highlands, north carolina film wedding photographer

Film versus Digital: Sarah and Sam


April 26, 2019

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I'm so glad you stopped by the blog! Here you'll find advice on planning your wedding, tips on what to wear to photo sessions, and of course, my favorite clients & people!

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Film Friday

Film versus Digital

Welcome to the first edition of my new series, Film Fridays! I really wanted to start a discussion on my blog about film – not only its awesome qualities, but also its limitations and its differences to digital. One thing I love to do is to compare my film versus digital results. Usually these images are shot on different focal lengths, but it still gives me a good idea of how the two mediums handle light, shadows, and reflections differently. By comparing them side by side, I get a better understanding of how I need to shoot my film differently, when I should use digital instead of film, and also how I can better edit my digital images to match the look of film!

Sometimes Film Fridays will have side by side comparisons like we have today. Sometimes I’ll be discussing film formats, film camera bodies, getting started with film, the hidden costs of film, and any other topics that come up with shooting film. I am no expert on shooting film – I am a complete newbie, in fact! But I wanted to force myself to learn more about it, and so I’ll pretty much just be attempting to answer my own questions on this blog!

bride in film and digital medium in front of lds temple

First up, we have Sam and Sarah’s destination Fort Lauderdale wedding. For this wedding, I shot on my Nikon D810 and my Nikon F100 35mm. I started with a roll of Portra800 because I knew I’d be shooting wedding details to begin with, and I wasn’t sure what kind of lighting situation I would have for photographing these. I was surprised to see that I would have PLENTY of natural light for photographing details and the Portra800 ended up being a bit overkill. However, I have learned that the P800 can really handle a lot of light and it wasn’t an issue.


If you haven’t analyzed much film before, a few things to look at:

The tones and hues of the greens, pinks, and reds

The color of the highlights on their skin

The depth of the shadows

The detail retained/loss in highlights

The texture/grain of the image

These are some of the biggest and most noticeable differences between film and digital. In the images below, you can see the shadows of their hair are much deeper in the film image than the digital. You can also see the pinks in the flowers are different. If I had had these images side by side while I was editing, I would have edited my digital differently. But that is another struggle with film: you have to wait to get your film scans back. Usually I am done editing my digital files before I even get my film scans back. So that means by the time I do get my film scans back, I don’t want to RE edit my digital to match what my film looks like.

film compared to digital of bride with her maid of honor in a blush dress

bride in her white get away dress

film wedding with tropical bouquet in florida

In all of the above shots, I really love my film more than my digital. I love the warmth on their skin. I can see that I was trying to warm up the skin tones in my digital images but in doing so ended up just making them look more magenta rather than the vibrant look that film is able to achieve.

I was shocked by the comparison below. My digital edit looks pale and flat in comparison to the film.

Shooting white on white was another great test of film vs digital. Digital files aren’t able to capture HIGHLIGHTS as well as film and this really came into film with this shot below:


In the film image below, the contrast is a little bit higher than I would normally like. His suit’s shadows are pretty heavy, and his suit looks black. This could be from the way this scan was developed, but more likely if I had exposed it brighter that would have helped.

bride with cathedral veil at fort lauderdale lds temple bride and groom walking out of fort lauderdale lds temple in florida

bride with cathedral veil stands on blue stairwell bride and groom on the beach in the early evening film versus digital of bride and groom on the beach in fort lauderdale, florida film versus digital of bride and groom on the beach


I’m curious – which did you like better? Film or digital? Or a mix of both (like me) depending on the situation?

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I'm Meghan and I'm so glad you're here! My blog is where you'll find advice on planning your wedding, tips on what to wear to a session, and of course, my beautiful clients!

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