Anyone still shooting weddings with film?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by jon_kobeck|1, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. I haven't done a wedding in a while, but I have been exploring getting back into it. I was thinking about taking a different approach
    and trying film. While I know most use digital for events these days. I woulld love to hear some thoughts about using film for weddings
    in this digital age. Is there any particular camera you would prefer? What about lighting? Would You use a Hasselblad? How would
    you handle metering in a busy situation?
     
  2. Even though I grew up shooting film and manual flash etc. The thought of not being able to chimp makes my heart race and I begin to lose control of my inner well being. Afraid I can't be of much help personally :(
     
  3. Jon,
    It sounds like you have had some experience shooting weddings with film. Any reason you can't use the equipment you used then? Film cameras are generally very robust :) If you are a Canon man, the EOS 3 and EOS 1V are very highly regarded film bodies. Having said that, I occasionally still use my EOS Rebel G film camera to good effect. Had it for 8 years now, still never been to a repair shop. My Rebel XTi, on the other hand, has been acting up (5 years old). Similar usage on both bodies. But I digress... :)
    The "heart race" that Jonathan mentions was actually one of my high points when shooting film :) Watching the negs develop was simply exhilarating :)
    Shooting film for weddings can be a USP (Unique Selling Point) in this digital age. The pros who still shoot film seem to charge a premium for that. It is arguably more "labour-intensive at the back end of things (the couple will likely still want images on CD/DVD, so you would still need to digitize the images after processing the film).
     
  4. Film is a niche market. I know of one photographer making a good living shooting weddings on film. Prints are a major source of his income and he owns his own Fuji Frontier.
    If you're not doing your own processing, or charging less than $5k, then shooting film is a nice hobby that won't cost you too much. And before any one jumps up yelling he already has film gear and would have to buy digital, figure out the current cost of film, processing and printing a set of 300 proofs for 220 film. Figure you're real careful shooting and only have a 10% toss rate.
     
  5. It is arguably more "labour-intensive at the back end of things​
    But you can get your lab to do the labour for you. Shoot, send off films, receive scans - easy. And no more tedious hours spent post processing.
     
  6. I shoot a film / digital mix for all of my weddings.
    My 5d does the flash work and all of the meaty stuff.
    My 1N does the b&w special shots.
    Oh, and I carry an RB67 in the backpack for some of the formals.
    Plus, I know my 1N will NEVER die. Sometimes I'm worried about my 5d crashing someday.
     
  7. In my area the film-based wedding photographers seem few and far between, especially based on what the wedding labs have to say. Most of the wedding labs long ago "went digital" due to the decline in film shooters. That was about 4 or 5 years ago... maybe more in some cases. Now most of those "digital" wedding labs are closed. I can't explain why, but they are disappearing too. I suspect it is the slow market for high quality prints and wedding albums.
     
  8. While it is always good to revisit the question every so often, also read the previous threads on this same question. There are some fairly recent ones which cover a lot of material.
    As a former film shooter for many years, I would only use film again for weddings if the film would not have to be scanned and become digitized, which is the usually process for film these days, and prints are made directly from the negatives, which is a lost art (with labs). I used to use a Mamiya C330f and Hasselblad system.
    I don't feel the gains from using film--exposure latitude, wider contrast range, good skin tones, translate enough, to use it all the time. Particularly since to me--a digitally printed scan from film does not exhibit enough difference. This is IMHO, of course.
    If you use film for weddings, you'd also better have a good 'unique selling point' built around your film use. While it is true that most people will not care what you use if they can do what they want to do with the resulting images, and it doesn't cost them any more, it would be difficult to 'hide' film use within an offering, unless it is only a small part of the offering.
    In fact, IMHO, it would be better to trumpet film use and create enough of a mystique around it to be able to attract prospects who would pay more.
    Lighting would be no different than for digital, except that you have to think in reverse--it is better to overexpose than underexpose, meaning your flash to ambient balance is slightly different. Since you can't preview lighting on the fly, you have to know your lighting gear's response very well, and be 'safer' with lighting. There are many 'risky' things you can do with lighting with digital since you can see the results right away. If you don't like flash, I'd say you will have to learn to like flash, because film's extreme high ISO capability is lagging behind digital, unless you like grain.
    I would handle metering in a busy situation the same way I do with digital, now. I still use a handheld meter in incident mode. I am of the 'take one reading per 'session' and that's it' school. Sometimes I take a reflected spot meter reading. It is just easier and faster for me, because I'm used to it.
     
