One of the common arguments for digital being “better” than film is that film itself is an expensive consumable that then costs for a second time when you have to get it developed, while every shot from a digital camera is essentially free. In a random moment today this came into my head and I thought about it for a while and then came to the conclusion that for me at least this doesn’t currently stack up. Looking at the results from a fine grain film like Ektar or Pan F, I think I’d need a decent full frame (a 35mm frame that is – i.e 24x36mm sensor) DSLR to achieve a comparable quality so for argument’s sake I’ll pick the Canon 5D Mark II, which I think most people would agree is an excellent camera, even leaving aside the video capability which I personally couldn’t care less about.
At a minimum we need a body and a standard lens – say a 50mm f/1.4 – that would come to around £2000. Now, my Bronica set me back £300 for body, two film backs and a standard 75mm f/2.8 lens. Which gives me around £1700 which I could potentially spend on film. With Ektar available for around £2.50 a roll, and then about £2 more for development only I make that about 380 rolls of film, which at my current rate of shooting is about 12 years worth.
So I’m not totally sure the cost argument is as clear-cut as it looks.