose that shot carefully.

5) The delete button is your best friend.

6) The only thing you cannot buy is more time - use it wisely.


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    • Midnight Oil profile image

      Midnight Oil 5 years ago from Isle of Man UK

      How much is digital costing you? Have you ever sat down and added up the real cost of going digital? It is actual quite frightening.

    • profile image

      Errol Kane 7 years ago

      Well, what kind of digital camera do you have Amanda because I have to admit, my attitude about digital was like yours but that was years ago when I came to grips with today's technology and the technology is better today than it was say a short 7 years ago. I came aboard the digital ride about 7 years ago.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

      I just found some 35mm film in our local pound shop. I bought three rolls immediately, and plan to go back for more. i have a Canon EOS (35mm film camera) which takes wonderful photos. My digital camera cannot even begin to compete for quality and clarity, yet I know I have to get to grips with the new technology sooner or later!

    • profile image

      Errol Kane 7 years ago

      Very good advise here as to how to store images, going back to the 36 image roll and taking the shot and not collecting to many images. You are so right. Loosing images, because of a faulty computer and viruses has happen to me. Starting right now, going back to the film way of taking pictures with the digital. Thanks