Bridal session photography is quite possible my favourite type of photography. A mix of model photography, wedding photography and fashion photography with the best bits from each. By that I mean a nice model in a beautiful wedding dress and where we have all the time we need to create hopefully beautifully crafted images without the pressures and time constraints of an actual wedding day. To then shoot it all on a film camera is then icing on the cake for me. I prefer the look of film and hope to shoot a higher percentage of film at every wedding I cover going forward.
Leica Wedding Photography / Film Wedding Photography
If every couple allocated at least one hour of their wedding day for me capture stylised wedding photos like this I would be a very happy man and I think the resulting images would result in a happy bride (bride and groom too depending who was in the photos). Posing two people is often easier than one and a real bride and groom are on their wedding day high so that normally results in nice smiley natural looking wedding photos. Posing does not need to be a dirty word. It merely lets me place my bride and groom in the best possible light.
For this bridal shoot in Ukraine I shot with available light only to be able to work quickly. I was using both the digital Leica M 240 and the Leica M3. For the second roll of film in the M3 most of the photos were taken within a space of five minutes. It was my fastest roll of 35mm film shot to date as I wanted to make the most of the situation. Beautiful and willing models, the flowers, the dress, the location all in a remote woodland clearing one afternoon in Ukraine after a mini road trip. The bride(s) spoke little / no english but we still managed to get some nice photos with me directing with my hands and using body language. The first of two bridal shoots was with model Evgenia and I used AGFA Vista 200 Plus colour film (below). I then did the shoot again with model Olga in the same dress using Kodak Tri-X 400 black and white film (not all scanned yet). Here is an example photo with model Olga in black and white.
Hasselblad Wedding Photography
The Ukraine trip was pre-Hasselblad era so I had my Leica M3 35mm film camera, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens and was shooting 35mm AGFA Vista 200 plus budget film. I really like AGFA Vista film at the moment and prefer the more saturated look to that of Kodak Portra that can look a little flat. I wish there was a 120 AGFA Vista film for me to use in my Hasselblad as there seems a real gap in the colour film available for 400 speed saturated film. I need a Kodak Ektar 400 film ideally as I love the saturation from Kodak Ektar 100. Going forward my new Hasselblad 501C medium format film camera will be with me at all my weddings. It is not as fast to use as the Leica M3 rangefinder for film photography but the results are just amazing.
Without further ado here are the AGFA Vista colour film photos from the first bridal photography session shot with my recalibrated Leica M3 and model Evgenia.
Review and lots of sample photos using Agfa Vista 200 Plus film. I compare Agfa Vista vs Portra and Agfa Vista 200 vs Fujicolor C200 ( a film I know quite well)
** Vista 200 and Fujicolor 200 are not the same film stock! At all!
AGFA Vista 200 Plus
AGFA Vista 200 review comparing 35mm AGFA Vista 200 Plus film to Fuji C200 and Kodak Portra 160. AGFA Vista can be purchased in the UK from Poundland stores for only £1.00 making it the cheapest camera film available (to my knowledge).
Cheapest 35mm Colour Film
Even when considering C41 film developing costs of £2.99 per roll (I use AG Photographic film lab in Birmingham) the cost of AGFA Vista film plus developing is still approximately the same cost as a roll of cheap black and white film developed at home in low cost Rodinal film developer. For those film photographers that do not develop their own film AGFA Vista is the cheapest option for 35mm film photography (that I am aware of!).
Is AGFA Vista 200 film suitable for professional work?
I took some AGFA Vista 200 to Poland to test for my portrait photos / model photography, to a location model shoot in Birmingham and also shot some AGFA Vista at a recent wedding. Results below.
AGFA Vista 200 Portraits & Sample Photos
(Photos taken with Leica M3, Leica M2 and Nikon FM SLR cameras)
AGFA Vista Plus 200 vs Kodak Portra 160
AGFA Vista film gives more saturated colours than Kodak Portra film but has a similar bias to yellow and red tones (from my personal experience). Portra films have more latitude and can be overexposed (and underexposed) more without losing highlight and shadow detail. For Portra I tend to overexpose by one stop or more but for Vista I tend to shoot it at box speed or slightly over. AGFA Vista 200 vs Portra 160 gives me almost half a stop more light which can be useful in low light conditions even when using a slow shutter speed and a fast f1.4 aperture lens.
AGFA Vista 200 Plus vs Fujicolor C200
I have used Fujicolor C200 film in the past and to my eyes the colours of AGFA Vista are quite similar to C200 in certain conditions. I think C200 has a similar ‘Fuji’ look to Fuji Pro 400H with greens and pinks but for reds and yellows it is similar to AGFA Vista. I think C200 has slightly finer grain and ‘better’ colours (from my examples) and I don’t believe AGFA Vista is rebadged old C200 stock as some photographers have considered. To me, AGFA Vista has grain more similar to 400 speed film whereas C200 has finer grain closer to Ektar (I think). I have yet to use AGFA Vista when we have leaves on the trees so spring will be the real test for that.
Fujicolor C200 example photos as a comparison –
AGFA Vista the same film stock as Fujicolor C200?
Fujicolor C200 looking more like Fuji Pro 400H
Would I use AGFA Vista film again?
Yes. I just bought another 10 rolls of AGFA Vista 200. At £1 a roll I really cant go wrong! I think for wedding photography film portraits I will continue to use the less saturated Kodak Portra 160 and 400. For fashion photography Kodak Ektar 100 has stunning fine grain and more saturated colours vs Vista. For low light / night colour film photography I would use the new CineStill 800T (examples coming soon) but for anything in between such as holiday snaps, detail photos or colour film street photography in good light AGFA Vista Plus 200 is fine. Lastly, if you ever buy a 35mm film camera and want to test it works OK AGFA Vista is the perfect solution!