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Repeat Custom?

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by pilliwinks, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. pilliwinks

    pilliwinks Well-Known Member

    Reading through the responses to the "Jessop's query" thread made me start wondering as to whether the box shifting approach wasn't the only viable one today.

    In the "old" days, a dealer sold you a camera, and you'd keep coming back to buy film, and then to either have it processed or buy the materials to do it yourself. You'd keep coming through the door, and you might make an impulse buy, you might be shown a new piece of kit that you'd want to buy... At any rate, you kept on spending money there. I originally got into 5x4 because a dealer showed me a camera when I went in purely to buy 120 film. We started talking, the subject moved through the increased quality of 120 over 35mm, and then... But, without the need for film I wouldn't have been there in the first place.

    Fast forward to today. You go in and look at digital cameras, and decide what you want. You leave and find the cheapest price on the internet, or in the case of a few customers, buy at the shop. Either way, what do you go back for? Where's the repeat business from a technology that consumes only batteries? Inkjet paper and ink? Not much there, volume wise, as most digital photos aren't printed at all. And those that are? Well, more places sell paper and ink than photographic shops.

    Is it the case that the only sure repeat business these days is in selling a newer camera with more megapixels? Or do retailers actually take most of their money on lenses and bags?

    Am I just being pessimistic?
  2. Lounge Lizard

    Lounge Lizard Well-Known Member

    At the rate at which manufacturers launch new cameras seemingly batter than the last I would have thought that there was strong demand for repeat business. Also, dSLRs tend to demand better (and more expensive) glass so there is every reason for a dealer to expect the customer to come back if he/she is kept happy.
  3. BigWill

    BigWill Gorgeous oversensitive Nikon-loving cream puff

    The modern trend towards digital does seem to highlight certain interesting changes in our buying habits. I think it's true to say that digital is comparatively more expensive than it's 35mm sibling. The cameras cost more (I'm talking about SLR's here) the lenses are more demanding and thus cost more, if you home produce your prints on an inkjet printer the costs are again considerable compared to having a 35mm print commercially produced. As digital is now the dominant force in photography this would lead to the inevitable conclusion that digital is more profitable than "traditional capture" and that just leaves the way it's sold as the last piece of the profit making jigsaw. It makes economic sense to "shift boxes" over the internet as overheads are lower, there are no or very little staff wages, no overheads on expensive high street outlets etc.

    I think the internet and the digital age has led to a quantum leap in the way we shop and unfortunately there is no turning back as far as I can see and the days of the "corner photographic shop" are rapidly declining to the point of almost non-existence.

  4. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    Dear William,
    From now on I'm going to call you BB because I admire your cajones in daring to say that digital is more expensive than traditional.
    In a few minutes they're all going to come down on you for saying that...they'll say the reusable memory card is cheaper than film. They'll tell you that capital outlay for equipment isn't part of the equation etc. etc.
    and all of this to justify the enormous outlay in getting to the most important thing, the quality photographic print. I know all this 'cos I've been there & heard it all.
    It doesn't really matter that you're right of course.

    So once again BB, my hat off to you!
  5. Lounge Lizard

    Lounge Lizard Well-Known Member

    I don't think that anybody has ever claimed that the capital cost for getting into digital isn't more expensive than film.

    I do think that the overall running costs per image are far lower than film. In fact, without digital, over the past few years, I wouldn't have taken so many photographs and wouldn't have enjoyed my photography so much. What price can you put on that?
  6. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I agree 100% with David.