  9. My holga doesn't have a digital back... ;-)
     
  10. I think a good question to ask, if you already own good film gear that you are familiar with, is why not shoot a wedding on film?
    If the client is not looking for big enlargements, 35mm gear can do a great job, and as a poster above suggested, you can just drop your film off at a good lab and let them do much of the work (process scan etc ...).
     
  11. People shot weddings on film for the past 70+ years. Now, all of a sudden it's obsolete? No, people have gotten lazy and are used to shooting 5,000 images when 100 or less used to do the job. If you know what you are doing, there should be no fear of "failure" just different expectations.
    Stand out from the rest and shoot film. Some wedding photographers still do, and make a living. You could go really old-tech and go into wet-plate photography, which would be a niche market, but certainly something different from 5,000 jpgs and I'm outta here. :)
     
  12. Thank you Dr. Bug.
    It might be interesting to hear from folks who get paid to shoot human weddings.
     
  13. Wow thanks for all those responses!
    Well, whatbi was thinking was I could possibly use film to separate myself from the masses, as someone already
    mentioned.
    I never shot a wedding with film. I have a blad that I use for fine art work,
    I have use a anonline lab, I think it's called West Coast or something. It's $10.00 a roll 110 developed and scanned
    and delivered on CD.
     
  14. Just to ad, I was also considering adding a Nikon D5100 for those difficult lighting shots. Thoughts?
     
  15. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "I woulld love to hear some thoughts about using film for weddings in this digital age."​
    I would use B&W only a couple of Leicas and process and print them, myself.

    WW
     
  16. Last year I did a wedding using 2 Mamiya 6 bodies, one with 75mm and one with 50. Both had 220 Portra film, and that was plenty to capture the ceremony (I was able to get close). This camera is very light and easy to focus, and great for fast action. I currently have a Hasselblad as well, but I'd only use it for formals as it is much more difficult to focus quickly, and the 80 has that much less field depth for focus errors than the Mamiya's 75. However, using a 150 is much more difficult for portraits on the Mamiya.
     
  17. Should be Lots of opportunities for Weddings in NY State. Film or digital ...Whatever.
     
  18. I shoot with film, couldn't possibly imagine going back to digital. I went from shooting with a D3 (great high ISO) to now shooting with a couple of Leica MP's. Here's why:
    More convenient than digital - I just drop my film in a bag, send it to the lab, they process, the film gets sent back, and I literally need no more than an hour to finish the job. It also comes back with a nice bound custom proof book.
    Film just looks better - I don't know anyone that really knows their stuff that would argue with that. The colours (the scans are 16bit high res) and especially the dynamic range (no more blown hightlights or hours in PS with layermasks etc YAY!) are superior, as well as that organic look that c41 has.
    Security - You have something tangible in the form of negatives, that your customers can keep, plus you have an extra form of backup. In twenty years, your customers can have the negatives rescanned with the latest software/scanners (assuming they are still around), to get even more detail from the neg.
    Cost - when you take into account the built in obsolescence of digital cameras, the cost of your time with hours and hours of processing, software, data cards, batteries (both purchase and charging costs), laptops, vs the cost of film and processing, I am sure that film is the cheaper option
    Less annoying - what could be more annoying on your wedding day than a photographer taking 2000+ photos - "get out of my face!". Film photographers are more economical and astute when capturing events......quality not quantity.
    Disadvantages....
    You need to be very quick at changing film, and plan ten shots ahead to allow for film change, or keep two cameras loaded.
    Low light not as good as digital - okay, so cheap zooms won't cut it with film. you need to buy fast primes. I went for rangefinders which can be shot at slower shutter speeds than SLR's.
    No chimping - you've got to be confident with your own ability when it comes to shooting film....it's not for the first timer.
     
