The advantages of film-workflow

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by skylark, Feb 16, 2006.

  1. skylark

    skylark TPF Noob!

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    I just shot my first wedding (fanfare of trumpets and break out the valium :D) which was a wedding present for my Brother in Law and his new wife.
    Anyway, I shoot film - in this case 35mm- not digital so I was a little apprehensive about it all, no deleting and shooting again!

    The day went quite well, a little cold for too many outdoor shots and not the most photogenic of locations for the reception, if you know what a 'miners welfare' is that is where it was held- we know our roots around here, but not too many problems.

    Back to my title, I dropped the film off at my local ASDA/Walmart on the Sunday morning, 1 hour later I had 2 developed films,60 odd 6x4 prints and a CD with Hires and lo-res images, my wallet was lighter by just under £12 ($20/euro). The 'clients' were able to choose from actual prints which ones they wanted in the album and I am now in the process of using PS to crop/modify etc. prior to printing at 8x10-which looks very acceptable.
    Compare this with digital, I would have had to download the images in some way to get the 'proofs' or else shown them on screen, my in laws do not have a computer. The process of sorting photographs for them would probably have taken longer.
    I am doing to the CD images what a digital photographer would do anyway, so I am no worse off than they would be.
    The killer of course is cost- Cost of film plus processing (additional to what a digi photographer needs to do-but assuming no proof prints were produced on digital) is around £18 ($25/euros) but the camera plus lens cost £80 ($100/euros) - how many of these events could I do before I had paid for a new digital ? (I guess around 20-30) and would the digital be 'old technology by then ?

    I am not suggesting that the pro/semi pro with a Canon 1D is not making a wise investment, they would shoot film in amounts that would be colossaly expensive compared to digital, but for a reasonably competent amateur where is the benefit of digital ? --I await your responses :confused:
     
  2. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    For me it's control. In the same way it's hard to find a lab that prints the way I want a print made, it was hard for me to find a lab that scans the way I want negs scanned. I found them too contrasty, which lost shadow detail. My film scanner also scanned at a higher res (2700 dpi = 2700x4050 pixels) than what the bulk labs were doing at the time.

    But that's for personal satisfaction.

    If it's a bulk job where lots of scans and prints have to be made, the demands of the circumstance can override preference. I find using film scanned and printed by a lab is a quicker workflow than digital capture. I did this when I shot a dozen rolls for my brother's best friend's reception on film (lots of throw-aways).

    Either one works. It just depends on what you want from it. I only shoot for personal satisfaction now, so I don't have to worry about bulk processing anymore. A lot of people would find the differences minor, but for me, they matter.

    Anyway, congrats on your first wedding! If you enjoyed it, I hope you get many more. They can be stressful, but a lot of fun too.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The big difference, as Mark says, is control. You basically let someone at ASDA/Walmart decide how your proof prints will look.

    I used to shoot film and then edit the images from photo CDs...the scanned images were never as good as I wanted. I did have my wedding photos scanned to CD at high rez...but that cost and extra $20 per roll. Even then, the images were 'dirty' and needed quite a bit of PS work to clean them up.

    As a wedding photographer, you do have to look at your work flow. I've been reading that a lot of them spend from 1/2 to equal amount of time editing as they do shooting. So for a four hour shoot, that's two to four hours of editing....and from what I gather, that's just general work flow...not special attention or effects.

    With film, you pretty much just drop your film at the lab and wait. Of course, using a good lab, that gives you what you want, is key. A long time ago, I used to use Walmart but once I started using an actual photo/camera store, I never went back. I'm not a pro wedding photographer, if I was, I'd use a pro lab rather than just a camera store.

    You can streamline the digital work flow by giving up some control...just take you memory card to a lab or kiosk and print your images right from there. But most of us, still like the idea of controlling as much as we can.
     
  4. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Well....you shot the wedding with film, but your work flow really is digital. You got back your film images on a CD and you are now digitally doing post-processing. Sounds like you were able to cut some corners by showing them the cheap "proof prints" and by (I'm guessing) assuring them that the final prints would have individualized post-processing done digitally. The final product is going to be an inkjet print.

    I've been out of wedding photography for a number of years and shot only film (MF and 35mm). The cost of the film developing was rolled into the price of the wedding shoot. We used only a pro lab and the proofs were usually fine for their purpose. They made their selections from the sheet and we handled cropping or extra touches. It was just never that big a deal. Film photographers did rely on pro labs to do good processing and, the majority of the time, you received exactly that. There was a business relationship that superseded the present thinking that the photographer must also be the lab, and control and produce every single image.

