Wedding Film

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by GeoffHill, Apr 16, 2008.

  1. GeoffHill

    GeoffHill Member

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    Hi there

    Someone I work with has asked me to shoot his wedding for him, and I've agreed, after warning him that I've not shot a wedding before.

    I'm not sure if I should use digital, or film for this, however, if I go down the film route, which colour print film should I use. It's going to be a traditional wedding, in a non-too well lit church, and it's a safe bet that May in England won't be very bright, so probably 400 speed film

    I'll be using my Eos1n if i use film...

    I guess my options are
    Portra 400 NC
    Gold Ultra 400
    Superia 400
    Pro 400H

    and probably a bit of Hp5 or tri-X in a second body.

    As I don't shoot much colour, I thought I'd ask here, so, which of these films would you recommend for this?

    cheers

    Geoff
     
  2. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    I used fuji Pro800Z for a wedding in north(ish) norway in december which was pretty bright and quite a modern well-lit church. It worked quite nicely.
     
  3. eddie gunks

    eddie gunks Member

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    i have used the portra and the pro series film with great success. i would also second the 800 pro. i have just recently shot some 1600 fuji color film. the scans had a bit of grain but i think that most of that came from the scanner because i had some 3200 speed black and white that showed very little grain on my darkropom print but had more from the scanner.

    for B&W (i know you did not ask) my new favorite film is 3200 tmax. great stuff! i shot it indoors rated at 2000 developed it for the 3200 times and used tmax developer with times and temps from the massive development chart. simply beautiful. all i had to do was use a #3 filter on my enlarger! the highlights held well and the shadows came nicely.

    here for the 3200 B&W samples

    here for the 1600 color

    again, please keep in mind that the actual grain is a bit less. still nice though.

    eddie
     
  4. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I'd go with the Portra. Either NC or VC, depending on how much color saturation you like. Some people find NC too flat.
     
  5. RobC

    RobC Member

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    I'm no expert on this but from what I've heard, one of the major considerations is how you are going to print this colour film. Most labs today scan and then print digitally. What you gain from using film is usually lost in the scanning unless you have high quality scans which are expensive. So if you are giving the film to a lab and saying dev and print, then you better be sure that they have the ability to do high quality scans.
    If you are scanning negs yourself, then you can get good quality prints from photobox and at very good prices. But again, you are introducing scan and limitation of jpeg files so the benefit of film is debateable.
    In a nutshell, if you are printing digitally to photo paper, then the benefit of film is dubious and it will cost more to do. That, as I understand it, is one of the major reasons why a lot of wedding photographers went digital, because the labs went digital and the scan process is usually crap.
    i.e. do it digitally unless you are printing direct from film to photo paper or unless you want to pay for high quality scans.
     
  6. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I don't know about your side of the ocean, but here there are still labs that cater to film processing and printing for weddings. They are getter fewer and fewer, but I suspect they may still do optical printing at a price better than a fully custom lab. Here's one example: http://www.burrellprolabs.com/optical/home.htm

    If using such a lab, I would talk to them about what film they prefer simply because the end result of film, processing, and printing is more important than the film per se. I would agree with the previous post regarding VC. I think there is a bias today toward more saturation and that is what the bride/groom might prefer.

    I agree with Rob that a lot of wedding photographers (in fact, I think it's the vast majority) have gone digital. But I think it's more to do with the ability to streamline production (online proofing, ordering, and printing) and reduce out-of-pocket costs (film, processing) than the scan process.
     
  7. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Eddie. Might have something to do with it being a prison but your B&W shots are more impressive. Better medium, I think. Prison films always looked better in B&W.

    Geoff. I'd be tempted to go to the church several times in advance of the wedding at the wedding hour so to speak and check exposures over a range of weather/light conditionswe and then determine film speed.

    Fuji 1600 is very good for a fast film but I think a last resort. I've used it at evening air displays but at 10x8 the grain begins to show in some shots - at least in 35mm it does. You can get away with grain if its a Lancaster or such in the air but portraiture may be another matter.

    Pity everyone seems to want colour at weddings.

    pentaxuser
     
  8. GeoffHill

    GeoffHill Member

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    I'm going to visit the church before the visit, but Its an hours drive away, so it will probably only be one visit.

    The Bride sounded quite interested by the idea of B&W wedding prints, but said she would like some colour as well. Especially the formal Bride, groom and family type shots.

