Quarter Million Dollars of Digital Photo Gear in a Single Photo

Illustration for article titled Quarter Million Dollars of Digital Photo Gear in a Single Photo

Here's a common scene-but still impressive-at the Beijing Olympics: dozens of photographers firing the most expensive digital photography gear available on the planet at full speed. The sound of all those shutters re-clacky-clicketing alone must give goosebumps to any photo aficionado, but the total price of all this machinery would actually make anyone faint. How much does this all cost? Click to viewIn this image alone I can count 23 cameras. I can see loads of Canon L-Series EF and Nikkor AF-S 500mm super telephoto lenses-each around $5,800 a pop-, a few 400mm, 600mm, 700mm, 800mm here and there. Let's assume a conservative average of $6,000 per telephoto lense. That's $138,000 total just on lenses. Most of them are probably using the biggest and baddest Canon and Nikon cameras, so we can assume an average $5,000 price tag per camera, which brings the grand total to about a quarter of a million dollars. Now, there are 1,100 accredited photographers at the Beijing Olympics, which we can assume will have more than just one set of lenses and, at least, one secondary camera, just in case the first one breaks or they want to have two different set of lenses ready to shoot at any time. A good low-estimate per photographer would be $20,000 minimum, which brings the grand total to $22 million in professional digital photography equipment at the Olympics. [Stern via Dark Roasted Blend]

DISCUSSION

Instead of counting dollars worth of gear, lets try to estimate how many Terabytes of data are being collected:

Most shooters are using top of line Nikon or Canon bodies, so say 12-16MP, likely shooting RAW format, so let guess file sizes between 15-24 MB, 18MB on average. Shooting in bursts of a dozen or so, several times a minute, let;s say each shooter takes on average 48 shots per minute, throughout the day. I'm sure none of them are being paid hourly wages, so in order to make a dime they are probably working 12 hours a day, half of which (conservatively) is spent behind the viewfinder (except for the guy in the lower left of the picture above)

So on average each shooter is collecting: 18MP*48shots/min.*60min./hr*6hr/day = 311GB/day.

using the 1,100 photographers, that's 342TB of digital images captured every day at the Olympics. I believe there are 19 days of events plus the opening and closing ceremonies, so lets say photographers work every day, that's 7,184TB of images.

MORE THAN 7 Petabytes of photos! And to top it off they are all of pretty much the same thing. Can anyone else see how inefficient photojournalism is at these events? I've always thought it is so redundant when I see groups of photographers standing around shooting the same thing from the same perspective.