Orange-county wedding photographers discuss film versus digital

We were contributing editors on a story: digital versus film. This article was posted on “Borrowed and Blue”:

We however had lots more to say on the subject, but there was only limited space as it was a collaborative effort with a few other photographers. Below the article see our extensive explanation on why we at Goddard Studios now use and prefer the digital medium over film.

What medium do we at Goddard Studios shoot in and why?

We now shoot digital exclusively and in a “raw” format. (Raw files are digital negatives, they contain much more information versus a jpeg). The only difference between a digital negative and a film negative is that you’re working on a screen instead of a darkroom.

There are many reasons why we choose digital over film; the obvious reasons are cost, quantity, quality and selection options, proofing capabilities and speed of development.

Before we however go any further on the subject; as much as “the gear” is very important- either it be using a film or digital format; what’s most important for a photographer is having an understanding of timing, (body) composition, lighting and having an artistic sense.  You can have the best camera film or digital, but if you don’t understand these aspects of what makes for great photography, you will not consistently get great pictures.

Back to why we use the digital format; the less obvious reason versus the ones mentioned above, might be the capability of shooting in low light conditions without flash (which we like to do and prefer). The newest digital cameras allow you to shoot at a very high ISO and maintain a fast shutter speed, whereas before the speed of the film determined how high the ISO was set. The higher the ISO, the faster shutter speed and therefore shooting in dark conditions (which happens a lot during weddings) is possible. Also it gives pictures a more journalistic feel when shooting at a higher ISO during brighter light conditions.
Film doesn’t have the underexposure latitude that digital has.

Since there are many light challenges during the wedding day that are sometimes out of a photographer’s control, we need to be able to edit the pictures in a post production process if necessary. More importantly however is the ability to do the retouching of blemishes, eliminating wires in a background, adding some contrast, lightening or darkening of pictures, turning a picture into black and white as well as enhancing and adjusting colors etc etc. With film you would need to scan the film slide or negative, which in turn is an immediate loss in image quality from color to sharpness and saturation. Previously the post production process was done in the darkroom, (which is a lot more time consuming plus much more limiting) and now we can just do it on a screen.

An important factor is, especially at weddings is that you cannot- and will not miss a very important moment, such as the first kiss during the ceremony or any other spontaneous moment, because you ran out of film. There are only 36 frames on one roll of film. It’s too limiting and you might be changing a roll of film during a special moment. During the “romantics” it’s nice to get “into a groove” with the couples, having to change out a roll of film all the time would be distracting and disrupting the mood. There’s a certain flow that happens when couples relax, get intimate or for example joke around. It’s so nice to capture that continuously without having to worry about how many frames you have left and breaking up the moment.

One more downside of film is that a photographer cannot control the batch of film he/she purchases; it might be a bad batch of film and you have to trust that the film has been properly stored in a fridge by the reseller. It also can be damaged by heat, radiation and bad chemicals while being developed. These are factors that are outside the control of a photographer and would be absolutely devastating for both parties.
Since a wedding is a day that cannot be re-shot, this would be a major risk.

Even though there are risks with digital such as camera failure or a memory card failure, any photographer should be equipped with 2 or more camera bodies of equivalent performance.
In the higher end cameras- which we have- you can even add 2 memory cards which record a back up in case the number 1 card fails (which is highly unlikely but possible, therefore it’s nice that you have a back up card recording each and every shot. Again with film this would not be possible).

If you have any more questions regarding the subject, please don’t hesitate to contact us;