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Hidden Costs Of Digital Photography

Joan Young By Joan Young on
Badge: Editor | Level: 34 | Hobbies & Crafts Expertise:
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For those of us who are old enough to think of film photography as the norm, digital photography seems almost like a way to take free pictures, but there are some costs that should be considered. Overall, the savings of digital photos is huge, but the method is not free.

This article is not going to compare the initial investment in a camera. With either digital or film you would probably buy whatever camera has the features that you want.


Of course many film cameras require batteries for a light meter, auto-wind, or flash, but digital cameras require a lot more power. They will drain batteries much faster than any film camera. It’s a good idea to figure out which kind works best/ lasts longest in your camera. Rechargeables may be a good option. I have three sets of rechargeable batteries, but keep a set of lithium-ion batteries around too. That way if a set of rechargeables dies right when I want to get a shot, I can just put in the non-rechargeables. I have found that the rechargeables drain themselves fairly quickly, even when sitting unused.


Digital photos can take up a large amount of digital storage space. And with errors that can occur, it’s a good idea to save them in at least two places. Even with film we always had prints, but also the “precious” negatives. I’ve found it a good idea to buy SD cards on sale and keep a separate one for each major event, or section of a year. Then I just keep those raw photos on the SD cards. You can buy storage cases for those little cards. So far, I’ve only found ones that mix them together, but a friend of mine found one that has little pockets which would keep the cards separate and protected. Still, at maybe $20 for a card a few times a year, that’s a lot less than we used to spend on film developing. You will want to save the pictures in another location as well, which might be on your hard drive, or burned to a CD. There is a cost associated with each of these options, even if it is small.


The best news is perhaps in the savings here. Fewer people are choosing to print pictures. Creating slide shows on the computer, or buying digital picture frames are popular options. These costs are more comparable to the former costs of buying albums and scrapbooks. When you do want prints made, there are lots of options- lots of companies vying with each other to bring you cheap prints. And you can choose to print only the good pictures. We no longer have to print them all, just to learn that only three are worth keeping! But, we are all taking many more pictures, so it’s also possible that we will end up with more good pictures.

If you buy your own photo printer, there is an initial out-of-pocket cost, and the cost of inks and paper. But if you print a lot of photos, it may make up for that cost in the convenience.

Enjoy your digital camera, but be aware that it will cost a little bit of money to preserve your memories, even if it is less than film and developing.