As waves of international turbulence rock the world of photography, how will the industry be affected? Also, are there ways to protect ourselves from this economic mess? Here are seven options.
During the pandemic, people weren’t spending money. Thus, there was a short period where those who were lucky enough to have saved were able to purchase items they otherwise would not have thought of. For example, OM Digital Systems was surprised by the massive adoption of the $7,499 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25X IS PRO lens and, shortly after, the OM1 camera at $2,199. The lens and camera have become financially viable for many people who previously could not afford it.
Additionally, both of these products represent a huge step up from their predecessors, something you rarely see in cameras. Many upgrades are only slight changes from the previous model.
Then came the huge amount of positive feedback from those who bought them. It had a ripple effect, encouraging others in ways no marketing campaign could. Therefore, this request continues.
It was a fortuitous moment for OM Digital Systems, but now one has to wonder if other manufacturers’ products that missed this window might not be as successful with their next releases. This moment was short-lived and the market has changed significantly over the past couple of months. So it will be interesting to see how the other new products perform in stores.
Here in the UK we have a struggling economy heading into recession and runaway inflation caused by the triple whammy of Brexit, the international fuel crisis resulting from the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine and the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Except for Brexit, these economic factors have also led to similar problems in many other countries. In short, there is less money in our pockets. Unfortunately, for too many people, this is a critical issue.
Except for a lucky few, everyone is now feeling the pinch of having less money available. Therefore, the photographers I spoke with have decided that their current camera is doing a good enough job and are not buying new ones. I hear very little buzz about upcoming releases.
Photography is not a cheap activity, so how can we save money in these difficult times? There is no single answer, but a combination of small changes can add up and help us manage our budgets.
Cancel or change subscriptions
Many software vendors have moved to a subscription plan. These are expensive for the long term photographer. The best known of these is the Adobe Photographers Plan. Since introducing the subscription model, Adobe’s revenue has skyrocketed. It is now almost four times what it was ten years ago.
Adobe achieved record annual revenue of $15.79 billion in fiscal year 2021, representing 23% year-over-year growth – Adobe.com, December 16, 2021
$14.573 billion came from subscriptions. If they take advantage of it, that money comes out of our pockets.
Try to escape the plan on any date other than during the renewal month and you will find that it is not so easy; they will charge you a significant penalty for doing so. However, there is a way around this. Simply change the subscription to another plan and then cancel it immediately afterwards. You will be billed and then refunded.
I’ve wanted to be photographed with the Adobe package for ages for one main reason: most of my images I only develop in raw, and I don’t like the results of Adobe’s core engine compared to others. software I own. Plus, I found other ways to develop videos that fit my needs.
For photography, I’m now using a perpetual license of ON1 Photo Raw 2022. The initial outlay is bigger, but I’m saving almost $20 over a year. I imported my Lightroom catalog into ON1. If done before canceling Lightroom, it includes creating a close approximation of the develop settings.
There are still cheaper options. Serif Affinity Photo is a popular software that has a one-time cost of just under $27, but unfortunately it doesn’t have a catalog. The good news is that even if you cancel Lightroom Classic, you still have access to its library module, although you’ll have to go through File Explorer to open the photo in another program; plugins will not work.
For even greater savings, most manufacturers provide free raw development software for their cameras. There are also free development and editing tools such as Lightzone for raw development plus Paint.net (Windows only), the combination of UFRaw and Gimp, or Raw Therapee.
All of these programs give different results. Many people will say that the output of one is better than the other, myself included. Like I said, I don’t really like Adobe’s raw output, and I don’t like Affinity’s either, but that’s my subjective opinion; others love them.
Use older camera equipment
Step back seven years to 2015. It was a great year for the cameras. The Canon 5DS and 750D, the Sony a7 II, a7S II and a7R II, the Pentax K3 II, the Nikon D810A, D5500 and D7200, the Lumix DMC-G7, as well as the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II were released this year. All were great cameras; check their reviews. Each, in the right hands, could produce some great shots. Moreover, they still can.
So you might not be able to take sharp photos at ISO 25600, but do you need it? Would that extra bit of dynamic range make a big difference to your photos? Probably not.
Some photographers need that extra performance, especially those who make a living from photography. But for the amateur or avid photographer, what was achievable with a camera seven or even ten years ago is more than enough for what they do now. Additionally, reputable dealers in the used market are flooded with older models that can be purchased for a fraction of their original selling price.
Sell your old kit
A friend just sold three old lenses he never used, some old redundant tripods and some other accessories for over $1200. If it’s sitting idle in your closet, let someone else use it.
Slow computer? Can’t afford a new one? Switch to Ubuntu
It’s a constant annoyance that once fast computers are getting old and slow. Is it built-in obsolescence? I’m pretty sure it is. I built my desktop computer about seven years ago. It has an 8-core processor which was considered fast when I installed it. It has 32 GB of RAM and solid-state hard drives. Windows 11 will not work on it because the processor is incompatible. It’s also much slower than before, despite a clean install of Windows.
Macs also slow down with age. In 2020, Apple paid a $113 million fine for deliberately slowing down its iPhones. One has to wonder if operating systems are intentionally slowed down to encourage upgrades.
Besides my main computer, I have an old single-core laptop with 2 GB of RAM on which I loaded the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system. I installed Raw Therapee on it, and it’s as fast as my Windows desktop. (Raw Therapee recommends 4GB of RAM, but my old laptop runs on 2GB.)
Not directly related to photography, but there’s also great free word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and other software built into Libre Office that can save you a lot on your admin costs compared to Microsoft Office. This is available for Windows, macOS and Linux operating systems.
Ubuntu isn’t the answer for everyone, but it might be a possible solution for those who are struggling and whose computers are slow due to older specs.
Turn off vampire devices
My computer consumes about 125 Watts. I now have the habit of turning it off as soon as I’m away from it for more than 15 minutes. Compared to leaving it running all the time, it saves me over $100 a year. I also unplug my camera battery chargers and don’t charge my phone overnight.
There are other devices in your home that use electricity when not in use. Gaming devices and TV set-top boxes are particularly greedy.
Turning things off also helps prevent house fires.
Look for cheap cloud storage
If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, it comes with Amazon Photos. This allows you unlimited cloud storage of your images, including most raw files. There are a few exceptions, and that includes PSD files, but if you’re already a subscriber, then Amazon is a good option.
Even if you cancel the membership, images are stored in the cloud for 180 days before being deleted. As long as you sign up for a one-month subscription before the end of this period, you can store your photos for almost a year for the cost of two months of Prime subscription.
If that’s not for you, it’s worth looking into cloud storage options, they vary widely.
Get your prints from a respectable printing service
I gave up printing my images years ago. When I need prints, it is much cheaper for me to hire the services of a premium printing service like Whitewall than to print on site. Plus, I don’t have desk space cluttered with a bulky printer, nor do I have the worry of printheads and cartridges running out from lack of use.
In an ideal world, we would all have unlimited access to enough wealth to be able to pursue our passion for photography. Unfortunately, we don’t. However, we can still change the way we work in this fabulous art form to make it affordable.
Some of these suggestions won’t suit everyone, but there are those who could benefit from adopting one or two of these practices who would otherwise find photography prohibitively expensive.
Do you have any photography recommendations to share with readers who might need to save money with their photography? It would be great to hear them in the comments.