Can you afford using your digital camera?

Given the rise of the pixel count in today’s digital cameras and the changing habits of the typical image hunter, I decided to calculate the impact of someone that recently bought a 7Mpx digital camera and figure out what he must have in terms of hardware as well as the investment in time to protect his pictures to be at least as safe as the old shoebox method for traditionnal photography.

Here are some pieces of hardware or software that your new digital camera owner will need (now or later):

  • $50-100: Additional memory card(s)
  • $50-100: Additional camera battery and possibly an external battery charger
  • $50: USB2 add-in card if the computer is old(er)
  • $50-100: Picture organizing software (unless you have a Mac w/ iPhoto)
  • $100-?: Color printer for the occasional quick print
  • $50-100: DVD burner and some recordable DVDs
  • $150-?: External hard drive

So once you get your inexpensive 7Mpx digital camera (my friend just bought one for less than $300 CAD), you may need between $500 and $1,000 of additional gear. And we haven’t even talked about filters and additional lenses, if you happened to buy a digital SLR…

Obviously, many of us will already have some of these, and so the costs will be less. But the backup is crucial, and unfortunately, many will skip this step. And that’s just calling for trouble, as we all know.

Here’s a scenario: With a 7mpx, I shoot 50 pics/week. I delete 20%, because I think the rest are ok (that’s probably not the case, but I’ve got low standards…). Each year, my shooting output increases by 20%.

After 1 year, that means I’ve amassed 2,080 pics [52*(50-20%)], each weighing about 2.5Mb with compression, therefore requiring approx. 5Gb of HDD space. No big deal with today’s monster hard drives, but if I’m to back up that data (and I should), that will either require 7 CDs, 2 DVDs or 1 dual-layer DVD. Of course, I can simply back up to another HDD, but if my house burns or my computer gets stolen, I’m screwed.

After 2 years, I’m now at 4,680 pics [2080+(52*50)], for a total weight or approx. 11.5Gb. At this point, it’s a lot of CDs for a full backup (16), but I could use 3 DVDs, or 2 dual-layer DVDs. Don’t even think of simply putting them on a 2nd HDD, as your significant other would rip your head off, should you lose them for whatever reason…

After 3 years, you’re now looking at approx. 17Gb, for around 8,000 pics. At this point, not sure if you wanna start shooting less, but maybe looking into a removeable HDD (USB/Firewire) starts to make a lot of sense… you can fill it up and leave it some other place than your house on a monthly basis, for example.

The moral of the story?

Think twice as you buy that 6/7/8Mpx digital camera, because the promise of digital photography may soon become a costly adventure, if you thought all you needed was a camera and an average size memory card.

À propos de Jean-Francois

Je gère des entreprise Web, je suis photographe à mes heures et skipper de mon voilier lorsqu'en vacance!