  19. For Mark Anthony -
    Yes I used to shoot film weddings in the 1990s. That said. I am still of the younger generation. I began shooting film weddings when I was 16 years old in 1997 with a family member and went solo when I was 18.
    Call me a tech baby I suppose but I prefer getting home from a shoot and dumping my raw files into lightroom and having every exposure variance at my command with no more effort than turning the mouse 1 or 2 inches to the left or right for navigation.
    I know, lazy. But I deserve it. I spent years in the darkroom and can honestly say - No thanks! (for me anyway) =)
     
  20. Ty Mickan - lately it has been my own personal experience just the opposite of what you mentioned. Brides aren't "get out of my face." In fact 90% or more (running the risk of generating my own percentages in my own head) are the ones running me ragged with all of their great ideas they have for dozens of poses on top of anything I may have already had planned for the day.
    Just last weekend the bridge made sure there was, count them, 5 hours between the ceremony and the reception and yes you guessed it. that time was all spent with me and the bridal party while they drove us around in the limo from location to location to do photoshoots the whole time (while they also got halfway toasted to the moon in the limo along the way of course, so the photos started looking really great 3 hours into it - lol)
     
  21. To Brian Shaw could it be that there are so many "wedding photographers" in the market, some with oodles of money for equipment, and little knowledge, that they dont choose pro labs anymore, rather Walmart Kmart type processing?
     
  22. I stopped using film three years ago simply because nobody wanted me to keep using the medium - everyone wanted digital files. That was back in 2008 when the economy started to crumble and now very few people even want my services, as all the guests are apparently professionals and give away their work. Oh well.
    I miss my film as I could get nicer prints and smoother contrast using some of Fuji's best negative films plus my lab guy did a great job on them. Now, sadly, this lab does not even offer 4x6 proofing.
    I am shooting aerials, nowadays, plus doing real estate work with my Nikon gear.
     
  23. A few years ago i was offered a wedding. i did my pricing. Sure with digital i could shoot 4,000pix(not 5,000). Great! Of what? i don't want to edit that! How many hours making a set to show..
    So i figured how many main shots, how many rolls and timesed it twice. Final after calculating scans and making prints plus a series of 8x10/12 and a album. The difference was very small.
    i did a test run with the bride and groom. i always do that first. Get to meet everybody and see if we can work together. Sadly they were unable to pay my fee. The shoot was a gift. Really nice shots with my Pentax Spotmatic ($25) and the 50mm f1.4 Super Takumar and the 85mm f1.9 Super Takumar. One roll. Delivered in a small album. Gratis,free.
    Cost. film $4.oo, process and print plus scan,$8.oo Album about $15.oo. Total $27. Sure digital would have been how much cheaper? Wow $4.oo. Digital depreciation of a DSLR?
    The beauty of film how much more careful one is with the finger pushing.
     
  24. I use film in two Nikon F5 bodies for about 75%+ of each wedding. It's not just the color, skintones, etc, but it is the superior workflow. The lab has dialed in exactly the look I want in the scans. I simply drop off the film and download the scans....no post processing.
    Digital is great....but it's turned every photographer into their own lab. This is a benefit and a disadvantage. I'd rather be behind the camera, or marketing, or spending time with my family than making adjustments to hundreds of images from my DSLRs.
    If you want to get the scoop on using film, pick up Jose Villa's new book on wedding photography. Or, go to Jonathan Canlas' site and order his "FIND" guide (Film Is Not Dead). You can also see the work of Leah Mccormick, Leo Patrone, Riccis Valladares, The Brothers Wright, among others to see what they achieve with 35mm and MF gear. Most of them send their color neg materials to Richard Photo Lab in LA....as do I.
    Film has it's place....and you'll never worry about highlights blowing out ever again! But I'd never part with my DSLRs either!
     