    Another option I have is to shoot the colour in digital, and the black and white on film. I prefer shooting on film, but on this occasion, I'm not shooting for me, Im shooting for someone else, so the dslr might get an airing. It's not been used much since I discovered HP5
     
  9. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Ask them if they would prefer to keep a CD or negatives.
    Carry both cameras on your neck and shoot the ones they want in color at the same time you shoot them in black and white.
    You never know, maybe they will change their minds after seeing the prints.
     
  10. Dietmar Wolf

    Dietmar Wolf Member

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    I would use a flash. A very good lens. And, personally Astia100F slide film :smile:

    O.k., in your case 160VC or the Fuji Superia series.

    BW I would make only some 6x6 portrait shots on location. HP5 or trix. If the light is well, FP4, of course.
     
  11. Mark Antony

    Mark Antony Member

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    When I shot wedding every week I used Agfa Portrait 160, I loved the tone.
    I shot a little Fuji 160 and 400 too.
    Now I would use Portra 160NC.
    In very bright conditions the film will allow you to capture detail in the dress and in the grooms dark suit.
    I personally would only shoot VC or Fuji if the weather is dull.
    B&W is a great idea this couple didn't want it but I took along my old F2 loaded with APX and shot off a roll anyhow, the bride was thrilled with this shot:
    [​IMG]

    I gave them one framed as an extra.
    Mark
     
  12. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    Have you discussed the style of photography with couple? If doing a documentary style, capturing the moments they don't get to see themselves; I would do this in B&W. Delta 100 and Acros 100 are very nice smooth portrait films.

    For a more formal range of shots, I'd go for colour Pro 400H myslef. The Portra films are equally good.

    Interesting comments from Rob, I'm looking for an optical pro lab myself.
     
  13. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    I thought I would join in with this one as I have just received an e-mail from a friend asking me to take some photographs of his wedding based on some pictures of him I did a few weeks ago (one of which is in my gallery).

    I have told him that despite never having shot a wedding and never intending to do so in the future, I will make an exception in his case!

    I have about ten rolls of Fuji NPS 160 which I intend to use. I receved 15 rolls free with a Mamiya RB 67 I bought last year. It seemed to work well when I used it for my in-laws wedding vow renewal last year so it should be good for this. I will probably do most of it in black and white though. Probably FP4+ or PAN F.

    He did mention that other, silver free technology but I think I have steered him away from this as we are talking about doing a small number of quality portrait and group shots rather than the 1000s of images which most brides (or their mothers) seem to expect today.


    Steve.
     
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  15. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I specialise in weddings shot on film and, for me, I now believe Kodak Portra NC 160 & 400, is not only the best film to shoot a wedding on, but the simply the ultimate medium full stop. The colours and skin tones are absolutely beautiful, and, of course, the latitude is immense - this is so important for weddings. I dont use the VC version - I think this is tailored more to the US taste and style :wink:

    I couple this with HP5 for B&W, and sometimes some Delta 3200.

    It is possible to shoot nice wedding photographs with a DSLR - but you hardly ever see them - All I see all the time is vile colour, blown highlights (in an unpleasant digital way) whenever I look at the average digitally originated wedding photographs. The other reason I would never shoot a wedding digitally is that, talking to other photographers, memory cards seem to fail alarmingly often and then there is the cost and risk of trying to have the data recovered.

    Equip yourself with fast lenses too - My main lenses in 35mm are the Nikon 85mm f1.4; 50mm f1.4; 17-35mm f2.8 and be prepared to hand hold at slow shutter speeds.

    I rarely find 400ASA too slow. And I hate flash and only reserve it when there is no other option, or if a little fill is required.

    What I would say is don't underestimate how tricky it is to shoot a wedding, and also if you are shooting, it is very difficult to play any part as a guest, simply because you are too busy.

    Matt
     
  16. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    www.palmlabs.co.uk

    Superb lab with all services - colour / b&w hand /optical printing etc.

    Matt
     
  17. mark

    mark Member

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    Truer words have never been spoken.

    I think you guys are nuts.
     
  18. FoxNewsCritic

    FoxNewsCritic Member

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    Lens?!

    Geoff:

    You didn't indicate what glass you have! If your glass is no faster than f/2.8, then I would use Fuji Pro 800Z and expose at EI 640.

    Only if your glass is about f/1.8 or faster should you venture down into the 160 to 400 film speed range inside a church.

    Remember, with color neg films, you have to hold the shadow detail down in the toe, which is tricky when you consider you also have to hold the highlight detail of the lace in the bridal gown.

