digital vs film

Do your work with digital or film?

color photography
I work with digital, which allows me to take a LOT of pictures (sometimes I can make more than 10,000 shots in one day!). But, if you want me to work with film, I offer an option. In addition to the digital pictures, I bring my old Mamya 645, some black and white rolls and I take great pleasure to use them! Film brings the vintage charm. It’s a fancy option. But I won’t realize all the reportage in film. Otherwise I must add a zero to the total price!


The trendy films effect.

Around 2005, one very trendy effect was to use Instagram filters that give the pictures an old styled effect one of those popular postproduction filter was the cross-processing effect (dark become blue, white become yellow). The cross-processing is an old effect used in fashion industry the 70s. Basically it’s developing a positive film (diapo), into a negative film chemical product.

I think that today, the trendy effect is the film effect. You can see it everywhere, on wedding blogs and several wedding magazines. What’s amazing is that they not only looking for a film like effect, but they are looking for a bad scanned film effect. Black is not black (it is grey), and white are not white (they are grey light). And, in digital a lot of photographers apply a post-production effect to their digital pictures! You can judge that when you see all post-production company like VCSO.


I consider that something trendy today will look like as been tomorrow. That why I do not offer film in my package.

Don’t miss-understand me. I like working with film. For my personal work I used to work with film. But for wedding I consider that there is much more advantage to work with digital.


Let’s make a list quickly of all advantages to work with digital.

  • I can make much more images (x20 to x50 times more), which allow me to really shoot the good moment. That allows me to shoot more in order to catch the perfect moment.
  • I can go much faster in post production
  • I don’t have to pay $30 every film to shoot and scan (cheaper package).
  • During the wedding I can adapt my ISO and Black and White Balance each time in need
  • During the wedding I can control what is done (check if something is wrong, and I yes shoot the picture again).
  • I can take the plan without being afraid than all my films are destroyed by a X-ray machine (even if most of X-ray machines are now film- friendly)
  • For High ISO (over 1600) the digital quality is much more better
  • I don’t need to stop shooting in order to change my film, so I don’t miss any moment.


Is argentic photography better quality than digital?

It’s a huge phantasm! A lot of people think that traditional argentic photography is better than digital one. Well, there it could be true and false. I was maybe mostly true in the past, but now technology has involved.
Let’s explain, because there are a lot of parameters that you need to be taken in consideration : what kind of argentic and digital are you speaking about? There is a different kind of film and camera.

Negative and positive film.

You probably know that there is positive film and negative film. Positive film (also called diapo), is very famous for their color. Fuji is more saturated in blue and green, while Kodaks offer more warm color. The positive film is very sensitive, and must be perfectly exposed. At the opposite, the negative film can restitute information’s even if it was not well exposed. They both exist in color and white. Each brand, each model has a specific aspect.

The digital camera ability to proceed post production is somewhere in between both, and closer to the negative one (and every year it becomes better and better. NASA Scientist has already created a sensor with a higher dynamic range than film).

So, of course, it will depend on the sensor of the camera.

It was true 15 years before.

15 years before, let say that digital sensor had a very small dynamic range, and they were not able to restitute enough colors information. The result was disgusting. Today is not the case anymore.


Sensor, film size and quality.

Quality of argentic pictures will vary regarding to the size of the film used. Is it a 24x36mm? Is it a medium format or a view camera? The bigger is the film the better is the quality. If we speak about resolution of the pictures, we can say that today a good professional digital photography camera are as good and argentic pictures. It means that with the same equivalent film-digital, you will be able to print a poster of the same size.


Lens and quality.

First, let’s say that if you are looking for the most sharpened lens, today, you can find old argentic lenses who are very good and Sharpe for a very cheap price. (So people love to say argentic gear is better and cheaper.) But there is one big point that is often forgotten: the autofocus system. And for wedding it’s a must have!

Then, let say quickly that the wilder is the lenses opening the more blur you will have in background. That blur created an “artistic” effect. It is also called bokeh.

And here again, argentic gear is cheaper for a same wild opened aperture.


Sensor Size and bokeh.

To make it simple, the wilder is the sensor size (or film size), the more bokeh you will have. And given that this blur effect of the background is very looked for by the wedding photographer who likes to isolate the bride and groom from the background, then the medium format is very appreciated.

And here again, argentic gear for medium format is much cheaper than a digital one.


To summarize on the quality.

I think that today, digital quality is as good as argentic and sometimes even better.

For people who really like the medium format camera bokeh, it could make an economic sense to use argentic medium format (it’s still cheaper than the same gear in digital. But that my change in a close future with brand like hasselblad). But it will really not make sense to shoot with a 24x36mm camera in film.

I think the old style trendy effect will pass, while “regular” colored pictures and black and white photographs will never past.

Nevertheless. I understand why people believe that a photographer who shoots in argentic is better : because it’s more difficult to shoot in film (you cannot control), and it’s rarer (it’s also much more expensive).

And I also understand the negative film is something real, that you know you will easily keep safe during years. I a world where everybody do a lot a picture every day but no one print them, we see a resurgence of real material values, like polaroid and films.