Is digital more expensive?
Many people believe that digital
photography is less expensive than shooting with
film, "because there is no film".
Whilst digital photography provides
a number of important benefits, cost savings are
generally not one of them. There is a massive
increase in equipment costs, and in time expenditure for the photographer,
to produce quality images.
However, whilst the digital
photography component of a project by itself is not necessarily less
expensive, when incorporated into a digital workflow,
from capture to output, the overall cost and time savings
Utilising high quality digital photography in your next marketing or advertising project has very distinct benefits (click here to view), and can lead to an overall reduction in costs, as well as an increase in sales.
Higher equipment costs
On average the cost of professional digital equipment
is around 3 times greater than the equivalent
film gear. Added to this digital has a turnover
period of 18 – 24 months as compared to
the 5 – 7 year lifetime of film equipment.
A basic professional digital kit will cost in
the order of $20,000 and can easily rise to $50,000
Cost $20,000 - $50,000+
Turnover 18 - 24 months
Cost $8,000 - $20,000
Turnover 5 - 7 years
Greater time committment
The developing and processing services which were
once outsourced to specialised labs, are now handled
by the photographer. Every hour of photography
generally requires 1 - 2 hours of editing and
production time, and an increased volume of computer
and storage equipment. The positive side to this
is the increased creative control the photographer
and client gain over the process.
Additionally, once film is processed, it still needed to be scanned to a digital format. This in itself could be an expensive process and also represented a reduction in image quality for the original film.
- each 8 hours photographing
8 - 16 hours production
Film - each 8 hours
1 - 2 hours production
costs in later workflow
Additional Knowledge requirements
Many downstream processes once handled by scanner
operators, pre-press, or the printers themselves,
have also been taken over by the photographer.
Whilst this has resulted in an increase in costs
from the photographers end, there is an overall
reduction in project costs as there are no longer
any scanning costs, and reduced pre-press and
printing costs. Overall, the digital workflow
has dramatically reduced production times, with
the greatest of these benefits occurring with
“close to deadline” steps.
Increased training requirements
Increased requirement for computer and software
purchases and upgrades
Training only required for photo technique
Less need for ongoing computer and software
If you are purely interested in the lowest quote,
new or student photographers are often a good
option as they will be utilising non professional
grade equipment (with the obvious costs savings
this entails). However, as with any industry,
if you are interested in high quality results
and service, you should expect to pay a little
Please read our page on the Benefits of Digital Photography for an outline of the potential cost savings when utilising a digital workflow throughout a marketing or advertising project.