  25. Ronald....scan your film. You'll have digital files. Problem solved.
     
  26. Ronald....scan your film. You'll have digital files. Problem solved.​
    Or get them scanned at the time of processing like Dave does - even less work to do.
     
  27. A few weeks ago I tentatively shot off a single film at a wedding. Of the 36 frames, a very high proportion were among my favourites from the wedding.
    The upsides are the look, the dramatically reduced post production (I get high res scans included at the time of dev, and these need only very minor adjustment, mainly because I was being fussy), and many clients/guests notice the camera and react well to it and seem to like the idea of film. The downsides are cost, and low light capability would be an issue (tho I don't use it for that). The cost though is I think (more than) set off by reduced post-processing time.
     
  28. I used to own a Coolscan V and did that with many weddings, but the time factor involved was enormous. As Dave says, it's better to spend time doing other things than processing NEF's all day long for next to nothing.
    There are hardly any C-41 processors in the whole eastern area of Canada, it's a real challenge to get anyone to work with film.
     
  29. Where abouts are you Ronald?
     
  30. I use film in two Nikon F5 bodies for about 75%+ of each wedding​
    that is how I transitioned to film. I took my F5 along with me to a wedding, and apart from the family shots, I shot 50/50 alongside my D3. When I presented the proof book to my client, nearly all of the shots she chose were film shots. That's when I knew what I had to do.
     
  31. A number of comments have been directed toward the time consuming task of tweaking digital camera files.
    In theory, isn't it possible to create a process to transform a digital camera file to (closely) emulate a particular film type sufficiently to allow batch processing? If so, then tweaking can be reduced to simply running a script followed by minor touch ups.
     
  32. Unfortunately, it would be lighting and color temperature dependant...so no, it wouldn't work. You also can't post process the superior latitude of the film. I do mimic the look of Fuji Pro 400H, my normal wedding film, in Lightroom from my D700 files...I can get close, but you do need to do a lot of tweaking.
     
  33. Regarding the time to post process digital files Vs film that's scaned:

    When I get my film scanned at a pro lab, I still have to make adjustments in Photoshop. I'm curious, are you people
    finding that you do not need to post process scanned images?
     
  34. Jon, when I download the scans from my lab, the most I ever do is maybe a slight levels adjustment, or black point....that's about it....and even that is only about 1 in 10 at most. I normally just flip through and decide what is a keep and what is a delete, move to another folder, and I'm pretty much done. It cut down what used to be 10-15-20 hours of post, to less than 2....and that 2 includes sorting, putting in order, and releasing the event.
     
  35. and releasing the event.​
    I am out of touch with what is expected from wedding photographers now. All I know about is what was the standard when my father used to do it - i.e. produce an album.
    What are the usual options now for delivering images? Album/CD/book/straight to website?
     
  36. I normally release a compressed version of the slideshow of photographs I've taken via email. The original slideshow is given directly to the client. This is saved to CD. JPG masters are burnt to a DVD for clients to produce their own prints. An album is produced along with a coffee table book or two, or three.
    I normally email 4 or 5 photographs to the client within a day or two so they can post something to Facebook for their friends from the DSLR shots. Film scans are downloaded about 10 days later, once processed by the lab.
    The album and the screen slideshow are the two most common....along with the coffee table book. I produce the book online, and then client's can order and have it shipped to them directly...as can their families. Considering the size of the albums and coffee table books....35mm film and/or a 12mp DSLR are more than enough.
     
  37. I'm sure 35mm is fine. That's all my father used in his last few years of wedding photography. He went through most formats starting with ten glass plates for his first wedding.
     
