Inghard Ehrenberg

What price image quality? The rational empiricist response

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Miners hut“What price image quality?”

The rational empiricist response

Well no self-respecting engineer was ever going to let it rest with that concluding rhetorical flourish!


Barney kindly provided this addendum to where I left off:

“In this post you pose a great question: the file sizes are much larger, but what price image quality?

Maybe you can inform viewers about this subject please?

Storage cost per RAW image file of 35MB from a full frame 36Mpx camera is 0.3c

The price is extremely low! So low it is not worth your time to go through your folders to clear space.



WD Black 4TB drive with a 5yr warranty costs $309 now (as at July 2015)

A 36Mpx image from Sony A7R has size: 35MB RAW, or 24MB Jpeg

Folder size is 6.13GB for 179 RAW files therefore an average RAW file size of ~35MB is OK to assume

A 4TB HDD has 3.72 TB of available space after formatting (~93%)

3.72 TB/ 35MB = 106285 files of 35MB

Storage cost per RAW image file of 35MB is 0.3c


Also – Seagate now (as at July 2015) produce a $399 8TB HDD for archiving

Editor’s note – not that I’ve had much success with Seagate HDDs… caveat emptor

Best regards

Barney Meyer





1 July 2015 – post added

2 July 2015 – edits

4 Responses to What price image quality? The rational empiricist response

  1. Richard Millington August 3, 2015 at 7:03 am

    You forgot the cost of the backup!

    • barneymeyer August 13, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      Hi Richard
      Excuse me, what cost are you referring to? The storage media is the consumable item and is the variable cost per image. The backup system is a fixed investment. You HAVE TO make that investment, just as you need to make the investment in cameras and lenses and a computer. Anyone with a computer must have a robust backup system or else they’re living dangerously. I have detailed my own backup procedure here (this is a safe link!)
      I will write a more detailed procedure, also including system imaging.
      I have had many computers, drives and other hardware fail. I have never lost my operating system or data. For that security you have to pay, it is an essential investment.

  2. Richard Millington August 27, 2015 at 12:14 am

    Sorry Barney, I’m on your side. I quite agree that the cost of storage is now so low that to sacrifice image quality to save storage space is quite the wrong way to go. My pedantic point was that if you increase the size of your storage media, you also have to increase the size of the backup. The resultant incremental cost of the backup adds to the variable cost of the image. That’s all – and to take up your point about the very low cost of storing high quality images, the cost of backup only doubles what is a very low cost indeed (and getting lower).
    Cheers Richard M

  3. barneymeyer October 24, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    I agree Richard. There is a price attached to “never losing a file”!!!

    In fact, I have three sets of storage media, and keep a careful partition of types of data.
    One is in the PC:
    C: 512GB SSD for operating system + programs
    D: 4TB HDD Data (on which I also store an image of the C: drive to recover my machine)
    E: 4TB HDD Normal Photos
    F: 4TB HDD Panoramic Photos and virtual tours
    and then two sets of the above HDD’s which are backed up from the machine and rotated offsite.
    This gives me some security against machine crashes, theft or fire.
    Regds, Barney