    I would just add that my scanner cost much more than my DSLR, too!
  7. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    David, for the pro. or semi-pro who can write off his capital outlay & running costs including depreciation etc. of course the cost is less important. But for the amateur who can't write off theses costs the price per print is enormous.
    The necessary outlay in equipment to realise a 'quality' A4 or A3 print is much more than a traditional set-up & the running costs of consumables is approx. the same.
    If one works out the total investment & arrives at cost per print the difference is huge and for the amateur who can't write off these expenses it is not economically justifiable.
    The 'easiness' of taking many more pictures is, of course, much more satisfying, agreeable & enjoyable, and yes it's hard to put a price on that, but when dealing with the cold hard economics it's a different story.
    What happens is that one easily forgets the money he has already laid out to set himself up, and yes, in the long run the memory card is cheaper than film but that is just a small fraction of a 'decent' digital set-up.
  8. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I disagree utterly - from the perspective of a slide & scan photographer previously, the price per print including cost of hardware and all consumeables for me is way, way, way, way, way cheaper with a DSLR than with film, and I actually need less in the way of PC spec than I did before. I haven't the space or time for a traditional darkroom, nor the skills really, for that matter, and the number of test strips required for even the most humble print - to say nothing of the repeat attempts for dodging and burning - mean that the cost in consumeables mounts, whereas the cost in frustration and wasted time is more than I can bear. (I would like to set up a darkroom again some day, but not while I still have to work for a living!)
  9. I'm entirely with Seymour & Big Will on this.

    I haven't bought a DSLR because I think them totally overpriced for my amateur usage!

    At least with a used film camera the capital cost is now almost insignificant. As I have posted before - in last four weeks 3 Minolta SLRS £22, £21 & £10 Yesterday a 35-70 Sigma zoom £4.20 Today its Minolta equivalent for £21! This is truly amazing value (thank you digital purchasers!)

    Capital cost of even the obsolete Canon D30, a certain gentleman praises to the heights - £275?

    Now turning to ink jet printers - its not the capital cost, its the horrendous cost of running them plus their very poor longevity. Ive had two Epson's in four years, given up and bought a colour laser (unsuitable for photography!) Paper and ink are truly expensive - if you add in all the inks that dry out before they should, refills that don't function and all the duff pictures you produce before you get a good one!

    What do I do now? My last 20 rolls of 36exp Fuji colour negative cost me 99p each + 10p postage! I take them into the local chemist to print (7 X 6) for around £4.50 to £5.50 depending on when I want them. Though digital has no film to processs, at 10p a print that comes out at £3.60 (much more if you print at home - add in the cost of an inkjet & running it!) On top of that, I have negotiated a deal for 10 X 8s at £1 each - if I have ten done at a time.

    So "bleat" on about convenience and viewing/deleting pictures as much as you like - currently film not only has superior performance, it also has got a very sound economic case going for it!

    Early adopters of any technology always pay a high price for "innovation". I reckon that digital cameras have just passed the equivalent of 1994 in mobile phone terms i.e prices are no longer £300 for a large "carry case" of a phone, but are at the "housebrick" sized phone stage. Give DSLRs another five years and we will see a more reasonable price level.

  10. AGW

    AGW Well-Known Member

    I have to agree with Nick...go on Seymour buy yourself a D50 and excercise your talent.

  11. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    OK, here's my case:

    My old method - shooting slide film, scanning and printing.

    My new method - shooting on a DSLR and printing.

    The printer is a constant (and being a Canon, it's reliable and hasn't needed replacing) - the printing consumeables likewise assuming that I print the same number of prints with each method. Ditto the computer and Photoshop.

    So, old method - capital expenditure:

    Scanner, £1800. Yike! We'll depreciate that over - well, 5 years, say? That's £360 per year.
    Camera - well, we'll take it that I already had one to avoid skewing this too much. Likewise lenses to suit.

    Consumeables - we'll take the cost of a roll of Velvia, processing and mounting to be £7.50. I used to shoot 150 rolls per year, so that's £1045 per year. We'll discount my B&W usage and colour print film usage to keep this simple, also my medium format usage....

    So that's £1405 per year.

    Now, new method:

    Hardware: EOS 10D at £1000. We'll assume it's worth nothing after two years for the point of this study, even though I can still get £300-400 for it. So cost is £500 per year
    New lenses - Sigma 18-50 f2.8 and 12-24, both needed to make a sensible system - cost £700. We'll depreciate them to zero over the 2 years as well, even though I reckon I could actually sell them for £500.... so cost per year is £350.
    Memory and storage: around £500 for my storage device and cards - £250 per year.

    Software - RAW convertors principally - we'll throw in £200 here, that's £100 per year.

    So - total cost £1200 per year.

