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Photo Storage: The True Cost of Digital Photography

Posted by Matt on January 8th, 2008 filed in Digital Photography Hints & Tips, Photo Storage, Photo Workflow

Digital photography has been a huge boon to anyone who enjoys taking photos. Now, you can be out and about carrying a tiny digital camera or camera phone snapping away at anytime. No more expensive film camera, and best of all no more need to buy film and then wait to get it developed – the results are right there for you to see. It’s handy, easy and cheap. Of course there are always ‘hidden’ costs, and with digital photography it comes down to how much you spend on storing your photos, and how much time you need to find the best photos out of the hundreds you took.

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The Cost of Storage: 2007

Having reached the end of 2007 we can now guage our storage cost of last year’s photography. For me it pans out as follows:

  • 35,858 images (mostly JPGs, with 5,122 RAW)
  • Hard drive space: 150Gb (on Western Digital myBook Pro 500Gb $140 => $40)
  • ~40 DVDs burnt for backup ($1 each => $40)

So in total only $80 for this year’s photos in total, excluding secondary hard drive backups and multiple DVDs burnt. Pretty good for so many photos when you consider that good film costs at least $4 a roll and fits 36 images – so that total would be just under $4,000 before you even process the film (that would add another $6,000 or so). Of course it’s unlikely that anyone would take so many photos, many of which are variations to try and capture a moment, if they were using film. Score one for digital.

Each year this storage cost increases for me – last year I used only 45Gb for 15,000 photos. Not quite a direct ratio of photos to storage, as I changed from using my Canon S90 to a Canon G7 this year and the G7 has more megapixels. So you can expect the same to be true for you when you upgrade to a newer, better camera.

Keeping Photo Storage Costs Down

All of us enjoy saving money, and given how cheap digital storage is now that’s pretty easy to do. When choosing your digital photo storage media make sure you don’t skimp on reliability to save a few bucks – reliable hard drives are getting cheaper and cheaper. Personally I’ve moved over to Western Digital My Book 500Gb drives as they got great reviews for reliability, plus many of the larger electronic stores have been doing great deals on them. Do a calculation in of cost versus gigabytes, and you’ll often find one drive is effectively 1/3 the price of another but not always in a way you expect.

When choosing your DVDs, stick to the name brands and buy large spindles rather than pre-boxed DVDs. The keeping your backups in DVD spindles saves a whole lot of space for something that you’re not referencing often. Again, large stationary stores often have deals on name brand DVDs so look around – you may find that buying two 50 spindle packs is cheaper than buying a single 100 DVD spindle. Also be sure to buy the fastest DVDs that your computer can handle, as the time cost of backing up your photos can be huge otherwise!

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