Digital Vs Film Wedding Photography: What’s the difference?

If you’re in the process of choosing a wedding photographer, deciding whether to go for someone who specializes in either film or digital will be an important choice. Your photos will be a lifelong momento of your special day, and they should be something you look back on in years to come and still feel proud of.

Deciding whether to opt for a digital or film photographer for your wedding can be a hard choice. After all – there is so much competing information out there about which format is best. But worry not, in this article we round up everything you need to know about digital vs film wedding photography to help you choose. Let’s get cracking…

Photographer: Nathalie J Weddings

Do photos shot on film look different to digital photos?

In short: yes. 

Film photography has a much richer, grainier texture than digital images. Photos shot on film tend to have a more ‘natural’ look and feel, especially for elements like skin tone and the sky. In fact, digital cameras have a hard time capturing pure white objects – which isn’t ideal when one of the most important subjects is in a wedding dress! So often there is a lot less editing required for photos shot on film (often none at all). 

Digital photographers spend much more time trying to achieve the natural richness and softness that comes relatively easily to film photography. That being said – digital photos have the advantage that they can be edited to have almost any aesthetic style or vibe. 

Where digital wins is at capturing things that are in lowlight conditions. So for example, the results of your evening reception will probably be much better shot on a digital camera than on film. 

Just a side note: if you predominantly want black and white shots, then film wins hands down for this style of photography.

Do they cost the same?

Generally speaking, no.

Photos shot on film tend to be more expensive than digital images. That’s because the equipment and processing costs are a lot higher. From the film itself to the lab costs – it can quickly become an expensive affair. Film photographers therefore tend to take a lot fewer photos than digital photographers, meaning that you will have less choice from which to pick your final pics. 

Photographer: Bree Lion

Does it take the same time to get photos after the wedding?

Usually, post-processing times for film photographs can take longer than digital. 

This is because the photographer will have to wait a few weeks before they can even get the photos back from the lab to then begin their magic. 

With digital photos, the photographer can start editing your images right after the wedding. That being said, digital photographers usually have to process thousands of images to pick your final selection – which is a time consuming process. So film photographers can sometimes match the post-processing speed of digital photographers as they work with a much smaller set, and also generally spend much less time on editing. 

Photographer: Theresa Sherron

Are there risks with shooting one format over another?

Shooting on film has its limitations for a photographer. Whereas on a digital camera the photographer can pretty much shoot as many images as they please, film photographers have to be very mindful of exactly how many frames they have left (ie how many shots they have left on their films). This means that film photographers have to be more calculated with the shots they take. This is a great thing for crafting beautifully considered images. But it can also mean that some shots get missed in favor of others. 

Digital photographers have the advantage of being able to take thousands of images throughout the day, which is perfect for making sure that no moment goes uncaptured!

Ultimately, there’s no ‘risk’, per se. But the content of the final images you get will be affected by the digital vs. film choice you make.

Do wedding photographers shoot on both film and digital?

Not usually, no. 

Because both formats require different skills and aesthetics – not to mention equipment! – photographers tend to only shoot on one of the other. 

Some photographers do take a hybrid approach, and will shoot some stills and portraits on film and then the capture rest of the day’s details on digital. Chat to your potential wedding photographer about their approach and preferences. 

Photographer: Tyler Holbein

So, should you pick a film or digital photographer for your wedding?

Ultimately, the most important thing is that you choose a wedding photographer whose style and vibe matches yours. A great photographer who you have total faith in, and who listens to your needs, will create beautiful pictures no matter the format. 

Read this article if you need some help choosing the right wedding photographer for you.

We hope this article helps you in your quest for the perfect photographer. Whatever you decide, we’re sure you’ll be thrilled with the photos you get of your day. Happy hunting!

Written by:
Dirty Boots & Messy Hair Team

Connection is what it’s all about. Feel free to reach out to us with any comments or questions you might have, even if it’s only to say hello. If it wasn’t for our beautiful community, this place just wouldn’t feel the same.

Wedding Planning
10 Sep 2018

1 Comment

  1. Tex Hooper says:

    I like what you said about capturing as much of the days details in the camera. I need to get a printing service to print our wedding photos. We need to get a digital imaging spec for some pictures that need to be well resolved.

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