I have one problem with economic thinking. It is true that once acquired, if no proration of costs for the extra expense in buying the camera are concerned that didgital eliminates the cost of film and processing. If you do prorate the cost the equation changes. It is undeniably true that digtal has a great deal going for it, in fact an almost impossimle edge to beat for advertising and editorial work in terms of quickness of results and money saved. Digital did not start with cameras it started in the graphic arts industry. I have a daughter with 20+years of experience using first graphic arts cameras and hand retouching and then digital. On big budget jobs such as advertising seeing the image almoat immediately is far better than polaroids and shooting a ridiculous amount of film, waiting for processing etc.
Consumer use of digital, I believe, has benefitted as much from the availibility of powerful PC's as it has from scanners and then digital cameras at relalitivly low prices. A lost cost digital camera that is well designed may serve the casual snapshooter as well as film, With the internet they can be shared with others fo almost nothing. I believe that for people that print
their own work the biggest advantage is the ability to see on the monitor what effect various changes make. This elimates an awful lot of learning how to print, particularly for those working in color. Detracting from that. for the careful printer, is the PITA of systems calibaration. Material costs for printing are exhorbitant. From an LE standpoint digital may well equal, perhaps even exceed, at its best, what can be done with an optimally processed and RC, that is toned in the case of b&w. print.
Silver gelatin prints are capable of stunning beauty. They can offer a very good LE. Color RA4 has much improved in the last 10 years as far as LE.
I believe we all have to come to grips with our own level of what is convenient. What materials cost we are willing, or able. to spend....how many prints we wish to make etc. If we were totally dedicated to quality and making what we considered to be art and we wished it to last we would all be working in platinum, carbon, carbro etc. How many prctictioners are there world wide that can make their own 3 color carbon or tri chrome-carbroprints and do so? When one looks at advertisments made during the during the first half of the 20th century that were made as 3
color carbon, if their reaction is similar to mine, digital prints in color have not improved the state of the art.. Dye transfer was only a easier way to achieve similar quality at a lot less expense. And so it goes. For me, I am a sloth. I will stick to RA4 and toned fiber based B&W.