HELP--which color print film for a wedding? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

This is not exactly a LF question, but I can't think of a more knowledgeable group to pose this question to, so please bear with me.

I have gotten roped into shooting a friend's wedding. Since I've always used transparency films for all commercial and personal work, I don't know much at all about color print films.

What film(s) do wedding guys use? I'll probably shoot this on 35mm. Enlargments are not likely to exceed 8x10. I'm most concerned with achieving soft and natural skin tones and holding detail in the white dress while not blocking up foliage.

The last time I shot a wedding--about 30 years ago!--a wedding photographer from my home town told me all the wedding guys send their film to labs that specialize in wedding prints. I used a lab he recommended and I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality and particularly by the accurate skin tones. Do any of you know if such labs still exist and where I might find one?

-- Ted Kaufman (, June 02, 2002


I use kodak portra nc 400 @ 200.

good luck eck

-- eck wheeler (, June 02, 2002.

I also use Portra NC 400. A very good lab is the Herff Jones Labs in Minnesota.(they used to be called Camera Arts)

-- Kevin Kolosky (, June 02, 2002.

I have done a large number of weddings and bar-mitzvahs and do all my own colour printing. The best films in my opinion, for flesh tones, response to varied light conditions, and grain, are in Fuji's lineup: NPS 160, NPL 160 (tungsten) and NPH 400. I have tested NPH 400 against Kodak's Portra 400 and NPH has finer grain and slightly lower contrast. For 35mm I have often used Fuji Superia Reala but now I feel that NPS is a slightly better film. Fuji Superia Reala has very accurate colour and very smooth grain especially in flesh tones, but I think NPS handles a wider range of lighting and produces eaasier to print flesh tones under flash lighting. So in summary, for flash shooting--NPS 160; for available light where adequate--Reala; for lower light levesl--NPH 400 (which has very fine grain for an EI 400 film. You can also get NPH in an 800 EI version but it gets pretty grainy.

-- David Kaufman (, June 02, 2002.

Yes, I've shot plenty of weddings this year and usually shoot with fuji nph 400 for the 35mm shots and fuji nps 160 for the medium format formal shots. Once I shot with the npl when I lit the format shots with lowel tota lights, but I usually use strobes with a daylight film like nps. The kodak portra line of film is fine too. Either will work great. Oh, and if you need it, the fuji nghII 800 speed and whatever the new model is that just replaced the nghII is good stuff for low light shooting. But shoot it at n-1/3 and develop normal to keep good density in the shadows...

-- Jason J. (, June 02, 2002.

Fuji NPH 400 is great...Like you I only do weddings as favors to very good friends. NPH is very fine grained and will easily go to 8x10 with no problem. You'd be surprised what some regular wedding photographers charge...lots of $$$$$'s

Good Luck FWB

-- F. William Baker (, June 02, 2002.

We use NPS in 120 for fomals and NPH in 35mm for candids. We service a diverse population and find that these two are much better than any of the Kodak line for accurately portraying a wide range of skin tones. Clients are delighted, many crediting us for being "better" photographers for the matchup in tones. By the way, more as a convenience than for better results on film, we expose the NPS at 100 ISO, the same as the Polaroids we use for proofing. Results with the NPS are still great, and it sure helps when proofing a setup.

We are really happy with ProLab, Inc. in Seattle. WA. (800-426-6770) or ( Their work has been consistently above par in the 10+ years we have used them, and their staff is especially alert for problems, either on our side or their side of the process.


-- Hank Pennington (, June 02, 2002.

Mind you, I don't shoot weddings. But NPS and NPH are my favorite color print films. The kodak films people have suggested are great also. It all comes down to a matter of opinion.

-- Josh Root (, June 02, 2002.

As a career wedding shooter,I'll offer my 2c.Many prefer the green boxes,but the Portra films still do a fine job.I shoot the 160 VC out doors with fill flash,and the 400NC indoors with flash.All of these films (including the Fuji's)have amazing low grain,providing you dont underexpose them.This might be where the "shoot at 320 or 200", stuff comes from.Follow the sage advice of exposing for the shadows with neg stocks,and you will do fine at the box speed.These modern pro films are made to allow high contrast subjects ,such as a bride in white & groom in black.Also have a high exposure latitude.Many foolishly over expose these films grossly.All this does is pushes caucasian skin onto the films shoulder,and blows out the details.Meter carefully shoot at box speed.Good luck & happy shooting.

-- Edsel Adams (, June 02, 2002.

For the admittedly limited color work that I do, I've always preferred Portra 160 NC.

-- David Munson (, June 02, 2002.

I used Portra 400VC for one wedding season and then I switched to Agfa Optima 400 II after that. I just don't see any quality difference between the major league films except that the Agfa is 2/3's the price.

About year ago Photo Techniques did a test on all of the pro ISO 400 prints films and I fully expected the Agfa film to bring up the rear. Well in the vast majority of testing areas it actually won! the only thing that the Agfa doesn't do well is when you need to push it. I guess there's a significant colour shift when you try it, so I've promised myself that I won't!

I would strongly suggest that whatever brand you choose, that you use an ISO 400 film. Your flash will be a stop and a third more powerful and you won't be dropping down nearly as far for available light shots in the church. One year I bought a box of ISO 160 film and a few rolls of 400 for emergiencies. Then I found that I was using the 400 first while ignoring the 160. So bye bye 160!

-- David Grandy (, June 02, 2002.

Thank you all for your responses. I was leaning toward Fuji NPS and NPH films, and since the predominance of your comments affirmed my inclination, that's what I'll go with.

One final concern. I'm meticulous about exposure, so I will not carelessly underexpose. However, I'm wondering if I should expose at the rated speed or overexpose a little. I assume with color negative films underexposure should be avoided. But I want maximum saturation and sharpness, so I don't want to overexpose if it's not necessary. What do you guys do? Incidentally, I'll be stuck shooting at virtually high noon--sigh!

-- Ted Kaufman (, June 02, 2002.

I've shot NPH and NC side by side and NPH always gives me a redder skin no matter where I get it processed. NC was totally neutral and in my estimation a better way to go if not doing your own processing. Forget grain with either.

-- Wayne Crider (, June 04, 2002.


I've shot weddings with Kodak's Portra NC series, Portra VC series and Fuji's NPS. They all have their merits and you can't go wrong using any of them. The best thing to do is to test them all beforehand with the lab you use. I've heard from other users here on this and other forums that Lab chemistry has alot to do with the final "look". Fuji Labs are optimized for Fuji product and Kodak Labs are optimized for Kodak product. Talk to your local pro Lab. I'm sure they will be happy to tell you which brand(s) of chemistry and paper they use.

Good Luck!

-- Dominique Labrosse (, June 05, 2002.

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