    You've worked something out that sounds like it works for you - that's what matters. Sounds like the best of both worlds. :)
     
  5. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    This is actually one of the things that drove me to digital. You'd think that in Rochester, NY (home of Kodak) that the pro labs would deliver. I had such bad luck that I decided to go hybrid (shoot film, scan, print digitally). There are obviously many people here (Rochester) that didn't have my experience, but I felt like I just couldn't find a lab I trusted. When you get a scratched neg back, it's hard to trust again, even if you believe that it's a super rare occurance. Plus I'm a contol freak when it comes to stuff like this. I can't do the darkroom, so this is the closest thing.

    And now I think there's only one lab left that does b&w here in town and doesn't send it out anyway (or they may have stopped now too. This was a few years ago). I definitely understand a film shooter's pain. The coming of digital has put a real crimp on their options.

    If I were doing weddings professionally and could find a lab I trusted, I'd be still shooting film. I'd have to have a MF for the formals. I might have a digital for the candids, but that would require a second workflow, and I really liked using my EOS5 (A2e), so probably not.
     
  6. panzershreck

    panzershreck TPF Noob!

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    anybody who does the amount of shooting that say - a photojournalist does, will use digital... honestly, i would not be able to stand photojournalism at all using film, it'd eat up budgets in half a second... for that, digital is a very easy workflow, so is digital if you're doing any kind of digital editing or graphic design where the photograph is not prime material (or if it is, then digital is the look you want)

    on the other hand, i shoot 120mm film and make my own prints the next day, darkroom workflow is very easy, only time constraints exist as it takes some time and you don't get the chance to do anything else, but that's not really that big of a problem, but for any kind of artistic goal i can't stand digital

    with photojournalism i get no post-processing control whatsoever, it's up to the editors as to what they pick (so technically i can control, based on what i shoot), with film i get total control over every aspect beginning to end, after i bought the film, nobody but me touched it... that's what i have to have, regardless of using film or digital, that's my workflow

    i would never use walmart or any general lab, they tend to not get any print correct (re: test i did at walmart in the bloopers section)
     
  7. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Reminds me of a story I head about a photojournalist that used to use large format (can't remember his name). It was in the day when everyone started using 35mm. At one point, he was forced to use a 35mm for certain job because the editors wanted lots of shots. When the pages came around to collect everyone's film canisters, this guy handed him a single roll and told him, "Print the first one." If I remember right, the roll only had three images on it. That first shot was what got printed though.
     
  8. skylark

    skylark TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all of the comments. I actually feel quite chuffed that people with such a wide experience of photography have commented.

    I guess I was trying to explain that for the kind of shooting I do once in a while(and i guess I am just ahead of an average 'snapper') the film/digital workflow works well, I know Walmart is not going to give me great quality- if I had had to rely on reprints from the negatives I got it would need an awful lot of re spotting to achieve a quality result-but they were the only place I could get a quick turn around, my nearest big city is 20 miles away and a town of 60000 in the UK will not have any photo labs other than chemist chains or supermarkets. If my 'customers' had been demanding then I would have sent the work to a good lab (I use one or two) and got the prints back within the week, since I am the most critical viewer of these prints and people have got used to quick turn arounds I took the route I did.

    I really love film and think my workflow is adequate for this kind of shooting, I can see how the 'digital revolution' where anyone can pretty quickly learn to point and shoot a DSLR and get acceptable images must have hit the professional wedding trade, but the resulting drop in quality is probably another sign of 'dumbing down'.
    Anyway SILVER RULES :sexywink: (if in doubt make a meaningless comment-see 'dumbing down')
     
  9. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Me too. The huge disadvantage of the film workflow for me is that I need to rely on someone else to do my C41 and E6 processing. 35mm is fairly automated, but the lab kids these days are 100% digital, and just aren't familiar with 120. I'm not willing to send film by mail, so I need a lab I can drive to. I do my own BW processing, but the last 3 rolls of 120 C41 I had a "pro" lab do came back light struck from careless handling. The next day I ordered my first DSLR.
     
  10. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    All you have to do is look through the portfolios of wedding photographers for the last 50 years, and you will see plenty of crap work done with film. Choice of film or digital has little to do with quality, it's the choice of photographer that makes the difference.

    For all the talk of how easy it is to shoot a DSLR on program, it's just as easy to shoot a 35mm SLR on program, and if it's loaded with neg film there is more exposure latitude for goofing up. To get good prints with digital you better nail that exposure (get it within a 1/2 stop). Almost any lab can make good prints from neg film that is off by up to 1.5 to 2 stops in either direction. The instant feedback of digital may give the newbie wedding photog more confidence, but shooting neg film is easier.
     

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