Apr 12, 2005

Is Film Better than Digital for Weddings?

By Juan Carlos Torres
As a professional wedding photographer I get this question asked more than anything else. Rarely will somebody ask me about my wedding photography education, awards, or professional memberships. I believe the root to this question lies on misinformation about the different qualities of film and digital.

Film

For a photographer with no computer experience or who does not want to spend the time correcting digital files film is the way to go. Film allows the photographer to photograph a wedding or event and at the end of the day be done with the process. When the time comes to print the photographs the photo lab will take care of color balance adjustments and retouching. From a technical aspect film has a wider dynamic range than digital. This means than in high contrast scenes film has the edge. It can handle them better without blowing the highlights.

Digital

The greatest advantage for digital is the control of the photographic process in the hands of the artist. The photographer is not longer at the mercy of the lab to produce a photo that reflects his inspiration and vision.

Digital allows the photographer to shoot more frames without the expense of film and development, which can translate into a more complete coverage. After the event the photographer simply edits out the bad photos and you as the customer end up with the best selection of the day. The digital medium is ideal for backup. Multiple copies of the event can simultaneously exist in different locations in the event of a catastrophe. With film there is always only one copy of the negatives, which could be duplicated, but the second copy suffers significant quality degradation. With digital it is possible to produce different versions of the same photo including black and white, color, sepia, etc. through a very simple process.

Digital allows for a faster workflow. If your photographer offers digital gallery previews your photographs can be available in a matter of hours for viewing and ordering. In addition, slide shows and DVDs can be produced for the client.

Digital retouching in the hands of an expert can create amazing results. Since there is no chemistry involved to develop digital the digital process is more environmentally friendly.

Resolution

In terms of resolution both film and digital can produce similar results. With the advent of 11 mega pixel and above digital cameras, digital has the edge for enlargements due to its lower noise levels and the lack of grain. Many purist talk of the film look, which is basically film grain and noise that gives film its unique look. This film look can easily be simulated with digital image processing techniques. Many people would be surprised to know that most photo labs will scan film prior to printing. In other words direct film to print is a myth. Digital photos when printed on true photo paper are virtually indistinguishable from their film counterparts.

What does the film vs. digital war means to the client? I believe that when selecting a wedding photographer the client has to focus on the end product more than anything else. At the end it doesn’t matter if the photographer uses film or digital. What really counts is the quality of the photographs that he or she will produce for your wedding day. There are good and bad photographers using film or digital. Your task as a client is to weed out the bad ones and select a photographer that will capture beautiful memories of your wedding day.

Juan Carlos Torres is a very respected and awarded wedding photographer in Oregon. He has a Masters Degree in Remote Sensing with a strong background in digital image processing and photography. He is a member of the several professional photographer organizations including the Professional Photographers of America, the Professional Photographers of Oregon, the Wedding Photojournalist Association, and the Oregon Wedding Photo Guild. His wedding photographs are unique and very artistic and have been featured in national and international magazines. For a sample of his works please visit Oregon Wedding Photographer and Salem Oregon Wedding Photographer