    ------------------

    First and foremost, though, always plan on being barred from using flash during the ceremony, as sometimes the minister can get cranky and can pull a switcheroo at the last minute. That is why I recommend the higher film speed.

     
  19. FoxNewsCritic

    FoxNewsCritic Member

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    By the way...

    By the way, when you go to the church to scout it out, take along your camera and shoot a couple of test rolls of the interior to get a handle on the exposure values.

    Also, if you scroll up and look at the photo that Mark Antony posted, you'll see the problems of B&G shots all at once: In order to hold the highlight of the groom's satin white tie against his white shirt, it caused the white bridal gown to end up muddy.

     
  20. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I second Portra for anything that involves people. I did portraits with Ektachrome 100GX once, and while the detail and the technical quality were amazing, the flesh tones were pasty and lacking in punch. The next time, I used 160NC, and everything about it was right. VC will have more saturation, but also more contrast. Properly printed NC does not look flat like many people complain. It's a more subtle film, but it still has plenty of saturation.

    As others have said, the available printing method will make an impact. Shoot a test roll to get a feel of how the lab will print your pictures. And bear in mind that a scan and an optical print don't look the same, especially if you shoot with flash. When I printed in the darkroom colour film shot on flash, I found out that many of the blown highlights problems I was having were due to the poor scan.

    Of course, with B&W, you can adjust development and make outstanding negatives that will print like a charm...
     
  21. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    I like to believe that I'm a reasonable experienced amateur photographer, but I wouldn't even think about being the official photographer at a wedding!:rolleyes:

    It's not about which film to use (the pro's are so experienced that they don't even have to think about the technical side)....it's about posing, relaxing the subjects, keeping folks happy and cool, not taking over, and helping everyone to have a good time.

    If you mess it up, you've no second chances!!!! :smile:
     
  22. GeoffHill

    GeoffHill Member

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    I've got a 50 1.8, 85 1.8, as well as a 70-200 2.8 IS, the IS lets me use the lens about 2 stops slower than the non-IS version, so as long as the subject is relatively static, its effectivly the fastest lens I have.

    I don't have any quick short lenses, only a 17-40 f/4, which I'll probably be using for the outside group shots.

    Would it be sensible to take 400 NC and VC, and pick which film depending on if its a sunny day, or an overcast day?

    I'll buy a few rolls of fuji 800Z as well and try it out.

    thanks for all the advice so far guys

    Geoff
     
  23. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    Don't get bogged down in taking too many different emulsions - as someone else metioned it is a minor consideration really. You will thank yourself for keeping it simple, and I would strongly recommend taking just Portra 400NC and HP5.

    Personally when shooting groups I use a traditional method of Medium format camera on tripod (+ joke and lighten the group up to relax them and make them less self concious). MF imparts a certain grandeur to more formal shots, because of the added detail in the negative and also, I think, the longer focal lengths and the effect this has on DOF vis a vis angle of view.

    So if you can get hold of MF to use for the formals I would recommend you do because I personally don't shoot formals on 35mm mainly because MF is just so much better, and designed for, these type of shots, and I know what I would be missing - a camera with a waist level finder is ideal so you can maintain eye contact with the subjects easily.

    If you do use 35mm, I wouldn't have thought a 17-40mm lens was very suited to formals, unless you want to impart some sort of wide angle effects - if anything a 50mm is fine. Again best to keep it simple.
     
  24. GeoffHill

    GeoffHill Member

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    I have a Hassy 501CM with an 80mm 2.8 CFE lens, would I be better off using this for the formals then? I hadn't planned taking any MF gear, and was just going to use 35mm.

    I'm a smidge worried about carting around loads of crap, and spending more time deciding on what to use, rather than getting on with taking pictures, but MF for formals, and 35mm for everything else is a simple enough formula for me to follow in my head
     
  25. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    Definitely right to be worried about carrying too much - but the 501 with 80mm is absolutely ideal for formals. I would also suggest composing in the square format - I find this tends to suit formals - rather than cropping to a rectangle afterwards.

    Once you mount this on a tripod you can really communicate with the subjects without being hidden behind the prism of a 35mm/dslr camera. All the formal shots on my website were shot this way. It also means you can develop a good rapport with the subject very quickly because you can leave the camera on the tripod in position, whilst walking around, arranging people and making light conversation.

    Matt
     
  26. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    If you have the Hassy 501 then use that for formal shots...bring it out after the ceremony. I work this way also, MF for tradtionally arranged groups and 35mm B&W for the documentary work.

    It's important to use the one film so that each photo has the same look throughout the album.