  38. Wow....plates. With 10 glass plates for the event....there was no "Spray & Pray!" ;-)
     
  39. He was told not to waste any of them!
     
  40. Take a minute and look at Doug Boutwell's blog ...
    www.dougboutwell.com/2011/anti-documentary
    Wedding work done with an 8" X 10" Deardorf camera and B&W film.
    Talk about dynamic range ... wowser!
     
  41. All the practical talk is one thing, and doing something that breaks the mold is another.
    If you have the temperament and patience for film there is very little difference in terms of practicality. The price difference between digital and film is the cost of the film itself, processing the negs and the scans which have to be done to make proofs anyway ... the proofs cost the same as digital. Price difference for about 600 shots is about a $200 premium. So film might not be ideal for $500 Craig's list shooters, but highly viable for more discriminating clients.
    When clients used to ask me why I offered a film alternative, I simply played the "family archival" card because telling them that film had better dynamic range and looked better fell on deaf ears ... and would be shooting my-self in the foot if I had to switch back to digital should the additional price of using film be an issue.
    Which film camera to use would be dependent on what type of style you lean toward. I used a Nikon F6 and Leica M6 because my style is primarily candid journalistic ... I'd occasionally used a Hasselblad 503CW if there were a lot of portraits and group shots. But you do not need that level of film camera. You can get perfectly capable Canon or Nikon film cameras for $500. or less.
    BTW, film added to digital is a good idea, especially if the film camera is loaded with B&W Tri-X pro.
     
  42. Dave, I live near Halifax in Nova Scotia. I was told that Atlantic Photo Supply are the only people doing C-41 in this part of the world.
     
  43. Weird Ronald, in Victoria we've got a few dozen places for C41. In Vancouver, a couple of hundred. I can't figure out why Halifax would only have 1 location for C41. But, that said, I normally ship all my film to Richard Photo Lab....and they're in LA. Some work I have done locally....4x5, etc. I haven't lived in Toronto for 20 years, so I'm a bit out of touch for labs in Ontario and east.
     
  44. It's a simple supply/demand issue - probably 99 out of 100 people now shoot digital, exclusively, plus the C-41 machines are getting old and parts are both pricey and rare. I suspect the E-6 machines are even harder to find. It's all very sad to see analog imaging go away so quickly as it served us well for so many years, plus it's a medium that is truly archival.
     
  45. I thought that due to Disposable Cameras which are still running on films, film processing would still be available.
     
  46. I thought that... film processing would still be available​
    I can think of around a dozen places within walking distance of me that process film, and there are probably quite a few others I don't know about. I don't think it's a problem at the moment.
     
  47. Me! I'm still shooting all my weddings with film! I love it.
    Cameras: 2 35mm Canon EOS1v's - I usually take meter readings from three different spots in the frame, and the camera auto-averages them (the dress, the tux, a face). In a hurried situation, I just spot meter off their faces.
    Medium format camera that I use and LOVVVE! - Pentax 645. It is incredibly easy to use and makes superior photos. I use this one for the couple's portraits so they can enlarge them and get great quality.
    My blog has a lot of info on shooting film - www.dawnkellyphotography.com.
     
  48. I am glad to find this thread :) I sold my F80, F100's (16 bodies) and F5's (2 bodies) because of digital era. I kept only a FM2n, but I can used because I have AF-S lenses. I have a 50mm f/1.4 AF-D but I think is not enough for a wedding day. So I borrow a F5 from a good friend and this year I'll introduce in my offer wedding with film again. I'm so sorry that I never used 120 film, but I think is never to late :)
    What film (color/bw) did you prefer for a wedding day and how many rolls of film did you use?
    I used Fuji NPS 160, Superia 400,800,1600 and Ilford HP 5+ 400, Trix 400.
     
  49. I have also used Fujifilm NPS 160 (with an RB67) for a couple of friends' weddings.
    In my father's day, Reala was their film of choice as it was claimed that it was formulated to render correct skin tones whilst keeping wedding dresses looking white.
    I'm not sure if it was actually formulated for that but it seemed to work
     

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