Is Film Photography More Expensive?

Is Film Photography More Expensive?

Film photography can be a great means to develop your skills beyond digital. However, the overall cost can concern new photographers.

Film photos can provide a unique chance to gain experience, and often have a satisfying old school style. As you’ll pay to shoot and develop your pictures, the cost can add up quickly, and it can seem to cost more than using a DSLR.

If you’re thinking about starting out with a film camera, read on for the answers to some key questions you might be considering.

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Is the film more expensive than digital?

When you’re starting out with photography, a key concern is going to cost.

Digital cameras tend to have a few additional costs. Once you’ve purchased the camera itself, you’ll only need to pay for repairs, accessories, and printing materials during the camera’s lifetime.

Film cameras tend to come with several extra costs. You will have to pay per roll of film, as it’s not reusable. You will also have to pay for film processing if you don’t have access to a darkroom and the necessary chemicals at home. Depending on how many prints you’d like, it could get expensive.

However, if you’re willing to shop around for supplies, it’s possible to keep prices down for film photography and vice versa. Many camera shops will offer refurbished film cameras, so it’s possible to find good quality models for an affordable price. Similarly, if you decide to stick with digital cameras, it’s possible to find a great camera and not hurt your wallet. If you’re looking for the best digital camera under 100, there’s plenty of options.

It’s also possible to find online sellers who sell film rolls cheaply, so you keep the cost per image low. Waiting for items to come on discount can also reduce the strain on your wallet. Depending on how willing you are to shop around, it’s possible to get a great film or DSLR camera that isn’t too expensive.

Is film better than digital photography?

Film VS digital photography certainly have their own advantages.

Digital photography has the benefit of being instant. If you’re still learning, it can be useful to view your images as you take them, instead of waiting for the development process. If you’re visiting a location once, being able to take multiple images will allow you to be sure you’re got the best photo possible.

You’ll be able to easily store your pictures on memory cards, and won’t have to worry about running out of space. It’s also much easier to edit your photos digitally, as you can’t switch between color and black and white film in one shoot.

However, there’s a reason that shooting film has remained popular. Many film photographers enjoy waiting to see if their roll of film turned out well. A lot of DSLR photographs are never printed, but with film photography, you’ll always see your photos as prints.

Using a film camera can also teach you a lot of skills. It will be much harder to edit the photos in post-production software, so learning how best to adjust your camera’s aperture and shutter speed to affect the ISO will be really important. Experimenting with your camera settings, and trying things such as double exposures, can be a really fun way to learn more about the medium.

When it comes to film vs digital, what’s best depends on your personal preferences. A DSLR camera can be a quick and accessible way to get into photography and produce consistently high-quality images. In comparison, 35mm film might be less forgiving, but it will allow you to develop your skills and gain experience in unique ways.

For some, the debate may come down to a case of aesthetics. Some might prefer the style of shooting on film to other formats. Others might prefer a mix of DSLR and film photography.

How much does it cost to shoot on film?

With a DSLR camera, you don’t pay per shot, but when you shoot film you pay per roll, which can add up over time.

If you divide the cost of a roll by the number of pictures it takes, you’ll be able to work out the cost per image. You’ll also need to pay for film processing, either at a professional lab, or by purchasing some color film processing kits. All of these aspects can contribute to the cost of using a film camera.

The 35mm or medium format film can be fairly affordable, depending on how high end your chosen supplies are. Anywhere between $10 and $50 is to be expected. Large format or specialized rolls will be more expensive.

However, higher standard DSLRs can require a large upfront payment, and if you require an additional zoom lens or similar, you will pay more money.


Overall, it’s largely your choice on how much to spend. If you’re just starting out, or want a hobby, shopping around and buying secondhand will save you money. For more serious film photographers, spending more on higher standard supplies or an extra lens can really benefit your projects, just like it can for digital photographers.

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