When I tell people I still shoot film they often ask ‘Isn’t that expensive?’ They assume that digital is cheaper because there is no subsequent cost of buying and developing film. But what people forget is the depreciation in the cost of their digital photographic equipment and the sheer quality of film.
I bought several digital cameras in the early 2000s that are totally obsolete now – I have a better digital camera on my phone! They are totally useless now. I couldn’t even sell them on eBay.
The last digital camera I purchased was a Sony SLR – which I bought for £280 (US$450 / EUR336) in 2008 for a trip to Nepal. I took about 500 photos with it on that trip and have used it infrequently since. That’s 56p per photo. Compare that to the last film camera I bought for a trip to the USA last month. The camera was a Pentax ME Super with a 50mm prime. I also picked up a zoom lens for it. All for £30 (US$50 / EUR37).
On the USA trip I shot three rolls of black-and-white film and two rolls of Kodak Ektacolor 100ISO. The film cost me about £30 (US$50/EUR37) and the developing £15 (US$25/EUR19). So that’s £75 (US$120/EUR92) for 252 photos including all kit, film, and development – 30p per photo. That’s almost half the cost of digital!
What’s more, the quality of film is far superior to digital. A medium format film image can record an equivalent of approximately 50 megapixels.
How much does a 50 megapixel camera cost? Significantly more than a Diana F+, I bet!
Clearly, most people would shoot more than 500 photos on their digital camera. But what digital camera bought today will still be considered good quality will still be working in 30 years time? My guess – very few.
Of course, I can see the benefits of digital. I will continue to take the occasional photo using my phone camera. But I don’t want to give up the excitement of shooting film. For me I still consider it giving great value for money. It provides wonderful results and I love being able to call myself a lomographer.