    But that's really, really loading the dice in favour of the scanning option!
  12. davidh

    davidh Well-Known Member

    Does that not presume though that there isn't a computer involved in the first place? The only real extra expense besides the difference in price between a digital camera body and a film one, and possibly lenses (which you'd have bought anyway, eventually :D) and the marginal cost between the PC and the spec for one more optimised for digital imaging - the addition of a decent photo printer (if required; you can just as easily send the images off for printing elsewhere), though you don't even need to do this.

    The question then is does this difference in price add up to an unreasonable amount for the benefits it gives? To this question, I'd have to say no. But the benefits given per person are all dependant on their setup and needs or wants.

  13. huwevans

    huwevans Not Really Here

    In fairnness, Nick, there's something very, very wrong with your darkroom work if you need multiple test strips (which in any case cost only a few pence) for 'even the most humble print', and the repeated attempts for dodging and burning is something most people will only get into when they are after that extra special print, or if they are working on a particularly difficult negative. An awful lot of dodging/burning is really very simple, and fairly routine.
  14. BigWill

    BigWill Gorgeous oversensitive Nikon-loving cream puff

    I take your point about home producing "traditional" prints Nick and must admit that I was thinking of commercially produced ones where the costs incurred would be significantly lower than "doing it yourself". I don't think your purchase of a medium format film scanner would make you typical of the average "home producer" though as I think it would be fair to say that ownership of a medium format film scanner (and I'm not talking about flatbeds that can scan MF, I mean a "proper" MF film scanner!) is pretty rare amongst the average sample of amateur photographers and thus your figures for printing costs would be pretty untypical also when you enter it's purchase costs into the equation.

    On another point, would it be fair to say that of the number of people who do produce prints at home by "traditional" (non-digital) means, that by far the greatest amount is monochrome and that there are very few people who "home produce" colour material by "traditional" means?

  15. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Agreed - I'm a rotten printer, I've always said so!
  16. BigWill

    BigWill Gorgeous oversensitive Nikon-loving cream puff

    ................you also have dubious taste in leg attire! :D :D :D

  17. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    OK, Will, but even if I take the entire cost of the scanner out (incidentally at the time I bought it it was possibly the only desktop scanner that would make a decent fist of even 35mm Velvia), but balance the depreciation costs up on the digital side by using true depreciation - i.e. subtracting current value - we get this:

    Film + scanning: £1045

    DSLR: camera depreciation £350 per year (assuming £300 current value)
    lens depreciation £150 per year (assuming I could get £400 for the 18-50 and 12-24 combined)

    That takes total costs to - £850 per year. For two years, then it's FREE assuing no more purchases. So whichever set of assumptions I use, I'm £200 a year better off. In truth in my case it would be fairest to compare scanning depreciation Mk I to DSLR depreciation Mk II, which shows an even more obvious effect - and remember that with either scenario, the ongoing film+scanning costs after all the equipment has been depreciated are £1045 MORE than the DSLR route - that's simply the cost of film and processing. OK, if I now go and buy an EOS 5D, that would change the figures dramatically, I accept, but if I do do that, it'll have to last me more than two measly years!

    Now as to my comparison of methodologies, well as I said I principally used 35mm slide film - prints from slide film, at least decent ones, have never been particularly cheap, especially at A3+ size, so for me the scanner option made sense. Given that I shot (and still shoot) a fair amount of medium format Velvia for my most "serious" work, and had tried a flatbed and found it wanting for this, and further given the fact that I am a bad enough B&W printer and a hopeless colour one colour home darkroom printing just wasn't an option. I have done it, but to do it properly at the time I bought my scanner would've cost a fair amount in darkroom equipment, plus an investment in time I just couldn't afford given work and family commitments.

    I would like to take B&W darkroom printing up properly in the future, but only when I have enough time to devote to it.

    So yes, I accept that my costings may not be typical, but it's still undeniable that for me, digital is actually a lot cheaper than film, so I disagree with your initial point! ;)
  18. BigWill

    BigWill Gorgeous oversensitive Nikon-loving cream puff

    Trust you to be untypical! ;) Just wait till you get this 5D! :D :D

    P.S. When you do, can I come round and stroke it cause I reckon that's about as near as I'll ever come to one! :( :(

  19. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Can't afford it yet! :(
  20. BigWill

    BigWill Gorgeous oversensitive Nikon-loving cream puff

    Who can! :( :( :( :( :(

    Big(Poverty stricken!)Will

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