How Expensive is Analog Photography?

Technology comes and goes, but some parts of technology stay with us. Whether radio broadcasting or vinyl records, some technological breakthroughs, although often considered obsolete, remain in use and therefore, production.

That being said, photography follows a similar route. At one point in time, there were talks of digital photography. Skeptics were saying that it would never be as good as analog photography. 

Nowadays, analog photography is more of a hobby for passionate people rather than a primary source of income for photographers. Digital photography is much easier to do and allows corrections on the fly, not to mention automatic options, which are beyond useful for taking photos when things are moving quickly.

But, analog photography is still here. People do it, and some even make money from it. Is it expensive, though? Let us take a look.

Cameras are Cheap

Being obsolete and having no processors, sensors or the like, analog or film cameras, are very cheap. You can buy a used camera for prices which vary from 50 to 500$. That being said, a bad camera is still a bad camera.

Decent film cameras will have a self timer, albeit a mechanical one. They will also give you a better shutter speed option. The better the camera, the more you can use your shutter speed to your advantage.

Film cameras have no need for a battery. The only thing that might be problematic is the viewfinder, but that depends on the camera.

Lenses Can be Cheap

Old-school lenses are simple pieces of glass in a container. They have no modern, digital functions like autofocus. This is a good thing, because it saves price. However, with adapters, which are basically metal mounts, you can mount new lens for any camera type on film cameras. Film cameras typically use M42 mounts.

Old lenses can be cheap, particularly regular wide lenses. Specialized lenses like telephoto or macro ones can be more expensive. Ultrawide lenses can also be more expensive. Modern lenses can be mounted, however, they cost more and most of their functions would be lost. 

You would still be able to control the aperture, albeit manually, as well as the focus.

The Film

Film can be cheap, depending on how many rolls you purchase. If you purchase in bulk, the prices get better, of course. Here is where it gets trickier, because the type of film gives you the ISO number, often 200 or 400.

Modern cameras can change their sensor’s ISO with a click of a button, or automatically even, and they go up to insane numbers which allow for great shots in the dark. 

With film, you are stuck with one ISO for one shooting. You are also limited to a number of photos, often between 30 and 40. There are exposure or ISO charts which are like dictionaries for analog photography.

Lastly, analog photography needs to be developed. Dark rooms do not cost much money, but they do cost time. 

This is the main difference other than the practical ones, and the cost is simply more time and effort.